We are very proud to introduce you to Cathy Richards. She is the Activities Director at Bradenton Health Care in Florida and was recently elected State President of the Florida Health Care Activity Coordinators Association (FHCACA) for the next two years.
Cathy’s healthcare career began when she was a volunteer at the Red Cross. “They sent us to various nursing homes around Pinellas County. It was an invaluable experience as it was the perfect testing ground for my budding nursing ambitions. But the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t quite like the idea of working on weekends and holidays,” Cathy laughs.
So Cathy opted for the next best thing. After graduating from high school, she worked and gained invaluable experience along with hands-on training at various senior health care centers in Florida. Looking back, Cathy states, “she has no regrets working in the senior healthcare industry for over 35 years.”
In her current role as an Activities Director, she creates and implements various activities for seniors. Cathy schedules and organizes spa days, yoga classes, pizza parties, baking cookies and having the Girl Scouts spend a day at Bradenton Health Center. “We want to make a difference in the lives of the seniors in our care by making their days meaningful and happy. We want to give them a purpose,” Cathy says.
She’s not one who just rests on her laurels. She’s the ultimate volunteer and has served as an activity professional since 1974 at FHCACA. She has held various positions from district secretary to vice-president, and president in District V and VI. She received the Member of the Year Award and Best Professional Newsletter Award in 2015.
Cathy has also served on the boards of the National Certification Council of Activity Professionals (NCCAP) and National Association of Activity Professionals (NAAP).
FHCACA’s goal is to provide their members in 16 districts with continuing education, tools, activities, and support in senior assisted living care and to ensure quality healthcare is given top priority.
“I have extensive experience in consulting as well as program development in areas of rehabilitation, long-term care, and Alzheimer’s care. When I volunteered at FHCACA back in 1974, the organization emphasized in connecting people, developing and providing further education to our profession. I traveled all over the country for conferences and leadership programs. Personally, it was a tremendous educational growth for me. As President for the next two years, I want to bring all that experience and energy into FHCACA. We’re still growing and learning on what is new in the industry and we keep our members informed on any changes in the laws both Federal and State,” Cathy adds.
“At FHCACA, we educate our members on how to care for seniors, we advise them on where and how to obtain education and certification for Alzheimer’s and dementia care. On our website, we have creative ideas on how you can make your center fun for the seniors in your care. We’re passionate, dedicated, caring, and we want to make a difference in the lives of the elderly,” Cathy says.
Cathy’s aim is to once again increase the membership in FHCACA. “In 2001, we had 500 members. Today, it’s down to 250. We think it’s due to lack of support, time, and monetary constraints among our members. I hope under my leadership, we can change that. Time permitting, I’m planning to visit all of our districts to encourage our members to once again enroll and support your district FHCACA for the next 40 years. My challenges are to reconnect with all 16 districts in Florida, encourage our professionals to join FHCACA, offer them benefits and words of wisdom on how we can improve our profession. We want to make a commitment. Without them, we cannot be strong and move forward,” Cathy adds.
Cathy’s Core Values are Compassion and Passion. “One cannot live without the other,” Cathy enthuses.
Cathy’s passion for her career knows no bounds. She intends to continue to work diligently for her profession until she retires in five years time. “ I will keep my hand in the industry by continuing to volunteer at FHCACA and build new leaders in the next 40 years. Every day, I feel very blessed that I make a difference in the lives of our residents,” Cathy adds.
On her days off, she loves walking along the white sandy beaches and watch the sunrises and sunsets. “Because of my career, I was able to travel to Canada, New York, Mexico, California, Nevada, and Texas,” Cathy says.