Straight From the Source

Written by Nicole Scheidl

November 25, 2015

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

Client typesSixty-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

Best Part of My Work

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.

survey results - top challenge

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.”

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  1. Debby Bigelow

    My thoughts exactly, this should be something that is brought forward. Because we love our job so much, we get burned out.

  2. Lisa Giles

    I am not surprised with the results.

    Your selected quote however, I agree and disagree. Sure there is a lot to our role, more than people can see. There is a lot of work behind the scenes. However when I explain to people what I do, I simply state “I’m the Lifestyle and Programs Manager…I’m the one who goes to work every day and has all the fun!” I think that is the most important thing that our residents and their families need to be comfortable with. They will figure out on their own, in time, that there is a lot more to putting the calendar, programs and events together and keeping our residents happy.

    • Nicole Scheidl

      I think it is great to have a positive view on what you do and to be happy with it. Many people who have what one might consider ‘prestigious’ jobs do not enjoy their work … and that trickles through to every part of their life.

  3. Linda Marchio

    I look forward to coming to work everyday. Sure it is alot of work, but if I can help even one person each day I have done my job. I miss the residents when I do have a day off.

  4. Lori Herrick

    I hear this a lot too and but when I do I take the opportunity to explain the dimensions of wellness that we are responsible to cover in our programs and when they hear the details of how we structure our activities they seem to have a different perspective. Before working with seniors I have to say I probably had that idea too, ignorantly enough, so it’s all about education, one person at a time.


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