Learn more about your Courville Community! Check out our latest employee spotlight on your Director of Activities – Erica Kelley:
What is your position?
Director of Activities, Courville Nashua
How long have you been with Courville?
How did you get into healthcare?
Well, I have 18 years’ experience as an Activities Professional. I started out in the field as a volunteer after school a few days a week at the local assisted living facility, teaching their residents how to use computers and email (back when Yahoo was the greatest e-mail server). From there, I was hired to work part-time in their activities department. I also had worked as a part of the Dietary Staff and a Receptionist at the facility. My past experience includes working in Assisted Living, Long Term Care, Certified Dementia Special Care Units (DSCU) and Skilled Rehab Care.
What are some examples of activities/programs offered by the Courville communities?
We do a lot of physical programming, cognitive programming (things like word games), educational programming, bring in musical entertainers, hold religious services, play games like Bingo and Keno. We also have spa nights, crafts, and work with local schools and clubs for inter-generational programming. But our most popular activities are the cooking clubs and classes.
We also do an exercise program 5 days a week (structured) where we have different active games like bowling, or balloon/ball toss, and horseshoes. We make sure that the games are modified to level of the residents. For example, with horseshoes, we can’t use a sand pit, so instead we have rubberized mats that go on the floor, we use a light-weight plastic horseshoe for tossing and lessen the distance.
At Courville we also include a lot of science programs – things that are more cognitive. So, for example trivia which we tie in with educational components. We try to look for themed days that we as a group can learn more about. Recently, it was the beginning of Purim (Jewish holiday) – so we learned about the Purim traditions, its origins, and then made a traditional cookie to tie the programs all together.
Another favorite is finding an actor who has a birthday in whatever month we are in, and then we learn about that actor’s history in film and will watch one of their movies on a Sunday. Or we have also done inventors – what they invented, why their invention made them famous, etc. We try to pick things/people that are what they know, but haven’t heard in a long time.
What are a few of your favorite activities that have been held at Courville over the years?
We really try to encourage participation in morning exercise program here at Courville, especially for those who started in our therapy services. Our morning exercise program carries over to keep the residents moving and staying strong. We also have staff that have been trained by the therapy team to assist residents with specific exercises from their original program to help with a fluid carryover from program to program. That’s one of my favorite things here at Courville, and we like to tell new families all about our exercise and therapy programs, because they are usually worried about that component of care in an assisted living facility. We also like to give families our activities and events calendar, and walk through some of the highlights for that month. Bingo is usually pretty big here at Courville, but it depends on the resident. I will say that our cooking programs seem to be a big draw. Although, we are going to try out Pictionary this month, see how that goes with residents.
Another favorite of the residents here is our musical entertainment. That’s a huge draw, for residents and their families. They love to have people come in, sing and perform for them and remind them of going to shows in their youth or more mobile days.
Can you think of any great/memorable/standout moments at Courville?
We did a special veterans program for Veterans Day this past year. Courville partnered with a hospice agency in the building, and we held a huge formal celebration ceremony. Because I am also a Cub Scout leader, we got to incorporate the Scouts into it as well. We made sure we recognized the veteran attendees for their service, recognized their military branches, the works. They are still talking about that ceremony.
The families too are still talking about how wonderful that event was, and how honored they felt. Korean and World War II veterans don’t typically like to be recognized or talk about their experiences. Many are not necessarily always proud about what they did during the service. But their heartfelt thanks and the fact that they really, truly, still appreciate the recognition enough to still be talking about the event is a standout for me.
Also, we had a gentleman who was staying short term at the time of that event, but he had been a life-long Scout. He has since come back to our Cub Scouts just to say how impressed he was with their performance, and their demeanor at the event that he is now going to come back a Scouts formal event, with a special commemorative gift from his personal collection to thank them. It’s something you can’t find anywhere, because they simply aren’t made anymore. We don’t know what it is but I’m sure it will be special.
What do you think makes the Courville Communities unique?
Personally, I made the transition and change to Courville because I was looking for more of a family oriented place. Courville feels like home. It’s very elegant, very comfortable and clean (that’s not to say that other places are dirty, we just take great care in maintaining each of our communities). I walk in and don’t feel like I’m going to work, I feel like you are going into an extension of my home.
For those on the fence about assisted living facilities, why should they choose Courville?
I always tell people when they are starting the process of looking at facilities for their loved one to just go to Courville unannounced. Check it out, see how it feels to you because first impressions are definitely the most lasting impressions. And oftentimes, the first impression here is amazing. You will be greeted with a smile at the front door, our staff is very welcoming, and you’ll see that the residents are always smiling as they walk by.
A little more about Erica:
I am married, mother of two… a boy (7) and girl (4). I am active in the Boy Scouts of America’s — Cub Scouting Program as a Cub Master / Assistant Den Leader, and I live in Nashua, NH. For fun, we typically vacation up in northern New Hampshire in Lincoln. We like to go hiking – we’re a very outdoorsy family.
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