A little while back, we reached out to all of you who use the Fit Minds programs to ask about the challenges and rewards of your work.
We wanted to figure out what motivates you in the great job you do – day after day.
I’d like to share the results of that survey with you, because I found them very interesting and I think you might too!
You Work With Seniors with A Wide Range of Needs
Sixty-four percent of you worked with both healthy and cognitively impaired seniors. This means that you have to do a number of things all at once:
⇒be constantly aware of the different (and changing) abilities present in the people you are working with
⇒be ready to adjust the different activities you offer to meet those differing abilities, and,
⇒be ready to offer a range of activities to meet the interests and needs of the people you serve.
That takes a lot of energy! You might think that would be the explanation for the high rates of turnover and burnout in the industry. But that is not the case.
The survey also dug deeper into the best and most challenging aspects of your work.
There was pretty clear agreement on the first part.
You Love the People You Work With
Eighty-three percent (83%) of you agreed that your favourite part of your work was the time you spend interacting with the residents. You are totally motivated and energized by the people you serve.
Since socialization is not only enjoyable, but incredibly important to maintain a healthy brain, you have already plugged into one of the key components that makes your job so critical.
Your interactions with seniors are a vital part of their overall health and well-being!
But there are some really tough aspects of your work.
Sixty-five percent (65%) of you cited the lack of time as your biggest challenge: time to plan activities, time to spend with residents, time to catch up on paperwork… Strangely enough, we noted that there were not many of you saying that the most enjoyable part of your day was the paperwork.
Lack of time is not the only thing stressing you out, however. Eighteen percent (18%) of you identified a lack of appreciation for your work as being the biggest stressor you experience. As you know, gratitude for a job well-done goes a long way to reducing stress!
The other stressor that you pointed to was a lack of resources. The truth is that running good programming requires a commitment of resources in both people – paying for assistants, and getting good programming or supplies. Quality does not come cheap and quality of life for our seniors is an important part of paying our society’s debt to them … but that is a whole other blog post for another day!
You Tell It How It Is
What I enjoyed most, though, was reading the many comments that you sent in with the survey. Here’s one that stuck with me and – I think – really captures the essence of your role:
“I don’t think I would change anything about my job but if I were to change anything surrounding recreation therapists and activity coordinators it would be the stigma that all we do is play games and activities with our residents. It really hurts me that people think that is all we do. Our jobs are so important and it’s so much more than just playing around. We are helping our residents lead a healthier life and giving them a purpose and fulfillment from day to day.”