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Michael 15th Jul 2021 Activities
Good Morning,

I am in desperate need of advice. It has been since the end of April that I started my Activities Director position. And as much as I have wanted this and dream for it, it is not what I aspected.
I planned different activities crafts, bingo, puzzles, trivia, happy hour, chair yoga, billiards, book club, and so much more. However, only 2 or no one shows up for any or all of the activities. I have my newsletter that tells them, made a bulletin board to remind them what is going on, even talk to them individually to come to the activities. But with the effort I put into it, and there is no progress from it. With this, I have been on pins & needles with my manager because he is noticing that nothing is happening and demanding me to do something about it.
They have talked about going to different outings, which I have suggested to them places, but no one has said when we are going to this place or anything in that ballpark.
Even with crafts, I come up with different crafts we do, but no one shows up. Next week I am doing Painting with a Twist with them, but I can see that no one or just 2-3 people will only show up.
There are two residents here that are sort of active and give me advice. However, the advice is extremely demanding. That I have to plan my entire year of what activities I should do with the residents or what places we can go out to eat. Telling me, I need a planner that shows weeks & months, a desk calendar, and a wall calendar that shows 365 days of the whole year.
Even though this is the 3rd senior community I have worked for, and I really adore being around this population to help them out, it is stressful nonetheless.
If anyone has any advice or a free online course that I could take to further better myself, I would be more than happy to take it.
Thank you
Jean 15th Jul 2021 Activities Provider
Try tempting them with food and drink.
Susan 16th Jul 2021 Activity Director
Hi Michael
I am so sorry to hear about your dilemma
What type of community do you work for??
How independent you are the residents??
Do you have a resident and council or some type of monthly meeting to see what the residents needs and wants are??
Have you chatted one on one with some of the residents to see what they might like to do??
You can spend hours designing a beautiful calendar that you think everyone will love but it doesn’t do any good if no one comes
I agree with Jean that food and drinks are great motivators
Do you or does someone escort residents to the activities??
Do you discuss activities with the residents and be your own cheerleader??
Here are some articles on golden Carers that might help you
https://www.goldencarers.com/how-to-get-reluctant-residents-to-attend-activities/5980/
https://www.goldencarers.com/16-ways-to-encourage-negative-or-pessimistic-residents-to-attend-activities/6571/
Jennie 16th Jul 2021 Activities Director
I think it would do us all some good to remember that since they are still coming out of a horrible and isolated year, that gradual should be a new goal. Sometimes, when we become "stagnant" for whatever reason that may be, coming back into social life is more tricky to say the least. What they have been through with the isolation and not being able to see their loved ones, is just something I care deeply about. I try to imagine myself in those shoes almost every day and that even becomes unbearable. After a long period of time of fear, loneliness, depression, anxiety, grieving the "old routines", seeing so many changes with all departments, etc... I wouldn't even expect them to come out with guns blazing! I have many that I have given myself and them a goal to work gradually towards out of room programs. Remember, you don't have to focus so hard on being the best or really going extravagant with this department at times, many group/social things really matter more towards marketing. Not that it isn't important to the social birds of course! But, we are to strive to know everyone individually, their whole selves, before their current lives and their current life. Their disease process and levels of function. We always educate on all of those, so we can offer the best quality of life for them that we can give them. Trust me, making sure you are having 1:1's with residents is vital at this moment in time and state DOES pay attention to that. Right now, is the perfect time to do in room 1:1's with even higher functioning, more social residents AND your lower levels of function instead of 1:1's zoning in on the latter. They all have suffered greatly in more ways than normal in the past months. Give yourself some Grace, and give them time and patience, but bring your ideas in on those 1:1 talks or activities, you will begin to notice they will talk more and more about things they have enjoyed or would like to enjoy, and you can get a good general feel of your whole building and that will be the key to your calendar and participation. Also, educate always, read those links from this site in the other comment, read anything you can on specific ways to work with different illnesses/capabilities, you will always learn new things. It WILL get better. You were put their for a reason. Remember, if these human beings didn't have us, those of us paying for even sites like this to help us become better, who would they possibly have? I have faith in you and I know without a doubt it will pick up. If your other departments or Administrator only zone in on groups or socials, you remind them of what I said about this year and how gradual is best for MANY residents. And you want your facility/company to not only strive for social activity and great events, but to be known for providing outstanding care for each individual person. You got this! ONE. STEP. AT. A. TIME!
Solange 16th Jul 2021 Diversional Therapist
High Jennie, I agree with you fully. The 1:1’s visits cannot be underestimated. The greater the loneliness and solitude, the lower the quality of life and more so in these trying times. Thank you for encouraging the community that better times will come.
Susan 16th Jul 2021 Activity Director
Hi Jennie
I also want to thank you for your insight
Hopefully things will get better for all of us soon
June 23rd Jul 2021 Activity Director
Perhaps you could tell the family members that you are hosting an ice cream social on a Saturday or Sunday and then the families might visit and encourage their family member to attend. Or you could set up a drink stand/homemade ice cream or blender bar in the entrance lobby so you can again snag the interest of the families when they are visiting. Maybe leave some trivia questions in the dining room at their tables so they can work together on them. As for planning a year's worth of restaurant visits....perhaps you could state that one week it would be Chinese, the next week a burger joint, the next week an ice cream outing and the last week their suggestion, so they would feel involved in the planning. Good luck!!!!!
Susan 23rd Jul 2021 Activity Director
Hi June
Thank you for your insight
Pretha 3rd Aug 2021 Occupational Therapist
Hi this is Ruth (Lifestyle coordinator) I agree that food can be a draw card. Perhaps do bingo with chocolates as prizes. Like other's have said, it is good to ask the residents what they like. Maybe do a simple survey of a list of activies (Craft, exercise, music, outings, etc) and see what they choose. Also, I would keep it simple to start. Aim for small groups of 4 - 6 if possible in the same area (ie if they tend to sit in a particular lounge) So something like exercise (even just hitting a balloon back and forth.) Then build up to more complex activities.
Do you go and remind your residents before the activity? I find there are always some who don't or can't read the monthly planner and need a prompt to come. We tend to remind most of the residents who normally come to an activity. Perhaps carers can assist you to bring some as well since they get to know them closely. As you build relationships with the residents they are sometimes more likely to join in as well. You can alway say 'why don't you just come and watch?' Sometimes this helps those unsure if they will enjoy it. They often end up having a good time!

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