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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 Coordinator
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
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!
Susan 4th Aug 2021 Activity Director
Hi Ruth
Thank you for your insight and suggestions
Meg 5th Aug 2021 Project Officer
I love this site and the ideas above are amazing. I agree that asking people individually what they want and having smaller groups are important. Lively music in the background is also very important and a great motivator. Picking a client/resident that can and wants to help and is social by nature and a good organiser is also strategic so you do not have to do everything on your own. Volunteers are amazing!
Kim 5th Aug 2021 Activities Director
These comments are great. I would only add that maybe you can find out--for those residents that are doing something else during activity times--what they are doing. If they are watching "The Price is Right," maybe you could make that an activity and serve donuts & coffee. If they are reading, you could do a read-aloud with stories and poems. Word games for those doing puzzles. Coloring contests for those doing coloring. Western shows on TV are hugely popular in my facility, so I show western movies and do trivia. I feel for you! Hang in there!

Keep going, my friend!

Susan 5th Aug 2021 Activity Director
Hi Kim
Thank you for your ideas
Great suggestions
Michael 7th Aug 2021
I just would like to say thank you to everyone for your amazing & thoughtful ideas.
My apologies for not responding back sooner, has been a hectic couple of days.
We have been showing improvement in residents' participation in activities.
Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday at 10 am we do chair yoga, and as of now, I have 7 residents that participate.
Wednesday at 3pm I have a Book Club meeting with myself and 4 wonderful ladies. We are reading The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. I highly recommend this book to any senior group or organization that has a book club.
Also, I have started having two restaurant outings during the month, and one fun outing.
Just yesterday we went to an Art Gallery and was given a tour, also one of our resident's works of art was in the Gala!
I am always asking my residents for new ideas of what they would like to do, and what can be improved to make ease of lifestyle for them.
I should also mention that the facility I work at has only 22 residents as of now we are a fairly new building as of Fall of 2019.
Susan 7th Aug 2021 Activity Director
Hi Michael
Sounds like you are making progress things are definitely improving
Thank you for sharing this with us
Sherry 8th Aug 2021 Activities Assistant
I find that the staff play a huge part in the attendance of residents to events. Make sure the staff is motivated to get them their. We often include the staff(CNAs and Nurses) in treats such as ice cream. This motivates them to try and help us out by getting their residents involved in the activities.
Michael 10th Aug 2021
I have asked the front desk concierges to remind the residents when they see them about the activities going on. There is one in particular that is very friendly, but she only talks about her own personal life instead of encouraging the residents to participate and she works Monday-Friday in the mornings!
There is so much that I can do to remind them, especially when we have organizations of long-term health care to come in to do a presentation and they don't show up. Then the resident finds out that there was a presentation which then I receive the negative backlash of why they were not informed(mind you I tell them all when I see them multiple times so that way they can remember).

Susan 10th Aug 2021 Activity Director
Hi Sherry
Thank you for your suggestions
Susan 10th Aug 2021 Activity Director
Hi Michael
As I mentioned earlier handing out invitations is always a good idea
I had a weekly calendar as well as a monthly one
You are our CNA could circle activities that like go to
You could hand out flyers at an activity before another one or you can go room to room
Do you go right before the activities and invite residents again
I always let the resident refuse three times before I give up
Sherry 10th Aug 2021 Activities Assistant
I have seen in some facilities, especially the ones that have rehab that they do a daily calendar of events for each individual. It's a lot more work but then it is given on a daily basis on top of the regular wall calendar or instead of.
Michael 11th Aug 2021
Having this be an Independent Living Community, there are no CNAs on staff.
As I mention, we do chair yoga Tuesday, Friday, and now starting on Wednesday and have an activity planned right after the workout.
For example, after chair yoga, we do origami :). We have one resident here that knows how to do it. However, she can't speak English very well, so I have to watch what she is doing and show everyone else. Today we learned how to make a boat & box!
And I have given up on a couple of residents trying to communicate with them to do activities. But then they see other people do it and mention why they weren't invited.
It is always going to be a challenging line of work.
I have a monthly calendar I give them and a weekly bulletin board showing what is happening during the week.
Susan 11th Aug 2021 Activity Director
Hi again Sherry
You could also have a whiteboard on the wall where daily activities are
But I think personal invitations work best

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