Residents can happily lose track of time when they’re gardening or tinkering with a fishing boat. Giving them the space and opportunity to be absorbed in new or lifelong hobbies is one way that the Good Samaritan Society makes sure residents get to do what’s meaningful to them.
At each Society location, rooms are filled with supplies that can make residents feel like they’re in an actual greenhouse or garage. They can work with soil and flowers or look at a fishing boat and tell stories with their friends.
Whatever the activity, each moment is meant to spark joy and connection with others.
Choice is essential
Even before residents move in, the Society prioritizes connecting them with activities they enjoy. The social services team gets to know them and their family members by asking questions about their career, family and hobbies to find out what’s most important to them.
“When we admit someone, even before they get here, we try to plan where they’ll enjoy living in the building and the level of activity they prefer,” says Alena Goergen, director of nursing at Good Samaritan Society – Miller Pointe in Mandan, North Dakota. “We make sure their stay is as comfortable as possible and we try to make it a smooth transition.”
Society staff members help recognize residents’ needs and preferences throughout their stay.
Residents are allowed – and encouraged – to decide what activities they want to do, where they want to be, what they want to eat and more. Having a variety of options for them to choose from promotes their overall well-being.
“Our activity department does a good job of placing people with similar interests together,” says Alena. “Folks who like to play pinochle, bake or watch sports can do those things together. Staff members really get to know residents.”
Residents also decide what their personal space looks like. They have the opportunity to make it feel like home with quilts, furniture, art and pictures.
“We encourage them to bring what they want and make it as much like their previous living space as possible,” Alena states.
Helping residents thrive
With COVID-19 numbers decreasing, some locations can have group activities again.
“Bingo is always a crowd pleaser, as well as card games, board games and activities related to holidays and community events,” says Rochelle Rindels, vice president of nursing and clinical services for the Good Samaritan Society.
Staff members help make the atmosphere feel like home with celebrations for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and other special events.
“We try to include a variety of religious activities, such as Bible studies, devotions and rosary. We have generationally appropriate musical opportunities and small group exercises,” says Alena.
Although the pandemic made it more challenging to find creative ways to keep residents engaged, staff members brought in games, ice cream treats, movies and more. Alena remembers many staff members staying after their shifts to spend time with residents.
Even the community joined in. One local group brought classic cars to the parking lot and the staff was able to take a few residents at a time to walk around and enjoy the vintage gems.
“Those are things residents really love,” Alena remembers. “We tried to figure out what each resident valued so we could bring that to the forefront. Staff went above and beyond.”
Locations also have a resident council – a small group of residents who meet regularly with the staff to discuss activities, foods and other additions they’d like to see.
Food for the soul
Meals are often a highlight in Society locations so staff members take extra steps to make sure every morning, noon and evening meal is delicious and healthy.
“We prep all meals and snacks according to residents’ preferences and dietary needs to make sure they have a healthy variety of options,” says Rochelle.
Residents can also order a takeout meal from their favorite restaurant or have family members bring in food for a special event.
Alena says the staff at Miller Pointe focuses on keeping the food relevant to the region and culture while also making sure residents have a say in what is on the menu. Snacks are available and encouraged at any time of day.
“We push around a snack cart. Residents can also put their light on and a CNA will get them a snack. It can be noon or 2 a.m. It’s kind of handy,” Alena says.
Pets and the outdoors bring joy
Having furry (or feathered) friends in the building is another important way the Society promotes the well-being of residents.
“Our centers incorporate pets and animals into resident care,” says Rochelle. “I’ve seen lots of dogs, beautiful birds and even a Guinea pig. Our residents really love engaging with animals.”
Staff members and residents’ families sometimes bring in pets to visit. This can be especially comforting when another family member has taken in a resident’s pet.
Even the local fire department dog, Weber, comes to say hello at Miller Pointe.
“He’s very mild mannered and super sweet,” Alena shares.
And for those who love the outdoors, each Society location has outdoor spaces for residents to soak up the sun and get fresh air. Miller Pointe has a sidewalk around the entire building and a courtyard with a path.
“There are six entrances and outside of each one, there’s a covered patio,” says Alena. “We schedule things outside when the weather is nice and incorporate summer-themed snacks, like sundaes, sherbet and lemonade.”
“Nearly every center that I’ve visited has a beautiful garden area enclosed in a courtyard,” says Rochelle. “They provide a safe outdoor environment for activities and events when weather permits.”
Whether it’s an evening snack, time spent with a pet or a walk around the garden, there’s always a staff member close by to make sure every resident is living their fullest life.
“Our team members become an integral part of their daily lives,” says Rochelle. “Staff and residents really become a family.”