In our previous post, we commented on how we, as recreationists, can become totally absorbed in programming for our immediate community of residents or clients. Just as we must challenge ourselves to bring the community into our homes, we must look for ways to immerse our residents in their broader community beyond our walls.
The benefits of engaging residents in the outside community can be even more profound that bringing the community in. When your residents are exposed to the broader community, they feel and experience “normal.” At the same time, the outside community is seeing your residents in an entirely new context – their world! Again, all of this helps to break down the negative stereotypes of what it means to be old, and what it means to live in a care setting.
You know you can achieve these positive outcomes through such programs as:
- Excursions to restaurants, the theatre, community festivals, and fairs.
- Organizing residents to attend local political rallies and events of their choice.
- Day trips and overnight camping to a specialized camp facility.
- Connecting with therapy services often associated with other disabled groups, such as equine therapy.
- Organizing a “You CAN Go Home Again” program, taking a bus full of residents past their old homes, encouraging them to share their experiences. A similar program involves doing research on your surrounding community, gathering old photos and information, and taking residents on a series of Our Community bus trips.
- One of our favorites involved connecting with the local community-based agency that was responsible for providing telephone reassurance to shut-ins. Some of the residents in the home became volunteer callers – phoning and providing reassurance to people living in the community! The residents were giving back – and they felt great! The shut-ins were amazed, and it helped change perspectives on what it meant to be a resident.
Once again, this is just a sampling of the types of programs that can be presented to help from the inside out.
If you let us know about some programs that have worked well for you, we will share them within our ActivityPro community, and credit you with the contribution if you’d like to be recognized.