How to create an effective activities program for the assisted living community

Editorial Note: This is an excerpt taken from The Big Book of Senior Living Activities by Jillian Thomas, CDP, and Debbie Bera, ADC. Learn more about this resource here, including over 100 activity ideas, detailed case studies for senior living activities, and tips for how to gain resident and staff buy-in.

Your activities program helps to ensure the residents you serve feel ownership over their “home.” Many assisted living communities pride themselves on maintaining a homelike environment, and a strong activities program can bring the sense of community needed to keep resident and family satisfaction high.

An effective activities program aims to improve the quality of life for individuals residing in your community. “Quality of life” can be a subjective term, but generally you can improve a resident’s quality of life by enhancing his or her self-esteem and dignity. Each resident’s involvement in daily life should be meaningful. Activities become meaningful when they reflect a person’s interests and lifestyle, when they are enjoyable, when they help the person feel useful, and when they provide a sense of belonging. Residents themselves indicate that a lack of activities in long-term care facilities contributes to feeling a lack of purpose. Everyone needs to feel they are contributing to their community and have a reason to get up each day.

“Activities” refer to any endeavor, other than routine activities of daily living (ADL), that is intended to enhance a resident’s sense of well-being and promote or enhance his or her physical, cognitive/intellectual, spiritual, social, and emotional health. These include, but are not limited to, activities that promote:

  • Self-esteem
  • Faith
  • Pleasure
  • Comfort
  • Education
  • Creativity
  • Success
  • Independence

Creating an effective activities program

There are a few key elements involved in creating an effective activities program; these include:

  • Finding what works for your community
  • Keeping activities in line with your mission statement
  • Using programming that engages your staff
  • Blurring the job descriptions of staff
  • Most importantly, remember that activities programming needs to change as the residents change.

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