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Working the Holidays


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I am required to have at least one activity staff member in the building every day, even holidays. What I found works best for me is to gather my staff at the beginning of the year and ask for volunteers to work each holiday. I am amazed at how quickly I get that done by just asking for volunteers. Everyone is required to work at least one holiday and are given the option to choose which one. I am fortunate enough to have plenty of staff so everyone only has to work one. Everyone has holidays that are more important to them but don't mind working others. I usually work Christmas because my family celebrates the week before to allow everyone to be home with their children on Christmas morning. I enjoy being here with my residents that morning although I totally understand those with families wanting to be home. I was just married on Saturday and am sure that in years to come, as we have a family, I will be rotating that Christmas with others. I can see both sides of this but think that the important thing to remember is that there must be a balance between family and work. If there is ever a choice.......Choose your FAMILY. The residents had families of their own and will understand. Happy Holidays!

 

Heather

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I work at a Long Term Facility in Maryland and their policy or norm is to have program but end early at about 2:30 - 3:00 pm so the programmers can go and spend time with their families. I mean to hear the facilities shut down is kind of sad because i think of how lonely my resident would be without activities that bring them together. I could say the only way i would be okay with no activity staff on a holiday is if the resident were all into their own self directed interests which is merely impossible.

 

Jonelle

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My facility is required to have a weekend manager and a holiday manager on duty. It is the manager's responsibility to do the scheduled activities. We are a small SNF facility, so a department head plays the part of manager.

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I've been working in the recreation field for 8 years and almost a year at my current LTC facility. I am having trouble with the Activity Department with regards to working on Christmas. Apparently, the previous director shut down the entire department on the 25th for years!

 

Out of curiosity, do any other facilities out there have their departments closed?! It's very upsetting since the entire reason of our being in this facility is to promote quality of life for our residents -- most especially on holidays as such! Aren't we required, just as nursing and the dietary department to be there for the residents during these special occassions?!

 

This has to be the first facility I know of that shuts down their entire Activities Department on Christmas.

 

Feedback please!

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This Christmas is the one holiday I will not be working in many years, albeit in a different field. Out of the blue, my husband decided he wanted to cook a big Christmas dinner! I would just as soon have worked, but I'm not going to dampen his enthusiasm nor quench his ambition. The AD will be there - but I will not.

 

That said.......

 

I, too, find the comments on this thread quite interesting. Is all we do for the residents all year long negated by our absence on one single day?

 

I have residents nagging me all day for money, soda, food, cigarettes, "run to the pizza parlor for me", etc. One even asked me to give her my coat, since I "really didn't need it, and I make so much money" (uh huh). Failing to rip the coat from my shoulders, she keeps asking me to buy her a coat just like mine.

 

Am I a bad person or horrible activity professional because I can't - and won't - buy this woman a coat or spend my entire day running to the Wawa and spending my own money on cigarettes and snacks for the residents? Likewise, am I horrible because I personally will not be present on Christmas?

 

On the other hand, we have residents who are kind, considerate and caring. These persons, knowing how much I love him and never get to see him, would want me to be with my grandson on Christmas, and some have even stated, "This is just another day to me". (As it is to me- in reality it doesn't matter much to me - nor to some of the residents.) And all of a sudden, I'm no longer a horrible shirker?

 

Sometimes, I have found myself deciding for others what is important for and critical to them. It's a bad habit and it does not honor the very individual I seek to serve and help. Perhaps Christmas isn't as important as we'd like to think - perhaps it is. It depends on the individual's perspective.

 

The quality of care the other 364 days per year is just as critical.

 

I refuse to beat myself up over one day.

 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Edited by eightdozenroses
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  • 1 month later...

I try to give my staff choices in how they would like to provide coverage for the holidays. One choice is that each cover one of the major holidays and that they decide between themselves who is going to cover which holiday. Another choice is that each person work two hours each holiday and they can work out who will work which two hours. This year my staff worked two hours each on Thanksgiving I choose to work Christmas and my new trainee and I worked New Years. The atmosphere is so festive among the staff as well as the residents that it is a pleasure to be there sharing it with them.

 

A suggestion, especially for those who are the only person in their department, is that family members who plan to be there on Christmas Day can hold group activity programs for you. This can be a topic of discussion at the Family Council meetings. We have a family member/volunteer who does two Bingo games each week and our special Bingo games such as; Christmas Gift Bingo. I know if I asked that he would be very happy to do our Christmas Chocolate Bingo game for us. You may also have an alert and oriented resident who can set up board games, read the newspaper, or put a movie in the DVD player, while dietary department takes a few minutes to serve coffee, and nursing keeps an eye on them. ( I like the post where each department does one activity program per month, that's great team work!)

 

What we all do need to remember, in regard to those Activity Directors who work alone, is that yes other departments do work the holidays, however, they have more than one person in their department and do not have to be there working every single holiday, they are able to alternate, and work together to provide coverage. This goes for vacation time and sick days, it is much harder for one person in a department to stay home when they are ill, or to schedule vacation time, hence the burnout. Three Cheers for our dedicated collegues - your the bomb!!!!

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Working half a day isn't possible for people like me that have to travel out of town to see their families. My facility had a Christmas movie in the morning and a Christmas service in the evening. I agree with those that say one day is not going to negate all our hard work the rest of the year. I don't feel like my residents were suffering without me, but then again, all of my residents have families that actually either came and got them, or came by and visited. I could see how you might feel bad for lonely people who don't have anyone. But, the nurses have to be there to take care of them anyway, so they can handle doing simple activities like putting in a movie. That's wonderful if you can be there and have Christmas bingo and presents for everyone, but I'm really the only activity staff for the healthcare side of my facility. I work for resident services, so all my co-workers are on the independent living side, and of course they were off, and I can't work every day.

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I've been working in the recreation field for 8 years and almost a year at my current LTC facility. I am having trouble with the Activity Department with regards to working on Christmas. Apparently, the previous director shut down the entire department on the 25th for years!

 

Out of curiosity, do any other facilities out there have their departments closed?! It's very upsetting since the entire reason of our being in this facility is to promote quality of life for our residents -- most especially on holidays as such! Aren't we required, just as nursing and the dietary department to be there for the residents during these special occassions?!

 

This has to be the first facility I know of that shuts down their entire Activities Department on Christmas.

 

Feedback please!

My staff comes in on Christmas and works the family lunch where we get about 40 guests and then one person comes in to work dinner. However we do not do any planned groups due to the large volume of visitors.

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I've worked act for 7 years. Started running my dept 3 yrs ago and implemented working holidays, except Thanksgiving & Christmas. These 2 are days off, because it was too hard for residents to get ready for families coming in and making it to their meal, or going out. That, and with the huge holiday meals, all of the facility is being set up for an inflow of visitors. We do have act. boxes @ every nurses' station with games, cards, puzzles, etc and the act room has over 100+ movies if they want to watch and is opened all day. We have a 220 bed facility.

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Hello,

I have worked in Recreation since 1977. I have worked in state hospitals, LTC, and medical hospitals. I have never, nor have my staff been expected to work on a major holiday. Your dept. should be providing act everyday leading up to the holiday including a Christmas soiree for family, but I would never expect my staff to have to be away from their family on a major holiday. I am sure that you will find that the majority of your residents spent their holidays with their families when they were members of the work force. We are there for their quality of life, but essential staff is there on the holidays and will have interaction with residents. Hopefully a good deal of your residents will be having home visits or family coming in to visit as well. Remember quality of life for your staff as well, or you will be dealing with alot of turnover.

Last point, you stated this practice of the dept. being off on major holidays has worked for 25 years at your facility , if it ain't broke....don't fix it!

Is there some reason you can't work on the major holidays if you are wanting your dept. present. Who better to represent your dept. than you?

 

Samantha

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I suppose that with 3 FT Activity Assistants, I am a fortunate AD. The 3 of them take turns on the holidays- they have to work 2 out of 3 for the summer holidays (memorial, july 4th and labor day) and 2 out of 3 winter (thanksgiving, christmas, and new years). We have 167 beds and I cannot close the department for the holidays. Its not fair to the residents. The rotate in just fine, and in my 4 years at this facility there has never been an arguement or problem. I plan a full days events- usually something light like christmas bingo in the afternoon and a hot cocoa and cookie social in the AM with a carol sing-a-long. I think holidays are when our residents may need us most- for the ones who lost spouses, whose children don't visit, and the ones who need the sensory stim and reminiscence therapy.

 

Enough rambling... B)

 

Stacey

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