Updated: Apr 5
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.
Bobbi Thomas has been the Activities Directors at Oak Hills Care Center for one year, and was a CNA at the long-term care community for three years. In total, Thomas was a CNA for over 20 years. “Being a CNA was one of my first jobs,” Thomas said. “I was hired on as a hospitality aid, and within my first two weeks, I knew that this is where I was meant to be. I just love to help the elderly, the sick, and anyone who needs assistance. While I was working as a CNA at Oak Hills, I realized there wasn’t a lot of activities going on. I felt that I had the right personality, and I loved to make the residents laugh and have fun, so I decided to follow my passion in that and become an Activities Director.”
Thomas began her transition into the position of Activities Director when she took on the
role of the Activities Assistant for close to nine months. Shortly after, she took development courses to get her Activities Director license, where she learned that there would be more about the job than just playing games with the residents. “Yes, there’s a lot more that comes with it than you may think, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world, it’s just too much fun.” Thomas said.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, there were many barriers presented to residents within our long-term care communities. Our residents were not able to have as many visitors as they were before, and lack of outside resources caused the activities within the homes to significantly diminish. “With quarantine going on, I saw that the residents were getting really restless and bored,” Thomas said. “So, I made it my mission to do more activities with them. I try to do two to three activities a day with them, and schedule two to three bigger activities a month. I just want to give them something to do to get their spirits up and make them feel better about all the things that are going on right now.”
As an Activities Director, Thomas says that her duties include ensuring that all of her residents recieve unique activities. “I try to be fair on the different activities that I chose, and I make sure that everybody gets at least one activity that they enjoy every day.” Recent changes in lockdown mandates have given Thomas the opportunity to use different outside resources to bring games and fun to her residents such as local hospice and community volunteers, and live music entertainers, such as the Elvis impersonator who performed for the residents of Oak Hills Care Center in July. Thomas has even scheduled for a Michael Jackson impersonator to visit at the end of August. “They all love music related activities,” Thomas said. “They love when we have karaoke, and they really loved Elvis. They especially love when they can play games where they can win prizes, such as Bingo and Sing-o. They also love to do activities outdoors.”
Thomas understands that her job as the Activities Director goes beyond what some may see on the surface, such as playing games and planning activities. “The residents need me,” Thomas said. “They need me to stay grounded and provide fun things for them to do while they’re here. Every Monday when I come in, they tell me that they missed me over the weekend. I know they appreciate the things that I do for them, and that makes me feel like I’m doing my job right."
"Watching their little faces light up and smile when we do something fun … I just love it. It makes me feel wonderful.” - Bobbi Thomas