By: Judy Sarnowski, ADC, CDP, Smith Care Center’s Activity Director
In any Skilled Nursing Facility, this adage unfortunately holds true when attempting to design an activity calendar that fits the leisure patterns of adults who have diverse backgrounds, levels of education, and religious preferences. Throw varying degrees of cognition into the mix and the challenge to provide activities that appeal to the majority of your residents, becomes
Experienced activity directors know that the key to developing a successful program is to find a common thread within the patchwork quilt of each person’s interests, the three most common being some form of exercise, music, and reading. Once that is accomplished, the task of providing activities that have a global appeal to your resident population becomes much simpler.
The next step is to simplify each activity into segments that can be altered to match each resident’s specific abilities. Variations of card games like UNO allow residents with varying levels of cognitive ability the opportunity to participate and enjoy a positive experience. Adaptive devices and task segmentation can also be used to facilitate the participation of a large group of residents in a single activity.
For example, the task of building a birdhouse could evolve into a successful activity simply by assigning the more difficult aspects of the project, like measuring and cutting, to residents capable of performing these tasks, and allowing those with cognitive or physical limitations the opportunity to perform simpler tasks like sanding or painting.
In a Life Plan Community, activity offerings should address the individual needs and interests of residents within their specific level of care. At times, this can be difficult to achieve as residents whose needs are ever-increasing are unable to move through the care continuum due to lack of available space. As Plymouth Harbor nears the completion of our Northwest Garden Building —complete with state-of-the-art Memory Care and Assisted Living Residences — we will be able to offer enhanced activities for each individual resident and accommodate the influx of people searching for the ultimate destination in which to live life to the fullest.