How to Get Your Residents to Attend
It takes a lot of energy and effort to plan fun, yet meaningful activities for your residents. But what good is all the planning if your residents don't even show up? Here are a few tips to attract more residents to your organized activities:
- Remind Residents. Be sure to remind residents of your program's activities. While most activity programs provide residents with a monthly calendar, consider also providing a one-page weekly list of events that residents can keep with them or in their walkers as a reference guide. In addition, use meal times as a way to remind residents of upcoming activities by giving them small slips of paper featuring your main activity for the day: "Spring Garden Tea at 2:30pm in the Library."
- Use Great Titles. Try to be creative with your titles to pique the interest of your residents. For example, "The Eight Husbands of Elizabeth Taylor" sounds far more interesting than "Hollywood History."
- Plan Activities for Key Times. Schedule the activities to occur at key times during the day when residents are looking for something to do. For instance, if you have residents who like to gather about 15 to 20 minutes in the lobby before lunchtime, consider hosting an activity then, like a trivia game.
- Schedule Back-to-Back Activities. With lower-functioning residents, it's easier to get and keep residents if you plan similar activities and run them back-to-back. So for instance if you have a block of time, schedule three 30-minute tactile activities in the same room, like Coupon Cutting at 1:30pm, Magazine Collage at 2pm, and Pottery Class at 2:30pm. Make sure to have all your supplies with you at the start of the first activity so that each activity will run smoothly into the next.
- Recruit Residents to Lead Activities. Invite your most active residents to be a part of your activities, like helping you lead your Exercise Class or being the head baker in your Baking Club activity.
- Organize Games. Play interesting games with residents that are fun and entertaining. Large-group icebreaker games, like Table Topics, Penny Ante, or Shake Out the Truth, also work well.
- Give Out Prizes. Pick a few of your regular activities that have low attendance, and pass out prizes to the participants – for just showing up! But, while they are there, make sure that they are having fun so that they will want to participate in the activity again. (Tip: To save money, instead of giving out real prizes like lotion or socks, pass out bingo bucks or "funny money" for residents to use at your monthly or semi-monthly bingo auctions, in which residents use their bingo bucks to bid on real prizes during the auction. This way, you only have to go shopping for bingo prizes once or twice per month.)
- Appoint a Resident Representative. Ask your most active resident to become your resident representative for activities, and then encourage him or her to spread the word about the upcoming activities.
- Move the Activities. If you are finding that your residents like to congregate in a certain place in your facility, other than your Activity Room, then schedule a few activities there. Keep residents comfortable (in their familiar surrounding) while they try out your activities.
- Add a Teaser. When describing your activities, give residents just enough information to know what the activity is about, but try to add a teaser to make them a bit curious, where they will want to check it out for themselves. For instance, schedule a Tattoo Parlor activity in which residents can sign up for tattoos during the afternoon social hour. In fact, pass around a sign-up sheet, and let your most active residents in on the secret that you are giving out fake tattoos so that they can start signing up. Tell everyone, "Mr. Brown is getting a tattoo. I wonder what he'll get. The tattoo artist will be here at 3." Overall, try to get your residents curious about the activity where they are thinking "She can't be serious. I think I have to go and see this for myself."