Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mother's Day Is Coming

In addition to National Nursing Home Week, Activity Directors have Mother's Day to plan for. It is a busy week, that is for sure. Today I just want to share some of the Mother's Day ideas and activities I have been involved with in the facilities where I worked.

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

Spring Idea

These two pictures show something I did at one of the facilities where I worked to brighten up an area where the residents sat visiting before meals. The flowers are the artificial ones you can get at WalMart. The fencing is actual yard fencing you would use in your own real flower gardens...also bought at WalMart. It was a challenge to get the fencing and flowers to stay in place. First I stapled the flowers to the wall at the bottom, also using some packaging tape where necessary. Then to get the fencing to stay in place I used flower bulletin board boarder woven in and out of the fence stakes and stapling the border to the wall. The one corner closest to the dining room entrance kept falling down, and every morning while it was in place, I would have to re-staple in places where it had come loose overnight. But the residents loved the bright colorful flowers and it gave them all the feeling of being outside on their front porch. If I remember correctly, the rainbow was made from tissue paper. If you have an area where something like this might work, maybe you could incorporate it into your National Nursing Home Week Celebration.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Are You Ready?

National Nursing Home Week starts one month from today. Are you ready? What kinds of great and exciting activities do you have planned for the week?

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 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.
Some interesting articles I found today about Activity Directors. Some are old. Maybe all of them are. But, they are still interesting and maybe have some ideas for you. Or maybe just might spark some discussion.

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

Something For The Collectors

Do your residents have any collections? Is it too late for them to start collecting something now that they are living in a long term care facility? NO. But what could they start collecting now that would be fun but not take up too much space since space is certainly limited? What about the costs? Your residents are not going to have the funds to collect anything expensive. There may be ways to defray the costs and make it fun for the entire facility, including the staff, by incorporating various fund raisers into other activities, or making the fund raisers into main activities. Finding items to collect may be easier now that spring has arrived since garage sales are beginning to pop up everywhere. Garage sales and flea markets are ways for the staff of your facility to participate with a collections activity. Family members and friends can also get involved and have fun along the way, as well as giving them more to talk about when they come to visit. You may even be able to get your entire community involved. The sky is the limit.

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.

Another thing to think about is what item does your resident want to collect? Could you challenge them to think of something unusual to collect? The more unusual, maybe the more fun? Or maybe you might find out that the unusual item isn't all that unusual after all. For example, I just thought about collecting yo-yo's. So far at this point I have not done a search for yo-yo collections. But knowing the internet, I am sure there is something out there about collecting yo-yo's. Maybe that makes a resident want to collect antique toys. But that might be too broad of a topic. Ask them what their favorite small toy was when they were a child and see if they might be able to start a collection of that item. This would also apply to other items. It might be more fun to narrow the topic down to just one or two types of items to collect within a certain area. One of the stamp collecting sites I saw had the idea of collecting only stamps with pictures of dogs or cats. Another item people like to collect are old comic books.
I had a resident several years ago who loved stamps of all kinds. He was mentally challenged and did not care if the stamps were used or not. He just wanted stamps. The more stamps he could get the better. He had staff bringing him stamps from their mail at home. He had sticker books that he put his stamps in. Collections don't have to be for the monetary value as long as the resident is having fun with it. Collections can be done to bring family members closer together knowing that the collection can one day be passed on to another family member. It will have greater sentimental value knowing that it was something they were able to work on together.
Oh, and I just had to go look. Curiosity got the better of me: