Too little or too much planning by a music therapist working in senior living can lead to decreased outcomes for clients. It is time to take charge of your session planning.

Maybe because of limited time you plan at the last-minute or put together a short sketch. Maybe you spend hours planning. Either can cause issues.

The following four concepts will help you take charge of your session planning once and for all.

#1:Create your plan while checking on the calendar.

Holidays, special facility or community events, weekly celebrations (National Assisted Living or Nursing Home Week) and corporate calendar themes are just some of the items you may need to consider.

Knowing these when you plan allows you to only plan those sessions that will happen. Also, tying into existing events or themes can prove helpful.

Using special monthly, weekly or daily observances can urge you to explore a range of topics and music with your clients.

#2: Don’t spend too much (or too little) time planning.

If you are a private practitioner, give yourself an average of 2 1/2 hours out of a 40 hour work week. If you are employed at a facility, they may dictate how much time you have. If it is less than 2 1/2 out of 40, negotiate for more.

Be open to batching a majority of this time into monthly or quarterly planning. Which leads us to #3.

#3: To be most effective, involve your clients.

Once you have the calendar and have lined out some overarching or potential themes, ask your clients. Asking them to rank their interest or providing them a choice between two topics creates ownership by them for the sessions.

Sometimes, just asking the week before what songs they think of when you say (insert theme) can offer some last-minute additions to your song list.

#4: Gather your resources.

By planning in advance, you’ll know if you need certain props, to add to your instrument collection or to learn a new song or two.  If there is something a volunteer or other staff member can do to prepare, delegate the task.

Maybe you are reminiscing about school days. You might gather old year books, pictures of school buildings from the era of your clients. Maybe you need an old-fashioned eraser and chalk board. Maybe you want old-time playground equipment. By planning ahead you can gather the materials.

Moving forward on session planning

There you have it – 4 concepts to help you take charge of session planning. Hopefully you’re joining me in this secret crush on planning. Now you’ll want to check out the shortcuts to preparing those sessions.  And, you might wish to check these related posts:

Be sure you are on the Quick Sip list for future session planning ideas.