Lodge Long Term Care
During the busy holiday season, there’s more reason than ever to celebrate recreation professionals and the amazing work they do. As the year draws to a close, we’re happy to introduce you to our Welbi Hero for the month of December!
Christina Branch is a resident assistant at Shepherd Village, a seniors’ community in Toronto, Ontario. Christina got her start in the senior living industry when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a career change. “I have a background in sport management, so it was a lot of working with kids, but of course because of COVID-19 everything was closed,” she tells us.
Christina saw an advertisement for a student position at Shepherd Village and decided to apply, even though she did not have experience working with seniors at the time. “I thought, ‘I’ll just apply anyway and see what happens,’ and I ended up getting it!”
Thanks to the chance she took, Christina found her calling.
“Once I came over to the long-term care side, I thought, ‘Wow, I think I can see myself doing this for the rest of my life!’”
As a resident assistant in the recreation department, Christina spends most of her time planning and facilitating activities for the residents on her floor. She also helps build the monthly activity calendar to ensure it represents her residents’ interests and all aspects of their well-being. She explains that the monthly calendar has to include enough activities to meet the residents’ physical, emotional, and cognitive needs, among others.
“We make sure there’s a good number of physically active programs since those are the ones that get participated in the most. We do a lot of active games, like balloon games and ring toss.”
Christina’s residents love active games, which means Christina loves them too. “The balloon game is one of my favourite games to do,” she says. “Once it starts, everyone has a big smile on their faces!”
The residents also love any activity that lets them sing and dance. Christina tells us about the Hawaiian Luau that Shepherd Village held last summer, which is one of her favourite memories from her career. The socially distanced event was held in the garden and featured live entertainment.
“Everyone was singing along. We had hula dancers and everything, so that was a lot of fun. It was so nice to get everyone outside and to see residents from the other floors as well.”
Moments like these make recreation a fulfilling career choice for Christina.
“My favourite part of the job is seeing how happy the residents get when they’re participating,” she shares. “They’re just so thankful and appreciative of all the activities, and it makes me happy to see them happy!”
Christina isn’t just a dedicated recreation assistant — she’s also a busy student! Christina is attending college for recreation therapy with a specialization in geratology. She says that the great part about being a student is that she gets to put what she’s learned into practice right away at Shepherd Village. “The stuff that I’m learning is the stuff that I’m doing right now, which is really cool.”
We asked Christina to share what she’s learned about what it takes to succeed in the recreation field.
“You definitely have to be a people person,” she says. “When you’re working with this population, they love to chat and tell you stories, which is really nice because you get to learn a lot of cool things about them. I’d say you have to be a really sociable person and be very open-minded.”
She says it’s also important to be level-headed and open to feedback since activities don’t always go as planned. “I’m not one to panic in those types of situations,” she shares. “I usually have an activity that I know the residents have enjoyed in the past as a backup plan.”
When it comes down to it, making sure an activity is well-received has a lot to do with how it’s presented. “For the most part, as long as there’s music involved and you have an energetic atmosphere within you, that brings up the residents’ mood as well!”
For recreation professionals like Christina, the rewards of the job are many. But the career also comes with its fair share of challenges. That’s why we created the Welbi platform with recreation teams in mind. We asked Christina what she considers to be the most difficult aspect of her job.
“The most challenging part is figuring out what everybody likes,” she says. “It’s a slower process to get to know everyone since there are over thirty residents on the floor.”
Christina shares that Welbi’s resident profiles have helped her by keeping information about her residents’ interests close at hand.
“One of the cool things about Welbi is that you can group people together by their hobbies to determine how many people are interested in something, and then you can make programs using that information.”
Christina says that the biggest difference Welbi makes for her is how it simplifies previously time-consuming tasks.
“I would say the part Welbi helps me with the most is creating the calendar,” she shares.
“That is probably one of the best inventions ever! Before, we were having to individually input the activities on each day of the calendar. It wasn’t hard because it was mostly copying and pasting, but it was tedious. With Welbi, it feels like a weight lifts off your shoulders because you don’t have to individually input everything. It’s so, SO much easier.”
We asked Christina what she would tell someone who is considering using Welbi.
“Be open to giving Welbi a try, and it will shock you with how easy it is and how much time it saves. It’s just so user-friendly! Even if you’re not a very tech-savvy person, you’ll pick it up just like that!”
We’re so glad to hear it, Christina!
To close our interview, we asked Christina what she wants to tell the world about older adults.
“Don’t underestimate seniors, because they can do a lot more than most people think they can!”
Christina says she’s always impressed by her residents’ enthusiasm when it comes to getting active. They always find new ways to amaze her!
We also asked Christina what she wants the world to know about recreation professionals.
“We’re part of the bigger team,” Christina says. “You have the nurses, doctors, and physiotherapists who all deal with the physical aspects of health, but I feel like we’re very responsible for the seniors’ emotional and mental well-being. We’re there to make sure that they’re okay emotionally, to see if they’re happy or sad, and to do everything we can to make their quality of life better. We’re a really big part of that.”
Well-said, Christina! At Welbi, we’re inspired every day by activity professionals like Christina who go above and beyond to ensure their residents enjoy an excellent quality of life. Thank you all for the remarkable work that you do! Activity professionals play an incredibly important role in senior living communities keeping older adults safe, healthy, and living life to the fullest. Your hard work deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated.
If you would like to get support from Welbi in your everyday operations like Christina, chat with us or book a demo of the Welbi platform. We can show you first-hand how Welbi can save you countless hours on administrative tasks so you can focus on what matters most — spending time with your amazing residents.
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