Unlocking The Creativity Within

WWII Play 2Picasso once said that “the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls”.  I’ve always known that the impact of the arts in our communities could influence well-being while becoming a springboard for the creativity that lies within each of us.

The Elders at Rockcastle Health and Rehabilitation recently embarked on a new journey into the performance arts. Kelsey Adams, Quality of Life Director, shares their story below:

To honor the men and women who lived and served during World War II our Elders and Stakeholders joined forces to create “The Greatest Generation” a WWII Play. The planning and preparation started well before our opening night on September 29th. We held meetings regularly to write the script, create props and design our costumes!  The first night of our live performance was held in our home’s dining room with several family members and Elders in attendance. The second night the show went on the road as we were able to perform our original script at the Rockcastle County High School auditorium. It was really during this performance that our very talented actors enjoyed the experience of performing in a real theatre setting. Our play was a huge success and we have made plans to do both a Thanksgiving and Christmas Play.  

WWII Play 1I can’t imagine the excitement the Elders must have had in showcasing their talents in this way. The mere act of creating something truly does wash the dust away from our souls! Programs that engage Elders in the world around them are meaningful to them and demonstrate the growth and creativity that dwells within each of us as individuals.  Igniting creativity in others unlocks a door of potential that never closes and unleashes a new power that can change the views of those around us. Our Elders at Rockcastle Health and Rehabilitation are changing the way others perceive aging and the role of creativity in the aging process.

Uncovering Life’s Treasures

HarrodsburgSpirit of NorfolkBeach 2I saw this quote once, “Memories are timeless treasures of the heart.”  Reflecting back on the day in Virginia Beach, it was nothing short of memorable.  Waking up this morning, I looked out on the beach at sunrise and there were some of our Elders enjoying the beauty of God’s creations.  Tired yes, but yet so excited to start the day.

After breakfast, everyone had their own plans for our “free day!”  Treasures were captured as many walked the entire length of the boardwalk searching for the perfect souvenir or gift to return home with.  More treasures were found as some jumped on the local trolley to tour the city and visit the aquarium!

Some Elders couldn’t wait to relax on the beach this morning. Many got their feet in the ocean for the first time and marveled at how beautiful it really was. Priceless treasures were revealed with the strengthening of relationships as we got to know each better. Laughter filled the air as an Elder buried Nancy in the sand.

Day soon became evening and it was time to board The Spirit of Norfolk for our dinner cruise.  The view was beautiful but the camaraderie was the most treasured part. Once the dance floor opened, our Elders jumped in to teach the other passengers Heritage Hall 3some new moves. Etwell finally found a gentleman who offered her a dance. The other passengers were sparked to life by our beautiful Elders, teaching them to take advantage of every moment.

We’ve discovered our greatest treasures to be the memories we’ve created together this week. The spark of companionship that drives out loneliness and welcomes joy to the lives of our Elders has been evident everywhere we      turn. These moments are truly timeless and will be tucked away in the depths of our hearts that we can take out often, remember with fondness and then place back. Memories that we’ve placed there with love as we move forward in life.




Dreams Take Flight In Virginia Beach

Group at Bay Bridge TunnelC.S. Lewis said “You are never too old to set a new path or dream a new dream.” We are learning that this week as 60 Elders and Stakeholders from Signature Hometown homes in Kentucky and Tennessee are visiting Virginia Beach on our 14th Elder Vacation.

The Elders all arrived to the resort with their eyes full of hope and their heads full of Roberta Sharing Her Storydreams.  Fran’s dream has always been to see the ocean.  I won’t likely forget the sweet tears of joy she shed as she slipped her shoes off to feel her toes in the sand for the very first time.

Yesterday we started the day by climbing aboard our tour bus to take a quick driving tour of Virginia Beach to learn the local history. We enjoyed touring the Cape Henry lighthouses along the way. Roberta, one of our Elders had lived in the area previously and she enjoyed some time as our tour guide, telling us everything we needed to know.

Adventure in Virginia BeachWhen our bus pulled up to the Military Aviation Museum, our Elders were especially excited. Like always, we were given the “star” treatment and pulled all the way back to the hangar where the planes were out practicing flights for their weekend show. We were treated to lunch in the hangar with the WWII planes and a fun talk by Rosie The Riveter!

The museum staff asked Cordell and Harry, Cordell signingtwo of our Veterans, to sign the Living History boards at the museum.  It was exciting for them to share with us their time in the services and that opened up the afternoon to so many stories and memories!

In the evening we took a tour of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, which the Elders were amazed by. They couldn’t imagine the tunnel was built underwater and that we Group at Military Museumwere driving underwater! We arrived tothe Chesapeake Grille for a special dinner on the water.

Walking on the pier last night, watching our Elders so full of joy and happiness made my own heart soar. I was reminded by a Henry David Thoreau quote, “Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.” In that moment, I saw all their dreams starting to take flight with them!

Stay tuned to see where our newly spread wings take us next!



We Remember Moments

IMG_5463We don’t live for days, we live for moments. The moments that fill our lives with sweetness, love and joy. Those are the moments we aren’t likely to forget-the ones that take our breath away. The 2016 Atlanta Elder Vacation has been filled with too many life changing moments to ever count but I wanted to share a few that stood out to me this week:

IMG_5275It was the moment that the Elders arrived full of joy and excitement, wondering what this adventure would hold for them.

It was the moment that Skip showed up to the Braves game in his new Braves helmet, so excited to meet new friends and make memories along the way.

IMG_5444It was the glee in two Elder’s eyes as their families surprised them with visits during the trip!

It was the pride in our Elder’s face’s as they proved to the world what they were capable of doing!

It was the passion of Mr Curtis as he shared every Braves statistic with us.

IMG_5425It was the moment that our Stakeholders realized anything was possible in this revolution.

It was the insistence of Mr Charlie on purchasing an item everywhere so he could “prove” he really came.

It was in the laughter of everyone as it floated through the air and intrigued others around us.

It was the overwhelming moment that Maria realized 75 people were singing Happy Birthday to her.

It was the spontaneity of dancing IMG_5423after dinner and not caring about who was watching.

It was the love of friendship and the familiarity of being with family even though everyone just met a few days ago.


IMG_5519These are only a few moments that were captured from this week in Atlanta but there were so many more. From the awe of visiting the Georgia Aquarium to the fun of tasting Coca-Cola from around the world, every second was beautiful. For all of us it’s a beautiful promise of tomorrow that captures our hearts and teaches us that we have yet so much life to live. As this Elder vacation comes to a close IMG_5445tomorrow, we are reminded to live fully in the moments that life hands us as they are truly what’s important.




A Home Run In Atlanta

Stan at the Braves“Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game”-Babe Ruth

Such a powerful quote to share as our first Signature Hometown Vacation kicks off in Atlanta this week. 75 Elders and Stakeholders traveled to Atlanta, Georgia yesterday to begin a fun few days of exploring the city.


Creekside at the gameAs the Elders arrived, we began to hear their stories and their plans for the week! Many of them are so excited about the promises of a major league baseball game or even seeing the seals at the aquarium! No matter what it was, everyone had an idea of what their vacation would be like this week!  After everyone got settled in their room it was time to head out to the Braves game! Excitement was in the air as everyone boarded the buses to travel to Turner Field.

Courtyard at the gameCurtis, an Elder living at Signature HealthCare at Courtyard, eyes lit up when speaking of his beloved Atlanta Braves.  He shared with me the history of the team along with every statistic for the past several years. One thing was clear, he loves the Braves and couldn’t wait to see them play!

Then we got to meet Jimmy, an Elder living at Mallard Bay, who was overjoyed to be at his first Major League baseball game! He wanted to go shopping to have “proof” that he had actually been to a game!

The game was packed with joy for the Elders. As I looked around at them, they had smiles of contentment on their faces! They were wrapped up in life’s special moments, whether it be trying to get on the “jumbotron” or enjoying the taste of a ball park hot dog.

Ezell at the gameWe never know the joy we can bring to our Elders unless we try. It’s all about getting up and swinging the bat, hoping for a victory! The Elder vacations are simply about living life, enjoying the moment and being renewed in every sense. I would say the first day was a home run, but stay tuned to watch the joy unfold for our Elders this week in Atlanta!




A Hole In One For Culture Change


2 I’ve had the pleasure to watch Riverview Healthcare Center transform from a institution to a true home over the past four years. Their journey has been one of the most inspiring stories to share over and over again. Even when frost sets in, their determination to do the impossible pushes them forward to another level.


Phillip Ramey, Director of Spirituality shared this beautiful story today about the latest developments at Riverview.

7Our culture change journey here at Riverview has been much like a golf game. Sometimes the course has been very challenging. Sometimes you think things are going great and other times you may feel like your game is not exactly up to par. Today however, we hit a hole-in-one on our culture change journey.

As we’ve journeyed from becoming an Eden Alternative Registered Home to accomplishing Milestone 2 and pressing toward Milestone 3, there’s been many noticeable transformations that have taken place. We’ve transformed individuals by educating them. In doing so, we’ve seen people not only have a change of mind but also a change of heart. We’ve also transformed organizationally. Everyone is a partner together in care here, and person directed care is what we believe in when it come to the elders and their well-being. Along with all this, there’s been some pretty noticeable physical transformations as well. Our Mugg-Z Café continues to grow in popularity and has become a daily lunch destination for many people in our surrounding area. We’ve had lots of enjoyment out of our Riverview Theatre that is not “like” a real movie theatre, it is a real movie theatre. Our Fred Harris Memorial Library, Riverview Chapel, Neighborhood Post Offices, Riverview Barber Shop & Boutique can been seen as you stroll through the neighborhoods of our Riverview community, and we can’t forget our Riverview Restaurant & Grille that provides a real restaurant experience for the Elders.

02Today marked the grand opening for another wonderful addition to our Riverview community, as we officially opened the Riverview Country Club. Now the elders can enjoy the beautiful scenery that surround them and enjoy a relaxing nine hole game of miniature golf. A special ribbon cutting ceremony was held and the elders hit the links to sink a few birdies. A cold “Arnold Palmer” and cookies was served under the gazebo connected to this new golf course.

It was certainly a wonderful day and memorable mile marker on our culture change journey. Just another reminder that no matter how much of a slump you may feel that you’re in, keep on swinging because you never know when you’ll land your next hole-in-one on your journey to culture change!-Phillip Ramey, Director of Spirituality

00Phillip is correct, our culture change journey depends on us. We have to lay the groundwork by showing up to play! In order for our great visions to come true, we have to go swing the club! I can’t wait to see what Riverview “swings” at next!


A Hero’s Flight

honor flight 5There’s nothing more moving than seeing a Veteran being honored for service to this county. The feeling of joy and pride that must swell up within them upon the very mention of the service he or she provided for all us, I’m sure can be very moving. Recently, J.W. Southerland, an Elder living at Signature HealthCare of Greeneville, was honored with the opportunity to take a “Honor Flight” to Washington D.C. out of Knoxville. Norma Hollifield, Quality of Life Director, recounts his story below:

It all started in 2004 when the finishing touches were being put on the National World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. It was at this time that a Physician’s Assistant living in Ohio began to question his patients honor flight 1to see if they would like to go visit it. Earl Morse, in this job saw these patients month after month, knowing that their dream of seeing this new memorial would probably fade away. In most cases they lacked funds for air travel or stamina for such a long car trip. Morse was also a retired Air Force Captain and pilot and he began to offer flights for Veterans to see the memorials there. Soon he recruited other pilots and the Honor Air organization came into being.

On April 13th, 2016 a Korean War Veteran by the name of J.W. Southerland, living at SHC Greeneville was chosen to participate in the Honor Air flight from Knoxville, TN to Washington D.C.  He had Honor flight 2faithfully served his country with the U.S Air Force during the Korean War.

The day began with a special commencement ceremony and then a small prayer. It was time to make our way to where we would board the plane. As we walked there were military men and women standing on both sides of the aisle saluting all the Veterans. That moment really set the mood for the emotional journey we were embarking on that day.

It was during the flight that J.W. shared some fascinating stories of the Security Krypto Unit and his responsibilities. He shared stories and made remarks the entire day. As we toured the honor flight 3Korean War Veterans Memorial he shared with me that the coats weren’t as warm as portrayed on the statues here! We visited all of the war memorials, Arlington Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We also were moved by the changing of the guard. J.W. had the honor to meet Veterans from all ranks and services.

On the return flight home, the Honor Air crew re-enacted their version of “mail call” for the Veterans on board. This time quickly became emotional as each Veteran was given mail from family members, friends and even strangers! J.W. read his letter from Tyler, a 6th grade student at Karnes Elementary School who took time to write to thank J.W. for his service and honor flight 4sacrifice. Tyler invited J.W. to be his pen pal, which brought tears to his eyes. A quick tap on my shoulder was the Veteran behind me who wanted to share his mail with me. He was a Navy Veteran who was holding a picture of himself in Guam in 1945. With tears in his eyes, he said he was stationed there and his daughter had sent it to him as a reminder. I felt both blessed and emotional to be given such a wonderful opportunity to share this experience with them.

When we landed in Knoxville, there were so many to welcome us! The sounds of drums roared in the air while men, women and children lined the walkways! There were many from different branches of the service there to welcome our heroes home! They shook each Veteran’s hand honor air 7as they came by. J.W. couldn’t believe all of this was for them! There were tears and smiles everywhere as we approached the end of the walkway. There were familiar faces waiting for us too! There stood J.W.’s family and friends along with Cammie to welcome us back.

It was truly an honor to have been a part of this experience with JW. I will be forever thankful to Signature Healthcare for their encouragement to the Quality of Life directors to fulfill an elders dream. A special thank you to Honor Air of Knoxville for have given J.W. and I the opportunity to participate in their 20th Anniversary flight to Washington, DC.


Norma Hollifield, ,QOL   Director at SHC Greeneville

I imagine this was a beautiful thing to behold. It must have been so meaningful to J.W. to take this trip. It’s opportunities like this that give Elders a way to showcase their rich history and wisdom. I’m sure the flight was full of beautiful stories of days gone by that only those who were there would ever understand. These are the moments that make life special, the little nuggets we hold on to forever that shape who we will become tomorrow! Congratulations J.W. on making the Honor Air Flight!

Westmoreland Care and Rehab Launches 1st Annual March Madness Tournament

westmoreland-march-mad-1What’s better than college basketball in March? Not much unless you are an Elder living at Westmoreland Care and Rehabilitation in Westmoreland, Tn! This year the home launched their own version of March Madness with a complete basketball tournament! Quality of Life Director, Danny Ray shares their story below.

We started the game by introducing players from each team. Chaplain David Spears sang the National Anthem and everyone else sang along with him! The game consisted of three six-minute quarters that was followed by a fourth quarter skills competition. It was a 3-on-3 wheelchair basketball game. Teams received points by both making and blocking shots. The game was neck and neck throughout!

The skills competition gave each Elder an opportunity to score points for their team. The skills competition had three different skills, lasting one minute each for each team. We started the competition with a “Give and Go Contest” this skill involved two players passing the ball to each other and one player shooting a shot to try and score for their team. The three-point competition had one elder from each team attempting to make as many three-point shots as possible in a minute. The last skill competition was a dribbling contest. Players received one point for each successful dribble they made in one minute. Michael Stone, an Elder living in the home, shared “I love the idea of the skills competition. It really gives each of us a chance to score and help our teams.”

westmoreland-march-mad-4While all players scored points for their team and were able to contribute to the game, an MVP was declared! Kathy Jernigan became the MVP of our first March Madness event! She played a great game overall but her best contribution to the team came during the “Dribbling Contest”. Kathy surprised everyone in the room when the dribbled  110 times for a minute straight without losing the ball.  She scored 110 points for her team in 1 minute! Kathy said with a huge smile on her face, “I knew if I was chosen to dribble the ball that I could do great with it. I told myself I could do it for one minute and I did!”

There are so many good things that can happen from a simple competition as this. Events like this promote overall health by encouraging Elders to get MOVING instead of spending their day in stationary positions! This is also a wonderful way to help Elders regain self confidence. Too many times, we see Elders lacking confidence in their abilities but encouraging them to try new things helps generate a sense of pride that is often lost!



An Unconventional Memorial Service

group1The true measure of culture change comes only when we can see the depth of the relationships that surround us. Phillip Ramey, Director of Spirituality, at Riverview HealthCare Center recounts a recent experience below:

Several months ago we lost an Elder here at Riverview that has been greatly missed. He was a man who was well known by many, and known by all for his great love for basketball. He particularly loved high school basketball. In fact, he loved high school basketball so much that he had amassed a nearly unbelievable streak. For the last 54 years of his life he had attended the Boys Sweet 16 High School State Basketball Tournament at Rupp Arena in Lexington , KY. For the past few years, I personally had the privilege of being part of this wonderful journey to help keep his streak alive. He had become such a fixture at the state tournament, that everyone knew him and everyone looked for him. I knew that this year would not be the same in so many ways. Perry would not be there for the first time in 55 years. That just didn’t seem right to me.

rupp1I was blessed with the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful man’s funeral service when he passed, but since then I’ve also been planning a memorial service for him. It was kind of an unconventional memorial service, but very fitting. To honor him we decided to keep his streak alive. So I designed some t-shirts, we gathered up a group of Elders that love basketball, and we journeyed from our home in Prestonsburg, KY to Rupp Arena for the “Perry Jones Memorial Sweet 16 Trip.”

shirtsIt was a great trip and a great experience for the Elders, but the greatest moment for me personally was the very moment we got off the bus. Two men immediately looked at our shirts and approached us. These men, like most everyone that journeys to Rupp for the Sweet 16 each year, knew Perry and commented on how ‘cool” it was that we were keeping his streak alive.

At Riverview our motto is “honoring our community one elder at a time” and when we really form relationships with these individuals we can do this… not only in life, but even beyond. The joy is in the journey, and the journey continues!

True person directed care begins and ends with the relationships we are able to not only form but continue to grow. What a powerful moment it must have been for those at Riverview to honor their friend in this way.

Learning At Any Age

Roni and GwendolynI think a true sign of a transformed culture is when the Elders living in the home are afforded the same opportunities of growth as the Stakeholders. When we can all grow together to truly set a vision for tomorrow, a clear path towards culture change is being built.

At Signature HealthCare we have trained hundreds of Eden Associates over the past few years. Through all of these trainings, we’ve never had an Elder express interest in attending until recently.

Connor McChurch, Administrator at Westmoreland Care and Rehabiition Center recounts Gwendolyn’s story below

As Gwendolyn Brown was being assisted into my front office Thursday morning, I could see the joy that she was feeling by her shoulder shimmy dance moves and the spark that lit up her face. Just 24 hours prior, Gwendolyn had achieved a milestone that she admitted “I didn’t think I could ever get at my age – I feel proud.” Gwendolyn had participated and completed a three day training program through The Eden Alternative called ‘Certified Eden Associate Training’. The training was hosted by Westmoreland Care & Rehabilitation Center where Gwendolyn currently lives as an Elder.

Knowing by her body language of how she was feeling, Gwendolyn confirmed when I asked “How does it feel to be an Eden Associate” by quickly responding “it (certification) made me feel good!” Gwendolyn went on to explain how much she enjoyed the training, particularly how interactive the training was, saying “my favorite part about the training was when everyone was acting out the training skits; I could see how much fun everyone was having”. One main part of Eden Associate training is getting the trainees to recognize how important being well known is through their elders’ eyes. One way to “be well known” during the training is to make your last name rhyme with your first and must contain a type of animal. Gwendolyns’ name she picked was “Jean Jax”.

Gwendolyn closed our conversation by remarking about the facility, “This place is always good.” “I feel like it’s my job to tell people how good you all treat me.” She went on to say she was apprehensive about first coming to Westmoreland Care & Rehabilitation Center over two years ago but admits, “It was better than I thought it would be.” Gwendolyn went on to say she enjoys her morning exercise, Friday Happy Hour, and friends – “all in that order!”

Principle Two of the Eden Alternative  teaches us that the “solution” to fighting the three plagues of loneliness, helplessness, and boredom is to create a Human Habitat. In fact, this Human Habitat is a place in which relationships are not only formed but are nurtured to growth.  The beauty of this week for Gwendolyn was that during the training, she was “one of the classmates”.  She was not limited to what others thought she could do. This has to be the key to creating a life worth living.