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#ActivitiesStrong 1

#ActivitiesStrong kicks off the 2021 Executive Edition led by Charles De Vilmorin and Josh Crisp. In this discussion, Charles shares COVID-19 and The State of Resident Engagement in 2021.

This session will help the audience understand the impact of COVID-19 on activities and life enrichment and explore the best practices and methods to address preferences of senior living residents so they live with purpose. Taking a data driven approach from various care settings and levels of expertise, the presented analysis will offer a unique understanding on where the challenges and opportunities stand. The presentation will use exclusive data taken from the first of its kind Resident Engagement Index Score (REIS) released by the #ActivitiesStrong Initiative in August 2020. This session will explore how providers, caregivers, residents and family members are partnering to enhance resident engagement, no matter a person’s current interests or ability. Whether you are a front-line caregiver, a manager or someone overseeing resident engagement at a corporate level, this session will provide you with exclusive insights and access to actionable data in a COVID-19 world and beyond.

#ActivitiesStrong Program Library: https://programs.activitiesstrong.com/

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Charles: Hi everyone. Welcome, happy new year 2021. I think we’ve long waited for this year to come and for me and the rest of my team, and I’m sure Josh, I want to extend a sincere thank you for the work that activity and life enrichment professionals have done in 2020. And wish you as much as everything that you deserve for 2021. Josh and I are going to be leading a super exciting webinar today. We decided to change things up a little bit, improve them, and today we’re going to be focusing on COVID-19 and the state of resident engagement in 2021. So obviously, we’ve done these state of resin engagement in the past years, but given the impact of COVID last year we had to change it a little bit and obviously take that into account. Now, the improvements also that are coming this year is the fact that we have built this very successful platform called Activities Strong to acknowledge, empower, and educate activity and life enrichment directors. And you’ve probably noticed if you were on one of our December webinars, this is an executive edition, and it is very exciting for us as we build the future of activities and resume engagement. And to do this, we want to have an all-inclusive discussion especially with thought leaders, C level leaders in the industry. This is why we’ve created this executive edition. The idea that everyone is welcome, but if we as activity directors want to have a conversation with our administrators or executive directors, we need to invite them to the discussion. So let me pause here and say that if you are a C level leader in the industry, if you are in the administrator and executive directors, I want to personally thank you for taking the time and attending today’s webinar, because it shows your commitment to resident engagement and understanding that purpose is a basic human right for a residence. And if you think that your administrator or executive director is not on this webinar and should attend this webinar, please feel free to invite them. We will be holding these every month; every four weeks, once a month. And the upcoming schedule is on the website. And we will be saying that a little bit at the end of the webinar.
So without further ado for people that don’t know me, I’m the CEO and co-founder of Linked Senior. I believe that all industry activity is strong and I love and respect daily activity directors and affirmation and directors. I was very lucky when I started in senior, somebody recommended that I certify myself as an activity director and that was now almost 13 years ago.
Joining me today is Josh Crisp, he is the CEO and founder of Solinity. And Solinity is a partner through Bridge the Gap; the media partner of this executive edition. And Josh and I were thinking of partnering today to make this conversation as interactive as possible. You know, I’ll let you read Josh’s description and Josh is biased. Josh is going to introduce himself shortly, but I want to share with the audience today that I had the pleasure to meet Josh probably 10 years ago at a NAF conference in Tennessee. And you know, Josh, I remember that meeting very well. You were, I think representing a provider then, and I’d love you to introduce yourself and say what you’ve been up to in the past 10 years and your commitment to the activities as well.

Josh: Well, thank you, Charles. It’s an honor to be with you. And yes, it was about 10 years ago that we met at an activity professionals meeting and wow that it’s hard to believe that much time has passed. This is about my 15th year in the business of taking care of older adults that we call senior living. So developing, owning, and operating. When I met you Charles at that conference I was managing as an administrator a community in Tennessee and had just become a regional director of operations. And my world was kind of open to this world of activity professionals. In senior living, I had been searching for resources for what I felt like was a very underserved group of activity professionals. And I came across that organization and met you and, and it’s been a wild ride ever since.

Charles: Thank you Josh. So, just in a little bit of background into today’s presentation just before we start the actual presentation. We are getting senior started activities strong, as I mentioned to represent, advocate and empower activity directors and information professionals. We were also the organization behind the ‘Old People are Cool’ campaign that started five years ago. And I know that through your different organization, we partner a lot on that, especially your Pedal For Alzhiemers events and so on. But you know, Linked Senior, just for a quick introduction, we are an evidence-based rather engagement platform for senior living. We’ve been serving the industry now for 13 years. And what we do is we help activity and operational directors amplify the work they do by helping them ultimately measure and optimize and manage residents than engagement. So we are the only platform that can say that we are evidence-based because we published a study where we saw amazing outcomes in a peer review journal in September, 2019. So these outcomes that you’re seeing on this slide here are things that are the results of the implementation of a tool like Linked Senior. And obviously in this time of COVID and anything related to social and engagement is something that everybody is seeking. So if you’re interested in that, please be in touch. Well without further ado, let me get into the meaning of these webinars. We started these webinars now three years ago. And it also timed us from what we understood as a need for activity and information professional, which was easy access to quality education. And believe it or not, and I bet I’m sure it’s still the case today, also the fact that some of our professionals couldn’t leave their communities or buildings. So we thought about doing these monthly webinars, and then when COVID hit March 2020, we transformed this into the Activity Strong platform. I think one of the reasons for the success of these webinars is the fact that you have helped us understand what you want to hear from; who other leaders in the industry. So please, if you have any ideas or if you believe we should highlight somebody, please reach out. The email is on this slide and we will do our best to consider this and invite that potential speaker. So with that, let me get into today’s presentation. And the first thing I want to do is make an announcement, which is we are all different partners with Activities Strong, which includes Josh’s organization Bridge the Gap. We are very happy to release our 2021, the year of resident engagement, the Activity Strong executive white paper. We have put in a lot of work on these three things. One, what was the impact of COVID 19 on resident engagement? The second thing is as of today, which is generally where is the state of things, right? What is the industry going through? And three, based on what we know, what we understand, what are the current trends? So throughout the webinar today, and with Josh, what I’m going to do is highlight some pieces of that webinar, of that white paper. And Megan just pasted the link to the white paper in the chat. I recommend that you all download it and maybe consider looking at it as we talk about it. So with that, let’s get into it. And the way I’m going to do this, sorry, just so that everybody knows, this is the white paper itself. It is free for everyone to download. Please consider it as a resource for you to use as a professional, as a department and as an organization. So without further ado, let’s get started. Josh, are you ready?
Josh: I’m ready. Let’s rock.
Charles: Okay so it’s so basically what we’re going to go through is three big questions, right? Like what just happened to us, but I think we’re still trying to understand what just happened to us. All of us, right? Like every human being on the planet. The second thing is, where are we now? And three, how do we kind of go from here? What are the trends? What are the prediction in 2021? And so with that you know, Josh, I forgot to ask you in your bio, but what is your wish for the industry for 2021?

Josh: Wow. Such a big question. So I’ll tell you Charles and I don’t want to be long-winded, but this past year has cast a huge spotlight on our industry and sometimes not for the best of reasons. I’m hopeful that we can take that spotlight and reflect back to everyone what an awesome industry that we have and what an awesome job that people like, I’m sure the hundreds of people that are on with us right now, what a great job they were doing prior to 2020 and what a great job they do on a daily basis. I hope that we can all find a way to take maybe some of these negative experiences and fuel that into positive change. And you know, one of the things Charles, I think is I as an operator, as an administrator, as a manager have often felt and we’ve had these discussions that our activity professionals and the budgets that they have and the things that they represent in the projects that they do are often just not given enough attention and wow, did 2020 shine a light on activity professionals. So I’m hoping that with that light we can spread and actually show the value that we know that this is, that the communities and make some great.

Charles: Yeah and I’m sure that the audience very much believes the same thing or feels the same way, which is a great way to get us into our first question. Right? So for each of these sections; one, two, three, we’re going to have a question for you the audience and please have your response in the chat and we’ll do our best to pick up the comments and make it a conversation. But what we were thinking about is, you know if we reflect back to 2020, as Josh was saying, historically activities and life enrichment have never been truly respected for the value that the professional brands, right? And 2020 in a way there’s been a lot of challenges, but there’s also been a lot of potential. Like Josh was saying, kind of shining the light on these professionals. And I do these meditation classes, and sometimes the instructor reminds us of this thing about meditation, which is you shouldn’t try to figure out what meditation is doing to you when you do it. I think what’s important is to think about what happened the days you don’t do it. Right. And I think the question we were thinking about asking you the audience is take a second and think about 2020, and imagine 2020 without resident engagement, right? Imagine the senior living industry going through this COVID-19 pandemic without activities, life enrichment and so on and so on. Right? Like what would it have been? And I think this is a great way for us to consider the value that we bring, right? Our elders would have died of loneliness and boredom. Thank you, Kate. I can’t agree more, right. Like purpose is what drives us every day. Purpose is what helps us get up in the morning and loneliness or boredom are the one or two of the three players of the nursing home, the whole parrot, the older paradigm. Josh, what else are you seeing here?

Josh; So the chat is lighting up Charles. So this is fantastic to be able to see this. But my favorite comment so far is ‘we would be like cavemen.’ So that one almost made me chuckle. But I agree with the isolation which we know and studies are showing us how much isolation is so unhealthy. And thank you for pointing that out in your white paper, Charles, by the way, brilliant job. I got to read that just in the last 24 hours that you sent that to me. But the health effects, I think we’re still learning and that is unbelievable how detrimental it can be to our health. So I’m so thankful again, for the activity professionals that are out there combating that.

Charles: Yeah, you’re right. Actually, I’m trying to follow the chat as well. It’s amazing. So we had somebody just say something like an increase in dementia. You know, we sat that in the water like a boat without an engine, all of these comments are true. You know, one thing that we’re still considering and we don’t know the impact yet. But I don’t know if you know this, when we have unfortunately older adults passing away in our communities on the death certificate, we can have something called failure to thrive, right? There’s this concept that if you don’t have purpose every day, that could be a medical diagnosis, which is this idea of failing to thrive. And I’m actually writing, we’re writing on a project with Penny Cooker, the Pioneer Network about putting out a blog post on the topic. But there’s something inherently super important is that and I can actually jump two sides here because it’s a great way to get into that. You know we know that spiny purpose is a basic human right. Like every human being, regardless of age, needs to find purpose needs to have a reason to get up in the morning. And we know that without activities, without life enrichment, from which much there is for a lot of our residents no purpose, because they need our help. They need to collaborate with us to get to that. And there’s some kind of fear in the industry that we might see more of these diagnoses right. But this is all the kind of negative part. Like all the things that we know would have been sad and so on, but there’s also been a lot of very positive things that we’ve been seeing and just have done. If you have things that you’re proud of. Well, actually, let me ask you the question. What are you the most proud of our industry from last year? What’s the one moment where you saw your industry and you were saying like, ‘oh wow I’m proud of what we do here.’

Josh: Well, you know, thank you for asking that question because for me, when people and teams’ true character shows are in difficult times. And I’ve had the privilege with my co host Lucas, as many probably know if you’d listened to our show, we get the opportunity to talk to a lot of leaders, a lot of professionals, a lot of thought leaders. And there’s been a consistent theme that we’ve seen and that we’ve heard through this year. And it’s people rising above the circumstances and going above and beyond. And I know, I think even your study pointed this out Charles, that even our activity professionals and the executives that are on the phone and on the line and on the zoom with us today, many have kind of inherently taken upon themselves tasks way above and beyond their job duties. One of the positive things, and I hope this carries forward is, to me I always have felt that in our industry we get very much in silos among different care types and acuity types and among our departments. So our care departments, our clinical and our life enrichment and activities and our operations. And one thing that I saw this year is that we just broke down a lot of those barriers and we pulled together for the best of the residents because we had to. So I would love for those barriers to stay lowered and not build up those silos again. And I think that’s one possible opportunity that we have to build upon.

Charles: Yeah and Rebecca also mentioned in the chat the idea of teamwork. And I think for sometimes for different reasons, we’ve seen all of that, but the one thing that we do know, and you know, we have I think it is part of the white paper, actually, let me show it here. One of the things that we do know about teamwork is that we didn’t really have a choice actually, because if you look at the page number three of the white paper, what we’ve done is the analysis to try to see if we were to do the same quality of engagement pre COVID what would need to happen. And we know that it’s been a huge strain, a huge pressure on staffing because we don’t have help from the outside or we’re limited because our communities are still somewhat closed or completely closed down. We didn’t really, we can’t really do groups because the physical distancing measures and we simply have less time. We’re pulled in different directions. And one of the big impacts is the fact that for example, in assisted living, if we wanted to do the same type of quality as before we need to go and find 224 hours a month, right. And as far as we’re concerned we didn’t see many communities hiring right now, probably not until Q2 when there’s some kind of vaccination and we see sensors building up again. And the reason why I’m explaining all of that is that this idea of teamwork is the only way we can get out of this, right. Which is to have help from other departments and bring this idea of interdisciplinary work. And Josh what you just mentioned about the silos. This is, I really, really hope as well. I hope one of the big lessons we’re going to learn is that we are all in this together and together being all the team members, all the departments, and we will get through this and beyond altogether.

Josh: Oh, you’re exactly right, Charles. So I asked the question in the chat, and by the way, again, I just loved the chat. Thank you all for engaging like this. I think it helps us to all feel more connected, even though this is very virtual. But I am seeing all kinds of things, everything from tech assistants to CNA type care duties that they were allowed to do to helping in dining services. Honestly, those are all great burdens that people have taken on. You know what the other question I asked that I would love that we, you were just touching on, is this idea of the interdisciplinary team. That’s not a new concept, but I’m hopeful that that becomes a much more prominent concept and that life enrichment is part of every interdisciplinary team that is out there and has just as equal of a voice.

Charles: Yeah and then somebody else was talking about the fact that the idea of flexibility. You know, one thing that we’ve been in a bad way, right. We’ve been forced to change and adapt and be flexible. But I think that as we did that we realized two things. One, sometimes it doesn’t really make sense for us to plan ahead 45 or 60 days ahead, like who knows what’s going to happen in 60 days. So this idea of having an activity calendar right now, planning 45 days ahead, that kind of like none of us outside of senior living plans your days. I mean, I don’t think you have, you’re planning your personal events, 45 days ahead. I mean, maybe you are, but like not four days. Right. So I think that that’s one kind of good lesson learned, and I think the other good lesson learned around flexibility is that we’re kind of more connected to the residents, right? We’re probably less connected because we didn’t have time and the resources, but when we are we’re probably more focused on the quality interaction. And I think this has been throughout 2020, it’s been one of the big comments we’ve heard from professionals, which is how much they enjoy and how much residents have been enjoying this kind of very, there’s much higher quality engagement.

Josh: Well, you know I don’t want to open up too much of a can of worms here, Charles, and take us off course, but I’m just wondering too. You know, one of my hopes for this year in the coming years is back to my original comment and it’s that we can realize that the life engagement of our residents is really everyone’s responsibility. Right. It’s not just the person that gets paid to do that. Just like anyone participating in any other aspect of resident care, resident engagement is part of the residents’ care. It’s part of us providing them purpose and actually maybe not even providing them purpose, but reminding them that they already have purpose. We don’t necessarily give them their purpose, but we remind them and encourage them along their way. And so I’m hopeful that this spotlight that is on us can radically change and realign things, you know, from the stakeholders, you have to realize in many times the business and I use that in quotations, the business of healthcare and building our budgets oftentimes is not allocated appropriately. And so I think one of the things that has gone way up stream and I’m hearing the REITs talk about it and the owners and the people that own the real estate is now that they’re this spotlight, they often have been negative on our industry over this past year. They’re actually saying, you know what we’ve got to put more energy into this. We’ve got to work together for this problem because the problem has been spotlighted. So I do think we are going to come out of this much stronger.

Charles: Yeah, thanks. Getting it out of this stronger. You know, one thing that has been amazing throughout 2020 is the optimism and the resiliency of the staff, right? Like when we asked a simple question over the summer last year we asked, you know do you believe that we’ll get out of this stronger? And I think it was an astounding 92% of staff that said, yes. So that speaks to that. Now I just want to get back to one of your comments Josh, which actually I do want to mention how cool it is to hear you say it, which is that we’re not here to give them purpose. We’re here to either help them stay connected to purpose. Sometimes, you know we all need help, or remind them. And I think it’s so important. Like you said, Josh, it’s not us telling them what to do. It is us having a conversation with them, regardless of what the interest is, where they are physically and cognitively and us assisting them. And well, I don’t really like the word assisting just purely but collaborating and working with them so that it happens right.

Josh: 100%, I believe firmly. And I’ve witnessed this, and I know the professionals on this have as well, that when you remind and you enable and you empower an individual to live their purpose, remind them of their purpose that they have within them, regardless of their frailty, regardless of their disability. If they’re living, if they’re breathing, if they’re on this earth, they have a purpose. And you’re exactly right, that that’s our job to remind them of that and to help them with.

Charles: So you obviously touched upon a very interesting topic, which is this idea of budget. Like you said, I think the word budget at least two or three times already, but this is something kind of dear to all of us. Which is the importance of our work represented from a quote unquote business or budget standpoint. And I think the answer to that is probably not most of the time. And if I’m an activity director today Josh and I walk to you the administrator or executive director, and I ask you Josh please double my budget, right? The answer is really, it’s often going to be no. And based on my experience, I mean our expense, and I’d love to get your viewpoint on this. It’s not really your fault as the administrator, right? It’s sometimes also kind of this teamwork, not happening of me, the engagement professionals, not really explaining why. And it’s sometimes a little bit about you also the administrator not working collaboratively with the department. And I know there’s a lot of tension on that. I don’t want to get into kind of the political aspect of it but what do you see happening there? What are the improvements? What are the best practices? You know, I’d love to hear your thoughts on that particular topic.

Josh: Well, I have long said and I’ve been in for many years in the tough position of even making the budgets, you know, and it’s always so difficult because you always feel like every department needs more than what we’re able to allocate to them. But it would be hands down any budget that I’ve ever been part of managing. I would say if I could point to a department, so to speak, if I could refer to it as a department in a budget that area always seems the most underserved with the least amount it’s the first to typically get cut. And it’s relying so much on volunteer help as well. That’s one of our areas that relies more on volunteers. And so if you took away the volunteers and you took away also those added family visits and things like that, that we’ve been limited to what a wake-up call it is to administrators to see when the spotlight is on it and we know how important it is now and the world outside of our community knows how important it is. What a deficit we’ve been operating. I think it shows us a couple of things. I think it shows us the commitment, because I think our professionals have been doing an amazing job prior to 2020 and during 2020 with very little resources. So I do think it’s going to, there is no silver bullet because there’s only so much money in a budget. And if you start pulling from other departments, you know, what are there going to be the deficits there? I think the real key is approaching it from an interdisciplinary, from a team approach and saying, how can this team, yes, we’ve all got our primary assignments, but our common goal in providing quality care is on helping our residents live their purpose to whatever level that is for them. That is a intrical part of quality care; physically, emotionally, spiritually. So we have to incorporate that into the care model. And I think when we begin to think that way, when we have our interdisciplinary planning, when we have our interdisciplinary budget meetings, if we start coming at it from that angle, I think that’s when we start seeing positive change.

Charles: I don’t know if you’re tracking the chat, Josh, but it’s pretty amazing. One of the many amazing comments already speaks very well to what you just said. And that is from Jennifer Stones, who was saying that developing a budget is about values, right? Where you value is where you put your money. And Jennifer, I just want you to hear this from me and obviously I’m sure from Josh. You’re a hundred percent honest and I think that we are professionals. We can help organizations by helping connect activities to the values and therefore helping the money flow that way as well. And Josh I mean, your point about interdisciplinary goes back to what we were thinking about teamwork and so on. So a hundred percent, I think this is a great segway for us to get into the second question we had, which again, if you have downloaded the white paper you’ll be able to follow it here. But essentially, as we try to understand where we are now and obviously given the free flow of this conversation, we’ve kind of addressed some of it too right now already. But, you know, we have questions for you, the audience which is; what is blocking you right now, right? You know, we’ve gone through 2020 and we’re all alive. Thank you. We’ve all gone through a lot of losses that includes death. I think we have to talk about the many losses we’ve all had. But I think that as we look in 2021, 2021 is going to be better than 2020, right. I mean it’s very difficult to make something worse than what we had in 2020. So when we think about it that way, and when we think about what is blocking us, we have to then think about how do we overcome this right. Jennifer’s point about budget is absolutely correct. You know, when value is found, budget is found, right. And when value is articulated, then we can also get it in a budget. So how do we get into that discussion, right? How do we enable us to have these discussions with our teams and overcome things that are blocking us? So first I’d love to hear your thoughts on us.
Josh: Well, I mean, I think it initially starts with some intentional planning, you know, I think we oftentimes, and when I say we I’m including myself in that. So I think we get so caught up in responding and reacting to everything that’s happening. I mean this past year, it seemed like as soon as you learned what you should be doing, you were being told what else you needed to be doing that may have been different than what you just told your team that you needed to be doing. So there was this constant urgency of change. And so there’s a certain level of flexibility and adaptability that we have to have to be successful. And to begin to think about overcoming obstacles. But I think also taking time to have very intentional plan sessions to plan for the unexpected, right? I mean if 2020 has taught us anything it’s to plan for those things that you could never imagine. And not that you need to be planning for every possible scenario, but how is the team going to respond together to overcome the obstacle? Just remember your obstacle is you’re not facing that hopefully alone. And if you are I think part of this, and what I want to communicate today is we are in this together. You’re in this with other team members in your community and I think there were about 900 professionals that organized this call or more today, Charles, which was phenomenal. And the community that you have built, and even what I’m learning through this chat right now, those are the kinds of things of working together that we begin to have the conversation of how we overcome the obstacles. And I’ll say 2020, I don’t think it could, we hope it could never get worse than 2020. But I guarantee you, if we live on this earth long enough, there’s going to be some obstacle that hits our industry that we think, oh my gosh here we go again. So I think the team approach is the way to go.

Charles: Thanks. You know, what you just mentioned about the idea of planning is extremely important. The challenges of 2020 had a lot to do about the fact that we were used to working that way every month we would consider next month, as you know in other variations. Hopefully for the best of us and for many of us, probably an improvement of the next month, but we still operated within a certain framework. And when you consider the changes, the pressure with COVID-19 and the pandemic, and the way we’ve completely had to rework activities, like all discipline that has been disrupted and still is right, we’re still learning for a lot of us still learning every day how we can be more flexible. I think the other thing that is blocking us right now. We had I think a couple of comments here had to do about team morale, right? Like the ability for us as an individual and as a department to take care of ourselves. And I think that beyond senior living, I think that our whole planet is going through some kind of mental health issue because of COVID. And I think it’s important to support and reflect about that and learn how we can individually take care of ourselves and look out for team members, look out for department, look out for other team members. And obviously this idea, ultimately the oxygen mask, right? Like if the plane has an accident of some sort like the instruction is that you need to put on your oxygen mask before taking care of something else. What do you see Josh, in terms of self-care, mental health, all of that in the industry?

Josh: Well I think we don’t do a good job of taking care of ourselves. I also think generally speaking as an industry as an executive in the industry and building and managing a lot of teams, we don’t do a great job of caring for our teams. To your point Charles, and it’s something that I’ve taken a mind shift myself in our emphasis that I early on in my career all of my emphasis, I felt like was caring for the resident physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And I very much unintentionally overlooked my staff and I was not caring for them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So out of that abundance of them feeling loved and cared for the team members and then the residents could feel cared for. So I think that’s one issue there. I want to reference back a book that I read early on in my career. It’s very old, it’s called GMP, The Greatest Management Principle, and the whole book talks about personal accountability. And 2020 should teach us that a lot of bad things can happen around us, that we had nothing to do with, we can’t take responsibility. They are things that have happened that are impacting us. And in those kinds of situations, it’s extremely important for us to think about, we can’t determine a lot of the things that happen around us, but one thing we can always determine is how we respond to them. So I think that is one thing in overcoming obstacles, it’s very easy for us to get so fixated on the problem that we don’t positively think about potential solutions. And so I would encourage every single, I’m going to refer to them as light, every single one of the lights that is on attendance today, that that little light that you have of positivity the brighter you can make that shine, the easier the obstacles are going to be to overcome because it is contagious. And in dark times, that’s when it really shines.

Charles: Amen. I love this. You know, I don’t know if you, well you probably heard that, but when I remember very well back in March or April last year, we had so many professionals hearing that they were not essential, right. And how unproven that is, right. That activity in life enrichment professionals could even be considered as non essential. We argue, and you know, I think everybody on the line would as well, that activity in life from it from professionals was, and still is the lifeline of our industry, right? More than essential, this idea of protecting this basic human rights of finding purpose every day. I think this is probably the most important thing that we could do right now is consider how important the work is. And I had a slide on this, but I’ll get directly to this, which is one way I know a lot of professionals have been able to continue to show up at work, things for which I’m actually so thankful for all of you for making that commitment for older adults. But if all of professionals have been able to do it just by thinking back at what is that passion, right. Well, we know when we work in activities and life enrichment, is we know our passion is about collaborating. Collaborating is key; back to your comment, Josh, actually not a thing, not giving, collaborating with the residents to help them. I mean, to honor their preferences, right. To help them find and have access to that purpose, or just be reminded of what it is. And for a lot of professionals, it’s been kind of this guiding light, right? This North star, as we’ve been going through these challenges. You know, I can’t stress how important the work of activity in life enrichment has been and continues to be. And I just said it now, but I want to say it again. I am so thankful to be able to work with professionals like you. I made the comment back last summer, but I’ll do it again here, which is the work that you do, the audience, like your commitment and showing up every day at work. I have four kids and if they were able to do half of that in terms of hairy work, I would be a proud father. Right. Like I really respect that everyday these professionals have decided to show up at work. Josh, I don’t know if you have any thoughts on this, but I know you’re a father too.

Josh: Well, absolutely. And you know as we talk about helping our residents, reminding our residents, collaborating with the residents to live their purpose. It’s very important that we all are reminded that we have a purpose as well. So it’s not just a job, any job in senior care and housing, especially that of an activity professional. I personally view it as it’s kind of a calling. And I refer to it as that when people are looking in this industry, it’s really a calling. You know, it’s not gonna be the sexiest job. It’s not going to be the highest paying job, but there are some people and industries in our culture today. I immediately think of people like our teachers and other heroes that we’ve talked about in the frontline workers, but I put life enrichment and executives in senior housing right up there with that. It is a calling and we have a purpose. And I think one of the things that it’s okay that I’ve learned this year, it’s okay to be transparent. And with the residents that are going through tough times, one of the greatest things that we can do, especially in that one to one care situation or engagement situation and it shows great empathy, is to meet them right where they are. Because I guarantee you just like your residents are getting hit from isolation. All of us to a certain degree have had some isolation as well. So we can be empathetic to that and we can be honest with our residents and share that. So, I think we have to remember to live our purpose as well.

Charles: That’s a very cool concept, Josh. It goes back really very well in this idea of self care. And you know I think that’s something that you just hit, I think we should all remember that COVID-19 is affecting all of us and all of us with a big A. It is impacting every piece of our society. And we just happened to be in probably the industry that is impacted the most with education. So I think it’s important to remember that and to understand because that’s how we navigate out of it. You know, I had prepared a quick slide about where we are related to the cases and so on, in the interest of time, I don’t think we can really discuss that. But Josh I know that I mean you know our industry is going through this vaccination process, you know, the rates are what it is. What do you see? What are your thoughts in the next, you know, one or two quarters?

Josh: Well I mean Charles, that’s a big question. You know I will say this year outside of just my own, I’ll take my personal, what I see and I’ll tell you what I hear. And I’ll tell you, I hear very mixed ideas on where we are, where we’re going, but one common theme I have heard resounding that it’s a very positive outlook ahead. I think timing, everybody’s a little bit different of how quickly we’re going to come out of, you know, how quickly the vaccine is distributed. How well it works. I mean, we can all speculate on those kinds of things, but the one constant that is reassuring to me is the optimism I am hearing. And so we’re blessed at Bridge the Gap that we get to talk to every single week, a high level thought leader in the industry. And the optimism has really been encouraging from people that are much more intelligent than me.

Charles: Yeah Josh if you can, if you have a chance, would you mind popping the Bridge the Gap link in the chat I’d love the audience to if you’re not aware of that website of that podcast. And if you want to be in tune with what our industry leaders are thinking about, this is probably one of the best resources I highly recommend you look into it. Just like what you’re saying about optimism is bang on it. You know, I think one thing that the question we were thinking about for our section three here, which is the trends for 2021, our predictions. Again feel free to download a white paper. There’s a lot to it. Where we see things going, which again, supports very much what Josh mentioned, which is the timing we don’t really know, but what we do know is that we are all filled with optimism and we all believe that things are going to be improving. Now, when we go back to how do we make 2021, how do we make our predictions come true and as quickly as possible. There’s a great framework that I’d love you to consider, which is go back in time, pre COVID, right. Go back to yourself in 2019 and let me ask you that question to you in the past, like a year ago. What was the wildest dream you had for you and your department? What was the wildest dream you had for activities and life enrichment? And the reason why I think it’s an important question is that the changes we are going through are so disruptive that the dreams that you had in 2019 as we stand today, there’s probably not many reasons. And I would argue probably no reasons for these to not happen. So your dreams of 2019 through the pains and the challenges and the difficulties we had with 2020. I think we are allowed to say that we deserve them, right. We deserve our 2019 dreams. And if that is the case, how do we make that a reality, right? We’ve talked about most of these things before, in the past few minutes in a webinar with Josh, right? We want more budgets, we want interdisciplinary work, we want teamwork, we have one more technology. Something we didn’t discuss too much stuff, which is the technology in resident engagement. But how do we make that a reality, but how do we make that happen? And I think that we deserve our dreams of 2019. Josh unless you have any comments on this, I don’t know if you were tracking the chat as I was talking, but what are your thoughts on that?

Josh: Well, you know it’s funny. So when I just try to think of where I was, where our communities and where my small circle of influence was in 2019, it’s hard to even imagine how differently we looked at everything in 2019 versus right now. But I mean, Charles, one thing and this is probably very silly, but I’m going to, I’m a silly person. And people that know me know that. This is how simple and probably low level some of my goals were as we were looking at some communities that we were taking over a management of that were older communities. I remember thinking very specifically and allocating some dollars that I was pinching pennies thinking, gosh I really just wish my communities could all have strong, good wifi. It’s hard to believe in 2019, I was thinking that about our senior living communities, but I will say an encouraging note when 2020 hit and everything began to go virtual, how much a priority a technology infrastructure became, and it should have been a higher priority all along, and we should have done whatever we needed to make it happen to stay current. But it’s amazing until it was a necessity that we did not have money for it or we didn’t make it happen. So you know, when I start looking at what I hope for 2021, I hope that our priorities are shaped and that we reprioritize what’s really important in our own lives. And what’s important in our communities and it’s shaped around quality of care and the residents we get so fixated on all these other frills that really don’t make a lot of difference to anyone except our budgets and reports. So that’s one thing I’m hopeful for.

Charles: Thank you. Yeah the access to basic technology, the wifi. I don’t know if you were looking at the chat, but it’s been a lot of that. As we wrap things up you know again as an invitation to the audience, please feel free to consider the white paper that we put together. There’s a lot of thoughts, a lot of thinking about some of the things that are actually happening right now. You know, I think ultimately there’s one thing, which is what we all want. We all want, and actually this is the wish that we are extending from the Activities Strong platform to use the audience. What we wish for everyone is that 2021 be the year of resident engagement. And personally, to be honest, I don’t remember what my 2019 wish was, but I think that if that was my wish back then, I don’t know if 2021 would have been, if it had not been COVID, but I hundred percent believe that we’re headed that way. And I am confident basically for two reasons, one activity and our information professionals have proven to be the most essential workers, the most essential department through this pandemic. And I think that our industry understands it. And I think that the other reason is there’s still a lot of opportunities, right. We haven’t spoken too much, there’s so many cool ideas that we could be talking about together, but I think there’s something to be said about the potential, the opportunities of this discipline and how much good we can do there.

Josh: Absolutely. Charles, thank you for allowing me to hang out with you and these awesome people today. I can’t say enough. Thank you to everyone that’s working so diligently and put in so much sacrifice and blessings and encouragement to you in 2021. Like you, Charles I don’t even remember what my wish was for 2020. But I’m wishing many blessings for 2021.

Charles: Thanks, Josh. So everyone’s on the line thank you again for showing up. Happy new year to all of you may every single crazy wish you had in the past come true. Especially if it comes to collaborating with our residents so they can live with purpose. On the next slide here, we have our contacts. Please, and I’ll say it again, please consider the Bridge the Gap podcast and the fantastic leadership and expertise they bring to the industry and the podcast they have. As a reminder, you might know if you were in our last session back in December, we encourage you to consider doing a SWOT analysis of strengths and weakness and opportunities and threats for your department. And we created a template for this, and we strongly recommend that if you have not done this, consider it as you think about your resolutions or your goals, or how you want to develop your work, your professional, your department in 2021.
We have a huge announcement as a follow-up is that we through Activities Strong are partnering with an organization called Time Slips, and we are going to be presenting to you at no charge a community-based event in Q1, which is happening actually in the coming few weeks, called Shine Your Light. It is going to be a celebration of activities of creative care. And it’s all about supporting you, engaging your residents and your staff. And we’re going to kick this off on January 25th during the national activity professional week with a NAP. And it’s going to go on for five weeks throughout the end of February. Megan is posting right now on our chat, sign up sheet, please consider putting your details in there then we will be in touch with all the details. And to kick it off we have a webinar coming up on January 19th, which is in two weeks where Sam and Tammy and Andrew from Time Slips, they’re going to start to help us and guide us through these five weeks.
With that, I want to encourage you to consider our other upcoming webinars, the executive edition. Again, all are welcome. We have the professional edition, this one is going to be with Nancy Water, creativity connection. And as a reminder, we have these major Activities Strong events happening; the Shine the Light celebration, and our virtual summit in June on June 22nd. Josh, thank you. May your wish to you also come true in 2021 and all of you on the line, please remember how important you are. And I again from on my behalf and on the behalf of my team at Linked Senior, I want to wish you everything that you deserve and beyond in 2021.

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