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3 Important Considerations When Planning an Activities Calendar for a Life Plan Community

When senior living communities are depicted on movie and TV screens, you often see residents playing one of two games: shuffleboard or bingo. These cliches don’t reflect the current reality of life enrichment programming. Today, life plan communities offer a wide range of activities that help combat social isolation, keep residents engaged, and contribute to holistic wellness.

These benefits are also why more potential residents are considering activities calendars when choosing a community. In other words, an engaging enrichment program is crucial for the wellbeing of current residents and a powerful marketing tool for future ones.

Here are three things to consider as you plan your programming.

1. Factor in the Needs and Interests of Every Resident

An effective activities calendar accounts for the needs, interests, and wellbeing of all residents, from those in independent living to those in assisted living and memory care. What does that mean for those managing a life enrichment calendar? It means creating a slate of activities that both cater to a range of ability levels and allow you to adopt or modify them for a mixed group.

If you’re a life enrichment director and don’t know how to determine what your residents want or need, the best thing you can do is ask them. Work with residents directly. This isn’t just a good practice to adopt generally, it’s also a key principle of person-centered planning, which empowers residents to actively involve themselves in designing their own care plans. And that care extends to the life enrichment activities available in your community.

Life enrichment directors can also gauge the effectiveness of their programming by getting feedback from residents after they’ve participated in activities.

Manually handing out and collecting surveys isn’t practical, though – either for residents or the staff members tasked with collecting them. This is where calendar platforms that let staff take attendance and send online surveys come in handy. There’s no worry of losing any physical survey forms, and residents can share their opinions with the tap of a button on whichever smart device they use. And when we say “tap of a button,” we mean it. Our new Smart Aging feature lets residents click like or dislike after completing associated staff-led activities.

Collecting feedback can power a virtuous cycle of participation. One huge part of successfully gathering feedback is making it easy for respondents to provide that feedback. Another: Making it easy for leaders to act on. An online calendar platform helps you do both.

2. Prioritize Health and Wellness

There are eight dimensions of wellness. Effective life enrichment calendars don’t stop at physical activities and social gatherings. They incorporate all eight dimensions to support the mind, body, and spirit of each resident. With these options, residents can fit their personal calendars to their lifestyles.

Here’s a quick breakdown of each dimension and some activities ideas to help you brainstorm:

  • Physical. Physical wellness classes are available for all abilities, in-person and virtual, thanks to technology like in-room TVs that can display classes from providers like Spiro100.
  • Intellectual. This dimension of wellness involves creativity, curiosity, and life-long learning. It can be met when residents get involved in cultural and community activities, as well as personal hobbies. Language classes or traveling opportunities are great options.
  • Emotional. This dimension is all about developing an awareness of feelings and how you respond to the world around you and people in it. A gratitude workshop fits the bill here.
  • Social. It’s never too late to nurture meaningful relationships with individuals or the community. Encourage residents to share their story with the world and listen to others’ stories through programs like PBS American Portrait and StoryCorps Connect
  • Spiritual. Help residents get connected to their inner selves through meditation or yoga practice, faith-based worship, and cultural programming.
  • Vocational. Most residents are retired, but that doesn’t mean they have to stop developing vocational skills. Continuing education courses, such as graphic design and woodworking, can nourish the mind. Alternatively, skilled residents can share their knowledge with interested peers in career-based lectures or workshops.
  • Financial. This is all about successfully managing finances. Try giving residents ownership of certain events or charity functions that require them to flex their budgeting skills.
  • Environmental. This dimension is about respect for nature and the relationship between ourselves and our community. A community clean-up project, vegetable garden, or flower-planting project are all rich with long-term activities opportunities.

Wellness has certainly become a bit buzzword-y over the past couple of years in the senior living space. But that doesn’t take away from the value of catering your activities around it. Case in point: a 2020 report shows 45 percent of life plan community residents who took part in a wellness program reported that it made them “much more satisfied” with their overall quality of life.

3. Plan Far Enough Ahead to Give Residents, Staff Members, and Family Time to Participate

The best activities bring residents, staff, and family together. This means life enrichment programming must be planned far enough in advance so that people can plan around obligations, get it on their calendars, and make travel plans, if need be.

Just as important as planning: reminders. When you plan in advance, your life enrichment team can schedule reminders for residents and family members and promote the event to community members.

Reminders work. Studies have found digital reminders boost participation in everything from health care screenings to research studies to voting. Use periodic prompts to remind potential participants both to sign up for activities and when and where they are happening. With Icon’s Bi-Directional Communication tool, you can even create an on-demand phone line that announces community events for residents.

To that end, it’s important to communicate your life enrichment calendar in as many formats as you can. Community Engagement Platforms, for instance, make it easy for residents to peruse and register for events online. Digital Displays broadcast event information in community spaces for all to see. Voice assistant devices let residents ask Alexa when the community potluck takes place. And the occasional flier or written invitation never hurts, either. 

Simplify and Enhance Life Enrichment Planning with the Right Technology

Planning an effective life enrichment calendar is complicated work that requires creativity, thoughtfulness, and care. Fortunately the right senior living technology can help simplify that work.

With it, life enrichment staff can elevate their activities planning by promoting events to residents and families, taking attendance, gathering feedback, and analyzing reporting. This doesn’t just make life easier for staff; it improves the delivery of your life enrichment activities and ensures each of the residents in your community feels supported and engaged.To learn more about how senior living technology can help you optimize your life enrichment programming, reach out.

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