Pathways to the Past
By Sandra Stimson ADC, CALA, CDP
Executive Director, Alternative Solutions in Long Term Care


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
National Council of Certified
Dementia Practitioners  

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
resources and links.
Each Norman Rockwell print is
paired with a national standards of
Resident Rights and is
illustrated by a picture depicting
the "Resident Right."

click here to purchase resident
rights prints
for Activity Professionals
in Long Term Care Settings

Copyright 2004-Present
The Activity Director's Office
All Rights Reserved

Sandra Stimson
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We Are Activity

We Are Activity
Big hearts,
huge bright smiles
and enormous
Creative, innovative
and dynamic personalities.

We Are Activity
We don’t know
how to say “no”!
We aim to please at
personal sacrifice.
Long days, hectic schedule
and stressful events.
We love all of this!

We Are Activity
Regulatory changes,
tougher surveys
and changing populations.
As a group like no other,
we evolve,
learn and adapt.
We are a tough group and
can handle this like no
other profession!

We Are Activity
They say, “I could never do
what you do”
and you know what,
They are right!
“They, could never do
all that you do!”

We Are Activity
Phones ringing,
many interruptions
and endless demands.
But we demand more
of ourselves
and ask for little in return.
No one can handle all that
we do in one day!

We Are Activity
Humanity, compassion,
humor and strong moral
work ethics,
We are the memory
and the heart of
every community.
We are the photo albums
filled with new memories!

We Are Activity

By: Sandra Stimson,
Executive Director
Alternative Solutions
in Long Term Care

Used with Permission
Trending Resident Council Minutes

It is important to not only have a Resident Council meeting monthly but to trend the minutes
yearly. This should be a yearly Q/A. Once a year, prior to your survey window, review all
resident council minutes. Look for trends and repeated complaints. Often times when we
survey facilities, we find that the Resident Council Minutes are not complete, lack
appropriate responses and follow up for issues, and no proof that the issues have been

When a Resident Council Meeting is held. First make sure that the residents have complete
privacy, by placing a sign on the door that says, “Do Not Enter, Resident Council in
Session.” If a staff member is responsible for the meeting taking place, be sure that all
residents are aware of the meeting. No staff member is allowed to enter the meeting unless
invited. If staff are attending, have staff sit with the resident’s vs. lining up the staff in front of
them. When you do this, it establishes department heads against the residents instead of
everyone working together to resolve concerns and suggestions. Always have food and

Once the meeting is underway, insure that all participants have a copy of the last meeting’s
minutes. The minutes should be typed in 14 point, not hand written in pencil. The minutes
must show clear resolutions. Note the concern and what action was taken. The department
head that the problem was addressed to should formally answer the concern and provide
proof (in writing) that the issue was resolved. The department head should sign off on all
issues with the date the issue was resolved, their name and title. The resolutions must be
turned into the Activity Director or Social Work Director that runs the meeting at minimum a
week prior to the meeting.

The resident council minutes should not identify a resident by their full name. Keep a
separate piece of paper with the residents name on it for personal items that need to be
addressed, such as leaky faucet. If it’s a resident right issue such as abuse or neglect,
investigate this immediately. It is against their resident rights and right to privacy to place
their full name on the minutes.

The minutes should be grouped in categories by departments to make the report easy to
read and follow. If there are issues that can not resolved by the next meeting, state why and
what action is being taken.

If you provide a written report to the participants, it cuts down on comments, like, “No one
does anything about it, nothing is resolved!” Because they will have written proof in their
hands that concerns and suggestions are taken seriously.

You should develop a form that list the concern or suggestion, department responsible for
the item, resolutions, department head, date and signature. The cover page of your report
should list: Date of meeting, Time began and Time closed, residents and staff in attendance,
New Minutes and old minutes. But the actual concerns should be listed on a form that is
easy to read, vs. a report style document. Forms are available at
Be sure to keep a file that contains the last three months of the council minutes and provide
to state surveyors if requested.

One thing to pay close attention to is a Resident Council report that has no complaints,
concerns or suggestions. No facility is perfect. Could this be a toxic environment and
residents are afraid to voice opinions? Do they feel nothing is resolved? Are they afraid of
getting someone in trouble by complaining? You need to hear it first vs. a state surveyor
reporting this issue to you. You can’t fix it if you don’t know about a problem, concern or

Once a year, review and trend all the resident council minutes. Begin by taking a piece of
paper and writing down in a column every resident concern, recommendations and issue.
Next place a hatch mark next to the item, if, it comes up more than once. If it does, how have
you resolved this issue? For example, the resident complains over and over again about the
food. Did you begin a Dietary Committee? Or there is on going complaints about the
temperatures of the food such as being too cold? Did the Dietary department conduct a
quality assurance addressing temperatures? These responses, investigations and quality
assurance reports need to be included in the resident council resolutions.

Once you have identified repeated concerns, you must work to eliminate this issue.
Generally, the dietary department takes the most criticism because of many reasons. The
food may not be prepared or seasoned the way the resident may have prepared the item at
home. Some concerns can be resolved.

There are some administrators who do not want a lot of complaints at the resident council or
do not want additional Empowerment Groups such as Activity Planning Committee, News
letter Committee, Trip Planning Committee and Dietary Committee because of the belief that
all residents do is complain. We stress the importance of having as many empowerment
groups as possible. Its shows a healthy emotional environment vs. a toxic environment
where residents live in fear of retaliation if they complain. It also shows that you value their
opinion, makes them feel they have self worth and provides something to look forward to.
The other thing to note is its better to hear a concern at the meetings vs. having a state
surveyor bring it to you. Its better that you hear it first. Residents don’t need our permission
to meet informally or formally. So, why not plan these empowerment groups and encourage
participation. Minutes from these empowerment groups should be included in your resident
council meetings.

If, the resident council meetings seem over powered by Dietary Issues, than begin a Dietary
Committee. Let the residents have input in planning one meal a month, eliminating items that
residents overall do not like and adding new items to the menu. The Dietary Director could
bring samples to the meeting of new items the department is looking at. Also bring cook
books for residents to look at in planning a Resident Choice Meal. This type of committee
builds strong rapport with the Dietary Director and empowers the residents to play an active
role in this area.              - END