A well-rounded activities calendar at assisted living should include more than just an occasional game of trivia or afternoon tea party. Also, no two communities should have calendars that look exactly the same, as programs should reflect the hobbies and interests of the residents living there.
A good activities director asks around, checking with residents (and sometimes their family members) to see what events would be well-received, taking clues from their personal histories, and requesting feedback on activity offerings.
Program coordinators shouldn’t hesitate to try something new now and then, but prior “field research” is a wise way to ensure participation. Asking for resident input also fosters ownership: for example, a resident who suggests a current events discussion group is more likely to attend and invite neighbors or a visiting family member to go along.
Many social directors find it challenging to engage men in assisted living. Consider a program centered around their working days, since men often (then and now) derive a great deal of self-worth and meaning from their careers. Find out what industries are represented by your resident population and host a “career fair” or lecture series, bringing in local professionals who can speak about changes and advancements that have occurred over the years since their retirement.
Sometimes, providing the means for residents to pursue individual interests is equally valuable (i.e. materials for woodcarving or borrowing books from a local library); not all programs have to be group-centered.
Above all, don’t take it personally when residents do not attend programs; respect their right to say no.