What Makes a Great Activity Director?

By Kindred Healthcare

January 19-24 is National Activity Professional Week. In honor of this event, the Kindred Continuum interviewed Lori Chepan, Activity Director at Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation – Elizabeth City.


 Lori Chepan, Activity Director at KTCR Elizabeth City. Lori Chepan, Activity Director at KTCR Elizabeth City.


KC: What made you choose to become an Activity Director?
LC: It goes back to my childhood. My dad was the dietary manager for this facility for 29 years. My mom was a nurse at another nursing home. I was a volunteer here when I was in high school. I was on the swim team, so after school I would come here and volunteer until swim practice started.

After college and some time off with my son, I wanted to go back to work part-time, so I came in as the Activity Director’s assistant. She encouraged me to take the Activity Director course, to get the certification. I did that, and I’ve been full-time here since 2002.

KC: What do you like most about your work?
LC: I love the interaction with the residents, there is never a boring moment in this job. I can never say I’m bored or have nothing to do. I love working with the volunteers and most of all I love working with our residents. As the Activity Director, I am in some ways closer to them than anyone else in the building. They confide in me and I really enjoy them.

KC: What is the biggest challenge in your job?
LC: Time is the biggest challenge. There are not enough hours in the day to accomplish what I would like to accomplish. I wish I could be here 24/7. There’s just never enough time.

KC: What is a typical day in your life?
LC: I come in and update the orientation boards, and then go into the dining room, say hello to everyone. While I’m changing the activity boards in the hallways, I have a chance to say hello to residents as well. Then I try to catch up on paperwork, go to morning meeting and set up for the morning activity, and then assist residents to the activity. After that, I take the residents to lunch, help in the dining room some days, visit with the patients, and then set up for next activity. If we have an evening activity, like bingo, I will set up for that before I leave in the afternoon. There is never a dull moment in Activities. We usually have residents in and out of the activity room all day doing a variety of activities ranging from watching TV, coloring or putting together puzzles, in addition to the organized activities that are planned.

KC: What are some of the residents’ favorite activities?
LC: We have a very successful exercise program, about a third of our residents participate. I also have a volunteer who is a bilateral amputee and he conducts exercise classes and really motivates the residents, because they see him doing it and that encourages them that they can do it, too. Bible study is popular, everyone loves bingo and we also have an indoor bocce ball set that has become very popular.

We do crafts, and have a men’s support group, and for the women, we do manicures. And we have wine and cheese once a month which folks just love.

At the holidays, we have big parties, caroling and a visit from Santa. Last summer, we had a pig pickin’ family day, with sno cones and popcorn, all free to residents’ families and the employees and their families.

KC: What advice would you give to someone looking to join the Activity Director profession?
LC: Give it time, you come in full of ideas and then you hit a wall, because you realize there is not enough time in the day to accomplish all you want to accomplish. Nobody’s superman or superwoman, and the emotional and physical components can be overwhelming, as well as the paperwork. But it’s all worth it when you build those special relationships with the residents.

Thank you to Lori and all of the other dedicated activity professionals for your dedication to our patients, residents and their loved ones.