COVIA Creative Spark
Engage Magazine General Interest Winter 2021

Designing a More Engaged, Creative Workforce


Creativity. A bit of a loaded word, yes? Many of us don’t identify as creative, or perhaps someone in our childhood told us we weren’t. Maybe you were told you weren’t creative because your drawing wasn’t lifelike or your grammar wasn’t correct or your scrambled eggs were too dry (a personal example). But creativity isn’t about doing it “right.” It’s about claiming your own creativity and the freedom of expression that affords. The impact? A more joyous life; one marked by purpose and resiliency.

In the spirit of fostering more resilient and innovative lives, we co-founded Creative Spark, a Covia Community Service program designed to energize and inspire engagement professionals in services for older adults. Activities, life enrichment, and wellness professionals are often islands unto themselves, yet they are the social glue holding up our resident’s most important health indicator – a sense of connection and purpose. But we have a secret to share – in senior living, it is everyones responsibility to access and wield their personal creativity in a way that draws out the creative expression and social connection of residents. Of course, we all know this intellectually. But let’s ask ourselves – are we putting in the effort to design an environment where all staff are encouraged to innovate? Such settings result in dining staff who are inspired to draw pictures on meal delivery bags, housekeepers who notice that Mr. Garcia could use a pick-me-up, maintenance staff who hang resident artwork for all to see, and a CEO who facilitates meetings with the improv mentality of ‘Yes, and.’ Thriving workplace cultures celebrate individual differences and inspire collective innovative thinking. 

Creative Spark’s staff expertise is in creativity and aging services. Together, we combed through tons of research and practical experience to pull forth the four main principles that uphold successful creative engagement programs. These pillars not only inform engagement professionals, like activities, wellness, and life enrichment, but anyone involved in the aging field. Ultimately, they help us become better professionals and thus, lead to more engaged residents. We share these principles and thought-provoking questions in the hopes that they spark a moment of imagination in your work. 

Be Well: Dynamic team members support the whole person by building resilience (i.e. tapping into our creativity) within staff, teams, and residents. How does your organization experience wellness through creativity?

Connect: With residents, external stakeholders, and staff, it is crucial that we connect to our individual selves, an energizing purpose, and to each other. How might you utilize technology to encourage team cohesion?

Grow: Lead with vulnerability, encourage confidence in residents and team members, and keep your skills sharp in this ever-changing workplace. Check out your Resident Engagement Index Score to identify an area of potential growth. 

Culture Shift: Provide proof of listening to residents and staff alike, which helps promote a culture of innovation and joy that resonates beyond your immediate environment. How can you nurture a shift towards empathy and joy in your work?

May you find inspiration that leads you to greater impact in your work this week. Big and small moments, infused with magic, wherever you may find them. While you are handling what might feel a mundane task seemingly so far from your mission, we are rooting for you. We root for all of us to pursue the most important elements of health and life: connection, wellness, growth, and culture shift. 

Want to learn more about these creative engagement principles and how they apply to your work? Contact Creative Spark at: or

Jessica McCracken
Jessica McCracken, Director, Ruth’s Table, Creative Spark

Katie Wade
Katie Wade, Director,
Social Call, Ruth’s Table, Creative Spark