I hope everyone had a great National Assisted Living Week. As the President of the Northeast Ohio Association of Activity Professionals (NOAAP) and VP of National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP), I participated in and observed people celebrating in all sorts of creative ways.
This year’s theme was “A Spark of Creativity,” which according to the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), serves to “inspire residents to tap into their creative side, whether through the arts or beyond.” NCAL also hoped to encourage assisted living staff to express their creativity when it comes to fostering person-centered care.
To celebrate the theme, we had Lori Lancaster, Activity Professional from Normandy Manor, lead this month’s NOAAP meeting. Activity professionals from Northeast Ohio created artwork geared towards those afflicted with dementia. The hands-on session demonstrated how art can be a failure-free activity for those at all levels of the disease.
I saw several other communities in my network getting creative in their celebrations and community outreach throughout the week. A few hosted residents’ families for dinner and live music. One held an educational session about dementia care and another on how to leave a legacy -- where residents are encouraged to leave behind something their loved ones can pass on for generations, such as a book of family recipes or a collection of heirlooms. Another community celebrated creativity in different cuisines across the world. They highlighted a different country each day by serving foods and delicacies from each respective land.
Many of the week’s events were geared toward the hardworking assisted living employees – such as a themed week, where staff were asked to dress up in clothing from different decades – first the 50s, then the 60s, and so on until they closed out the week in 80s gear. I imagine that the residents got a kick out of this one, as well. Plenty of organizations held extra appreciation ceremonies and special giveaways for employees. The OnShift team even made a special visit our friends at Symphony at Mentor to deliver cake to their employees.
I loved to see that many communities even included first responders in their celebrations and highlighted the service they provide to residents and training to staff throughout the year. Volunteers in general are a huge part of daily life at assisted living communities – donating their time in areas like pet therapy, gardening, woodworking and sewing. Many organizations recognize them during NALW, spotlighting their special skills and ability to brighten residents’ days.
From what I can tell, everyone had a great week! I just want to extend a special thanks to all the employees in the industry that helped make it so.