A look at the Activity Professional in Nursing Homes, Assisted Livings and Continuing Care Communities.
Let me begin with what the state regulations ask of the Activity Professional.
First of all to be a Director of the Activity/Recreation Department the individual must hold the following"
Sub Chapter 8:39-8.2
The Director must have a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college/university majoring in therapeutic recreation or creative arts therapy. Or be certified through the National Certification Council of Activity Professionals also known as NCCAP.
This is very important as it outlines the educational knowledge the Director needs to oversee the department. Experience is not enough. This is required through the state and federal guidelines.
When state surveyors comes in to for the facilities annual survey; they are not only looking at the other disciplines such as nursing, dietary, housekeeping, social service and so forth. They will be looking at the activity programs and calendars.
So lets read some facts: I will keep them as simple as possible.
There are seven criteria's that a Director should focus on and so will the state.
- Social Programs such as parties, clubs and special events.
- Physical Programs such as exercise, ball toss, bowling etc.
- Creative Programs such as arts, crafts, ceramics, poetry and drama.
- Educational and Culture such as groups, guest speakers, international meals.
- Spiritual and Religious for all denominations.
- Awareness programs geared towards residents with Alzheimer's/Dementia such as Sensory Stimulation, Aromatherapy.
- Community Programs such as volunteer programs, pet therapy, adopt a grandparent.
So when you look for a nursing home for your loved one pick up a calendar and also observe the programs in action.
It is difficult for our loved ones to adjust to living in health care facilities. Sure we can make their rooms very much like home. But guess what? It isn't. There is a transition that takes place and often it is not easy.
The Activity Department plays an important role in this transition. They are the people who promote fun, games, music and art therapy. There are coffee clubs, men's and women's club, discussion groups, outings, spiritual programs, entertainment and parties. It is not an easy job. I should know I am a Certified Activity Director with an Associate's and Bachelor's degree in Health Care Administration. I have been in long term care for 12 years.
Sometimes there are residents who are not social. That's okay because that is their right not to participate. However we as Activity Professionals should not forget about them. We can always invite, cater to their religious preferences. Maybe they don't want to go to church but would like communion or a bible to read. We should have a room visit program. What do we as Activity Professionals know about this resident's past role in society. We can incorporate that into a visit. Or maybe he or she just wants someone to talk and listen to them. Never forget the resident's who self isolate.
The regulations state that the Activity Department should include individualized programs and small and large group programs. But don't just do it to be in accordance with the regulations. Most of the individuals who enter this field did it for the compassion, empathy and reward of making our residents happy. I know I did.
Of course the regulations guide us to how often we should conduct programs and then there are advisories that let us know what the time frame is. For instance activities should be held seven days a week and at least four nights a week.
However sometimes these same regulations are outdated. In one advisory it states we should have one full time activity staff member to 44 residents. Well that doesn't work in the school system why should it work with our senior population.
The regulations also state that resident's should get 55 minutes of activities per staff per week. Look at our calendars. We as Activity Professionals go above and beyond.
I wrote this article to commend our Activity/Recreational staff members. They work with a diverse population from Alzheimer's/Dementia, Long term alert and oriented, short term rehabilitation residents, resident with developmental difficulties and the list goes on. The ages have varied over the years. It is not just 65 and older. More facilities are getting residents in their 40's and 50's. This means we now must embrace the technological aspects of activities. The baby boomers.
Next time you visit your loved one in a facility. Or maybe you are taking a tour for the first time. Look at these wonderful people who conduct the activities. The smiles from them and the residents. The happiness they bring, but more important the happiness they receive when a resident laughs, claps at a party, wins at bowling. It is a precious thing. Of course our nursing department, dietary, housekeeping, laundry, maintenance and social service department are vital to health care facilities. I just want you as an individual to look at the Activity Department and Staff. Remember we as employees appreciate when you acknowledge us.
My dad is in a nursing home. Currently I am not working, so I've seen things from a staff point of view and now a family member's point of view.
You are wonderful people Activity Staff and I commend you for what you do. Yes it truly is nice to hear those words. Not just from other residents or bosses or co-workers. But from the family members as well.
For more information on nursing home regulations for the Activity Department in the State of New Jersey please visit the following website. http://wwwhpm.umn.edu/nhregsplus/NJRegs_by_St
Below are some wonderful pictures of residents and activity staff. See the joy for both of them.
Plenty of Activities:
Resident's love Bingo but there are so many activities to choose from.
Bingo is a good way to promote physical and cognitive strength.
Concentration and hand and eye coordination is vital.
The best part is when that resident yells BINGO!
Arts and Crafts
Arts, Crafts and Ceramics
Many of our resident's were crafty in their previous roles.
Why should they lose that now?
Remember to choose crafts that are fitting for their dexterity.
I myself frown on craft kits. The pieces are too small to be seen or handled.
Look in your supply closet and get creative.
Provide assistance, but don't do it for them.
When a resident completes a craft or art project it brings him or her personal satisfaction.
Red Hat Tea Party
Red Hat Society
Oh yes they still exist.
On a weekend vacation I spotted some elegant ladies.
They were having lunch at a restaurant.
They were dressed in Red and Purple.
This is a creative and social activity.
The resident's love to dress up.
And tea and cookies in the afternoon
make it a wonderful treat.
As my article states; don't forget the staff.
Bringing laughter and happiness.