National Activity Professionals Week January 16 – 22, 2011
Ask a random number of people, different ages, different backgrounds, etc. to expressed their first thoughts on the words, ‘nursing home.’ The usual results: old people, rocking chairs, pudding, and boredom.
Yes, 65 percent of the approximately 1.5 million residents of a nursing home are over age 85, according to studies by Medicare (2008, the most recent year). Yes, there are rocking chairs as well as lounge chairs, dining room chairs, etc. and yes, pudding is on the menu. However, the one word that does not describe a 21st century nursing home is“boredom”!
Instead, residents experience daily activities from art lessons to poker games, and trips to malls, theaters, and social gatherings! There are religious programs, cooking classes, poetry, book and garden clubs, theme parties and dinners, live music, games of chance and visitors of all ages. These daily activities are provided for residents of nursing homes, as well as independent retirement communities, assisted living facilities, community senior centers and adult day centers through the tireless work of activity professionals.
This is National Activity Professionals Week – January 16 – 22, 2011 – designated by the National Association of Activity Professionals, an organization whose members are dedicated to serving the elderly. The profession began in 1987 when the U.S. Congress recognized that along with serving the physical health needs of nursing home residents, the facility must provide trained individuals to serve the residents’ social, physical and mental health needs. Federal and state laws require long term care facilities to provide and document activities of all residents. A nursing home can be cited by the government agencies for failing to provide appropriate activities to all residents.
Activity professionals are trained and certified to provide for residents with special needs, including those on vents and individuals with dementia. These professionals plan activities designed to work side-by-side the medical staff and with residents’ family members. Every day, activity professionals provide large group activities, such as musical sing-a-longs and worship services, small group activities, such as card games, and one-on-one activities including large print books and magazines, audio books, in-room movies, crafts, and friendly visits from trained therapy pets.
It is not unusual for activity professionals to assist as residents who never painted and watch as they become artists late in life and for a group sing-a-long of old time radio favorites to bring smiles and active discussion of the residents’ memory of their trip to see, “Old Blue Eyes”.
Yes, there are still some bingo games at nursing homes, but activity professionals also provide daily mostly general public unknown programs that stimulate the mind! These include science lessons, history days, math and memory games – all in keeping with the most recent research that a healthy human brain can and will continue to grow new neuropaths as long as it continues to learn new information. (The Mature Mind by Gene Cohen).
The federal Medical office estimates that 50 percent of nursing home residents have no family members and 60 percent of residents have no outside visitors. For these residents, and for residents with loving friends and family, it is the activity professional who provides the engaging fun and life enriching atmosphere that promotes healthy lives every day.
This article written by and emailed to me for this blog by Gloria Hoffner, a Certified Activity Professional and winner of the 2010 NCCAP Best Practice Award. Ms. Hoffner will be speaking at the NAAP Convention Mrytle Beach, SC March 30 - April 3, 2011. To read more about her or Guitar with Gloria, click HERE.