Jessica Ballou, Published January 15 2012
Eventide life-enrichment manager helps keep residents active
After going to school, taking a few years off, and then going back, she interned at Sheyenne Crossings her final semester of college in May 2010, and she graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in therapeutic recreation.
As the life-enrichment manager since June 2011 at Eventide Retirement Living in Moorhead, as well as at Eventide at Sheyenne Crossings in West Fargo, she has a lot on her plate.
She oversees the activities department, their coordinators, all volunteers and the gift shop.
Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?
A: Interacting with people and being able to pair volunteers with residents, giving them a better quality of life.
How does the process go for pairing volunteers with residents?
With college students, we do a basic introduction and give one, two, three qualities the resident enjoys … and we compare that with the student interests. In general, it’s based off their interests.
I would say 75 percent of our residents participate with volunteers in some degree, like one-to-one volunteering, or volunteers escort them to church or something.
We do a junior volunteer program in the summer with volunteers who are high school age … so they can get that experience in volunteering.
What are some of the age ranges of volunteers?
Junior volunteers need to be 11 years of age.
Some come with grandparents from age 6. … We have volunteers who are 93.
Most of our volunteers are adults to seniors, people who are retired.
What does the activities aspect of your job entail?
Each floor creates their own activities calendar each month. I review that for content and areas that hit on the residents for their better quality of life.
Some of the big things that our residents enjoy are Monday nights we play bingo and Thursday nights we have a musical activity or pet visits each week.
Are there any misconceptions you’ve had to deal with when people come to volunteer or visit?
A lot of people think of nursing homes as just a place to die. That’s not true.
It’s a place for new experiences while they’re still living.
How do you try and ensure better quality of life with activities for the residents?
We try and offer all different activities throughout the month.
I just try and focus on what they can do, but they might not do it in the same way.
We grew up with technology, but all that is new with the older generation. New is scary.
Were there any surprises you didn’t expect when you took this job, good or bad?
The biggest change was that I went from a 64-bed facility, and here we’re a 191-bed facility, so just getting to know the people and getting to have activities every day.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jessica Ballou at (701) 237-7311
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