The happiest residents in senior care facilities are the ones who are active, engaged, and social. As Activities Director for Lincolnshire Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, Crystal Daniels makes it her primary goal to keep her residents smiling.
“I love the residents,” Daniels said. “We have a chance to give them quality of life and to let them know that just because they’re in a nursing facility doesn’t mean that things in life stop. You still can have fun, you can still laugh, you can still do arts and crafts, you can sing songs and dance.”
Daniels started her work in the field as an activity aid and, seeing how much it suited her, continued to move up in the role, eventually becoming the bubbly Activities Director she is today. Daniels appreciates the opportunities for growth within the company.
“I think it’s great that you can move forward, especially if you’re good at your job,” she said. “You can become more to your company and grow along with your company.”
What makes Daniels so strong in her work is her energy combined with her compassion. She’ll go to great lengths to get a guest to smile.
“That’s one of my biggest goals, to come in and make the residents smile, because that goes a long way,” Daniels said. “I act silly, I dance with them, I sing songs to them.”
One of Daniels’ favorite group activities is karaoke; she said that even if no one else volunteers to sing, she’ll take the mic and sing away until everyone is in high spirits.
“We’re the cheerleaders of the community!” Daniels said.
Be it through such silliness, cooking groups, or outings to restaurants and Railcats games, Daniels and her team do their utmost to keep guests smiling. Experience is the best teacher, and she often draws from past ones to repeat successful activities. But Daniels explained that another important factor comes into play when it comes to planning activities: listening.
“I ask the guests what they like as often as I can,” Daniels said. “I ask if they like music, and if they say yes, I’ll ask what kind of music they like. Let’s say they say music from the ‘70s; from there I’ll think, ‘OK, maybe we could have a ‘70s themed day!’ Asking can give you the best ideas.”
Daniels also said that teamwork throughout the Extended Care family makes for a good way to bounce ideas off one another.
“I’m always willing to reach out to different buildings in the company for some brainstorming,” Daniels said. “Across the board, we try to do things to keep this company strong and to keep our residents happy. That’s our common goal.”
Daniels brings the same energy she devotes to her job home to her husband and three children, holding steadfast to her belief that smiles make all the difference.
“That’s what’s important for everyone,” Daniels said. “I don’t think we smile enough. I’m telling you, smiles go a long way.”
The first thing Daniels teaches her activity aids is the art of a good smile.
“That’s what I practice with my activity aids: leave you problems at the door, walk in, and put that face on,” Daniels said. “Because what I do, I take it to heart.”
If more people like Daniels worked in the industry, they could continue to change the perception of nursing facilities to one of happiness and empowerment, one smile at a time. To learn more about Lincolnshire Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, visit their website.