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'Label underserves everyone'

Retirement Village personnel want 'activities' label scrapped in favor of 'life enrichment'

Retirement Village personnel want 'activities' label scrapped in favor of 'life enrichment'

August 16, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

WILLIAMSPORT - What's in a name? A lot, according to many of the staff at Williamsport Retirement Village.

Lori Sutton, who is training to become the facility's director of assisted living, said the staff is focusing on changing the term "activities" to "life enrichment" in job descriptions currently contained in state regulations for the industry.

The changes already are in the works at Williamsport Retirement Village, including a life-enrichment page on the Web site and in brochures. The hope is not to change the program, but the perception of it.

Sutton, who has been employed at Williamsport Retirement Village for four years, previously was the director of life enrichment for the nursing home residents.

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Soon she will run the two Twin Oaks buildings, which have 35 to 40 residents in both. Sutton said she is enjoying the work so far.

"This company caught my eye - the philosophy and the people all interested me," Sutton said, noting she is training with Timothy Berry, Williamsport Retirement Village regional administrator, four years ago.

The concept of redefining the name of staff members who fall under the label of "activities" has been a vision for many years. Berry said the reason for the change is simple.

"We're not stuck on labels here," Berry said. "But it bothered me that the term 'activities' for what these people bring to our residents sounds so juvenile."

Berry said the title "activities director" just doesn't say who they are.

"Our job is to promote the seniors here and it is such an important job," he said. "The label underserves everyone."

Shelly Bishop, Williamsport Retirement Village's assistant administrator, added that the staff is passionate about the change.

A typical day for a life- enrichment professional at Williamsport involves providing residents with positive energy, moments for celebration, time to listen and give comfort, and most importantly, helping residents continue to be a vital part of the community.

"The ideal is to endorse the activity programming at a level that says we are serious about enriching lives," Berry said.

The agency that determines how the industry identifies its personnel is the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality, which is under the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

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