The Bible tells us that our time is but a vapor, we are here today and gone tomorrow. It’s important that we embrace our mortality, because when we do, it makes us appreciate our lives all the more. It’s not enough just to live, to breathe and to exist; we all are searching for that one reason we are here, our purpose. As our lives progress it’s common for us to think that once we reach a certain age that our life loses its purpose, but that’s simply not true. For our facility, purpose can be renewed by changing one room.
Our facility recently underwent a massive remodel and one of the new features that was added was a general store. Why would you put a general store in a long term care facility? Well, I’m glad you asked. Part of the mission statement for Signature HealthCARE is to radically change the landscape of long term care forever and one way that we are doing that is through the Eden Alternative. The Eden Alternative is simple; essentially it puts the Elder at the fore of every decision that goes into his or her treatment and care. A byproduct of this is that the Elder’s choice, his or her preference, is a priority, as it should be. Why our general store is important is because it constantly provides our Elders with a choice. Simply put, they have the choice to buy a candy bar if they want to, or a pop, or a hand knitted toboggan if they so desired.
This may seem trivial to some but this is more important than most realize. Not only does the general store provide the Elders with a choice but it also allows them to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. We take for granted how readily available things are if we wanted them. If we want a bag of chips or a pop we could stop at any number of gas stations on the way to work to get them, yet in most long term care facilities these are not easily obtained. Our store remedies that.
So how can this one room, this room filled with choice and simple pleasures, how can it renew purpose? Another excellent question. Part of having a store is selling products, maintaining inventory, and handling cash. Who better to do those things than one of our own Elders. When the idea was brought forth there was one name that immediately came to mind, Gary Kidd. With his warm personality, friendly demeanor, and inviting smile we knew that he was a perfect fit.
Unbeknownst to us, it was more than that. It was easy to see that this was something he wanted to do. Eagerly he wakes up every morning and opens the store at shift change so those Stakeholders leaving and those arriving can have a chance to buy his wares. He breaks to smoke and for lunch and then he is right back at it. He tracks every purchase, constantly mindful of what is leaving, what is selling best, what needs to be restocked. His passion for this store is undeniable, and he is thankful for the opportunity to manage it. When asked about what he thought of everything he only had this to say. “I have a reason to get out of bed again. I used to just sit in my room and do nothing all day, but now my life has meaning. Now, I have a purpose.”
What is truly great is that the store’s reach is not limited to just him. Our facility has been blessed with women who are the craftiest I have ever seen. Linda Robinette said, “I want to help. I’m not able to do a lot, but I can make booties, boggins, and scarves!” Other women have jumped on the craft bandwagon and are making everything from doilies to yarn owls. It’s amazing to see the handmade crafts fill the store, but what is even better is to see the positive change it’s having on our Elders.
It’s a wonderful thing to see people excited over the things that are going on here. The best thing is seeing how one little room can have such an impact on our Elders; to see that purpose can in fact, be renewed.
– Matthew Reed, Chaplain