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Walk and Roll
By Debi Trammell, Activity Director

   “WALK AND ROLL!” the voice of Mr. A. echoed down his hallway.
   He was ready to go.
   When “Kay” heard him, she joined in the chant “Hall four, walk and roll, hall three walk
and roll, get on the ball!’.
   Mrs. B. was waiting in the lobby, wearing a shiny silver sequined newsboy hat and
   Nine more residents were already gathered at the front desk, ready and waiting.
What caused all that excitement?  A walk around the building.

A simple concept

   About a year ago, I started a program called walk and roll. The concept was simple.
Every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 8:30 sharp (weather permitting) staff
members  pair up with residents and take a walk around the building.
   We have residents with walkers, regular wheelchairs, even Geri chairs who join us
for the short excursion.

Great staff participation

   Now, I am a one person department. There is no way I can make 12-15 trips around
the building so everyone who wants to go gets a chance!
   This activity is dependent on staff participation.  Luckily, our Administrator, DON,
ADON, Dietary Manager, Social Worker, HR Manager and Business Office Manager all

We also have staff from housekeeping, maintenance and dietary walking and rolling
with us.
   Our Therapy department joins us when the walk fits in with a resident’s therapy plan.
Some family members even show up to walk and roll with their loved one.
   If we don’t have enough staff to accompany the residents who want to go, we keep
paging until we get them.
   If that doesn’t work, the Executive Director and the DON start hunting people down.
Nobody ever gets left behind.

Why it works

   I know the buy-in from staff is unusual, but there are a couple of reasons this is
working for us:

1. Administrator Support – From the day I first introduced this idea; my then-
administrator was 100% on board.
   In fact, she made it mandatory that all department heads participate.
   There were a few grumbles but, after they realized it was only a 15 minute
commitment twice a week, and they didn’t have much of a choice, most of that stopped.
   Our current Administrator kept the momentum going.

2. The Residents LOVE it – I mean, they really love it.
   I enter the building on Tuesdays and Thursdays and see a line of residents ready to
walk & roll.
   On the few occasions I’ve been late; our receptionist has already sent staff and
residents out the door.
   There’s no way they are going to wait for me.
   Our staff sees how much this activity means to our residents and that makes it
important to our staff.

“A state surveyor was extremely impressed with our lineup for walk and roll, the resident’
s enthusiasm about it, and the staff’s participation.”

   We usually have 10-12 residents, each with a staff member and wearing their
shades, snaking in a long line as we make our way around the building.

   I imagine we are quite a sight.
   I went to the dollar store and bought 20 pair of sunglasses. We loan them out to the
residents for the walk.
   Believe me, if I forget them the residents make me go to my office and bring them out.
   We usually have 10-12 residents, each with a staff member and wearing their
shades, snaking in a long line as we make our way around the building.

Singing a special song

   The residents and I even made up a chant to sing as we go; “I don’t know but I’ve
been told Crestview Court is full of gold. Not the kind you wear for bling, it’s our
residents who make us sing. Sound off…”
   We sing it at the top of our lungs as we start our excursion.

Attracting attention

   We attract a lot of attention and get car honks and waves as we walk.
   The residents wave back and smile, enjoying every minute of it.
   As we stroll, each resident has one-on-one time with a staff member.
   We talk about the cars in the parking lot, the weather, the flowers, children. Just
anything that comes to mind.
   My car, a baby blue convertible beetle with big eyelashes on the headlights, is always
a point of interest on our walk!
   Some residents love a slow stroll, but others are determined to be the first one
around. I take the slow ones. : )
   When we get back from our walk residents return the sunglasses and we offer water
to them and the staff members who huffed and puffed behind them.
   While we were going through our annual survey last month, a state surveyor was
extremely impressed with our lineup for walk and roll, the resident’s enthusiasm about
it, and the staff’s participation.
   When she asked if this activity was always this well attended, I was proud to say
“Absolutely.  Twice a week”.
   She said that if she ever went back into long term care this program would definitely
be on her calendar.

Rewarding the Residents

   Far more rewarding than that, though, is the reaction we get from the residents.
One gentleman who sits quietly all day not speaking to anyone was paired up with a
staff member to “roll” one morning.
   We were about halfway around the building when he said “Who’s big idea was this?”
when he was told it was my idea he said “well it was a good one”, smiled and was
quiet again.
   Once Mrs. S. became a regular walk-and-roller, her exit seeking behavior decreased.
   Mrs. F. gets out of bed on Tuesdays and Thursdays just so she can go on the walk.

The Parasol Project

   As you know, I’m in Texas. Our highs this time of year are 101 and higher.
Even at 8:30 in the morning the sun can be brutal.
   Fortunately our receptionist (did I tell you she is a former activity director?)  came up
with another of her awesome ideas.
   That’s when we started:  
The Parasol Project
   We decided that our residents needed more sun protection on the morning walks.
Remembering the days of ladies who carried parasols, we came up with a plan using
the parasol’s modern day cousin: the umbrella.
   A sign asking for umbrella donations went up on the front desk.
   Two days later a $50 donation was made. I found bright colored umbrellas at the
dollar store, made a trip to Hobby Lobby for some bling, and we were ready to go.
   The residents and I are in the process of gluing tassels or trim around the bottoms of
the umbrellas.
   After we’re done with that we’ll add beads, rhinestones, and glitter, whatever the
residents choose.
   When they are done, we’ll hand them out with the sunglasses before we walk and roll.
If we didn’t attract attention before, we will now!
   Just think about how much joy this one activity is creating.
   It strengthens bonds between staff and residents, gives the residents something to
look forward too, and gives all of us a great start to our day.
   And it’s free.
   Well, except for the price of a little leg work!

Until next time,

Debi Trammell is a full time Activity Director at Crestview Court, a 125 bed skilled
nursing facility located in Cedar Hill, Texas. She is responsible for activity planning and
volunteer coordination for an active group of young-minded residents. Feel free to
contact her at with questions, comments or article suggestions.