By: Ashley Strehl - Managing Editor of Print and Digital Publications
Creative, dedicated, inspiring, and kind. These are only a few traits that every successful Activities Director within a long-term care community possess, but our Activities Directors at Voyage LTC hold these same traits, and so much more.
Activities Directors are responsible for developing meaningful and purposeful daily activities and social events to boost morale and enrich the lives of the residents within the long-term care community. They can go by many different titles, Life Enrichment Director, Life Engagement Director, Engagement Manager, and Lifestyle Director, but the responsibilities are always similar, and the love for their residents is always strong and true.
Activities Director at Skyview Nursing Center, Amy Presley, says that even though this is her first official job as an Activities Director, she believes she has always possessed the right skills necessary for the position, “I was hired in through a friend that knew I was very creative,” Presley said.
“I have a mind that allows me to go to sleep and wake up with so many ideas. Creativity is one of my first loves, because my mother was very creative.”
When Presley overperformed in her first job in health care, a companion aid, the long-term care community paid for her to get her CNA license. Presley then pursued her career as a CNA, serving in hospice and in-home health for more than 15 years. “Growing up, my grandma lived with us, and she was blind and had Alzheimer's disease,” Presley said.
“For as long as I can remember, I have cared for somebody, and Alzheimer's has always been my knack, because of my experience with my grandma. I understand them, even when they don’t always understand us. So, that’s why I got into long-term healthcare.”
Along with being the Activities Director at Skyview Nursing Center, Presley also coordinates Social Services for the long-term care community by helping to identify psychosocial, mental and emotional needs of the residents. As the Social Services director, Presley provides and aids in the access of services to meet those needs.
When Presley was hired on in December of 2020, Skyview Nursing Center paid for her to attend an Activities and Social Services class.
“I did learn a lot about things that you don’t normally think about when you’re in a setting like this,” Presley said. “Some people misconstrue being an Activities Director as just playing games and having fun, but they don’t realize the personal relationships that you have to build with the residents outside of playing Bingo or Uno.”
Presley says that a big part of her job as the Activities Director is learning what her residents like to do the most. “Our residents love playing Bingo, especially if there are prizes involved,” Presley said. “They also absolutely love any type of game that is outside, our residents here live for the outdoors. ‘Sip and Paint’ is also another big favorite of our residents.”
Twice a month Presley brings sparkling juice, non-alcoholic beer, and painting supplies for the residents. With a smile and a salut to the activity, the residents always surprise Presley with their creative talents. “You don’t really know who has creativity until they show up to Sip and Paint,” Presley said. “They just ... amaze you, and that’s what makes my day.”
While coordinating Social Services, and planning daily activities outside of outdoor games, Bingo, and Sip and Paint, Presley also goes Wal-Mart shopping for the residents twice a month, and is often looking there and numerous different hobbies and craft stores for enriching activity materials for the residents.
“No matter where I am, even if it’s on personal time, I’m always looking for things that will help keep the residents mentally cognitive and physically active.”
Despite her busy schedule, Presley says she is grateful for the opportunity to give back in her career. “My favorite part about being an Activities Director is seeing the smiles on their faces when they do something they thought they couldn’t do,” Presley said.
“Getting to be their cheerleader during those moments, it’s really touching, and it blesses me more than it blesses them.” - Amy Presley