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The Activity Director's Office
By Sandra Stimson ADC, CALA, CDP
Executive Director,
Alternative Solutions in Long Term Care
Music: "Peg of My Heart" furnished by Heart and Soul Music "Providing Quality Music for Nursing Homes"

Sandra Stimson has experience as a
corporate consultant, Corporate
Trainer and National Speaker. Her
experience is in long term care, as
Activity Director, Director of
Alzheimer's Units and Assistant
Administrator of a 550 bed long term
care county home.  She is
Co-founder of Pet Express Pet
Therapy Club, is a Life Replay
Specialist.  Sandra implements
dementia units nationwide.  Sandra
has written several books, Volunteer
Management Essentials for Long
Term Care and Pet Express Pet
Therapy Program. Sandra has been a
facilitator for Alzheimer's support
groups and is the Awards Chair for the
NJ Association of Activity
Professionals.  Sandra is the
Executive Director of
Council of Certified Dementia

Alternative Solutions in Long Term
Care offers resources for health care
professionals in many areas of
dementia care, care plans,
Snoezelen products, dementia
activity calendars, adult day care
calendars, sensory calendars,
reminisce videos for dementia,
activity books, and dates to
remember, party supplies,
resources and links.
“Theme or Not To Theme…That is the Question”

Many Activity Directors have written to us over the years asking, “Why is it important to have a Themed
Calendar?” My answer is why are you not theming your calendars? We have been teaching the 90 hour
activity courses for many years and one of the expectations of our student’s, is to develop calendars.
The expectation of the students is to provide a themed calendar that is seasonal.

For many, it’s the first time they have ever approached calendar planning in this fashion. After
completing the calendar, the students tell us, they will never go back to completing a calendar the “old
way”. With that said, we want to make sure that everyone understands that with the new regulatory
imperative guideline changes, a Population and Calendar Analysis should be completed and
incorporate the findings into your calendar planning. The Analysis tools are available on www. In the new guidelines, the analysis tools are referred to as an audit tool. You can
visit the CMS wed site and watch the CMS Activity Guidelines presentation at http://cms. as the presentation discusses the analysis tools.

One recommendation is to go on the Internet and search for a theme that is seasonal. You could enter
as a search term, “Ideas for Autumn.” Look at some of the names and programs others have
developed. You could enter search terms such as; cooking ideas for autumn, craft ideas for autumn,
trivia ideas for autumn, etc. As the Internet is an ocean of ideas and everything is available at a touch of
a key.

Once you come up with the theme, you need to than come up with a creative name for your calendar
that clearly denotes what your theme will be about. For example, the September theme might be about
memories associated with school and a creative name might be “Memories of Fall.”

Once you come up with a creative name and a theme, it’s easy to now plan your calendar around that
theme. Every event, trivia, special event, cooking, crafts, etc, should be around the theme. Any one, who
has ever had a theme day, knows the excitement and anticipation your residents and staff have. So it
only makes sense to have a theme month. You should include your resident activity planning
committee in developing the ideas for your theme.

Developing a theme also helps decide what type of decorations you may want to plan for these events.
A great web site for decorations is

There are many resources available to help you plan your theme, such as the internet, activity and
recreation web sites, books, magazines, Creative Forecasting and staff / volunteer input.

The calendar should include a large special event related to the theme as well.
Providing Internet Resources
for Activity Professionals
in Long Term Care Settings

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The Activity Director's Office
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