Operations Best Practices

10 Steps to Becoming a Successful Recreation Manager

August 31, 2023

Senior living communities play a vital role in enhancing the quality of life for older adults, and recreation managers are at the heart of creating fulfilling experiences for residents. As a recreation manager, your role goes beyond organizing activities — you're responsible for fostering a sense of community, promoting well-being, and enriching the lives of seniors. The fact you are reading this already shows you have a commitment to being successful!

  1. Understand Residents' Needs and Interests

Successful recreation managers take the time to get to know each resident as an individual. Listen to their preferences, interests, and hobbies. Conduct surveys or hold regular meetings to gather feedback. By understanding their needs and desires, you can tailor activities and programs that resonate with the residents and make them feel valued.

  1. Create Diverse and Inclusive Activities

Variety is key when planning activities for seniors. Consider the diverse interests and abilities within your community. Offer a mix of physical, cognitive, social, and creative activities. From fitness classes and art workshops to book clubs and gardening, a well-rounded calendar ensures that every resident can find something they enjoy.

  1. Collaborate with Residents

Older adults are still adults, with agency, opinions, and ideas! Involve residents in the activity planning process. Let them contribute, suggest themes, or even lead certain activities if they're interested. This not only empowers the residents but also brings a sense of ownership to the community's recreational offerings.

  1. Flexibility and Adaptability

Senior living environments can be unpredictable. Health conditions, energy levels, and preferences may change. Successful recreation managers are adaptable and flexible in modifying plans as needed. Be ready to adjust schedules, switch activities, or provide alternatives when circumstances arise.

  1. Build Meaningful Relationships

Developing genuine relationships with residents is crucial. Engage in conversations, show empathy, and create connections. A strong rapport can help you better understand their emotional needs, making it easier to plan activities that bring joy and fulfillment.

  1. Promote Social Engagement

Combating isolation is one of the core objectives of senior living recreation. Organize group outings, social hours, and intergenerational events that encourage interaction and friendship among residents. These connections can lead to a more vibrant and supportive community.

  1. Continuously Learn and Improve

Stay updated on trends in senior care and recreational programming. Attend workshops, conferences, and training sessions to enhance your skills. Incorporate new ideas and technologies to keep your activities fresh and engaging and help you scale. 

  1. Effective Communication

Clear communication is vital. Ensure that residents are aware of upcoming events well in advance. Use a variety of communication channels, including newsletters, bulletin boards, and digital platforms to reach everyone in the community. 

  1. Measure Success and Seek Feedback

Regularly assess the impact of your programs. Are residents enjoying the activities? Are they participating more frequently? Solicit feedback and use it to refine your offerings. Showing that you value their opinions demonstrates your commitment to their well-being.

  1. Bring Modernization to Management

So many communities pile on paperwork, and it will seem like you spend more time at a desk than you do with residents. Technology like Welbi is a win-win-win: a win for residents, because you can provide the person-centered experience they expect, a win for operations as they are streamlined and scaled, and a win for you as it automates a lot of tasks you would end up doing by hand!

In short, being a successful recreation manager in a senior living setting requires a mix of empathy, creativity, adaptability, and strong interpersonal skills. By understanding the unique needs of your residents and continually working to create meaningful experiences, you can make a lasting impact on their lives and contribute to a thriving senior living community.

Katie Stewart

Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.

Holly Mathias

Holly is a member of Welbi’s Marketing team! She has a background in communications and marketing, and is a compassionate individual who loves team work, story telling, and wellness.

Wendy Riopelle

Wendy is a student in the Honours BA in English program at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.

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