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Founded by Activity
for Activity Professionals...
NAAP is the only national
group that represents activity
professionals in geriatric
settings exclusively. NAAP
serves as a catalyst for both
professional and personal
growth and has come to be
recognized by government
officials as the voice of the
activity profession on national
issues concerning long-term
care facilities, retirement
living, assisted living, adult day
services, and senior citizen
centers. NAAP is nationwide in
scope with a growing
membership in Canada and
The National Association of
recognizes the following
The quality of life of the
served is the primary reason for our
The strength of NAAP lies in
the diversity of its members.
NAAP recognizes the rich
cultural, and educational
backgrounds of its members
and values the variety of
The strength of NAAP also lies
in the development and
promotion of scientific
research which further defines
and supports the activity
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and maintenance of coalitions
with organizations whose
mission is similar to that of
NAAP's for the purposes of
education, and promotion of
activity services and activity
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become involved at the state
and national level to promote
professional standards as well
as encourage employers to
recognize them as
NAAP affords Activity
Professionals across the
country the opportunity to
speak with a common voice...
NAAP successfully worked with
members of Congress to secure
a change in the nursing home
reform title of the 1987
Reconciliation Act (OBRA).
Through our efforts, it became
mandatory that an activity
program, directed by a
qualified professional, be
provided in every nursing
home that receives Medicare
and/or Medicaid funds.
NAAP was the only
association to participate in
HCFA's workgroups that revised
OBRA's interpretive guidelines
now in effect.
NAAP provides assistance at
the state level to promote
certification of activity
professionals, working toward
uniform professional standards
for activity practice.
To provide excellence
in support services to
assistance, promotion of
standards, fostering of
research, and peer and
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Members will also receive a discounted rate at the Annual Conference which is held in March/April
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Effective JAN 1, 2006 membership dues are:
Active Membership = $75 US dollars
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Providing December Groups
With Alternative Activity
By Myrtle Klauer, ADC, CAP
Director of Resident Services
Illinois Council on Long Term Care
It's hard to believe the holiday season is almost here with its flurry of activities.
December seems to be the busiest month of the year for activity professionals
nationwide. Many departments are "stretched to the limits" with the influx of groups
wanting to visit the facility and "do something nice" for the residents. Most opt for
singing carols and bringing an endless supply of homemade cookies with them.
The holidays offer an opportunity for members of the community to spread "holiday
cheer" to the residents living in long term care. It seems like everyone wants to come to
the facility to sing carols and pass out homemade cookies to these beloved seniors.
During a typical December, the activity staff spends hours shuffling groups of carolers
down one hallway while another group sings in the main resident lounge for a larger
group of people.
During December the activity staff can put in a lot of overtime -- putting up Christmas
trees on all the floors/units, main resident lounge, activity area, and dining room;
decorating every inch of the facility; juggling the variety of groups asking to perform at all
different times of the day and evening; taking the residents on shopping trips to buy gifts
for loved ones; helping the residents address holiday cards; organizing the "Adopt a
Resident for Christmas" program and then trying to get each residents' special
Christmas wish and match it to a gift donor; the list seems endless!
With "downsized" activity departments and budget constraints, it is more important than
ever to use staff time wisely in order to provide an ongoing, quality activity program for
the residents. Having assistance to provide special events during the holidays, which
will continue into the New Year, is imperative. Using community volunteer groups wisely
has to be a priority.
Having weathered more than twenty-five Decembers in long term care, I know first-hand
how exhausting December can be, not only for the activity staff, but the residents as
well. For years I watched the flurry of activity from the day after Thanksgiving through
December 24th. I also witnessed the letdown after Christmas, when the explosion of
groups no longer appeared to entertain and mingle with the residents. Couple this
sudden cessation of so many visiting groups with the confining colder and snowy
winter weather, and many residents begin to show signs of depression and “cabin
To alleviate this annual parade of carolers, I began an educational program for the
group leaders calling to schedule caroling at the facility. I provided information about
alternative activity program options available throughout the year. Not only did I provide a
list of possibilities, I included simple instructions, available times and days of the week,
and my contact information.
Many of the group leaders were thankful to learn there were so many other worthwhile
activities their group could provide for the seniors at different times of the year, because
December was also a busy time for them. These are a few of the ideas I generated:
• help the residents trim the Christmas trees on the floors/units;
• help the residents address holiday cards;
• help put up seasonal decorations;
• sing carols during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day;
• sing church, camp, scout songs, etc. throughout the year;
• provide a Bingo Party complete with small prizes;
• provide assistance for residents who are usually unable to play bingo;
• provide a bowling tournament using adaptive bowling equipment;
• act as the pinsetter, scorer, cheering section, etc. during a weekly bowling activity;
• help the residents write letters or address holiday cards;
• take a group of residents for a walk around the block or in the garden;
• help the residents "dance" in their wheelchairs during a resident and family dance;
• offer "an afternoon (or evening) of beauty" and polish the ladies' nails (does NOT
include cutting nails);
• read to the residents with poor vision -- especially the resident's favorite magazine
that may not be available through "talking books;"
• help the residents develop monthly themes for the floor/unit bulletin boards;
• help the residents trace and cut out bulletin board and seasonal decorations
based on the monthly themes that were developed;
• help the residents take down and put up the monthly bulletin boards;
• help the residents plant and care for outdoor container gardens;
• help the residents transplant their own plants into new containers;
• help the residents start seedlings for the residents' garden;
• play board games or cards with the residents;
• organize a talent show, piano recital, or dance recital;
• help the residents learn computer skills, i.e., e-mail, word processing, and
exploring the Internet;
• teach the residents how to play computer games;
• help the residents do research on the computer for future activity programs, i.e.,
music of the 1920's, early aircraft, the history of stamp collecting, etc.;
• converse with residents that share the same ethnic background and language;
• help the residents with craft projects;
• help the residents make family scrapbooks;
• collect articles for "visit boxes" and help the residents assemble them;
• become involved in the intergenerational program;
• participate in an "oral history" exchange program; and
• help the residents write down their memories to pass on to their grandchildren.
These ideas barely touch the surface of possibilities. Think of all the things your staff
does now, and what you and your staff could do if others did some of the repetitive
activities! Spending a little time now working with these groups would give you and your
staff the freedom to focus on adding new activities to your program. These new
volunteers can provide one-to-one attention for the residents and assistance where you
really need it. Think of how everyone’s quality of life would be impacted!!
The Education Process
When someone calls to schedule carolers, ask some basic questions about the group
-- size, ages, availability, etc. Armed with this information you can say, "I know that
December is a busy time for everyone. Did you know that your group can visit the
residents throughout the year and sing scout songs, hymns, Bible school songs, camp
songs, etc. for the residents?" Taking into consideration the group's size, ages, and
availability, offer the group leader examples of at least two other services the group
could provide for the residents at other times during the year.
If the group leader insists on caroling, schedule sparingly throughout the holidays --
don't forget the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. Don't be afraid to say,
"I'm sorry, I don't have that date or time available," or "I don't have any time slots left for
carolers, would you consider helping the residents play bingo on December 15th at 2:
00 p.m.?" Try not to discourage the group from coming to the facility at all -- offer other
opportunities with a short explanation about how to do the suggested activity.
Get the information about how to contact the group -- leader's name, address, and
phone number(s). Follow up the conversation with letter containing the activity
suggestions given and what will be expected of the group when they come to the facility.
If a date and time was set for the group to come, be sure to confirm this information. If
the group leader agreed to the alternative activity, include the program protocol for the
activity they have agreed to provide. To simplify this process, develop a form letter in the
computer and have a volunteer do this for you.
Examples of Successful Alternative Activities
Tree Trimming Party: Invite the teens from the local high school to come the day after
Thanksgiving or December 1st to participate in a Tree Trimming Party on several
floors/units. Ask the maintenance department to bring the Christmas trees and boxes of
ornaments from the storage area to each floor/unit. Have the teens assemble the trees,
put on the lights, and gather the residents. Play carols while the teens help the
residents hang the ornaments where they can reach. The teens can fill in the "gaps"
with additional ornaments and finish off with the garland. Once the tree is finished,
everyone can sit back and sip hot cider/hot chocolate and enjoy homemade cookies
while admiring their handiwork and singing carols.
Door Decorating Contest: The residents enjoy decorating their doors for the seasons or
to highlight holidays throughout the year, but often need help and don't have family
close by to give them the assistance they need to accomplish the task. Invite a group of
pre-teens, teens, or adults to help with this activity. The activity department should
furnish a variety of materials to decorate the doors. Remind the group that the resident's
ideas about how their door should be decorated are the most important part of this
activity. They should incorporate these ideas as they help the resident with the project --
they should not do the decorating for the resident. If the resident is unable or incapable
of helping with this activity, have the volunteers ask for the resident's opinion about
colors, medium, placement of objects, etc., to make this a resident-oriented activity.
Once the doors are completed, invite the residents from other floors/units, families,
visitors, volunteers, and staff to vote for their favorites. Ask the group back for an Awards
Ceremony and remember to include the helpers in the award process by presenting
them with a certificate of participation and picture of the resident posing next to the door
they helped decorate.
Bingo Party: Ask a group of pre-teens, teens, or adults to come and provide an
afternoon, or early evening, of bingo for the residents. Give them ideas for small prizes
they can bring for the winners. Explain the facility's bingo policy regarding the number of
times a resident can win, what needs to be covered to win, how to distribute the prizes,
etc. Also share how the group can help the residents' play; however, caution them
against playing for the residents and explain exactly what the difference is.
Always send a thank you note after the event and invite the group to return at a later
date. By developing this relationship, a new group of volunteers may emerge. Some
group members may find that the experience is so worthwhile, they will return on their
own to visit with the residents they encountered during their group visit or offer to lend a
hand to the activity department.
By using the techniques in this article, your residents and staff can enjoy a less frantic
December and continuing activities throughout the year. Taking a little time now to
cultivate a pleasant volunteer experience for the group can result in an enhanced quality
of life for everyone!