Deb Carney came back to work at Good Samaritan Society – Spokane Valley after a six-year hiatus. She could tell the moment she returned that she was back where she belonged.
After leaving in 2015 to open a business with her husband, Deb soon began looking for any opportunity she could to come back to the Society. When the Carneys closed their business, Deb continued to watch for openings at Spokane Valley, but the timing never worked out, so she took another job.
“I had actually decided to retire and had given my notice at the job I had. That same day, I got a call from a friend who told me that the activity director at Spokane Valley had put in her notice. I applied and was hired,” says Deb.
Deb started in late 2021 – returning to her role as the activity director.
“As soon as I walked in the door it was like coming home,” she states. “This campus has the best feel to it out of all the places that I have worked or visited. You feel comfort and no tension. I am so happy to be back home.”
A mission to spread joy
As Deb cruises the building’s hallways, she feels the love residents and staff members have for each other and she works hard to help build on that positive atmosphere.
“My mission is to spread joy everywhere I go, so activities is a perfect fit for that,” Deb states. “I take my job of spreading joy very seriously.”
For Deb, that includes providing a variety of activities for residents to participate in, including modified games of basketball, singing, dancing and pet therapy as well as spiritual and educational activities.
She and her team also spend a lot of time outside when the weather is nice and take residents on outings to parks, baseball games and more.
Christmas is Deb’s favorite time of the year because staff members throw a huge party for residents and every person gets at least one gift.
Throughout the year, Deb and her team make sure residents are always learning new things. They have educational sessions on a variety of topics, including the animals that live in their area.
On a typical day, residents can be found enjoying music and coffee in the morning and then doing some type of exercise. A favorite for residents is drumming with the physio balls.
“We like to bring in music and have residents play music,” says Deb. “When we do the drumming, we do it for all abilities. Some use drumsticks, some might have a tambourine and some might have maracas. Whatever their ability, we get them to participate.”
Deb has a master’s degree in exercise physiology and likes to incorporate exercise into the activities she does with residents. “The stronger they can be, the better,” Deb states.
Every day is a good day
Working for the Society and interacting with residents has given Deb a positive perspective on life. She’s inspired by those who have dementia, but still find joy and fun in their days.
“Take every day as a gift because you never know when it will be your last one,” she says.
Deb is thankful for her role because activities is a great way to help encourage residents. One way she does that is through faith-based activities that are done each week.
Whatever the activity, Deb likes getting to know residents and having fun with them in the midst of it. A recent one included celebrating Superhero Day.
“I was the BEE-Dazzler – spreading joy and glitter wherever I went,” says Deb.
Each month, Deb and her team have an artist come in and paint with residents.
“It’s really cool because some of our residents who have advanced dementia were artists and can still paint,” says Deb.
Whatever the occasion, Deb and her team work hard to make sure the activity calendar includes a variety of games and fun activities that are geared toward what residents want to do.
“I try to make it very resident-centered,” she states. “It’s not so much what we want to do, but what the resident would like to do.”