So you have created a terrific program idea for your independent living retirement community residents. You have advertised it well, and people are interested. How do you assure that those who want to attend go on the program and, if there is a charge for it, charge them?
At my retirement community, I have a space in the main lobby (also know as the club house by our marketing people), where I have a bulletin board and a place for sign up sheets. On the bulletin board are the posters for the on-going events and special programs that are taking place. On-going activities are to shopping trips, doctors offices, and religious services. I have them broken down into different binders: one for shopping (groceries and malls), one for doctors, sectioned in its own book by the direction the bus will travel (north, south, east or west). Each direction goes on specific days of the week and they are noted on the main calendar. And the last book for on-going activities is for religious services. This book is broken down by the day the bus goes, Sundays or Fridays. For the most part, these on-going activities run smoothly as far as those who sign up, go, and those who don't sign up can usually add onto the bus without much concern. There are no fees for these kinds of buses in my community, so that is not an issue for me either.
The programs that I really wanted to address are those special outings that have a fee associated with them. I keep these sign-up sheets in a book that I call "In-House Programs and Activities Book." If you are like me, I have a few problems that have been issues forever. The first is that if I purchase tickets for a program, I make a sign- up sheet with that many spots on it. After those spaces are made, I stop numbering the lines and put the words WAIT LIST BEGINS BELOW. This didn't seem to work because the residents did not see those words and just assumed that if they added their name onto the page for the activity, that they were "good to go." So, I started highlight the words in a different color on the sign up sheet. Still not much better. Now, I started highlighting the entire section of the wait list. I've been saying now that if your name is in the colored section that you are on the wait list.
The wait list. What exactly does that mean to you and to your residents? That is problem number two. To me, being on a wait list means that the resident on that list is waiting to get a call from me to say that there is now space or ticket to go on the outing. I think that is pretty straight forward, but some folks don't understand that. That information is in their "Resident Guide to Services" book that they get when they first move in and is repeated on occasion in evening announcements that go out to the community on a bi-weekly basis.
And lastly, once the activity is going to go, I try to be in the lobby as the bus is loading to check off the people's names. This is not always possible, so what I've been doing lately is asking a resident volunteer to do it for me. Usually this would be a person on the list, but not always. If there are tickets involved, the volunteer will hand those out for me also. The problem occurs when a person who signed up, doesn't show up - especially if there is a wait list! It is so frustrating. Our policy is that if the resident doesn't show, and there is a cost that has been paid (not our own bus fee), that the resident will be charged for it. That makes it a little easier financially for the activities department budget, but that does not help the resident on the wait list who wanted to go. This is a problem that continues to annoy me.
Having a good procedure for signing up and charging the correct attendees for an outing is very important to the success of your department and to mine. I would love to see your thoughts on this subject. As you can see this is one area that I've been working on and still would like to get better!