Why is apathy and depression so rampant in our nursing home residents?  We have compassionate and competent staff working hard to meet the needs of our residents.  We are doing things that acute hospitals didn’t do just 20 years ago.  However, even if we are providing wonderful and compassionate care to our residents, they are still left in the position of being the care receiver.  Their job is essentially to thank us day in and day out.

If you were dependent on other people and no one needed you anymore, would that be reason enough to get out of bed?  If you were dependent and used your call light (the help button) throughout the day, would you feel like a burden, even if everyone was kind and caring as they helped you?  Receiving care isn’t a reason to get out of bed.  So how do we give people the opportunity to give back, to be needed, to serve? Especially when our people have real physical and cognitive challenges.

Vernon Healthcare Center has committed to a new vision to address this need—“A Heart to Serve.”  Every resident with “a heart to serve” will have the opportunity to serve.  Residents with dementia, strokes, vision impairment, MS, Parkinson’s, in their wheelchair etc., regardless of physical or cognitive challenges will be afforded the opportunity to have meaning and purpose in their life.

Many residents with dementia are very capable of cutting up vegetables or scooping food on someone’s plate.  Residents with the use of just one arm can team up to grate cheese or help make garlic bread.  Each resident has a unique opportunity to serve and it is our job to find out what it is.  With this in mind, each facility will begin by rolling out a program that will have residents of all abilities preparing a meal and feeding hungry people in their community once a month.  We will be partnering with a local shelter or soup kitchen.  The residents will prepare the meal in the facility and serve the meal at the shelter.