Interview With Life Enrichment Director Angelique Ewing

Angelique Ewing photo

From Wii bowling to manicures to happy hours, at Prestige, the fun never stops. Of course, it takes a talented team to put together the events that bring joy and fulfillment to our residents, and a key member of that team at each community is the Life Enrichment Director (LED).

Our LEDs oversee the activity and events calendars, combining old favorites with exciting new ideas to keep residents engaged and build camaraderie in our communities.

In this blog we’re interviewing Angelique Ewing, the LED at Prestige Assisted Living at Chico about her role at the community, her approach to creating events, her background and more! 

Can you tell us about your background?

Angelique Ewing: “Well, I’ve been in geriatrics for about 20 years, starting off in skilled nursing in Chicago as a college student. I worked an overnight shift so I could go to college during the day. In 2012, I moved here to Chico and just started working – I went from skilled to assisted living and started working in marketing. So I did that for about a year and then was introduced to the activities department at a different community and have loved it ever since. So when I saw that Prestige here in Chico had a position open, I thought, oh, this is perfect. I did a bit of research on the community and it all sounded wonderful. I went and applied, interviewed, and here we are.”

What drew you to working with older adults?

AE: “I think it’s because I lost my grandparents when I was pretty young. I never had that grandparent experience. So when I started in the skilled living facility years ago in Chicago, I noticed that almost instantly I was drawn to them. Just the wisdom, the knowledge they have, the advice they would give me as this 19-year-old college kid trying to make it through life and trying to work and still go to school. They had this wisdom. They’ve been there, they’ve done that, they’ve experienced it. They’d already been 19, 30, 40, on and on. So I was drawn to just learning as much as I could from the senior community.”

What goes into creating the monthly activity calendars?

AE: “There’s a lot of thought and research. If I do come up with an idea, I want to know how it will work so I’ll research things. I’ll go online, I’ll look at YouTube videos, and then I’ll ask around the community. I ask the residents, ‘Is this something you think you guys would be interested in? Do you think you would like this?’ And if I’m close to resident council, I just make a note and I’ll ask them to vote on it. And we take a vote and together decide what the programming will be to make sure they have a say in what they’re doing day-to-day.”

Is there an event or activity that is particularly popular?

AE: “Dominoes. We’ve created a dominoes club. There’s dominoes scheduled throughout the month on the calendar. But the Dominoes Club, they have their meetings where they talk about adding more people to the club, if we’re going to play on the second floor instead of the first floor this month, things like that. They get together, it’s a group of five and they let me know if we need new dominoes, or if the club is growing and we need a second and a third box. So it’s become very popular.”

When you’re planning the activities, how do you strike a balance between the tried-and-true favorites you know they enjoy, with also trying out new ideas?
“Well, usually I talk to the residents. I want to know what they like to do so I can incorporate those things onto the calendar. Obviously, dominoes is a favorite, it’s going to go on until the end of time. I know that. But if there is a new idea or something else, I would say, ‘Just for today, can we do this? And if you don’t like it, we’ll go straight into dominoes.’

So for instance we just got a croquet set and the only place I could fit the croquet game in was in the dominoes slot. So I said, ‘How about we just do dominoes right after croquet. Let’s just give it a shot, see if it works.’ And everyone agreed it was okay. I wasn’t sure about it, but we did a game and it worked, they enjoyed it. They did not even play dominoes that day.”

How do you balance the different personalities in the community, knowing everyone has their own tastes, interests and abilities, and making sure you reach everyone?

AE: “I talk to everyone. The ones who keep to themselves, who maybe stay in their apartment because they don’t really like the music or the big groups or things like that, I just ask, ‘What do you enjoy doing? You know, at some point, maybe some years ago, what was your hobby back then?’ If they say, ‘Oh, I loved to paint. I’m interested in art.’ ‘Well then how about you and I sit down and do some artwork together? Not a big group, no one else involved. Just you and I.’ And if they just still prefer to work alone, I give them the tools that they need.

So a person could have a bit of privacy if they wanted to. I’ll set it up for them up on the second floor, or I’ll roll a table into their apartment, and they may just want to work in their living room while they watch their favorite television show or listen to music. Because some people are introverted, so what can I do to help them still find meaning in every day, still have something to look forward to? I think that’s so important for any of us actually, but especially for people in our senior community to have something to look forward to so they’re not feeling like they were forgotten or that they were left behind. So it’s just incorporating those one-on-ones. If we’re doing manicures and say someone does not want to join the group for manicure, I’ll bring the manicure kit to their apartment and I’ll just do their nails in there.”

What’s the best thing about your job?
“That’s a hard one because everything! Everything, everything, everything. The residents, most importantly, they are the reason that I enjoy my job so much. They are funny, witty, lively. They are just a great group of people at Prestige. And then there is Prestige, the company. Again, I’ve worked at other communities and I just think Prestige got it right and I look forward to going there. I found home, if you will. It’s a great place to be. It’s a great community, not just the residents, but all of my coworkers and colleagues. The visitors are pleasant, they come in and tell jokes. Everything is my favorite part of the job.”

To learn more about our programming, contact the community nearest you.