January is the month to celebrate National Activity Professional Week! This year, it’s celebrated from Jan. 23 to 27, with theme of “Adventure Awaits.” The National Association of Activity Professionals has an entire week of webinars and activities planned, with giveaways and calendar planning events, to presentation about national parks.

The Legacy Florence Nightingale

While activity professionals are an important part of our team today, their value has long been appreciated. For instance, did you know Florence Nightingale was one of the very first to advocate for activities to be used during the Crimean War in the 1800s? She felt the soldiers she cared for needed help mentally as well as having their wounds attended to. One of the activities she provided was helping them write letters to their loved ones.

Today, having an outstanding activities team is a vital asset of the care team. You will find that no activities are too big or too small. It can take time and effort to find and implement the right activities for each individual, but these challenges are quickly overcome to make sure no one is left out or behind because of certain disabilities, health, or mental health issues.

A Time Consuming Profession

Activities professionals attend to every individual need, wants, and desires, and at times this could be difficult, given the the differences in acuity levels among residents. At the same time, planning activities can be overwhelmingly time consuming. They must coordinate with CNAs to ensure care is completed before the residents leave their rooms or apartments.

Nonetheless, the benefits of having a great activity department can be epic and completely outweigh the headaches and stressful days required for a great program.

Let’s Show Some Support

Without the team, including activities professionals, many residents might be isolated from the outside world, leading to depression and, possibly, other health problems. Having residents join in on a one-on- one or a big-group activity not only improves quality of life but also can lead to a longer lifespan.

Whether it’s bingo, drawing, crafts, gardening, or something else, activities can bring meaning and purpose to our residents.

Life becomes more meaningful when you are around people who care! So don’t forget to stop by your activity department during this week. Show them the love and applaud them for a job well done!