Conferences.….. An Investment
not an Expense
Debbie Bouknight, BS, ACC, CDP

There are many Administrators who are very supportive of, and
understand the importance of, continuing education; and then there are some that
aren’t as supportive. So how can we help our Administrator see the importance? We
need to show them how the conference will benefit us. We should not just ask if we can
go and leave it at that. We need to show them how our attendance will benefit the
individuals we serve, as well as the company as a whole.

By attending, we will be further educated and able to offer better programming for those
we serve. We will also be better able to understand regulatory issues and up on the
new trends. We will come back rejuvenated and excited and it will show once we are
out among those we serve. We should choose the sessions we’d like to attend in
advance, and show our Administrator how these sessions will help our residents and
the company.

Better programming means happier residents and clients. That is a huge marketing
tool. Conducting new and innovative programs, outside of the “norm,” is also a great
marketing tool. The only way we are going to learn about new and innovative ideas is to
stay educated.

Depending on the conference we are attending, we need to let the Administrator know
we will have the opportunity to visit the vendor room, where we can actually see the
products we’d like to purchase instead of looking through catalogs. Instead of just
having to order books and other resources “sight unseen,” we can view them, look
through them, and find those best suited for our needs. We normally get some good
deals at conferences too, like not having to pay shipping fees. In many cases, we can
take the items with us and some vendors offer discounts.

The NAAP Conference is coming up March 30-April 2, 2011 and we will have the
opportunity to network with Activity Professionals from all across the United States,
Canada, and Bermuda. This helps rejuvenate us while gaining many new ideas and
new perspectives on issues after discussing them with others in our field. We develop
new friends with whom we can share ideas by email and often learn things from them
that will help us, our residents, or our company. I hope you will be able to attend this
awesome conference with numerous education session opportunities!

Over the years, I have implemented many program ideas that I have learned about
during NAAP, and other conferences, and workshops. These ideas keep us fresh and
keep the residents engaged and continually growing themselves.

Our facility received a South Carolina Spirit of Caring Best Practice Award for a
scrapbooking program we implemented after a session I attended at a State
conference. This session gave me the confidence to try it with our residents. In 2004, I
attended a NAAP session on an Intergenerational Vacation Bible School. In 2005, I
implemented the program (which is an annual event today) and it has been a huge
success! In 2005, our community also won a Best Practice Award for the program
through our State Spirit of Caring program. I have taught education sessions on the
program, which resulted in others in our State implementing the Bible School. The
program was also written up for Long Term Living Magazine in 2009. So, in addition to
this being a great intergenerational program for those we serve, it has been a
wonderful marketing tool, and it wasn’t even implemented for that reason!

In 2009, in New Mexico, I attended a session on a Spanish class and immediately
implemented it when I returned. We submitted this program for a Best Practice award
and again won. The program was presented at our State’s Award Banquet in October
2009. Our facility is part of a very large hospital network and this award was written up in
their newsletter, which was seen by many in the community. Marketing tool, you bet! And
this is just the gravy.

These programs were implemented to serve the residents, but the side affects can be
just as rewarding. We have implemented many other program ideas from education
sessions, too numerous to mention here. All the programs have had great success.
Without these new ideas, we might still be doing some of the same old stuff! Good
programming leads to family members and volunteers “talking” positively about your
workplace, when out in the community. This will lead to more beds being filled. This is
definitely something your Administrator would like to see - a full house!

I learned the following from Susan Rauch (our NAAP President) and put it in place at my
facility a few years ago. When anyone on my staff attends a conference or workshop,
they are asked to fill out a form stating what they learned and how they plan to
implement what they learned from the conference or workshop. When you return from
any conference, in addition to thanking your Administrator for allowing you to attend, let
rth the money for you to be sent to the conference. It will be an investment for them, not
an expense.

Budget concerns are a huge headache for Administrators. It is up to us to show them
how our continuing education is not just another cost to the company, but in the long
run, can help bring in more money by filling more beds and having satisfied customers.
And with the emphasis on Resident-Centered programming, it is even more important
for us as Activity Professionals to stay educated and informed. A great activity program
is the key to keeping those beds filled.

If those you serve are not happy and engaged, no one will want to come there. I firmly
believe that the communities and homes with varied and innovative programs, that are
continually changing, are the ones that will thrive. You can help yours be a thriving
community by keeping yourself educated and fresh! Hope to see you in Myrtle Beach for
the 29th annual NAAP Conference. For more information, visit the NAAP website at:!
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NAAP is the only national group that
represents activity professionals in geriatric
settings exclusively. NAAP serves as a
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government officials as the voice of the
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The strength of NAAP lies in the diversity of
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NAAP affords Activity Professionals across
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qualified professional, be provided in every
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and/or Medicaid funds.

NAAP was the only professional activity
association to participate in HCFA's
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guidelines now in effect.

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