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WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT


Person-centered activities Some communities are turning to outside partnerships to expand their programming. Inspīr at Carnegie Hill is a new luxury assist- ed living community on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Before Inspīr opened in March 2021, it offered virtual programs for future residents and other older adults. Now that re- strictions are easing, the focus is on programs that involve real-life human connection. The community’s location gives it access


to the outstanding resources available in New York City. Inspīr partners with groups like The Actors Fund, which provides per- formance professionals who create expe- riences around acting, storytelling, music, and dance. Laughter on Call offers stand-up performances as well as improvisation class- es for staff and residents. Namaste Wellness, SPEAR Physical Therapy, and Iowa Sports come to Inspīr to teach a full schedule of exercise and mediation classes, perform physical and occupational therapy and even lifeguard the community swimming pool. Horticulture therapy classes are led by instructors from NYU. Amanda Clears, associate director of res-


ident experience at Inspīr, finds that taking a person-centered approach is the key to true engagement. “Instead of going with what’s worked in the past when it comes to pro- gramming and engagement opportunities, you have to really start with the person,” she says. “What are the individual goals of the person, what’s fulfilling for them?”


Activity staff at many communities are


spending more one-on-one time with res- idents in their rooms. They’ve also had to take on tasks that were formerly off-limits. Brandywine at Dresher lost about a third


of its workforce at the beginning of the pandemic. Team members across the com- munity had to pitch in and help each other no matter what their official job description may have been. “There’s a more holistic approach now to


programming and dining and to the build- ing in general,” Kaufman says. “We’re all there for the same reason. We’re there to help the residents and do the best job that we can.” Today’s activity directors must be even


more resourceful and efficient in imple- menting programs. Conditions can change overnight. Tom Alaimo, VP of life enrich- ment and memory care at Trilogy, recently held interviews for a new member of the life enrichment support team. He asked ques- tions that had not usually come up before. “Are they resilient? Are they tech-savvy? They have to be prepared to embrace this new role, and it’s an ever-changing role,” he says.


New challenges As communities reopen, new challenges are emerging. How do we move forward in the face of constantly changing condi- tions? Should we enforce mandatory vac- cination? If not, how do we set protocols


RETHINKING COMMUNITY PROGRAMMING


• Get creative. Open your mind to new ideas, even if they’re completely different from what you’ve always done.


• Welcome input from your team. Encourage suggestions from community team members and be willing to help implement them.


• Keep trying new things. If an activity or program is not well received, set it aside for a few weeks and try again later.


• Network with colleagues to share ideas. Join groups for activity professionals. Take classes and keep up with the latest news in the field.


• Be open to investing in new technology. Give your residents the advantage of evidence-based engagement technologies that will enhance their well-being.


• Share your successes. When possible, share photos and stories to let residents, families and the public know that senior living communities are still safe, healthy, and fun places to live.


26 SENIOR LIVING EXECUTIVE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2021


Ms. Josie at Commonwealth Senior Living celebrates her 100th birthday—with an Eversound headset, she could hear her family outside her window.


for unvaccinated people? How can we re-engage residents who are concerned about leaving their apartments? And perhaps most challenging of all: How do we restore consumer faith in the senior living industry? These are questions that for the most part


don’t have firm answers yet. Every provider has to decide for itself what its priorities will be going forward. Harder’s focus now, for instance, is to get


Commonwealth’s residents back to a more normal way of life. Her plan is to use one-on- one interactions to build confidence among the more cautious while offering enticing outings and tours to get everyone back into the wider world safely. Perhaps the only thing we can be sure of right now is the fact that the landscape of resident programming has changed. Some of these changes will be permanent, whether we like it or not. “Change is happening, and sometimes


you don’t even realize the change that’s taking place,” Alaimo says. “There are so many things we have to go back to and start to reconsider.”


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