Friday, September 5, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
What kinds of things do you like to do to relax? It only takes a few minutes, or even longer if you like. You can go for a walk, go to the park and relax with the flowers and nature. You can take a long bubble bath with candles, soft music and your favorite bath oils. Whatever it is, do it. Even if it is just getting in a nap after work on Friday.
When I was taking my certification classes the instructor said the normal burn out rate for Activity Directors is 2 years. That meant that the average Activity Director didn't last in a specific position for more than 2 years at any one time. Isn't it interesting that a job that has so much fun involved would have such a burn out rate? I think it is because we spend all our time making sure everyone else is having a good time, and making sure that we are documenting it all, including trying to document why we think some are refusing to participate; then we are coming home and making sure our families are having a good time with their lives. But what about making sure we ourselves are having a good time with our lives? Why aren't we taking care of ourselves? And why wouldn't making sure we are relaxed and feeling confident before the busiest week of the entire year other than Christmas be a priority in our lives?
One of my acting theories while in my job as an Activity Director was to make sure the rest of the staff was also happy. I figured that happy staff makes for happy residents. So I did my best to spoil them with the same goodies that the residents got at parties, and trying to include them in brief periods in the scheduled activities so that they had at least a few moments each day to laugh and have a good time as well as bond with the residents. If you are doing this, it's a good thing. But the remaining question is...are you doing this for yourself as well?
Being an Activity Director can be such fun mixed with all the responsibilities involved. Combined with home responsibilities, as with any other job, it can be so much stress. So, sometimes during this week before National Nursing Home Week, stop and take that big breath. Relax and find a way to have some time to yourself, and/or some special fun time with your family. Forget about the coming week for awhile. And as I said in a previous post, find a way to celebrate Mother's Day in your own family.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
The most memorable Mother's Day activities I can think of right now was the Mother/Daughter "Tea" with entertainment we held annually for all the ladies of the facilities. The funny thing about it was how so many of the men would try to sneak inside the door to get to be part of the party. The entertainment and the layout of the facility was such that anyone just about anywhere in the main social areas could hear the music. But the men just loved trying to work their way into the crowd. Just like teenagers. Of course when Father's Day came around, the ladies were content to just sit around in the social areas and listen. None of them tried to sneak in.
I enjoy doing fund raisers. This same facility my entire budget depended on fundraising, which thankfully included a good chunk from United Way. When Mother's Day came around I had ordered a bunch of cute coffee mugs and mylar balloons from places like Oriental Trading. I made decorative candy and coffee mug balloon bouquets for resident families or staff members to order for mother's day gifts. They made a lot of good money for the activity fund.
This blog is supposed to be more for relaxing than for work. The majority of Activity Directors in long term care facilities seem to be women. What kinds of ways do you celebrate Mother's Day in your families? What would you like to be able to do for your mother or grandmother? Or, are you a mother or grandmother who will be center stage on that special day? What have been your most memorable Mother's Days? I hope with all the busy-ness of these next few weeks as you prepare for National Nursing Home Week, that you find ways to take some time out for yourself to relax and enjoy a little time to yourself. And don't forget to have some fun.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
We all know that this is the busiest week of the year other than Christmas. If you haven't yet got all your activities scheduled for the week, now is the time to do so. Okay, I said this blog was going to be a place to relax and not add to the pressure and stress. So let's get the ideas out of the way now and then there will be some time to relax just before the big week begins...at least a small chance to relax, I hope. Be sure to take some time after the week is over to pamper yourself. You deserve it!
The theme for this year's celebration is LOVE IS AGELESS. Check out the link below for more information.
Personally I like the idea of having a day just for activity directors to have a chance to take care of themselves and be pampered. Maybe a time for activity directors to get to play the games and have someone else run them. That was the first of the links above. One place I worked the administrator brought in someone to do professional upper body massages once or twice a month...first come first serve. It was a nice stress reliever. That was for all the facility staff.
There are a couple blog posts about activity directors in the links too as well as one news article about how a libray was setting up a program to help out area activity directors get what they need from the library. Wouldn't that be nice if all libraries did something like that?
Monday, April 7, 2008
To get you started, I am adding some links to items that could be made into collections for your residents. In addition to the collecting itself, what other kinds of activities could you come up with centering on the topics of the collections? How about trivia topics? Or reminiscing? If you haven't done this already, find out if any of the staff, staff family members, resident family members, or others in the community have collections they would like to bring in for a show and tell type activity. Could you have a history program centered around the type of collection, for instance, old post cards. Maybe even a story telling activity for the residents to make up stories about how the objects were once used or are used today.
Another type of collection is something that could be a community service project rather than an individual personal project. For example, the residents and staff as a unit could start a collection of non-perishable foods or non-food items that are needed for homeless shelters or for others in need. One facility I worked in had a quilting activity and then the finished projects were donated to various organizations who would then give them to people in need. This kind of activity could involve simply collecting quilt patches of any kind and size and the residents could sort them so they would be ready to use later. They could even bag and sell them as a fund raiser that could set the money aside for a service organization to use to help the community in some way. Pick up the pace of the collections and make a contest out of it. Divide up the facility wings into teams and have a special kind of prize for the "winners", then have a party when the contest is over. Collections for community service can be seasonal items that work for each season....for example, collect used coats, hats, gloves all in good condition throughout the summer and have them set aside and ready for the fall to be given to children and adults in need.
Either way, whether it be for personal individual collections, or group efforts for community service, it is sure to be something to give your residents something to look forward to. You can even incorporate children into these kinds of activities and make multi-generational activities out of your projects.
Here are some websites to visit to kick off your projects.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I am not a big fan of video games that get the kids all caught up on activity that makes them do no more than sit on the floor or couch and push a few buttons for hours at a time. But when the Wii came out and I first started seeing commercials about it, I thought that it is about time that the video game manufacturers got kids up and moving again. What I did not expect or even think about was the potential use for nursing homes, assisted living centers, senior centers, and other facilities dealing with health issues. It has only been in the past few weeks that I have even seen anything on the subject. Obviously, judging by the links I have posted for you tonight, I am behind the times!
The links I have added for you are only the first of many many links I have found just by typing in "wii therapy" in the search box. If you would like to have the Nintendo Wii at your facility and are still having trouble convincing the powers that be of what a great investment it would be, take them this list. Better yet, print out the information and take that to them. If the budget is the problem, maybe this is one of those things that a fundraiser might be in order. From what I have seen so far, it looks like it is a very worthwhile investment.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Check this one out too. It is really nice, but would not allow the script to be embeded. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j06lc220ZK0
Who says we can't dance?
Saturday, March 15, 2008
The facilities where this was most popular had the popcorn making machine where people could watch the popcorn being made. Those that did not have the popcorn machine were not that excited about the movie either.
When I worked in facilities with the popcorn machine, residents who said they did not want to come to the movie still came out of their rooms just to come watch the popcorn pop. Others, smelling the popcorn from their rooms, asked if they could have some brought to them. So, what about the movie? Combining a good movie with a bag of popcorn worked well with a little timing. Movies generally last about an hour and a half...a long activity to expect people to sit through. So what we usually did was get the movie started, then after about half an hour we would get the popcorn popping. We always had extra chairs set up for latecomers who came out just for the popcorn. Some chairs were also placed where people could just watch the machine and talk to each other. The popcorn machine was placed, obviously, a bit away from where the movie was playing so the noise and chatter would not interfere with the residents viewing pleasure. So, this one activity became two activities. Or maybe that would be three if you count the room visits that came out of delivering the fresh popped corn right to their rooms. Oh, and one time, my movie and popcorn activity had an added activity when the machine was placed too near the smoke detector! Never did that again! There wasn't really any smoke, but what did come from the machine made a noisy impact on the day!
But what happened in those facilities that did not have the popcorn machine? And what about the facilities that wouldn't even allow for the real popcorn for fear of residents choking? We would get just a few residents to come out and watch the movie, and they would soon be asleep in their chairs after only a short time. I had one facility where I just could not convince anyone of the value of buying even a small popcorn machine for the residents. They were happy with using microwave popcorn. If only I could have had one on loan for a day and invite everyone in for a visit to see just what would happen.
Do you work in a facility where they don't see the value? Here are just some of the benefits you can mention the next time you bring up the idea.
- Increased attendance to the Movie, or whatever other activity you want to have popcorn involved.
- A secondary activity in the area of the popcorn machine while residents watch and socialize.
- A room visit activity that makes popcorn the topic of discussion.
- An increase in visitors when they know popcorn is on the calendar.
- A fund raiser as you can charge visitors (never charge the residents) and facility staff for each bag of popcorn they want...always make extra. Always include the popcorn machine in other activities that are fundraisers, such as carnivals.
- Increased morale in the staff on popcorn day. (Happy staff=happy residents.)
I am sure there are other benefits you can think of. Of course you can always buy extra deli popcorn (the puffed kind without kernals) for those who have a risk of choking. One facility I visited made both regular and caramel corn. What an idea!
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Just from seeing my own reaction to getting out on Monday and then again yesterday tells me we have all but shut up inside too long this winter. Spring might not be here just yet, but it is just around the corner.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Finding ways to fund the supplies can be a challenge, and we will discuss fund raising activities in the near future.
One possible way to kick this activity off is to have the big event first meeting. This activity would be best pulled off if done by invitation to family members to come and join, and to bring some ideas with them. Serve refreshments, maybe even have someone who scrapbooks well come and do a short demonstration. Provide basic initial materials so residents can get started.
One way to keep material costs down is to have the basic cutters, trimmers, and other equipment kept in the activity room rather than having each resident be able to own their own. Leave that up to family members if they wish to have their loved one have their own equipment. Make sure there is a place where residents can come and work on their scrapbooks at their leisure, but with some supervision as needed.
Once or twice a month have a follow up activity where everyone brings their scrapbooks to show and tell what they have done up to that point. During this activity, residents can share ideas just like any other scrapbooking group does. When a scrapbook is completed, make sure the resident is recognized for finishing it and offer them the chance to start another one if they would like to.
This is a good activity to keep residents motivated and participating. It is also something that can encourage intergenerational contact.
What is your earliest childhood memory about snow?
How did snow effect your regular routine?
How did you bundle up to go out to play in the snow? How has that changed over the years?
What kinds of snow games did you play when you were a child?
How did you get to and from school? From work?
What songs do you remember that were about snow?
Did you ever make paper snowflakes in school?
Did you have a sled? If so, where did you get it and what was it like?
Have you ever ridden in a horse-drawn sleigh?
How was your home heated in the winter?
Do you remember any stories your parents or grandparents told you about winters when they were young?
Do you remember any big blizzards when you were young? What happened?
Describe some scenes from the deepest snow you can remember.
Describe some of the snowmen you have built when you were a child.
Do you have any other interesting stories about snow or winter when you were young?
Do you remember taking your children outside to play in the snow when they were young?
Friday, March 7, 2008
Have any of you tried anything like this? What were the results? What did you do with the pictures when you got them back?
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Here is an idea from one of the facilities I worked at. I wasn't there at the time they did this, but I was told about it and it sounded like loads of fun. Maybe some of you have done this at your facilities. If you have, be sure to share your experiences with the rest of us.
What you have to do first is to assemble all the items you will need for this activity because once it gets started, time is going to be precious. You will need:
doll clothing accessories
little broomsticks like the ones you find in harvest decorations
and just about anything else you can think of in miniature
flat lunch trays--enough for each resident
wash basins--enough for each resident
gloves or mittens--enough for each resident
Once you have assembled the supplies and the residents, put on a little wintertime music while you go outside and fill up the wash basins with snow and bring it in for each resident to begin building their own snowman. They will build their snowmen on their lunch tray so everything else stays dry. After they build their snowmen, it is time to decorate them. Of course they can decorate in any way they want to. Be sure to take photos of each resident with their snowman when it is finished. You could even have a contest judged by the other residents and/or staff when they are all done. Hang pictures on the bulletin boards, or at their doorways, or whereever when the activity is finished.
Maybe you will still have a chance to do this before this winter is over. If not, keep the idea for next winter.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Monday, March 3, 2008
What computer program do you use, if you use one, to create your calendars? I prefer the calendar part of the Print Master series of desktop publishing programs. I like the ease with which you can drag one day's schedule to another day for however many times you need to do so without retyping. So, if your bingo day is also your day for exercise and church services, you can type it in just once, and drag it to the other bingo days the rest of the month. You have room to add clipart to the calendar in just about any location you wish including on each individual day if you want to. You can also make your calendar in portrait or landscape modes. Print Master is a very user-friendly program for all sorts of desktop publishing tasks you might have for your job, including making banners and flyers for special events. Adding textboxes and clipart is as simple as a click and resizing is just as simple. Printmaster is from Broderbund.
I have also used Calendar Creator Plus, which is also a good program. With Calendar Creator Plus, there is a little more work needed to make specific activities to reprint each time they need to so you don't have to constantly retype them. The problem with Calendar Creator Plus when I used it was that it would not always hold what I needed to put inside one block so it would not print. Also it was often difficult to get the calendar template size to work so that it would print without cutting the side off. I admit it has been several years since I have used this program so I don't know if they have improved those areas or not. Calendar Creator also allows for clipart as well as other interesting tidbits of information you might want to put on your calendar. I did like that part of the program. I also liked being able to type an activity in once, set time schedules for it and not have to type it in again for a few months in a row if it was a repeating activity. Calendar Creator did not have other desktop publishing functions with it.
So, there you have it. My take on what I have actually used to create my calendars on the computer.
Before I ever got to putting my calendar on the computer to be printed out, I worked it out in rough draft form on a specially created spreadsheet with up to 7 cells in each daily block, and at least 5 full weeks of blocks. I also color coded it by marking all the regularly scheduled activities such as bingo in one color, special events such as holidays and parties, in another color. Then I used pencil for all the blank areas I needed to fill in until I had them set. Once it was complete I would put it in the computer.
Many AD's use the calendars in the publications we are always receiving or order. I never did get into using them because I liked having the separated lines of the spreadsheets.
What kinds of calendars system do you have for your main bulletin boards? I have used several, and seen many others that I would have liked to try. I have seen the wipe off boards, and the preprinted blank calendars that you can order. Personally I never liked those because I didn't like the handwriting on the ones I saw. When I did have to use them, I was very particular about how the handwriting came out. I wanted it, first of all, large enough and clean enough for the residents to be able to read. I am a perfectionist about many things and that was one of them. I was always having to start all over and throw away sheets that I had messed up. That gets expensive because those sheets are not cheap. My very favorite bulletin board calendar was in the first place I worked as an AD. It was HUGE! In fact, it was so big, I could use one full sheet of paper for each and every day of the month, staple those pages to the bulletin board in calendar shape, landscape style, and also be able to use paper that had pretty and appropriate for the month background. That means, I could use a snowy style paper for January, hearts and flowers for February, etc. As long as the paper did not make reading the calendar difficult, just about anything worked. Then the border around the completed calendar was decorated accordingly. Over the years I have managed to use the computer to resize those daily blocks so that I could use the same system for most smaller bulletin boards, although I often found preprinted paper difficult to use when cut into quarters, for instance. For those months, I simply used the clipart features of Print Master to decorate the calendar blocks.
Whatever system you choose to use, the most important thing is that the residents, family members, other visitors, and staff can read it to know what is going on and when.
Now it's your turn. Post your comments and share your calendar styles with the rest of us.
But, supply catalogs--ya gotta love em. What would we ever do without them? How can we bare to part with them? Some come once a year, some every 3 or 4 months with the season changes. What were your favorites? Mine were always the S&S Crafts, and Oriental Trading. There were always things in those catalogs that, if nothing else, would give me good ideas for things to do in either a craft activity or some other type of activity. Everytime I would take a new job, I would eventually have to work at cleaning out the files and get rid of all the stuff that was no longer current, including back issues of these beloved catalogs. Finally, just to try to keep a handle on my own pile, I would go through all the catalogs everytime I got a new one, no matter what kind it was. If it was one that came out once a year, the old one got tossed and replaced by the new one. If it came out more often with seasonal changes, I kept one year's worth, then started pitching them. That at least kept my stack under a little bit of control.
Okay, another item that always seems to turn up somehow over night. Flower vases! If you are lucky and have a good area for storing all your supplies, this isn't too hard to deal with. If not, you could have a problem until the next bunch of flowers arrives for you to take to residents' rooms. Either way, they can't stay on your desk very long and you still get your documentation done.
One place I worked, there was a funny story about how they handled their fire drills. The routine was to secretly place a red flag somewhere within the building and whoever finds it has to initiate the firedrill. Well, this particular day, the person in charge decided to put the flag on the Activity Director's desk...that was in the morning. It wasn't until later in the afternoon when she was cleaning her desk off that she actually found the flag! From the first time I heard that story, I always checked each day to see if they might pull that one on me.
I am an organizer. If...and that is a BIG IF...I have the space available to organize the way I want to, life goes much smoother. But most of the time, I have issues with finding places to keep things that are needed. On the job, this can be a real challenge because we have to be able to put away such awkwardly shaped objects of all sizes from the smallest package of balloons, to the largest kickball and all kinds of other things. My last job I had the best office/activity room I had ever had. The room was shaped in an odd shape, but one end was all cabinets, with loads of counter space and wall cabinets above, including a sink. The other end for awhile held big bookcases full of books which provided the residents with an in-house library. We had two desks, and two big long tables, one holding a constant jigsaw puzzle. This was also the largest facility I had ever worked in. Until someone not doing a great deal of thinking of what was best for the residents came along and convinced management to get rid of all the books and the shelves to make more room in the activity room, it was an often used service. If the residents could, they came to the room to pick out books. If not, we took them books. Other than that, however, that activity room/office was the best supplied I had ever worked in.
Now it is your turn. Post your comments here about what kinds of offices you have had over the years. What was the best? The worst? Could you keep it clean and uncluttered? Do you have organizational ideas to help someone else organize their office and/or activity room?
Sunday, March 2, 2008
In this blog we will talk about old and new craft ideas, which companies are the best for ordering supplies, how to motivate residents to participate, ways to perk up your calendar of events, and much more. We can talk about how to keep ourselves from burning out. When I took my class, the instructor said normal burnout rate was about every 2 years for the average Activity Director. Why does this happen in a job where we get paid to play? Well, isn't that what most people think we are doing? Yes we do play, but we work hard, and we have to know what we are doing so we don't get outside of the state and federal regulations. And we have to deal with the medical staff who see the residents from a totally different perspective than we do. We have to spend much time convincing them that these people can do much more than they are given credit for. And we often have to convince the residents of this as well. But the rewards are tremendous. The smiling faces of the residents and those of the family as well can make our day. So, let's talk it all over. This is the place to share your feelings and thoughts and opinions about all things having to do with being an Activity Director in the medical field.