Recently I realized maybe we are putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. Here’s why. What I’ve seen is that when we focus on interests, groups happen naturally without jumping to the group first.
For instance, say someone who lives in the community where you work loves … horses…. No pun intended, just a great way to link the ideas. Let’s say in order to tap into and honor that person’s interest and love of horses, you bring a horse to your nursing home.
Guess what happens? You know what happens. A group of people interested in the horse happens. Maybe a group of horse lovers presents itself and more groups are to come…. The interest of horses came first. The group happened naturally, organically, as they say. When someone moves in (in the culture change movement we don’t use the term admitted, people get admitted to a psych hospital or a concert…) who loves to play Bridge, you might ask around to find other Bridge players remembering it could be fellow team members, family members or other people who live there. When you find 3 more, there’s a group. The interest of Bridge came first.
I love it when groups are the natural, normal side effect, how about you? See past articles for more about putting the focus on interests rather than groups and how this is precisely what the federal regulation requires.
Side note, what if you didn’t tell anyone and it was a big surprise? That could be super special too. The Eden Alternative reminds and teaches the importance of spontaneity. Spontaneity, in fact, stands alone as one of ten principles of the Eden Alternative – a framework for a changed non/institutional culture (edenalt.org). Think about life in a nursing home and living by a set schedule for everything; meal schedule, bath schedule, medication schedule, therapy schedule, restorative schedule and yes, if we are being very honest, even the activity calendar schedule … always, every day, someone else’s schedule.
What if you planned a surprise one day? No one knows, only your team and your boss who approves it… Imagine the “talk of the town,” the “buzz of the building” …. Why not? Let there be a buzz: “Did you hear what the activity/community life team coordinated today? A horse! Come look!” People who live in nursing homes/assisted livings don’t get to experience spontaneity all that much, especially during a pandemic. (Other than changes in guidelines which has not been the spontaneity we are talking about here.)
The element of surprise could be something you give as a gift. The buzz itself may be just worth it. What if you purposefully did something spontaneous every month? What if you got great at planning spontaneity? Surprise spontaneity, along with focusing on interests and seeing what naturally happens, could make for a more interesting year for everyone, including you.
Carmen Bowman, MHS, of Edu-Catering: Catering Education for Compliance and Culture Change is an activities/engagement/culture change consultant. As a regulator turned educator, she provides “be your own surveyor” training, also new or not-yet-qualified activity director consultation, personalized continuing education and coaching for the whole team. It’s the whole leadership team that creates culture. Training videos available at https://www.patreon.com/educatering FREE sample videos. www.facebook.com/edu-catering FREE The Culture Change Minute