Earn Extra Money: Nursing Home Entertainment Provider

Updated on April 25, 2016
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Nursing Home Entertainer

I worked for many years as an Outreach Librarian. During this time I developed a number of very successful programs/activities for Nursing Home and Senior Housing residents. There is no other audience out there that is as appreciative and welcoming as our seniors.

Studies have shown nursing home residents that are provided with stimulating activities not only have a much more rewarding experience at the nursing facilities, but these activities stimulate their minds and stave off depression.

I'd like to share some of my best programs with you and give you the information you need to turn this into a great part time or full time business of your own. Nursing homes and senior housing, especially those with higher budgets are always looking for entertainment for their residents. By contacting nursing home Activity Coordinators and working within their activities budget you may just find your self in a new rewarding career.

How to start your business

The first step to starting your new business is know your clients. Your clients are not only the nursing home residents, but the staff and administrators of nursing homes.

Activities directors at nursing homes are always on the look out for reasonably priced entertainment. Their jobs are to provide interesting activities that stimulate the minds and bodies of their residents on a daily basis. Not an easy task and one they'd rather share with you, if you can work within their budgets. Budgets vary based upon your region. In a small town you're looking at $50 to $100 per performance or activity and more if you live in larger cities.

You'll want to scope out the nursing facilities in your area and consider how far you would travel to offer your services. Compile a list of nursing homes and contacts to determine your range. Start with at least 50 facilities so that you can pitch your services. With 50 different contacts you'll build your base. The great thing about nursing home activity directors is that they talk to each other and if you give a great service word will spread.

It's extremely important to know your audience, especially if you are planning an activity. Not all nursing home residents have the same skill levels. Ask you contacts about your typical audience so that you can gear your service to the specific needs of their residents.

Entertainment

Ok, this is the fun part. There are literally thousands of ideas for your service. Whether your strengths lie in singing, dancing, or even crafting, this is your chance to shine.

Music Performances

Seniors love to hear songs, music and see live entertainment and the best thing is you do not have to be a professional singer. I'm speaking from experience. I once did a valentine's program where I sang "That's Amore" and a couple other valentines songs of that era and I am not a great singer. It was the interaction along with the singing that hooked my audience. Act silly, really put yourself out there and your audience will love you.

Great programs offer stimulating activities and lots of humor. Doesn't hurt to add a great costume as well. For singing performances I'd opt for an evening gown or attire that goes along with the program. If singing programs sound like fun, be sure to gear your music to the era of your audience. Songs from their youth and teenage years are the perfect fit, especially if you encourage the audience to sing along. I promise you'll get blank stares if you try a Lady GaGa act, keep it relevant to the audience.

Great ideas for musical performances:

Musical numbers--think Judy Garland, South Pacific and keep it peppy!

Lounge act--think elegant evening gown, or suit -no reason to leave the guys out here. View some of the best lounge acts from the 40's and 50's--Dean, Frank, etc. A must for this one is audience interaction with some key phrases and jokes from the era. (Google lounge singers and you'll get more than enough ideas)

Vaudeville numbers- this one offers a plethora of vibrant and fun skits and performances that you can adapt to entertain and amaze your audience. (Again, good ole Google to the rescue with a simple search of "vaudeville acts", there are even videos of great acts out there)

Instrumental performances - do you play piano, violin, flute or even the spoons (I know a country jug band that enthralls the senior audience). Whether your forte is classical music or silly songs you're sure to have success with a musical program.

NOTE: there is some competition here, local churches and individuals will volunteer with music programs. The key here is to provide something they don't and give it a selling point. Your competition is mostly gospel music/hymns, if you steer clear of that genre you'll be fine. Free is always more attractive, so you must provide a quality service.

Activities

I love activities with seniors! It WILL take a great deal of patience. Again make sure you know your audience as this is vital to any activity program. Activities also present a little more of a challenge because you'll also be providing supplies for the activity. I liked to add a funny story from their era, favorite poems, or an anecdote to entertainment while they crafted.

Craft Activities

Craft activities can be great fun for your audience and can be geared to their level of function. You'll want to keep it simple even for the higher functioning residents and be prepared to be completely hands on. I purchased many of my craft supplies from Dollar stores and Oriental Trading Company. Keep your crafts small. Remember that nursing home residents have very little room for extras.

Here are some things that worked well for me:

Doorhangers(simple crafts to hang on doorknobs)--these take up very little space and residents enjoy creating decorative elements for their rooms. Be careful to keep this one within the skill level of your residents.

Windbox Gardening (small herb garden that will fit on their window sills)- for this one you'll need small window boxes, small herb plants, soil and spoons. While residents plant I read garden lore and home remedy uses about each herb. Usually 3 or 4 herbs per box.

Decorative Photo Frames--Visit any Dollar store and pick up frames and chach keys to glue onto the frames. I liked to go with themes, holidays, etc. Bring examples with photos of your family. They'll love to see your children, grandchildren and it makes for great conversation.

Just Plain Fun Activities

I love fun and you'd better too if you want to pull off fun activities. Three of my best loved programs were very simple, but had the activity directors calling me back for more.

Halloween Party and Cornshucking contest--male and female residents alike loved this one. Supplies consist of funny Halloween music, large tarp or plastic, bushel of corn and a few prizes for best costume and quickest shucker. Add in a few classic Halloween tales and you've got a winner

Spring Festival/Carnival- Supplies include easy games. Bean Bag toss, Balloons, ring a bottle, Hoola Hoop toss and even a Hoola Hop contest...but go easy. A few prizes, a few fair food snacks (diabetic alternatives are good) and you're set for fun.

Hawaiian Luau--Get your grass skirt out and practice the Hula. You're going to teach your audience a seated Hula. Great exercise and they will love watching you try to Hula as well. I learned a very basic Hula, with an abundance of arm movements. Share the meanings of each movement and provide some interesting facts about Hawaii. This one's great for bleak winter months. You'll need some Hawaiian themed music, a few decorations (Oriental Trading Company). You can even provide grass skirts and coconut drink cups if the budge allows.

You're ready for a fun and rewarding new venture

If you have never performed in front of an audience, and there is no more forgiving audience than seniors, you might consider volunteering your services to a few nursing homes to build your skills and get your name out there among the activity directors. Let them know that you are starting a business and you'd like to try out a program. They'll jump at the chance and if they like the program, they'll add it to their paid programs.

There are many many more ideas out there for great programs and if you read up a little on seniors, even talk to a few to get ideas of what interests them, you'll have no problem finding unique and entertaining programs.

Just one program and you'll realize how fulfilling providing entertainment to seniors can be. I fell in love with the residents and they with me. Just a little time, effort, and caring goes a long way toward's a worthwhile entrepreneurial venture.

Vaudeville

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    • profile image

      Al Urezzio 

      13 days ago

      I am a solo musician but what makes me unique is 2 things , i sound like a full band & my request list of 150 songs covers music from the 30's thru the 90's . also I hand out to the residents my request sheets ,& for that hour they pick the songs they want to hear .. As told to me by a 92 yrs young resident ,I bring "Smiling Faces & Happy Memories " to them .. I am presently play at 20 different Facilities & my WEDNESDAYS & FRIDAY are booked till Jan. 2020 but i still look for new facilities .. I recently started doing evening show at Retirement & Independent Living Facilities ..

    • profile image

      Marlene Faisal 

      2 weeks ago

      Very interesting, thanks for sharing your ideas. I will be using your ideas to help me improve what I'm doing. I agree that it is very fulfilling working with the aged; it makes you more appreciative of what you have and gives you a sense of making a difference to the lives of others.

    • Infiniteresearch profile imageAUTHOR

      Infiniteresearch 

      7 months ago from Ohio

      Sorry that it's been a while since I commented. Thank you so much for posting and sharing your experiences. I love to hear that there are wonderful people out there making our seniors lives better.

    • profile image

      glo 

      8 months ago

      entertainment in retirement/asst living is very rewarding. husband and I were co mgrs. and as such were required to do something with the residents 1 x a week. we sing well together and do two different types of songs.....Southern Gospel and the middle of road, Tony Bennet,Bette Midler,Matt Monroe, (it's my way) Love is a many splendored thing etc. the residents responded well and we always had a good crowd turn out. Wish I had a mgrs. position still. I did the activity calendars , a lot of variety. I had a valve replaced and had a stroke during surgery which took me off work I enjoyed your article! Gl0Santiago12 @yahoo.com

    • profile image

      Rhoni 

      14 months ago

      Wow, so generous to give such wise helpful advice to others lead to do the same. Sharing this is very loving.. amazing way to pay it forward, thank you! :)))

    • profile image

      Gherie Tanada 

      23 months ago

      Hi! May I know how can I apply for pianist/one-man band and play for our seniors? Thank you.

    • profile image

      Susan Laramie 

      23 months ago

      Your Comment... I'm a singer. I've gathered a big amount of really well done, close to the original recording, kareoke accompaniments by female pop singers from the forties, fifties and sixties.

      Also do some novelty numbers... Shirley Temple impression...etc.

      Thinking a CD demo would be the quickest way to get going.

      Any opinions?

    • Infiniteresearch profile imageAUTHOR

      Infiniteresearch 

      2 years ago from Ohio

      I'm sorry to say I haven't visited the page in a while...but I'm so glad I did the two most recent posters have wonderful advice! Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

    • profile image

      Adam Price 

      4 years ago

      I'm a seniors entertainer in Australia and live in a smaller city and you can make a full time income from it if you're sincere and get creative with your shows.

      For example, I do 2 nursing homes, retirement villages, day care centers etc each day, then a few times per month, I go to larger clubs and invite several nursing homes / seniors communities to that show (and the club pays me because I brought in the people).

      This saves entertainment budgets for the homes (and they'll LOVE you for it) and the clubs will also LOVE you for bringing lots of people to their club on an otherwise quiet weekday.

      It's truly a win-win and these wonderful people (our senior citizens in out communities) will have lots of joy and happiness because of it.

      Hope this helps, keep up your good work!

    • profile image

      Music with Harry 

      4 years ago

      We have been entertaining senior living communities for over 6 years professionally. We actually allow the activity directors to decide what rate their specific community can pay instead of dictating a rate or even a range to work within. This way, even the smaller communities benefit. We make plenty enough to sustain our household of 3 by doing this alone. Be prepared to do some driving, though. Most places only book once a month.

    • Infiniteresearch profile imageAUTHOR

      Infiniteresearch 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Sorry Timothy, I've been away from my page for a while. When split, the earnings might not fit the show. Most places will spend $100 to $500 for entertainment, so the smaller the group the better.

    • Infiniteresearch profile imageAUTHOR

      Infiniteresearch 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Timothy..sorry I haven't been able to access this for a while...hope this gets through. The amount you could earn would vary depending on your area and the budgets of the nursing homes. In smaller towns the activities budget is as low as $50, but larger communities would have more to offer. If you plug your event as a bigger once a year type your could earn more...really the only way to know for sure is contact any facilities you're looking at and ask what their budgets are for entertainment. Hope that this helps...thanks for commenting

    • Timothy Tobin profile image

      Timothy Tobin 

      5 years ago

      My post seems to have disappeared so here it is again. Is this financially worthwhile for a larger group to do? I've been thinking of starting a Western Swing band of around 5+ people. Thanks

    • Timothy Tobin profile image

      Timothy Tobin 

      5 years ago

      I've been thinking about something like this. How much could one expect to get paid for a gig? I was thinking of starting several different projects such as Western Swing, Honky Tonk (50s/60s Country), Swing, and Doo-Wop. The primary outfit would be Western Swing and Cowboy Music from the 20's through the 50's. Each project would require over 4 people; and quite possibly closer to 6. Is it financially worthwhile to attempt this at this scale?

    • Infiniteresearch profile imageAUTHOR

      Infiniteresearch 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Just saw the question about taxes...sorry for the delay. Yes you would have taxes..if you earn over $600 a year. In that case you might want to file for a business name or file as an independent consultant. I am by no means a tax expert, so I would strongly advise consulting a tax preparer so that you know exactly what to do.

    • profile image

      donna 

      6 years ago

      is there ant insurance involved , or a tax id needed?

    • Infiniteresearch profile imageAUTHOR

      Infiniteresearch 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks GoodLady and Serena. It's a win win way to help and get some extra cash and it really is a lot of fun to work with seniors.

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 

      6 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thanks. Great to see such enthusiasm for helping others - and making it work for everyone!

      Nicely put together Hub!

    • profile image

      Serena Gabriel 

      6 years ago

      This is a very interesting idea for different kinds of people to get into a growth industry and help others.

      Accolades and voted up!

    • Infiniteresearch profile imageAUTHOR

      Infiniteresearch 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks wetnosedogs,I agree and there are several great vaudeville videos out there. I really enjoyed looking back to a different generation's entertainment and it's funny how it carries over and remains just as great.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 

      6 years ago from Alabama

      Interesting hub. I loved watching the vaudeville video. That was talent.

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