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LaurenAD

Fostering small group activities...

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I'm having an issue in creating small focused groups around a certain activity that a few people may like, but may not have wide appeal.

 

Due to staffing issues that I am trying to work on (namely my assistant thinks she works in the kitchen and its her responsibility to help there...every day), I am the only staff able to lead activities, so in addition to being the director and a manager of the facility, I am also the assistant in a facility with 112 beds. So I really need the activities I can actually lead to have an impact.

 

However, in trying non-Bingo ideas, with things that are aimed more towards a smaller group that would enjoy that particular activity, I am running into big issues with my Bingo and social regulars. Some of them have Alzheimer's, so I can understand their issues, but some are of perfectly sound mind. They complain when there's any activity that isn't about them or doesn't give them food, it seems.

 

I share my activities room with the dining room, and in addition to fighting the televisions, rush of the dietary aides, set up for meals, meals, clanging of dishes, constant mopping and sweeping, now I have to fight residents who are dead set to disrupt something they don't even want to do.

 

I've tried sticking to my guns, but it gets to the point where they will completely disrupt the activity for any other residents who want to actually do that activity. I've tried doing it on our 3rd and 4th floors, but it disrupts people who just want to sit and drink coffee and watch TV and they act the same way.

 

Any ideas on working through this group behavior? I'm at my wit's end, but I don't want to give up trying and just go back to Bingo Bingo Bingo for the 12 who like to play and forget the other 100 who might like something else.

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What about doing a small group activity at the same time as bingo or social hour? It depends of course if someone else can run bingo and if you have additional space, but it might keep the disrupters distracted long enough to get through a program.

 

I would seriously have a talk with your assistant too. She's your assistant, not the kitchen staff's. imo

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The more I think of this, the more it bothers me.

Just to be clear, you are saying that when you have a small group, not only the regular bingo players disrupt, but the staff as well?

If that's the case, one way to maybe curb the disruptions is to play the program up in the staff meetings or whenever you talk about your activities to other staff--- Put on a therapuetic hat and really emphasize how you are going to help someone with thier issues by doing this group. Talk it up a lot-- and after it is over, talk about how great it was and how next week is going to be even better. Maybe others will take your activity seriously and leave you alone to do your job.

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I have a few comments about this. First of all, your assistant needs to be given a list of her exact job duties...which do not include working in the kitchen, unless she/he is asked to do so by YOU and only you. Second, maybe if your higher functioning residents are wanting bingo every day, have one of your residents call bingo for them. They could even switch out callers every day/week and that would give you time to give lower functioning residents the attention they need and deserve also the higher functioning resident who is asked to call would feel like they were helping out. If that didn't work, you may have to explain to them that they are not the only one's who live there and your other residents need attention too. I've found that when you are honest and respectfully direct with higher functioning residents they do understand. If nothing, you may have to threaten with no bingo at all. I had to do that a few weeks ago when bingo had turned into nothing but cussing, argueing and a big drama session every bingo day. I very respectfully told them that we were a family here and had to be tolerant of others and if the child-like behaviors continued, there was no law that said I had to have bingo on the calendar. Now, it's calmed down alot. If it had continued, I would have taken bingo off the calendar for awhile and see what happened. Hope things work out for you!

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It is good to know that other people have problems with Bingo! My group has pushed everyone out of bingo because they are rude, cuss, and acuse others of cheating. Yet, they come to me asking to get more people to come and play. Ha!

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The more I think of this, the more it bothers me.

Just to be clear, you are saying that when you have a small group, not only the regular bingo players disrupt, but the staff as well?

If that's the case, one way to maybe curb the disruptions is to play the program up in the staff meetings or whenever you talk about your activities to other staff--- Put on a therapuetic hat and really emphasize how you are going to help someone with thier issues by doing this group. Talk it up a lot-- and after it is over, talk about how great it was and how next week is going to be even better. Maybe others will take your activity seriously and leave you alone to do your job.

 

Any activity I have tends to fight constant disruptions of noise, staff disruptions as they clean or socialize in dining room, or other residents.

 

I try to play it up what I am doing, especially in regards to the need for the residents to do activities, but especially when it comes to our Alzheimer's residents, other staff view my reassurance of them as "Why even bother? They're just going to repeat themselves." For instance, today, I was having a cooking class and a resident with Alzheimers was being disruptive with her constant need for reassurance. I gave her some towels to fold while the cookies were baking, and as usual, she was questioning it at first, then accepted it and quieted down, but both the housekeeping staff AND residents started calling her "Slave," which led her to return to the questioning. I think we all know as Activity Professionals that doing things like folding, that are familiar, can be very reassuring to Alzheimers...but when both staff and residents are calling that person a slave.

 

I think the main problem I deal with is that people, both staff and residents, view Activities here as a place to get some snacks, play Bingo, and maybe hear a band a few times a month. The smaller activities or crafts, that are meant to be therapeutic and the day to day activities, are just looked at as "the AD's crazy attempts at crafts." I think this is where I lost my assistant along the way, because she was so used to just doing the bare minimum of snack passing, Bingo, etc. Now my attempts at meaningful activities are falling on deaf ears, all around. Add to it that I am a manager and a supervisor of all staff, and it's like I'm the laughing stock, despite my attempts at gaining respect. No one thinks that the fact I got a non verbal person to speak in the first time in 4 years is valuable...

 

I guess it just goes with the culture of where I work, and how frustrating it is. I guess my post really goes further than fostering small groups, but getting more respect and support for Activities. Maybe then I can get buy in with the small group activities...

 

Apologies if this turned in to a rant, but as you can see, I am VERY frustrated.

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Honestly, I would have to start terminating and replacing staff. After a couple of write-ups, if they were not able or willing to conform, they would ABSOLUTELY have to go! Seems like your residents are suffering because of staff, and I would not have it! (Now I'm ranting). You say you are the manager, so stand firm. When the rest of your staff see people loosing their jobs, maybe they will decide they want their jobs and can conform to your program. If the housekeepers and other staff have time to disrupt your activities then maybe you should give them a list of duties also...then they wouldn't have time to disrupt and be disrespectful. To put it bluntly, grow a pair and get rid of staff who are taking activities away from your residents to need them. Good Luck!

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Wow! I wouldn't be able to work in a facility like that. I think I would talk to the head admin or whoever is in charge. Would they allow that type of behavior in their facility? Do they know what is going on? And if they still let it go on, I would consider leaving and using your talents at a place that appreciates you. You have to be taken seriously. Sorry you are having so many problems.

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