By Lola Rain

Most days, when the pianist or violinist arrives, they set up and wait for the residents to wander in before they begin.

In the best-case scenario, the residents are excited to see the musician or performer. But in some cases, the residents are passive participants staring off into space as the music speeds by.

Which Community Do You Have?

Does your activities staff roll in the residents, and leave to get work done while the presenter or entertainer takes over? Or does your life enrichment team get involved, singing and dancing along?

For over 20 years, Tom Bender worked in care communities. Fifteen of those years he was a minister. When his calling took him towards music, he was encouraged by a friend to play for the local seniors. His showband style, and Sinatra solos, quickly took him to stardom on the local long-term care circuit throughout his hometown in upstate New York. He booked 40 shows that first month.

Tom’s heart was full. “I had purpose. My performances meant so much to the residents. They smiled and sang along,” said Tom. “But it wasn’t just the joy I saw in their faces. Music has therapeutic benefits. The right songs can take a person back in time. I’ve seen people who haven’t spoken in months start to sing along.”

The Dual Effect of Good Entertainers

“You can tell immediately the difference between a community with engaged staff, and one without,” Tom explained. “An engaged staff creates engaged residents.”

Tom noticed time after time that in the communities where staff would sneak off during a performance, the residents sat there without excitement in their eyes or joy in their smiles. “The communities where staff got up and danced with residents is where the joy-filled hearts are,” said Tom.

Now, Tom understands that overworked staff need a break to get other things done. But one of the most therapeutic benefits of entertainment is for the staff. “We can help them relax and let their hair down,” said Tom. “Music and performance can have a huge impact on staff’s wellbeing, too.” This is one of many reasons Tom decided to launch He wanted to make life enrichment directors’ jobs easier. “When you spend less time searching for entertainers, you have more time to get other necessary work done,” explained Tom.

The Virtual Impact

Tom’s site now lists local entertainers as well as performers and educators from around the world who can drop by virtually.

Tom will be presenting at Evolve 2022 to life enrichment staff and leadership, teaching them tips on how to bring programming to more residents, and book uplifting talent that residents and staff will both love.

“I want to relieve the burden of life enrichment directors. Why do we have to make things so complicated, when in reality, it can be so simple?” Tom asked. “Find a storyteller that Mr. Smith will love. Find a singer Mr. Johnson will love. And find a ballroom dancer that Steven will love.”

There is literally something for everyone, so why limit yourself when you have access to exactly what will bring joy to your residents? Sign up for Evolve today.