frustrated

When I was employed as an Activity Director in long-term care, it took a lot of effort and time to arrange my vacations. At first, I found taking a vacation more stressful than not having a break. I  had to be sure all my charting was completed, all the activities were covered, materials were in place…it was a lot of work! In my  many years in the position at a variety of facilities, I did learn a few things that made it easier. And, I became a much healthier, happier person.

  1. Plan your vacation before you plan your calendar. This allows you to be sure you don’t schedule events you must be there in order for them to succeed.
  2. Identify coverage with your supervisor. Knowing who will provide coverage allows you to play to that person’s strengths, schedule events according to available coverage, etc. Sometimes my Administrator would hold a Resident Council meeting while I was away or another conversation based event.
  3. Contact your volunteers for extra assistance. Increasing the volunteer coverage provided for more one on one attention while I was away. Also, some of my volunteers were great at leading specific groups but not others. So, if chasing bowling balls & pins (this was pre Wii days) was something outside their physical contort but doing a group crossword was a strength, we would schedule accordingly.
  4. Set aside time prior to leaving to complete charting, purchase materials, leave plans. Leaving with your charting complete is key. I would create daily plan sheets of what was to happen when, who would lead the event, who generally attended these groups, and materials needed for the event. While it sounds like a lot, much of it was easy once I completed two days. It became more of a copy and paste. Then, if the covering person or volunteer was ill, there was sufficient information for the event to occur. And, I had a complete list of supplies to purchase if necessary as well as to leave. I tried to provide a little extra time in my schedule the last five days leading up to vacation to accomplish this.
  5. Plan for some easy to implement events while you are gone. Generally, my residents loved certain events that didn’t need much explaining like bingo. I also had materials from resources like Creative Forecasting, Activity Connections, and A New Day which were already set up for use. You can also use materials from newsletters like SPARKS (available for FREE here on the right), materials from your corporate office, or other resources. I general made copies and attached them to the sheets for each day or placed them in a three-ring binder organized by day.
  6. Schedule time for key staff to update you on what happened while you were away on your first day back. I found it helpful to sit with the Administrator, Social Service Director, or DON/ADON for 20 minutes the morning I returned to be up to date on everyone’s status. It let me prioritize my charting, resident visits, and alerted me to special needs that had developed in my absence.

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