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

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.
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.
Subscribe to Kimberly's Newsletter
See Kim's You-Tube video "Activity Professionals in Action"  (Click Here)
Roll Out the Red Carpet: Employee Orientation
Tips for Activity Professionals
By Kimberly Grandal, CTRS, ACC
Executive Director, Re-Creative Resources Inc.

An orientation program is a systematic approach that is used to welcome new
employees and provide necessary information for the employee to become familiar with
the department and organization. Providing a thorough and informative employee
orientation program is an important responsibility of the Activity Director. Orientation truly
sets the standards and lets the new employee know what is expected, what the policies
are and how to perform their new position. Many times, activity personnel are scheduled
to facilitate programs on their first day without proper training and orientation. In this
article, I discuss the importance of an orientation program, along with some tips on
how to facilitate an educational, complete, and even fun program.

An orientation program is important for many reasons. First off, it is proven that
providing orientation can actually reduce the turnover rate of your employees. Many
Activity Directors have stated that their department turnover rate is so high that they just
don’t have the time to provide the orientation. If employees are informed of the policies,
receive hands on training and are aware of their job description prior to actually working
independently on the unit, you can actually lower the turnover rate. In fact, employee
orientation is a time saver for managers and trainers. By taking the time to train early
on, the employees will be better prepared for their job and will be more receptive to
future training sessions as well.

Employee orientation programs also lower risk management for the facility. Activity
professionals must be educated on the many precautions associated within the facility
such as fall prevention, special diets, resident rights, infection control, abuse
prevention, restraints, fire and safety and so on. In many states these are required
orientation topics as well as annual in-services.  Without this training, the facility can be
held accountable.  It is the role of the Activity Director to lower the risks associated with
working in the facility and the department through orientation and training.
Employee orientation is also known to increase staff effectiveness. Employees will
provide higher quality services and have a better understanding of their role as an
activity professional.  This also increases the employee’s motivation and can even
reduce the employee’s anxiety, while increasing job satisfaction.

When developing and facilitating your employee orientation program there are some
important things to keep in mind. Your orientation program sets the stage for the
employee so you need to be certain that it is a positive experience for the employee,
rather than an overwhelming, chaotic, or unorganized one.

The following are some Do’s and Don’ts of employee orientation:

  1. Be prepared-have all systems and programs in place
  2. Ensure the employee has a locker, desk, “or space” for their belongings and/or
    a  work area
  3. Be sure the employee knows the location of the phones, bathrooms,
    food/cafeteria, exits, parking, time clock, etc.
  4. Introduce the new employee to staff and residents
  5. Involve co-workers and other departments
  6. Give an assignment
  7. Make yourself available
  8. Ask questions such as, “How is your day going?”, “Do you have any questions?”,
  9. Have lunch with or arrange a lunch date! Remember your school days and how
    important it was to have a place to sit with friends in the cafeteria?
  10. Involve other departments and co-workers. No one wants to listen to just one
    person all day.
  11. Utilize an employee manual and checklist to guide you. Have the employee sign
    when topics are completed.
  12. Make the first day fun!


  1. Show boring videos
  2. Provide long, boring lectures
  3. Stay in one location lecturing. Use a hands-on approach.
  4. Over stimulate with too much information. Break up your topics into shorter
  5. Create a day that is unproductive and chaotic
  6. Be unavailable
  7. Do it all in one day. Your orientation program will be more effective if it is spread
    out over the course of time. It can be a few days or weeks-that’s up to the
  8. Give the employee an enormous amount of materials to read independently.
    That is not orientation!

Another thing to consider is the fun factor. When an employee leaves the department or
the facility, we often have a party; give flowers, a gift, a cake, etc. Why don’t we do the
same for new employees? Here are some fun things you can do to welcome aboard
your new employees:
  • Have a party or luncheon
  • Send flowers/give a gift
  • Establish a resident Welcome Wagon (residents can make a card or create a
    gift for the new employee and personally welcome the individual)
  • Establish an employee Sunshine Club (a program in which employees
    contribute a couple of dollars each month for gifts, cards, cakes, etc. for
    employee recognitions birthdays, anniversaries, babies, retirement, etc. This is
    great for new employees too!
  • Utilize icebreaker activities as a way for everyone in the department to introduce
    themselves. Play fun games.
  • Give menus for takeout food.
  • Give freebies like a company shirt, mug, pad and pen, etc.
  • Establish a Buddy System-you do NOT want the new employee to be alone
    (especially facilitating activities) during orientation.
  • Provide a letter from the Administrator or President of the Resident Council

Each Activity Department should have a well-designed, structured, thorough orientation
program in which all new activity personnel must complete. When designing your
department’s orientation program, the following are some areas that you should
include in your program:

  • Tour of facility or important areas in which the employee will be working
  • Introductions (residents, staff, department heads, administrator, etc.)
  • Review of Job Description (have employee sign that they have read their job
    description and allow them to keep a copy for their records as well)
  • Department Personnel Procedures (calling in sick, dress code, benefits, work
    hours, etc.)
  • Introduction to the Activity Department (the role of the Activity Department,
    philosophy, mission statement, benefits of activities, etc.)
  • Safety and Precautions (diets, pushing a wheelchair, fall prevention, resident
    rights, fire and safety, residents with dementia, infection control, etc.)
  • Service Delivery (adapting activities, residents with dementia, parallel
    programming, sensory stimulation, person-centered activities, one to one
    activities, facilitation/leadership skills, etc.)
  • Working with Other Departments (dietary, nursing, volunteers, housekeeping,
    social services, therapy department, etc.)
  • Mandatory Education (review your facility’s mandatory orientation program as
    well as your state regulations) and include these in your program. It may be that
    the facility has an all-day orientation program that all new employees attend. Be
    sure to then provide department specific orientation after that.
  • Documentation Training as needed (assessments, progress notes,
    participation records, MDS, care plans, etc.)

Developing the Activity Department orientation program can be very time consuming but
it is necessary. Not only will your residents receive higher quality services and
programming, but your employees will be happier and have a better understanding of
their new role. Don’t forget to have the employees sign off on everything that is taught to
them. This will help you keep track of their training and demonstrates that the employee
was indeed informed of the policies and expectations. This is turn will help with
employee evaluations and disciplinary actions as well. So, what are you waiting for?
Roll out the red carpet and welcome those new employees!

Why re-invent the wheel? Re-Creative Resources Inc. has created a wonderful 19 page
Recreation Orientation Manual and the accompanying checklist. This manual covers
everything from personnel information, programming, techniques, working with other
department, infection control, safety, supplies and equipment, and more. You receive
this manual as a word document so that you easily alter it to suit your department’s
specifics needs and guidelines. For more information on this comprehensive
orientation program, visit