Re-Creative Resources
By Kimberly Grandal, BA, CTRS, ACC, Executive Director
Kimberly Grandal,

Kimberly Grandal, Founder
and Executive Director of Re-
Creative Resources, Inc., is a
strong advocate for the field
of Therapeutic Recreation
and Activities, with over fifteen
years of experience working
with the elderly in numerous
management and consultant
positions.  She is an Activity
Consultant Certified and a
Certified Therapeutic
Recreation Specialist. Kim is
a member of the New Jersey
Activity Professionals
Association and the New
Jersey/Eastern Pennsylvania
Therapeutic Recreation

In 1990, Kim graduated from
William Paterson University
with a BA in Sociology and
later studied gerontology
courses at Union County
College and Therapeutic
Recreation courses at Kean
University. Throughout her
career, Kim has been the
Director of Therapeutic
Recreation for several long-
term care facilities, including
one of NJ’s largest.

In 2006, Kim founded Re-
Creative Resources Inc. She
is a speaker for various state
and local activity associations
such as NJAPA, MOCAP, and
NJACA, as well as the Society
of Licensed Nursing Home
Administrators of NJ. She
also offers lectures for Re-
Creative Resources Inc.,
local colleges, and
community groups, and
provides consultation and
support to numerous
facilities in the state.

Kim is the editor and writer
for the “The Rec-Room", a
monthly newsletter published
by her company. In addition,
she writes monthly articles
for the Activity Directors Office
newsletter, and has
contributed articles to
Creative Forecasting
Magazine, and The
Continuing Care Insite

Kim is a recipient of the
Kessler Institute of
Rehabilitation 1997 Triumph
of the Human Spirit Award.  
Her passion is to promote
the field of Therapeutic
Recreation and Activities and
to unite Recreation
Therapists and Activity
Professionals. Kim currently
serves on the NJAPA board
as the Chairperson for the
Legislation Committee.
Providing Internet Resources
for Activity Professionals
in Long Term Care Settings

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

Resources Inc.

Re-Creative Resources, Inc.
is committed to enhancing
the lives of long-term care
residents through the use of
Therapeutic Recreation. We
provide a variety of services
such as Therapeutic
Recreation seminars,
in-services, resources, form
development, program
analysis and development,
consultation, and support for
activity professionals and
recreational therapists. A
selection of downloadable
training materials and forms
are available for your
convenience as well as a free
job posting site.
The Most Comprehensive Manager:
Responsibilities of the Recreation Director in Long-Term Care
By Kimberly Grandal, CTRS, ACC
Executive Director, Re-Creative Resources, Inc

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
- William Shakespeare
All the world's a stage (from As You Like It 2/7)

Many activity professionals enter the field of therapeutic activities and recreation to enhance the
quality of life and functional status of the individuals they serve.  Most activity assistants, aides,
coordinators, and therapists spend the majority of the day hands-on with the residents,
facilitating one to one and group activities.  The interaction between activity professionals and
residents is beneficial to both parties.  The residents are engaging in meaningful, therapeutic
activities that greatly enhances their quality of life and overall functional status.  Recreational
activities often provide opportunities for self-expression, independence, decision making, coping
skills, solace, socialization, improved emotional well-being, self-esteem, a sense of purpose,
enhanced physical status, and much more.  The activity or recreational professional finds great
satisfaction and joy in knowing that they are an instrumental part in enhancing the lives of those
they serve.  In addition, leisure professionals learn a great deal of knowledge in regards to
history, ways of life, culture, social graces, religious beliefs, traditions, and valuable life lessons.

When a person first enters the field of therapeutic activities and recreation, they have to obtain a
variety of leisure skills and knowledge ranging from arts and crafts, music, dance, drama, poetry,
sports, exercise, word games, cooking, gardening, table games, competitive activities, and more.  
Most of these individuals have one or two areas that they are particularly interested in and good
at, but then have to learn the rules, benefits, strategies, methodologies, and techniques, for each
activity provided.  Not everyone can sing, but all activity professionals have to be able to lead a
music group or a sing-along.  Not everyone can cook or bake so they often depend on the
residents’ guidance and experience. In addition, a great deal of effort and time if often put into
planning and preparing a variety of recreational activities by means of communication tools,
phone calls, lists, verbal reminders, etc.

Next, activity professionals have to be aware of a variety of diagnosis’, illnesses, precautions,
contraindications, diets, symptoms, etc. so that the programming can be adapted to meet the
clinical needs of each resident.  Activity professionals are responsible for assessing, care
planning, monitoring and evaluating the residents’ responses and involvement in activity
programs; therefore they must have quality writing skills.

Activity professionals also play an important role in enhancing the environment through the use
of plants, animals, seasonal/holiday decorations, bulletin boards, calendars, personalization of
resident rooms, and more.  It is a busy day for an activity/recreation professional, but one that is
rewarding and gratifying, for the residents are truly appreciative of the activity programs and their
established relationship with the activity professionals.

“A new position of responsibility will usually show a man to be a far stronger creature
than was supposed.”
William James

When an activity assistant or recreation therapist decides to take the next step and become a
recreation director, they are faced with many new challenges, responsibilities, and obligations.
The role of the recreation director in long term care is one that is multi-faceted and ever-
changing.  Less time is spent in the implementation aspect of programming and more time on the
assessment, planning and evaluation phases. The greatest challenge is being able to balance
the responsibilities of being a manager and the intrinsic desire to be with the residents.  

Often times, like their interdisciplinary peers, recreation directors are knowledgeable about being
a provider of their particular area of service, but less familiar with the responsibilities and skills
needed to be an effective manager.  The recreation director has to learn how to manage, lead,
motivate, empower, train, supervise, recognize, schedule, evaluate, and discipline their
employees. The process of performing an employee performance appraisal, providing
constructive criticism, meeting with a union representative, or even having to deny a vacation
request, is often very difficult for the new manager. Dealing with varying degrees of education,
certification, work ethics, skills, and knowledge, as well as conflict resolution, cultural diversity,
problem solving, and time management, also serve as obstacles the recreation director must
overcome on a daily basis. The new manager must utilize the skills and knowledge they have
learned previously, and become a teacher and mentor to the recreation staff, as well as the
facility staff

The recreation director should demonstrate effective communication and writing skills.  Policies
and procedures have to be written in accordance with regulatory agencies, corporate standards,
standards of practice, and any other guidelines.  Memos, emails, letters, training materials, press
releases, reports, medical documentation, etc. should be written clearly, and professionally.
Recreation directors also create flyers, posters, and newsletter, as a method of communication.  
Computer efficiency is a plus!

The recreation director must be an active participant in a variety of scheduled and non-
scheduled meetings including: daily morning meetings, monthly department- head meetings,
quality assurance meetings, care plan meetings, and various committee meetings such as the fall
committee, restraint committee, and so on.  Recreation directors are usually not very comfortable
spending so much time in meetings because they would prefer to be interacting with the
residents.  Unfortunately, the reality is that since activities are fundamental to the quality of life
and care of the residents, then a representative of the department must be present.  The clever
recreation director offers the recreation assistants the opportunity to attend care plan
conferences, or become members of various committees.  This is beneficial for many reasons.  
First of all, the activity assistants are the ones who know the recreational status of the residents
for their unit better than any one else, and their information is instrumental to the care planning
process.  Secondly, involving the activity assistants in meetings and committees affords them
empowerment and learning opportunities.  However, there are certain meetings that only the
recreation director should attend, such as the department head meeting.  Lastly, delegating
recreation personnel to attend various meetings, give the recreation director an opportunity to
facilitate groups, provide one to one interventions, or catch up on required office time.

Most recreation directors in long term care are also responsible for managing the Volunteer
Program.  Volunteers are a much needed resource and offer a wide variety of services including:
group facilitation, one to one visits, administrative work, fundraising, religious/spiritual support,
transporting residents to/from activities, feeding and meal distribution, mail delivery, and special
projects.  Volunteers require the same orientation, training, supervision, recognition, motivation
and support that the Recreation personnel require. Much time is also spent on recruiting
volunteers, matching their needs and schedules with the needs and interests of the residents,
and providing endless encouragement and appreciation.  In addition, creating partnerships with
community groups is also an important task of the recreation director.  Developing relationships
with schools, colleges, universities, churches, clubs, synagogues, and other community program,
enhances the activity program even further.  Activity professionals are highly acclaimed for their

Another task usually assigned to the recreation director is that of the Resident Council.  A
Resident Council is a group of long-term care residents that meet on a regular basis to review
services provided by the facility. Resident Council members are encouraged to be as
independent as possible, but often request assistance from the facility.  The recreation director
assists in the formation, implementation, and communication aspects of the meeting.  Minutes are
taken, typed in a particular format, and distributed to the appropriate department heads for
review, who then report back to the council on their plans of correction.  In turn, the recreation
director becomes a strong advocate for the residents at the monthly meeting and on a daily
basis. A tremendous amount of time and effort goes into advocating for the residents, therefore,
it is recommended that recreation directors keep a log of resident concerns and actions taken to
assist with those concerns.  

Recreation directors must posses the ability to multi-task and plan ahead.  Each month a
calendar of events is created which includes a variety of activities that should be designed in
accordance with the residents’ care plan, population analysis, and individual interests.   A variety
of Quality Assurance survey tools and audits may be utilized to collect data to effectively
formulate the activity calendar.  Many special events requires months of planning and
preparation i.e. the ordering of food, scheduling of entertainment, purchasing necessary
supplies, equipment, and decorations, assigning tasks, communicating with other disciplines,
notifying residents, family, and staff, and, so on.  It is amazing how much time and effort goes into
planning a one hour event!   Recreation directors also lend a hand in developing, and planning
daily activities such as cooking programs, arts and crafts, theme days, discussion groups,
educational programs and other activities.

Activity professionals are a great resource for the other disciplines as well.  Recreation and
activity interventions should be found on most resident care plans.  Some care plans of special
importance include: behavior concerns, pain management, falls, restraints, nutrition,
psychosocial, mood, cognitive loss, communication, ADL’s, and palliative care.  These
interventions provide support to many departments such as nursing, social services, food and
nutrition, and rehabilitation services.  The marketing director may also take advantage of the
public relations opportunities of specialized dementia programs, horticultural therapy, music
therapy, resident council, intergenerational programs, special events, pet therapy, etc.  Finally,
recreation directors often coordinate programs with other disciplines, assist in writing grants and
press releases, develop marketing tools, and assist in planning, and implementing employee
appreciation celebrations.

Recreation directors often have difficulty in balancing their time between residents, managerial
duties, and personal life.  To be an effective manager, recreation directors must be able to
balance all three.  Most recreation directors work more than eight hours a day, do not take
breaks, lunch, days off, and even bring projects home with them.  They feel a sense of guilt for
not being able to spend more time with the residents, therefore, overcompensate by working
additional hours (without overtime!).  Recreation directors need to know it is alright to say “no”
sometimes, take personal time, and designate “office time”.  They will be a better manager for it.

It is apparent that recreation directors, activity professionals, and recreation therapists truly are
multi-faceted, talented individuals whose contribution to long term care and the residents is
invaluable.  The recreation director is the leader of the department that is often referred to as
“the heartbeat of the facility”.  Please take a moment to thank the facility’s recreation director and
the entire department for their dedication, resourcefulness, and interdisciplinary support.  The
recreation director truly is the most comprehensive manager in long term care.

Copyright Kimberly Grandal, 2006.  All rights reserved. www.recreativeresources,com
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