The 2020 theme for Assisted Living Week, which runs September 13-19 in America, is “Caring Is EssentiAL”. We love this theme as it reminds all of us that our roles in senior care are essential and crucial everyday, but especially during the days of COVID-19.
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We never need a reason to celebrate in assisted living, but National Assisted Living Week gives us one more excuse to get a little extra festive. Here are a few ideas you can use or adapt for your celebration.

What Is National Assisted Living Week?

National Assisted Living Week is celebrated in the United States each September. In 2022, the dates are September 11-17 and the theme is designated as “Joyful Moments”. We love the theme this year because after 2 years in the thick of COVID-19, we could all use a little extra joy in our communities!

While you don’t have to use that theme to celebrate your community, we have compiled a list of ideas that you can use or adapt as you honor the residents and team who make up your assisted living community.

1. Name Your Joys

Start each morning exercise group by asking participants to name something that brings them joy. It’s impossible to be in a bad mood when you hear all the joyful things happening around the community.

2. Create a Joy Chain

Paper chains can be a colorful pop of decoration around your community that tells everyone you are celebrating. For this week, have residents write down something or someone that brings them joy on the paper of one link. They can write as many links as they want. Then, chain the links together to see a visual representation of all the joy in your community.

3. Spread the Light

Joy is contagious and you can spread it to your entire assisted living team. At a special celebration for staff members, have everyone stand in a circle. Pass out a battery operated candle to each person and shut off the light. “Light” your candle and turn to the person on your left. Say something nice about that person or how that person brings you joy. Then, that person “lights” their candle before doing the same thing to the person on their left. Your lights will be shining bright in your circle by the end of your time together and everyone will leave in a great mood.

4. Create a Cocktail

Work with your dining team to create a signature cocktail (or mocktail) that you serve at each of your celebration events of the week. Name is something unique, like Joy Juice, and don’t forget to include fun garnishes so that it feels extra special.

5. Host a Gospel Brunch

Gospel music, especially when it includes a live choir, is guaranteed to bring a bit of joy. Book a choir of gospel singers (or just a few individuals) to sing classic gospel favorites at a family brunch.

6. Create a Video Montage

Gather all of your favorite photos and videos from events over the past year and put them to music. Show the montage video at your Assisted Living Week social, staff meeting, or family event.

7. Host a Family Social

Joyful moments are more joyful when we invite those we love to create them. Be sure to host a family event, complete with a photo booth (with fun accessories) and a photo frame decorating station. Family members and residents can decorate a clear photo frame and then you can print photos from the booth to add to the frames.

8. Step Up Your RAK Game

Random Acts of Kindness are perhaps the best way to spread joy. The person who receives the act of kindness feels special and the person who gives away the act feels great too. Try this with your staff and residents, giving everyone the chance to be on both ends of the surprise. Ideas for RAKs include:

  • Passing out fun buttons or notecards
  • Giving out single flower blooms or entire bouquets
  • Passing out “hugs and kisses” (Hershey ones, of course!)
  • Trace your handprint and make a bunch of copies. Cut them out and give them to team members saying, “High Five!” when you do.
  • Pass out “thank you” stickers
  • Offer to take over a staff member’s job for 5 minutes so they can have a quick break

9. Write Nice Things Down

Consider posting a piece of paper on each residents’ doorways with their name written on the top. Then, have staff members and other residents write something nice on each door sign throughout the week.

10. Bring In a Barista

Sometimes, joy is found in a great cup of coffee. Find some local baristas to come in and make fancy coffees for a resident social as well as for your team. 

When it comes down to it, joyful moments happen every day in your assisted living community. Take this week to celebrate all of it - the big and the small - with your residents and your team. There’s no better reason to celebrate!

Tell me - what are your plans for National Assisted Living Week this year? I’d love to hear!

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Haley Burress

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