Working for months without a recreation manager, my cohort and I ran the department. We took the residents out on trips every month to the local library, picnics, parades, coffee and donuts, even to a few parties at another local long-term care facility. I always found it interesting when we would visit the other long-term care facility. The seniors loved meeting other seniors and thoroughly enjoyed the musical performers, dancing, and treats.
Unfortunately because we worked at a private home we didn’t have as much money as the municipally run homes, but tried our best to bring in new programs to accommodate each and every resident. I even developed a ‘special’ men’s program. At first I was a little leery, as you guessed it, I’m not a man! I quickly discovered my gender was not going to be an issue. Our little group spoke about many important figures that lived over the years, and subjects the male population would be interested in. At the end of each program, I would always ask if there was something or someone in particular they wanted to discuss at the next meeting and all would give shout out names or subjects. This was great for me, but consumed a great amount of personal time gathering information, photos and questions for the next get together. I didn’t mind, as it was a historical learning experience for me also. Even though, I had my ‘regulars’, sometimes others would drop in on the program, which was always encouraged. I loved all the ‘men’ in the home. Some were comical, as the gentleman who had me convinced for a week that he was a priest, others were quiet and compassionate, and then you had the ones who were heartbroken because they had lost their life partner and now lived among strangers. Each and every one of them brought not only special quality to the home, but their life experience.
As quickly as my cohort and I had developed a routine, new programs, and outings, it all fell apart when a recreation manager was hired. To be fair, I’m not sure she knew what she was getting into. There were no ‘program plans’ written out other than the ones I had completed for my programs. If the Ministry of Health and Long-Term care were to audit, we would have been in big trouble. Once she entered the building, we rarely saw her as she stayed in her office from morning until the time she left in the late afternoon. I was open to learning new things, but a ‘leader’ she was not. Our meetings were always combative and issues were never solved. My cohort and manager never got along, which was sad as my cohort had been working there for years and I had no problem with her as she was always willing to learn new ways of running programs, completing the necessary paperwork, etc. This department was slowly falling apart. Even the residents were not fond of the manager and would tell her on a daily basis. ‘Out of the mouth of babes?’ No, it was ‘Out of the mouth of seniors’. If there was one thing the cognitively alert seniors had going for them, it was complete verbal honesty.
I had interviewed for a ‘recreation manager’ maternity leave position at a ‘convent’ and finally received an answer. ‘I got the job’!!!! I remember running outdoors to my husband to give him the good news! The position would take an hours drive compared to the 15 minutes I was travelling now, but the learning experience would be worth it, I thought.
I found myself heartbroken that I would have to resign from the first home that gave me a full-time position right out of college, one that I had developed close friendships with staff and residents, but the decision was made. I handed in my resignation, would work the final two weeks, and begin my new journey with an entirely contrasting group of residents and staff. To say I was nervous, was an understatement. Self-doubt consumed my thoughts and dreams. Could I do it? Guess I would see…