If you’ve ever visited or known someone living in an assisted living facility, you’ve probably noticed the ongoing schedule of special events ranging in activities for the individual all the way to large community based occasions. Facility calendars are frequently booked solid, and include weekly, monthly, and special commemorative and holiday themed events.
There’s a good chance you’ve even met the Activity or Recreational Director, as they are also called, because they are frequently present, participating and overseeing the events. They are responsible for assessing, planning, facilitating and monitoring the success of their programs. They also rely heavily on volunteer services for executing their plan. The Activity Director is generally also responsible for the facility newsletter design and implementation as well.
The Activity Director oversees a key area in the assisted living community, social activities, spiritual programs, creative, and artistic activities. The typically arrange daily options for residents including outings, crafts, dances, music, educational classes, seminars, and other opportunities. All activities are designed to encourage physical and mental stimulation.
When a resident moves into an assisted living facility, professional caregivers in the field of aging evaluate an elder’s ability to perform tasks of daily living to assess how much assistance is needed. Early in the aging process, the elder is assessed on his or her ability to shop, do routine housekeeping and laundry, handle personal finances, use the telephone, and manage medications. As they become more impaired, older adults are assessed on the activities of daily living. These include dressing, eating independently, transferring from a bed to a chair, toileting (including being able to get oneself to the bathroom), and walking. The amount of help a person requires to perform any of these activities is a measure of the level of care that would be necessary in a facility. The Activity Director can also use these functional assessments to design appropriate recreational activities.
The Activity Director assesses patients' needs and strategically develops a program to meet those needs, working with other department heads as necessary. He or she encourages patient participation in activities and procures the necessary equipment. They also develop and maintain an activity department budget.
Most facilities require successful activity director candidates to possess a four-year degree in therapeutic recreation, physical education or a related field. Many employers also prefer candidates to be certified by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification. Though laws vary by state, certain states require activities directors to obtain a license to work.
Average Compensation for an Activity Director
According to Salary.com, in 2009 the average nursing home Activities Director working in the United States earns an annual base salary of $34,654. However, in 2010, Indeed.com estimates that an Activities Director at an Assisted Living Facility in Los Angeles, CA earns a salary closer to $60,000 per year. Salaries definitely vary by location and the size of the facility.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates the employment of recreational therapists to increase by 4 percent in the decade from 2006 through 2016 as baby boomers begin considering assisted living environments for themselves or their elderly parents.
With the holiday season fast approaching, all facility departments in conjunction with other management personnel are working together with the Activity Director to make sure all residents enjoy the season in a way that best suits their needs.
Contacting a local facility to ask about volunteering opportunities could be a great way “to give back,” or “pay forward” and add to your own personal joy during the holiday season.
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