Senior Living Director Rachael Johnston leverages new tools and technology to create engaging opportunities. Learn how GetSetUp classes partnership with AgeGuide is helping residents connect and learn virtually.
The job of a community activities leader at a senior living center is never done. Always looking for volunteers, paid options, and even developing their own talents and hobbies to share with the community, it's a daily challenge to bring enough variety while meeting the needs of different residents. Enter virtual programming - the assistant every activity leader needs.
Rachael Johnston recently transferred to become a Resident Program Director at the Sheridan at Oak Brook in Illinois. This senior living community has access to GetSetUp classes thanks to AgeGuide's partnership.
With the pandemic, Rachael had to broaden her horizons and get creative when planning activities. She learned a lot last year from her previous job at an assisted living community, the Sheridan at Birmingham, Michigan about leveraging new tools and technology to create engaging opportunities even in the toughest of times.
“When I was working in Michigan, I got an email highlighting that Michigan Health and Human Services had partnered with GetSetUp to offer free virtual classes for seniors. Right away I picked ones that fit well for my community to try like travel and music classes.”
Rachael selected classes to help fill the times between breakfast and lunch and lunch and dinner. She picked a variety of classes including tech, travel, and socialization classes. She would set up her computer in the rec room and connect it to the TV with an HDMI cable so the whole community could participate in the class at one time.
“For HIPPA reasons I kept our video off so no one could see our patients. However, they were able to participate as a group. I could unmute us to ask questions if they had them or type them in the chat on residents’ behalf.”
While most of the assisted living residents at her last position didn’t have computers or even email, Rachael kept them engaged by asking them questions and helping them learn. Rachael envisions more ways to get her current senior living community-engaged since many have their own devices.
Perks to virtual programming partnerships
Virtual programming is a simple and easy tool to add to the monthly activities calendar.
“It was great to be able to tell members that we would have a specialist coming to talk about a specific topic. They really enjoyed that and then I didn’t have to be an expert in so many different areas.”
- Learning for fun and health- GetSetUp offers over 2,000 classes, all live and interactive. When seniors are engaged in active learning, it helps to build new neuropathways and helps prevent many aging-related diseases.
- Expert Guides - GetSetUp instructors are older adults, experts in their area, teaching to a community of their peers. This helps the activities director keep content fresh and engaging.
- An engaging global community - The GetSetUp community is made of global peers. Some of the most engaging classes are conversation classes where the community learns from each other.
- Empowering - The community focuses on empowering residents to learn new things and apply them in a variety of ways.
- Learning around the clock - Community members can keep learning even when the activities team is off at night or in the early morning.
- Equity - Even those with limited mobility can actively participate in a live and interactive community focused on their interests.
While the use cases may vary from community to community virtual programming has proven to be a great tool.
“Our assisted living residents loved the classical music class. We had a huge group that loved classical music. The GetSetUp Guide walked learners through different classical music artists and talked about the instruments they were playing. Residents could hear the music and try to pinpoint the instrument and/or guess the musician. They were very engaged in this. They talked back and forth with the Guide about some musical terms that I didn’t understand,” said Rachael. She was glad to have assistance from an expert on a topic she knew little about.
Communities can use virtual programming in group settings or offer them as resources throughout the day and night long after in-person programming has stopped. Many of Rachael’s residents have a device they could use independently and already know some tech topics. She thinks she can now use the classes as a resource for activities when she heads home at the end of the day. She already knows a number of residents are interested in learning Spanish or more about music.
“It’s nice to have GetSetUp in my back pocket as a resource as it can be more difficult to find someone locally or volunteers. Plus then I don’t have to be an amazingly well-rounded person because GetSetUp specialists cover it all.”