Nursing Home Residents Find Purpose Through Service and Community Commitment

Every month, hundreds of nursing home residents across California board shuttle buses on their way to their local homeless shelters. They arrive with pans full of meals they’ve prepared themselves, and enough food to feed crowds that often exceed 100 hungry neighbors.

Heart to Serve logo

In 2016, Rockport Healthcare Services became the first organization to involve every nursing home and assisted living community they serve in fulfilling community service through its A Heart to Serve program . This community service-centered program presents service opportunities to every resident, including those who have physical and cognitive challenges, such as dementia, stroke, MS, Parkinson’s disease, or vision impairment, so that they can experience the transformative power of purpose through service. Continue reading “Nursing Home Residents Find Purpose Through Service and Community Commitment”

Fostering Kittens Brings Joy and Purpose to Seniors Needing Care

Life has been more playful in the Huron house lately – with residents feeding off the energy inherent in spending time with fluffy kittens. Early last summer, The Piper Assisted Living and Memory Support joined the Senior Foster Friends program and began fostering sets of kittens with the Great Plains SPCA. They’ve fostered four different sets so far, and the results have been outstanding. Continue reading “Fostering Kittens Brings Joy and Purpose to Seniors Needing Care”

Ride Again: Rickshaws Bring Freedom

Not to mention a welcome breath of fresh air!

Action Pact has watched with delight as our friends at Brewster Village in Appleton, Wisconsin, have continued to learn and grow while they pursue excellence in the household model and person-centered care. A PersonFirst® organization, they demonstrate their commitment in many ways.  Here’s one.

J on rickshaw-2During her work day as a registered dietitian at Brewster Village, Rikki Profant keeps a small brown notebook with her to jot down notes. It’s not a diary or journal of her own thoughts, but rather quotes and stories from residents she takes on bicycle rides via a newly introduced program aimed at getting the elderly occupants of the rehabilitation and nursing home back outdoors. She keeps the notebook “somewhat selfishly” to remember nuggets of wisdom, but more importantly, to recognize the impact that the
Cycling Without Age program has brought to Brewster Village since it was introduced last summer with its first rickshaw.   
We share this excerpt courtesy of USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. Read the full story and watch a great video here.

Short Stories That Make Us Feel Good!

Brewing Up LIFE!

The photo shown here represents an amazing transformation for one resident of Unitcarboy-brewinging Caroona Yamba, and his story brought joy and tears to a group of staff there.


This gentleman was deemed as having a rapid decline in cognition, being lost and not doing well in the open Household. Pressure was being applied to relocate him to a smaller more secure Household, as he was not enjoying the one he was in. He was never doing anything purposeful, only moving from sleeping in a lounge chair to table and back to sleeping in a chair. He hadn’t initiated any outdoor activities for months. His conversation was disappearing and he was withdrawn – never joining in activities. Sad, lonely and lost are the words that come to mind.

And then the miracle-working staff went to work. After only a couple of weeks of focus on him, persuasive staff were having success involving him in the village garden, picking the new beans, watering plants and then, “Let’s get the beer-brewing up and running.” He slowly joined in more and more until he decides where he wants to be and what he wants to do. And there’s no fooling him now. “Hey this is yesterday’s paper. What about today’s?” Picture this: a quiet man watching the first fermenting bubbles in a beer brew kit he helped set up yesterday. Tonight was a first! He went on his own to make sure the beer was bubbling as it should. He was observed by staff who were overjoyed at this new interest in life after many months of solitude and inactivity. A real transformation!

This man had been declining rapidly, but now has interest and enjoyment in his life. Two staff in particular fought to keep working with him, as they believed they could retrieve him from his decline. They literally prevented his relocation to what we now know would have been an inappropriate household.

Both of the staff members involved in the resident’s renewed interest in life have recently won awards for their work. They are wonderful examples of inspired care giving that is infectious among the staff.

This story was shared with us by Debra Smith of Uniting Caroona Yamba, a community within Uniting in Australia


Just a Few Knick-Knacks…

The following Community Circle occurred during recent dinners with the residents…

Several residents laughed when Joyce Jackson called the figurines around the dining area ‘knick-knacks’. The figurines were then brought to the tables and the residents examined them, asked questions, and expressed their like or dislike of them.

pig-unicycle-2-editThere was a pig riding a unicycle, a rooster also riding a unicycle and a ceramic horse with a clown riding on his back. The horse had dogs on each side.

Mrs. A. said, “When a horse’s ears are pinned to his head, he’s agitated. You better not mess with him.” Mrs. W. then asked Mrs. A. if she likes horses.  A new conversation was started.

Mrs. A. talked about her brother loving horses and she pretended to like them. She admitted she learned a lot, the hard way.

Mr. K. declared, “I wouldn’t want them in my house.”

There were also two dolls, Amish, with no facial features. Mr. K. said, “Where is the face? They don’t look right without eyes.”

There was laughter and smiling faces during the conversations.

We continued the activity the following week during dinner. Residents were asked about the earlier discussion on the figurines. Mrs. A. stated, “If I had a clown riding on my back, I’d be agitated, too!” And then she told this story. “One time my brother was walking a horse with me on its back. My brother got distracted and let the reins go. The horse started running and my foot got stuck in the stirrup and dragged me. I was only 8 years old. I think that’s when my back troubles first started.”

Mrs. K. shared another horse story. “A horse bit my shoulder when I was young. My father had horses and once a horse was being stitched up after jumping a barbed wired fence and he bit me. The vet poured a quart bottle of Methylate on my body. “ (Ed.: Yeow!)

Everyone enjoyed the sharing of the objects and the good conversations around the dinner table.

This story was shared with us by Joyce Jackson of Windsor Meade, a community within Virginia United Methodist Homes

Diet Liberalization Program Makes a Positive Difference for Residents

Sentara Chesapeake Nursing Center has embraced New Dining Practice Standards by initiating a diet liberalization program for its residents as part of their culture change journey. Research has shown that providing more options in long term care settings provides positive resident outcomes. It can also lead to a better quality of life by allowing residents to choose the foods they enjoy eating. Lastly, this initiative can lead to improved nutritional status and a reduced prevalence of weight loss that ultimately is a better experience for our patients.

How does it work? 

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Choices, choices…

Once a resident who was receiving a modified diet is identified as a candidate, a Bedside Swallow Evaluation is performed by a Speech Therapist to ensure that a diet upgrade is clinically safe for the resident. Over the last three months since Chesapeake began diet liberalization in the facility, therapeutic diets have decreased to less than 27% of residents as compared to an average of 51% in other Life Care sites. Conversely, the number of residents receiving regular texture diets have increased from 49% to 77%.

The new diet option has been well received by Chesapeake residents and their families. The new dining practice standards have also allowed the opportunity for Sentara Life Care to move away from other more typical institutional nursing homes practices that limit resident choice. Liberalized dining enables a culture that fosters resident’s right of choice, by allowing residents to eat what they want. This program is only the beginning of Life Care’s culture change journey as these initiatives will be rolled out to other Life Care sites very soon.

Story shared with us by Sentara Rehabilitation and Care Residence – Chesapeake, VA. From their November newsletter.

More Freedom for Staff Means a Better Life for Residents

Thursday, 1:30 p.m., the moment residents in Inglis House’s 3-South neighborhood have been waiting for has arrived. It’s Tea Time. They steer their wheelchairs toward the solarium where snacks, music, companionship, and of course, a wide assortment of tea await.

“It’s my favorite thing we’ve started since I’ve been here,” says Michael Kelly, Neighborhood Life Leader. He latched onto the idea while looking for a way to divert residents from dwelling on their debilitating diseases. Continue reading “More Freedom for Staff Means a Better Life for Residents”

Joy in Mudville: Casey Goes to Bat at The Piper

Yes, pitcher Casey Barnes was on the Kansas City (KS) T-Bones disabled list in 2015 after catching a sizzling line drive with his bare hand, injuring a thumb.

No, that is not why he moved into The Piper Assisted Living and Memory Support for the 2016 baseball season. Continue reading “Joy in Mudville: Casey Goes to Bat at The Piper”

Healthy Living Community Breaks Ground in Liberty, MO!

NORTERRE UPDATE November, 2016: The first phase of Norterre is on schedule and projected to open next summer. Norterre developers and team members are getting out into the community to share the mission, values and lifestyle with the public. In October Norterre showcased its focus on healthy living with others at
Liberty’s Fall Festival and the Clay County Senior


Beverly Brandon & Heather Callahan share the Norterre message

Resource Fair. These two events kicked off the team’s plan to develop relationships and paint a picture of life at Norterre. The team will continue to participate in area educational events to further its goal of breaking down the silos that exist between health care and wellness for all generations.

Interest is continuing to grow at an encouraging rate, and there are already reservations for assisted living and long term care. Preparations are now being made to take reservations for the Healthy Living Center as well, due to the amount of interest. Although there is also a great deal of interest in Independent Living, this is currently planned for Phase II. The sales office is scheduled to open in February 2017 and will be located in the Liberty Clinic.

Action Pact and partners Liberty Hospital and Healthy Living Centers of America broke ground on a revolutionary multi-generational wellness and residential living neighborhood in Liberty, Missouri, on May 17, and announced its name:  Norterre.

NorterreAfter two decades of applying ground-breaking concepts to create households for frail elders, Action Pact and its partners have broken ground for an entire multigenerational community based on the same household principles of normality, relationships, privacy, choice, and self-determination.

The $66 million first phase of the Norterre Healthy Living Community in Liberty, MO, will bring together adults and children of all ages with a healthy-living fitness center, a café, assisted living and skilled nursing households, and short-stay rehabilitation suites.  The 50,000-square-foot healthy living center will offer a yoga and Pilates studio, cardio and strength area, spin room, track, lap pools and a children’s area.

“An athlete will work out next to a senior recovering from a stroke while a mother drops her daughter off in the children’s area so she can meet a friend to participate in a yoga class,” says Steve Shields, Action Pact CEO and Norterre Chairman/Managing Partner. “Seniors in memory support and assisted-living households will spend time in the greenspaces, healthy living center and café alongside young adults and families. A strong sense of connection will fill the campus.”

The project eventually will include apartments and homes for residents of every age along with full amenities found in most neighborhoods. Cafes, beauty shops, and a library – usually available in retirement communities but reserved just for elders – will welcome everyone, says Shields.

“Over the last two decades, we’ve guided hundreds of organizations across the country in their transformation from institutional care settings into vibrant households.  Now we’re expanding this revolution to intergenerational neighborhoods and services within a fully integrated healthy living community,” says LaVrene Norton, Action Pact founder. “Norterre brings us a step closer to redefining not only the culture of aging, but the culture of living.”

The master-planned community will be the first of its kind in the country, consisting of a significant residential component for all stages of life, including young families, active adults and seniors. The first phase of the project will include the healthy living center, a café, households for seniors and short-term stay rehabilitation suites.

Norterre will be built on a 17-acre piece of land adjacent to Liberty Hospital, with large greenspaces for cross-generational and cultural activities. A 50,000-square-foot healthy living center will be the neighborhood’s “town square”, where young adults, parents and grandparents from all over the Northland can come together to work out, take yoga classes, socialize, build strength, receive physical therapy, learn about wellness, and reach personal milestones in a supportive environment unlike any other. Individuals from near and far can become members to improve physical, mental and spiritual well-being, and doctors can also write prescriptions for patients to take part in physical therapy or specialized programs. Many refer to this concept as a game-changer, as it will unite people of all ages in a way that has never been done before.“We are proud that this first-of-its-kind community will be built right here in Liberty. The concept complements our goals as a city – to help our residents of all ages improve their health, experience a sense of community and enrich their quality of life,” said Lyndell Brenton, mayor of Liberty. “Our city is an outstanding home for people in all seasons of life and health, and this unique wellness concept will connect the generations in a new and exciting way.”

The first phase of Norterre, which consists of the healthy living center, assisted living residences, memory support residences, skilled nursing residences and short-term rehabilitation suites, is expected to open in the late spring/early summer of 2017. The buildings will surround and face a large greenspace where individuals can enjoy local and regional artwork, wellness activities and multi-generational experiences. Construction of the second phase is planned to immediately follow with independent living and non-age-specific housing options.

The healthy living center is an integral component of the development. Any adult can join as a member and use the yoga and Pilates studio, cardiac and strength area, spin room, track, high impact studio, stretching area, demonstration kitchen that emphasizes healthy food preparation and nutrition, as well as warm water therapy and lap pools, spa, and children’s area where parents can drop their children off while they work out or have physical therapy. Companies in the Northland will sign up for memberships for their employees and use the center to create internal health initiatives. Doctors will also write prescriptions for patients to participate in programs such as cardiac rehab, diabetes prevention and physical therapy, and navigation teams will assist patients on-site.

“The project will help us further integrate valuable healthcare services into the community, while focusing on prevention and assisting Northland residents currently managing chronic conditions,” said David Feess, president and CEO of Liberty Hospital. “The concept will allow us to provide an ideal healthcare delivery model. Our clinicians will coordinate with the staff at the healthy living center to create care plans that reduce hospital readmissions and improve health overall in the Northland.”

The first phase of housing focuses on the Household Model which was developed and introduced to the senior living sector by Action Pact, led by Steve Shields and LaVrene Norton. In this model, a smaller number of people live in private residences within a single “household.” Each household can accommodate up to 20 residents and includes an open kitchen, dining room, living room and intimate spaces to relax and visit, as you find in your home. Residents will choose when to eat and sleep, how to spend their day, and explore life with purpose and spontaneity. The master-planned community will have a total of 60 assisted living residences, with 20 dedicated to memory support, 20 skilled nursing/long-term care residences and 40 short-term recovery suites for individuals of all ages going through rehabilitation.

“This concept is truly unique, and it will give different generations the opportunity to improve their health together and inspire one another. Through this development, we will redefine wellness and spark a new way of thinking for all generations,” said Shields. “This is an opportunity to create a model that is unlike anything else in the country – a place where we can break down the barriers that exist in society, share life experiences and motivate each other.”

Visit Norterre’s website for the latest updates: 

Continue reading “Healthy Living Community Breaks Ground in Liberty, MO!”