Why should the possibility of going on an adventure end when you move into a nursing home? One of the best ways to engage in life is by having new experiences, especially experiences that fly in the face of assumed personal limitations. With this in mind, five residents (two from the health center) and four staff from Hearthstone: A Ministry of WesleyLife in Pella, IA set off on a real vacation, prompting one resident to say, “Maybe it’s been too long since I’ve been out of town, or even my room.”
Hearthstone’s sister location, Heritage House, was getting set to go on their third trip to Decorah, IA and challenged the folks at Hearthstone to join them. Residents and staff made the four-hour bus trip for a three-day and two-night get-away. The fun included a trail walk/wheel through a park; visits to an ice cream stand, a Norwegian museum and Seedsavers Exchange; a tour of Luther College and Chinese take-out.
Hearthstone is on their journey to households, and the trip gave the participants a glimpse of things to come. They stayed in the Luther College student housing town homes, each with bedrooms, living room and kitchen. In the evenings, some residents and staff played dominos, some sat in the living room chairs and visited, and some went off to their bedrooms. “It really opened my eyes to how the household would work,” Natasha Nikkel, Hearthstone’s Wellness Director said. “Everyone was just doing their own thing.”
Natasha sent an email with photos back to Hearthstone each day to update staff and residents there on their adventure. “We wanted to keep people back home involved with the trip,” she said.
Of course residents and staff shared more stories upon their return, but one resident said, “I’ll only tell everyone how good it was if I get to go again.” Indeed, the organization is already planning for next time.
Steph Kilen has been writing about culture change since 2004. Her work at Action Pact has included writing and editing for Culture Change Now magazine and the website www.actionpact.com, as well as writing and editing workbooks, video scripts, books, blogs, webinars and curricula.