Skilled nurses pour 'whole heart' into their jobs

Cary Ashby • May 15, 2019 at 5:00 PM

The residents of Norwalk Memorial Home soundly beat the staff members 41-12 in a cornhole game Monday.

The game was one of many activities and events planned at Norwalk Memorial Home, Gaymont Care & Rehabilitation and Twilight Gardens to celebrate Skilled Nursing Care Week. Established by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) in 1967, the week recognizes the essential role of skilled nursing centers in caring for America’s frail, elderly and disabled.

“Skilled nursing is goal-driven, short-term care,” said Heather Fox, director of nursing at Twilight Gardens. “We help rehabilitate them … and help them meet their goals (so they can) go back home.”

On Thursday will be an ice cream party for residents at Twilight Gardens. Earlier in the week, they did “interviews,” saying what nurse they were thankful for and why. The answers were posted in the hallway.

“One resident said she was thankful for nurse Cledith (Willard) because she’s her best friend,” Fox said. “We did coloring pages and hung them up.”

Gaymont Care & Rehabilitation kicked off Skilled Nursing Care Week on Monday with a balloon release, followed by a proclamation from Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan.

The seven-day event, which began Sunday, celebrates staff members, residents and their families, while allowing facilities across the nation to showcase their achievements in sustaining happy minds and healthy souls. This year’s theme is “Live Soulfully.”

Chris Castle, Gaymont director of marketing and admissions, said he sees the week as a unique opportunity for communities to recognize area seniors and those who care for them.

“Talk to a resident or spend a few hours watching the staff in action. … I’m sure you’ll walk away with a new-found respect for both,” he added.

Michelle Dye, Norwalk Memorial Home activities assistant, said the skilled nurses she knows are passionate about their job.

“They pour their whole heart into it and their love for the patients,” she added.

In addition to the corn hole game, Norwalk Memorial Home has celebrated the week with a scavenger hunt, a flash dance by residents, history of jazz with entertainment by Joel Keller and relaxation massages. Skilled Nursing Care Week will end with a spring cookout Friday. 

More than 1.3 million Americans currently reside in skilled nursing facilities and as 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day, that number is expected to grow substantially over the next decade, according to Gaymont statistics.

“Each and every person in our profession makes an impact on the lives of our residents,” AHCA President Mark Parkinson said in a prepared statement. “National Skilled Nursing Care Week celebrates our centers and caregivers for their tireless, every-day work caring for others.”

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