Activity Staff Critical For Nursing Home Health

Updated: 12/18/2013 11:03 PM
Created: 12/18/2013 10:56 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- When it comes time for seniors or loved ones to move into nursing homes, many people base their search on the cost and quality of the facilities.

But to find the best home for your health, you might just want to ask, "What's going on here today?"

A new study from the University of Minnesota says that for nursing home residents, quality of life is directly related to the amount of time they spend with activity staff. But on average, nursing home residents only spend about twenty minutes per day with those employees.

“When residents come and they move in with us, we meet with them immediately, activities does,” said Shanna Eckberg, administrator at Thorne Crest Retirement Community in Albert Lea. “We find out what do they want to do, what did you used to do, what are you interested in."

Experts said the key to improving quality of life is not necessarily to get residents physically active, but simply to meet their needs.

“It maybe isn't your exercise classes, but what if somebody wants to do crossword puzzles?” Eckberg said. “So we will make sure that we have everything for them so they can do that."

Margaret Flugum is an active member of the Thorne Crest community where she’s lived for nearly two years, and she said the strength and balance classes she takes have really paid off.

"If it wasn't for the therapy and the wellness, I wouldn't be walking today,” Flugum said. “That's the truth."

Experts said apart from real health issues, the easiest way to improve quality of life is just to keep it simple.

"I think it's providing what the residents need, but also what they want,” Eckberg said. “And let's try to have fun every day."

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