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updated: 4/25/2017 7:09 AM

Activities Team Puts Fun First at Radford Green

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"We are ambassadors of fun!" said Mary Ann Wilkinson, Community Life Services Coordinator at Radford Green Health Care and Rehabilitation of Sedgebrook in Lincolnshire. She is referring to her team of five staff members leading activities at Radford Green, all with a singular goal in mind: to bring brightness into residents' lives. "The glory of God is a man fully alive," quoted Wilkinson.

Unique to Radford Green is the broad choice of activities every morning and afternoon, totaling over five hours a day. "It is rare for a health care community to offer so many options to residents who are not living 100 percent independently," said Wilkinson. Also rare are the diverse talents of the activities staff. "Our team has such a good balance of ages, personalities, and strengths; we all brainstorm to create fun for residents."

"Everyone is different in what they like to do, and we know our residents very well," added Wilkinson, remarking that each resident is interviewed upon move-in about their hobbies, interests, former careers, likes, dislikes, etc. Myriad activities and programs touch on all aspects of well-being, be they physical, cognitive, artistic, spiritual, social, intellectual, culinary, or outbound. "We have a new bus; we're very excited about that!" said Wilkinson.

Special events are also celebrated in grand style at Radford Green. Mother's Day tea parties, for instance, feature tables adorned with tea cups from residents' own sets. "Residents often recognize their own patterns when we display the cups. There is an elegance and charm equal to high tea at a fine restaurant, which many families are no longer able to take their mothers to. This gives them an opportunity to celebrate their mom in style," said Wilkinson.

One staple always on the agenda is physical fitness. Each morning, residents are playing games, working on balance, practicing seated yoga, tossing balloons, and generally moving to their level of ability. "Move it, think about it, play with it," said Wilkinson of the team's approach to resident activity. "We search for that touch point where people's memories and feelings bubble up. This goes back to joy and happiness; it's what keeps us in touch with our humanity."

Through clerihews, whimsical four-line poems, residents put feelings to rhyme, often with brilliant results. "They're really good!" said Wilkinson, sharing a few of her favorites. Each week, singers and accompanists from "Songs By Heart" (an organization dedicated to improving quality of life for those with memory issues through music) get up close and personal with individual residents as they sing familiar tunes to them, sparking memories and spontaneous sing-alongs. "The impact and benefit of this program to residents has been remarkable."

Respecting that some residents are more introverted and less likely to join groups, Wilkinson and her team bring activities to them, a practice she calls "programming in place." "Everyone needs a little socialization, and if that means coming to them, we're glad to do it," she said.

"We're learning all the time about how to bring happiness into residents' lives, and the residents teach us," said Wilkinson. "They've done so much, seen so much, know so much. We want the things we do to be truly interesting and engaging." And, most of all, fun!

Sedgebrook is a Life Plan Community offering a diverse lifestyle, maintenance-free living and outstanding amenities. Five-star rated Radford Green Health Care and Rehabilitation is located on the 72-acre Sedgebrook campus in Lincolnshire, Illinois. Sedgebrook is a Senior Care Development, LLC affiliated community and managed by Life Care Services LLC. For additional information visit www.WelcomeToSedgebrook.com or call 847-901-3319.

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