Life Enrichment in Senior Living
Senior living communities offer a wide variety of support, amenities, and resources for the residents who live there. Caregivers help to provide assistance with personal care, dining team members provide delicious meals, and housekeeping staff are there to tidy up resident homes and personal spaces. But perhaps the secret to a hustling and bustling senior living community is the department that makes life a lot more interesting: life enrichment!
Whether called life enrichment, community life, or activities, this department in any senior living community is a crucial one. Let’s learn more about life enrichment and what it might look like in different types of care.
What Is Life Enrichment?
Life enrichment is a department in senior living communities that is in charge of creating event and activity calendars for the residents who live in the community. Life enrichment events can include everything from yoga classes to trips to the museum to beer tastings and more. The more diverse the residents in the community, the more diverse the events that are offered there.
Life enrichment staff have a complex and challenging job, even though it might seem they are there to only have fun (and they certainly are!). They need to get to know the preferences and interests of every resident in the community and then develop ways for those residents to continue to pursue those interests in their new senior living home. They are in charge of keeping everyone happy and creating ways for residents to connect with one another and form friendships.
While life enrichment has always been in senior living communities, there has been an increased spotlight on this discipline over the past decade. Research has pointed to a direct correlation between healthy and consistent socialization and positive physical and mental health outcomes in seniors. Life enrichment teams are rising to the occasion because they’ve always known it to be true: social seniors and healthier seniors.
Who Are the Staff Members?
Life enrichment teams are typically led by a Life Enrichment Director. This is the person who leads the calendar creation and plans the events. The Director is also involved as a part of the interdisciplinary team and will be a part of the care plan team in skilled nursing communities. Often, this person has a degree in recreation therapy or another related discipline, though it isn’t always necessary. Sometimes, you’ll find a Director who started out at the community as a caregiver and rose in the ranks.
Life enrichment assistants or other representatives are in charge of leading and facilitating group events. They go on outings and provide oversight during that time as well. Volunteers are also a part of the life enrichment department and can help out with getting residents to and from activities, visiting with residents individually or in small groups, or decorating for special events.
Life Enrichment in Different Levels of Care
You’ll find life enrichment in all levels of senior living care. In independent living communities, life enrichment works hand-in-hand with residents in an effort to get them involved as much as possible in the life of the community. This means that residents often lead clubs, plan events, and are heavily involved in special events throughout the community.
In assisted living, life enrichment begins their time with residents during the move-in process with an assessment process. They want to get to know each resident so they can begin to find ways for life enrichment to be a part of their care plan.
Memory care communities also have life enrichment, though you’ll find “routine” activities happening in between larger socials. For example, a life enrichment team member might gather a few residents to water the plants outside before hosting a sing-along in the library.
Finally, life enrichment is an integral part of the care plan team in a skilled nursing setting. Life enrichment teammates document activity participation and write regular progress notes on how each resident is pursuing leisure based on their abilities.
At iNavigate, we love life enrichment! Each community is unique when it comes to events and activities, which means you’ll be able to find one that suits your tastes and preferences. Let us help.
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