Activity Card Sort

Uncover the benefits of the Activity Card Sort — an intuitive tool for assessing lifestyle changes used by health professionals for effective patient care.

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What is an Activity Card Sort (ACS)?

The is an established, user-friendly assessment tool designed to measure an individual's participation levels in various activities. It employs a deck of activity cards, each illustrating different instrumental, social, and leisure activities.

The activity cards act as a potent visual aid, stimulating the individuals' memory and prompting them to reflect on their past and current engagement levels in these activities. The individual then sorts these cards into categories—representing activities they're currently doing, activities they've discontinued, and activities they aspire to undertake.

Healthcare professionals, particularly occupational therapists, leverage the ACS to discern how an individual's illness, disability, or aging impacts their daily living, involvement in diverse activities, and overall quality of life. The insights gleaned from the ACS can pave the way for personalized and effective rehabilitation and treatment plans.

The ACS is a well-recognized measure of activity engagement, particularly for older individuals. Its 2nd edition (Baum and Edwards, 2008) comprises 89 photograph cards for activities grouped into four categories: Instrumental, Low & High Demand Leisure, and Social. It also includes Recovery, Institutional, and Community Living Versions and employs different sorting categories of engagement and scoring methods.

The ACS is important for creating an occupational history, as well as recording any changes activity participation. Changes such a stroke or aging may result in less time engaged in activities. However, it is important to note that ACS does not provide information pertaining to the frequency of participation, nor any social inactions or difficulties experienced while performing an activity.

Printable Activity Card Sort

Download this Activity Card Sort to assess patient lifestyle changes.

How does this Activity Card Sort work?

Administering the Activity Card Sort entails several crucial steps that encompass both engagement and evaluation.

Step 1: Distribution of Activity Cards 

To begin the process, the individual taking part in the assessment is handed a collection of activity cards. Each card depicts a unique daily living, social, or leisure activity that the individual may partake in.

Step 2: Sorting the Activity Cards 

Next, the individual is asked to categorize these activity cards into distinct groups based on their current level of participation. This categorization is typically segmented into four groups: activities done now, activities done in the past but not presently, activities desired to be done, and activities never done before.

Step 3: Scoring the Activity Cards 

Following the sorting phase, each activity card is scored to represent the individual's current engagement level with the depicted activity. These scores are calculated using the percentage of retained and discarded activities within each category, providing a robust, quantifiable dataset.

Step 4: Creating a Comprehensive Activity Profile 

Finally, the compiled scores are utilized to generate an in-depth profile of the individual's lifestyle and activities. This profile can then inform tailored intervention plans, facilitate shared decision-making, and evaluate the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions. It helps to identify areas where the individual might require additional support or changes to their care plan, enabling healthcare professionals to personalize treatments effectively.

Activity Card Sort Examples (Sample)

Let's illustrate the process of ACS with a hypothetical individual named Sarah. The cards involved represent various activities, including gardening, cooking, socializing, and jogging.

Current Engagement

Suppose Sarah is an avid gardener who spends time in her garden every day. She sorts the gardening card into the "Currently Engaging" category. This shows that she is actively involved in gardening at present.

Discontinued Activities

Next, consider cooking. Sarah used to cook frequently but has recently stopped due to time constraints. Therefore, the cooking card goes into the "Discontinued" category. This helps identify activities Sarah once enjoyed but is no longer participating in.

Desired Activities

Sarah has always enjoyed being around people and wishes to spend more time socializing post-pandemic. She places the socializing card in the "Desired" category. This indicates activities that she intends to engage in in the future.

Never Engaged Activities

Even though Sarah understands the importance of physical fitness, she has never been into jogging. Therefore, the jogging card goes into the "Never Engaged" category. This category is important as it can help identify potential new activities that might improve Sarah's quality of life.

Through this detailed example, it's clear that the Activity Card Sort provides a comprehensive view of an individual's activity patterns. It captures their current participation, identifies lost leisure or daily activities, and uncovers future aspirations, ultimately aiding healthcare professionals in developing personalized care and treatment plans.

Download this Activity Card Sort Example:

Activity Card Sort Example (Sample)

When to use an Activity Card Test

The Activity Card Test is particularly appropriate to use in scenarios where there is a need to assess the impact of various conditions, such as illness, disability, or age, on an individual's participation in daily life activities. This could include situations where a person has undergone a significant life change, such as a new medical diagnosis, injury, or transition into old age, potentially affecting their ability to engage in daily tasks.

Occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals may utilize this tool when developing a comprehensive understanding of a person's lifestyle, quality of life, and levels of involvement in various activities is essential for planning personalized rehabilitation or treatment strategies.

It's also fitting to employ the Activity Card Test when there's a requirement to track changes in a person's activity engagement over time, for example, pre- and post-intervention, to measure the effectiveness of specific treatments or programs.

Lastly, using the Activity Card Test when identifying participation restrictions is appropriate. These are potential problems an individual might face regarding their degree or style of engagement in life situations. By recognizing these restrictions, professionals can target their interventions to enhance the individual's participation and thereby improve their quality of life.

Who is this Activity Card Sort PDF for?

This Activity Card Sort (ACS) PDF is a remarkably adaptable tool designed to cater to a diverse group of professionals and individuals. It offers a comprehensive yet straightforward way to gauge changes in lifestyle and daily activities. Here are a few key stakeholders who can benefit from it:

  1. Occupational Therapists: These professionals often find the ACS invaluable. It enables them to assess how illness or disability is impacting an individual's day-to-day activities and overall lifestyle. The resulting insights can shape personalized interventions for better patient outcomes.

  2. Health Professionals: Medical practitioners such as doctors, nurses, and rehabilitation specialists can employ the ACS to gain a deeper understanding of a patient's lifestyle, specific needs, and alterations in activity engagement. This understanding can support holistic healthcare delivery, addressing not just the medical but also the social and personal aspects of well-being.

  3. Individuals and Caregivers: The ACS isn't just for professionals. Individuals living with illness, disability, or age-related changes can use it to communicate shifts in their lifestyle and the activities they aspire to engage in. Similarly, caregivers can use the ACS to better comprehend the person's capabilities and preferences, facilitating the formulation of a tailored care plan that resonates with the individual's needs and aspirations.

The Activity Card Sort PDF is a versatile tool that bridges the understanding between healthcare providers and recipients and enhances the quality and effectiveness of care and treatment plans.

It is also suitable for a wide range of clients, including those with:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cancer
  • PTSD
  • Limited English language abilities
  • Disability transitions
  • Stems cell transplants
  • Cognitive deficits
  • Dementia
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Benefits of Free Activity Card Sorting

Ease of Use

The Activity Card Sort (ACS) has been crafted with simplicity in mind. Its straightforward structure and intuitive sorting process minimize the learning curve, making it readily usable by both professionals and patients. This easy-to-use design accelerates the assessment process and helps maintain focus on understanding the individual's activities and lifestyle.

Comprehensive Analysis

ACS provides a complete perspective of an individual's lifestyle and involvement in daily activities. It goes beyond surface-level observation by investigating not only present activities but also those discontinued and those the individual aspires to undertake. This thorough understanding enables professionals to formulate a comprehensive, person-centric treatment or rehabilitation strategy.

Customizable Approach

Recognizing that every individual is unique, ACS offers the flexibility of customization. Its categories and activities can be tailored to resonate with each person's life situation, personal interests, and cultural context. This adaptable nature allows ACS to be a meaningful and relevant tool for diverse individuals across varying life circumstances.

Quantifiable Data

ACS is not just about perceptions; it translates individual activity engagement into quantifiable data. This numerical representation allows for a measurable understanding of lifestyle changes, helping professionals track progress over time, compare pre- and post-intervention scenarios, and ascertain the effectiveness of therapeutic strategies.

Effective Communication Tool

ACS does more than assess; it facilitates dialogue. By encouraging individuals to sort and discuss their activities, it serves as a medium for understanding lifestyle preferences and promoting shared decision-making. This interactive process not only enhances the professional's understanding of the individual but also empowers the individual to participate actively in their care planning.

Commonly asked questions

Who created the Activity Card Sort?

The Activity Card Sort (ACS) was developed by esteemed researchers Baum and Edwards, after being initially conceptualized and introduced in 1995 by Baum, who was later joined by Edwards to refine the tool.

When should I use the Activity Card Sort?

ACS is used when a health professional needs to assess the impact of illness, disability, or age on a person's daily activities and lifestyle.

How do I interpret the Activity Card Sort?

The ACS provides a quantitative measure of the level of a person's engagement in various activities. This data can be used to create a profile of the person's lifestyle and activities.

How do I score the Activity Card Sort?

Each activity card is scored based on the person's current engagement with the activity. The scores are then compiled to create a comprehensive profile.

Why use this Activity Card Sort App?

By digitizing the entire process, Carepatron's Activity Card Sort application revolutionizes the traditional ACS approach. With this app, conducting ACS assessments becomes a streamlined, swift, and hassle-free experience for both practitioners and patients. The time and energy saved can then be invested more meaningfully in personalized care and treatment planning.

Moreover, the app ensures secure and efficient data storage. The worries of data misplacement or damage are left behind as all the information is safely stored in digital format. Retrieving data for analysis or review is just a click away, promoting an environment of efficiency.

Additionally, CarePatron's robust integration capabilities with other tools like electronic health records allow for a more holistic and data-driven approach to patient care. This interconnected digital ecosystem facilitates seamless information flow, enriching every aspect of healthcare delivery.

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Healthcare software benefit
Who created the Activity Card Sort?
Who created the Activity Card Sort?
Written by
Telita Montales
Telita Montales

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