“My Wish For You”

Grand Ole Opry Pic2015SpencerBillHappiness, laughter, joy and glee were all words that I would use to describe the second day of our Nashville Elder Vacation. The day couldn’t be any more perfect as we climbed aboard our buses for a three hour town of the downtown area. The Elders had the opportunity to visit many historical sites such as “the mother church of country music, The Ryman Auditorium! They also visited The Parthenon, Bicentennial Park and the TN State Capitol building. Everyone loved learning the history of the city!

Stopping only for a quick lunch at Opry Mills Mall, this group of travelers walked across the street to the Grand Ole Opry for a private backstage tour!  We were all star struck as we walked through the “artist’s entrance” and saw where the giants in country music got their start. It was hard to believe that we saw dressing rooms where musicians of the past such as Roy Acuff, who joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1938 and was the first living inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1962 got ready to perform!

Then our Elders had the opportunity to walk jennyacross the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and sing or talk into the microphone! Their excitement of looking out across the huge auditorium spurred many to creativity! Jenny, who lives at Signature HealthCare of Erin, sung an original song to her heart’s content from the stage! Betty, from Pine Ridge in Elizabethon, TN, exclaimed, “Can you imagine seeing a show here?”. She was amazed when she learned she was getting to attend one that evening!

Next it was time for dinner at Santa Fe Cattle Company, where our Elders chose from steak, catfish, ribs or chicken! There was no time to waste as we boarded the buses to go back for the evening show at the Grand Ole Opry!

PineRidgeExcitement filled the air as everyone chattered about the lineup of guests performing at the Grand Ole Opry! This evening our Elders would be treated to The Swon Brothers, Del McCoury Band, Easton Corbin, The Willis Clan, Connie Smith, David Nail and Rascal Flatts! The entire experience was almost surreal, from shaking hands with a Hank Williams impersonator to watching our Elders who were so determined to transfer from their wheelchairs into the church pews of the Grand Ole Opry. The expressions on their faces as they looked around the Opry house and felt the history of the auditorium seep in. We were only a few seats from the stage where history would once again take place. Only this time, we would be part of that history!

OpryShow15To some, we are only on vacation with our Elders. But to those who joined in the trip, they saw that something magical took place. We saw doors open for Elders like Joe, who had never left his town before. We saw happiness in the many faces of our Elders who showed all of Nashville the warmth of their smile. But most importantly we learned that dreams are supposed to be big!


We also feel that Rascal Flatts sang this song just for us on Tuesday night:


My Wish

I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road leads you where you wanna go,
And if you’re faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin’ till you find the window,
If it’s cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile.
But more than anything, more than anything

My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish……..


I Hope You Dance-SHC Nashville Elder Vacation Begins!

chesapeake91 Elders and Stakeholders from Signature Hometown made their way to Nashville on Monday to kick off our 11th Elder Vacation. The group will be staying at Gaylord Opryland Resort and Spa with atrium rooms in the Garden Conservatory Suites for this trip.

As our special guests arrived on Monday, the Elders couldn’t believe the magnificence of this resort. Everyone had to pause for a photograph in front of the cascading waterfalls before moving on to investigate their rooms!

The trip officially began as we boarded the historic General Jackson Showboat. The boat cruises down the Cumberand River and offers dinner as well as Marie at Opryentertainment. The Elders ate quickly so they could roam about the 300 foot boat to take in the sights of downtown Nashville from the river. After seeing all the beauty of the city, everyone returned to their seats for the show portion of the evening. Marie, an Elder living at Oakview Care and Rehabilitation in Kentucky, swayed back and forth as the show began with some songs she knew well. Her eyes held a faraway look as she told us how her father would sing her this song as a little girl. I imagined that in that moment she heard her father singing to her again.

StanleyAs the show continued a general sense of camaraderie fell upon the group. Friendships were already beginning to blossom and the seed of companionship was already growing among the group. Looking around, all I could see was true love and friendship in it’s most raw form. Stanley, an Elder living at Signature HealthCare of Warren, reached over and wrapped his arm loving around his nurse. A beautiful testament of how caring is a road that goes both directions.

It was in those very emotional moments that we remember the many reasons we are on our 11th vacation. It’s because these are the moments that truly demonstrate the super powers of our Elders. It’s during these times that we are reminded Spencer at Riverboatfully of the revolutation ahead of us to change how our Elders are viewed and treated by others.

Lee Ann Womack said it best, so for our Elders:

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder

You get your fill to eat, but always keep your hunger

May you never take one single breath for granted

God forbit love ever leave you empty handed

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean

Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens

Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit out or dance

I hope you dance…I hope you dance.





There’s Magic In Each Of Us

Jenny in sandGrowing up, I always believed Walt Disney World was a magical place. I can remember gathering around the tv on Sunday nights with my family in anticipation of the Disney movie that aired each week. Walt Disney World was always that elusive place where anything could happen in a blink of an eye or with a flick of the wrist.

There’s an old saying that says “those who don’t believe in magic will never find it”.  This week I’ve discovered the beauty of that statement in so many ways. Our second day at Disney was nothing short of magical.

The magic began as we gathered at the Ohana breakfast to jumpstart our day with not only a great meal but wonderful atmosphere!  The word Ohana means family and it was a beautiful sentiment as we sat around the tables to celebrate WP_20150923_012our Signature family coming together. We also enjoyed spending more time with Mickey, Stitch, Lilo and Pluto!

Next it was off to make dreams come true at the Magic Kindom! Everyone’s eyes were filled up with excitement as we made our way through the gates in anticipation of what the day would bring.

For many people the day represented many different things. Of course there were rides, characters, food, fireworks and parades but there was really so much more than that. For Ms. Jenny, there was hope, joy and inspiration. From the first moment I met her smiling eyes, I knew she was going to be a friend. What I didn’t realize was the impact she would make on my life in three short days. Ms. Jenny didn’t come to Disney looking for magic like most of us, she came with a mission to Jenny Disney 2015experience as much of life as she could. She crossed many things off her “bucket” list this week. Things like riding Splash Mountain, meeting all the Disney characters, and getting her feet in the sand on a beach. She wisely told me it was “ok” to act  like a kid if you wanted to because that was part of living our lives out.

WP_20150923_398Then there was Thelma. Her biggest dream was to come to Walt Disney World. The magic started for her before even arriving as she set goals for herself so she would be able to attend! She refused to let things stand in her way. She worked steadfastly to improve her walking and other skills so she experience this trip . For her, it was affirmation that she could reach her dreams and accomplish her goals!

As the day progressed the magic continued! Everywhere I looked I could see it sparking in different places. Moments of laughter and energy as Ms Anna danced with the characters on Main Street U.S.A. or the look of accomplishment as Ms Mary finished with the most points at Space Ranger Spin.  Moments of awe as Ms Lula experienced It’s A Small World for the first time. The love between Group Castle 2015a nurse and an Elder as they shared special moments in time together that will never be forgotten.

So you see, the old saying was right. If you believe in magic, you will find it. This week our Elders have given us the greatest life lesson of all. They have shown us that there is magic in all of us, we only need to pursue our dreams to activate it.

The Magic Begins-Disney Day 1

Disney Epcott GroupYesterday 87 Elders and Stakeholders from Signature Hometown homes traveled into Orlando to kick off the beginning of their very “magical” vacation! There were smiles all around as they climbed off the Mickey’s Magical Express and saw the beauty of their Polynesian Resort!

minnieTo kick off the vacation, everyone was treated to a private Luau party! It was there that our Elders got to meet their very special guests, Mickey and Minnie for the first time! It was truly love at first sight as the ladies hurried to put on their “red” lipstick to give Mickey a kiss while the gentlemen whistled at Minnie as she walked by! Everyone had the opportunity to get a special picture with both of them along with their “authentic” signature!

The magic continued today as most of us rose early to take advantage of extra park hours at Epcot! It seemed everyone enjoyed the many sights and sounds of Epcot including Soarin’, building their own car, journeying into Spaceship Earth and making their way around the World Showcase!

mallard disneyOur motto today was living life to the fullest and none fell short on that! Ms Leeta shared with everyone how she was scared of water but decided to “take a chance on a boat” and she was glad she did!  Ms Jenny inspired us all with her will and resolve to take in as much as she could and Ms Lula kept us all entertained with her quick wit and great sense of humor!

Soon our magical day turned into a magical evening as our group gathered together on the pavilion in Italy for a private dessert party and viewing of Illuminations! As they arrived, each Elder had a special stuffed Mickey in their seat!

Disney Private Party SunriseIt really is possible to have your heart so full of joy it spills over!  I think one of the ladies said it best tonight when she said she felt “all squishy inside”!  I’ve learned today that you can be a princess at any age and inside all of us lurks the joy of childhood that we only need to rediscover to experience for ourselves!

Stay tuned for our updates tomorrow!



Our Last Day In The Cradle of Liberty

Cheers GroupAs we set out to explore the city better known as the Cradle of Liberty, we couldn’t help but bask in the beautiful day that was set before us. Comfortable temperatures and a blue sky made the perfect setting for another day of exploration.

After a short morning walk, we knew we would enjoy this day of sightseeing together. Everyone was chattering as we climbed aboard the open air trolley car and took a seat to be entertained. As we started rolling through the city of Boston, we saw such sites as the Bunker Hill Monument, The U.S.S. Constitution, Boston Common, and made our way through the shopping district with fun narration from our guide “Gordie” the entire way.

Swan BoatIt was Gordie who told us we couldn’t visit the city without taking a ride on the Swan Boats in Boston Gardens and we agreed that we would love to give it a try.  The Gardens area was tranquil as we made our way walking through it in search of the small boats that sat out on the water. Some took the ride on the Swan Boat and some preferred to rest under the shade of the beautiful weeping willow trees planted around the water’s edge but all of us had a beautiful morning together.

After our boat ride, it was time to visit the original Cheers on Beacon Hill. We all giggled with joy as we were escorted to the famous “Back Room” for our lunch! Elders laughed about all of the “action” the Back Room saw on the show and of course we didn’t want to let down the reputation of the area so we had to have some fun of our own! Gary was thrilled to visit another place on his ultimate bucket list and couldn’t wait to order a beer in an original Cheers mug! He told me during lunch that he had always watched the show on TV and could hardly believe that he was eating there.

Ezelle last dayAfter lunch our driver, Gordie took us on an “unofficial” tour of Boston and showed us famous spots such as the Statehouse where the Declaration of Independence was signed and read for the first time, a quick tour of MIT, and the famous finish line for the Boston Marathon.

Even after all of this fun, our day was not complete without a tour of the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum. Everyone enjoyed taking a participatory role in the reenactment that showed how all of the tea came to be dumped in Boston Harbor and then a wonderful historical account of that fateful evening that prompted our Independence. Our Elders especiallly loved being part of the skit and enjoyed learning more about our past.

Corbit last dayAfter a busy day of sight-seeing our group was tired and decided to finish our time in Boston by having dinner together at Barney Fannings.  We all had tears come to our eyes as we reminisced about our time in the city and knew we would soon part ways.

Thinking back on the beauty of this trip, I realize it was only fitting that we would be visiting the city known as the Cradle of Liberty. It truly is a city in which independence runs free. While we were there, we could see independence rising in the Elders as they gained their self confidence back. It was joyous to watch them realize they could in fact do things they may have doubted they could accomplish only a week earlier. The lessons we learned about independence and true liberty will reign in our thoughts as we view our Elders with new eyes. Eyes that see their independence, know their resilience, and admire their perserverance. The city known as the Cradle of Liberty has forever impacted our lives and for that we are grateful.


Exploring Boston’s Hidden Treasures

Erin stingraysAfter sleeping in and having a leisurely breakfast from Max’s Deli Cafe delivered to our rooms, everyone was ready to explore the city of Boston! Energy was high as we started on our journey to the New England Aquarium! The New England Aquarium, being one of the largest aquariums in the northeast, held alot of hidden treasures to find within! The Elders were enthralled by the penguins and marveled at how they “took care” of each other. They all took a turn touching the stingrays except for John, who said he had experienced those “first” hand and didn’t want anything to do with them!  We all loved searching for Myrtle, the 50 year old sea turtle, who reigned magestically in the center tank for everyone to see.

Jackie BoatAfter a quick break at the harbor this fearless group of explorers determined to grab a ferry over to Hingham Shipyard and eat lunch at Wahlburgers! The ferry boat added to our sense of adventure for the day. Some of the Elders climbed on top to feel the wind in their face and catch some good pictures of the shoreline as we traveled. Jackie, a former Navy Officer, felt right at home on the “high seas” and shared some stories of other times he had passed through Boston in his life.

Arriving at Hingham Shipyard, the group anticipated a tasty lunch at Wahlburgers. The restaurant, known for it’s variety of special burgers, lived up to our expectations. Gary even said the “Surf’N’Turf Burger” was better than the “Baconator”.   Everyone enjoyed a leisurely lunch at this famous hangout before making their way back into the city.

Rhonda WahlburgersAfter a short rest (and some ice cream) at the hotel we were ready for an exciting evening. We had a delicious dinner at Bertucci’s, where everyone relaxed,laughed and just enjoyed each other’s company. After dinner, there was still some exploration left to do as the group visited Faneuil Hall. While exploring Faneuil hall, Corbit sat for a caricature of himself and we all marveled at how much it resembled him. His excitement could not be contained at the piece of art (being an artist himself) and he coudn’t wait to call home to tell everyone all about it. Some explored the shops and bought souvenirs while others explored the culture of Boston and enjoyed the street dancers and entertainment that Faneuil Hall had to offer.

Wahlburgers groupLike all great explorers before us, we have gathered our treasures and are taking them back with us. However, our treasures might be a bit different than those you’ve read about in history books. We’ve found treasures of love, happiness, joy, and meaning. We have discovered there is great value in laughter and that living in the moment is without price. We’ve learned that it’s healthy to take risks and to live without limitations. However, most of all, we have learned that our relationships with each other are the true catalyst to the change that we all seek.  And in the end, these treasures were housed within us all along.

Our Field of Dreams

Group Fenway Our group of 26 Elders and Stakeholders from Signature Hometown homes in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida arrived in Boston late yesterday with only one thing on their mind-FUN!  Even after a long day of travel, the Elders were excited to get out and sample some of the “night life” that Boston has to offer by having a late dinner at Barney Fannings Pub before retiring for what was “left” of the evening!

FrankThis morning some of  the Elders joined us for an early morning walk around the city while others enjoyed sleeping in. There was no mistaking the excitement in the air as everyone picked out a Red Sox cap to wear to the game today!

Laughter surrounded us as we waited outside Fenway Park. Everyone chatting and giggling over the ball park foods we would eat today, the pictures we would take, and if the Red Sox would pull off a win! Even if you didn’t “love” the game of baseball, you couldn’t help but become enthralled with the excitement our group was creating!

CorbitToday our small group caught some big dreams! Gary Kidd, an Elder living at SHC Pikeville in Pikeville, Kentucky shared that he had always wanted to go to Fenway Park as a young boy. He talked about how he never thought he would actually be in the park that he had always wished to be in. He also shared about how his dreams had been fulfilled today! The beauty of this is that it was not only our Elders to have dreams come true  but we also had a few Stakeholders cross the dream of visiting Fenway Park off their bucket list today. For example Brett Brown, Administrator at Washington Care and Rehab in Chipley, Florida and Jaime Larimore, Quality of Life Director at SHC Glenview in Louisville, Ky had also always hoped to visit America’s oldest ball park one day.

GaryThese are the moments that take our breath away. Those moments when you can see the joy of living life that captures the faces of our Elders. The moments when you see an Elder holding the hand of a nurse to calm HER nerves during takeoff as Corbit did on the flight into Boston.  The moment when an Elder jumps up to “Shake It Off” to Taylor Swift’s latest tune as Jack did this afternoon.  Really there are no greater moments than the ones that demonstrate the pure, compassionate love that our Stakeholders and Elders hold for each other.

Jack and AngieOur evening finished up with much celebration, even though the Red Sox lost. We enjoyed dinner at The Littlest Bar, loved each other’s company and knew in our hearts that we would hold all of these moments near and dear forever.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s adventure…..

Rockcastle Care and Rehabilitation Welcomes New Additions

Kenneth and bunniesWe never know what could be a catalyst to create change within our organizations. It could be something as small as three little bunnies!

Kelsey Adams, Quality of Life Director, at Rockcastle Care and Rehabilitation recounts their story below:

“Every great story starts with a humble beginning and ours is no different. Rockcastle Health & Rehabilitation Center is located in the quaint town of Brodhead, KY. They who live here have backgrounds ranging from farming to small town business owners. Our Elders grew up in a simpler time where food was grown and clothes were made. This type of lifestyle is ingrained into every aspect of their life.

It is no small task to take on culture change. We purchased a greenhouse and all of the necessary supplies to start it up.  We have a small courtyard that was hardly ever used and was in need of a lot of TLC. After the greenhouse was built amazing things started to happen; Elders began going outside to work in the greenhouse and Stakeholders from different departments began assisting with the courtyard.

The courtyard draws a crowd of Elders, family members, and Stakeholders almost every day, especially now that we have three new additions to the RHRC family. Three baby bunnies were donated to our home from Tony Bullock who is a local farmer and thanks to his wife, our Administrator; they received a nice house to live in. The Elders named them Tippy Toes, Shelby, and Sweet Pea. They are a huge hit with everyone that comes into our home. Several family members will get a bunny from their cage for their loved ones to pet in their rooms and even some of the Elders will pick them up and sit with them outside petting them.

Kenneth Adams, who lived his life as a local dairy farmer, has become our “rabbit guru”.  He feeds the rabbits by hand almost every day. His daughter, Lavada Adams, has donated different varieties of flowers.  Kenneth has taken responsibility to plant them and take care of everything. He recently has started growing carrots for the rabbits. Julie Hammons who is a SRNA here says, “I’ve seen a change in him since he came back from the Elder vacation and the rabbits arrived. He is a human being again. He just glows.”

Kenneth gardeningSometimes the biggest obstacle to redefining culture lies within ourselves. We measure everything we do in terms of “greatness”.  In our frustration it’s easy to miss the smallest of victories that nudge us down the path of growth and change.

Kenneth is celebrating his passion and purpose. There is nothing that can ever become more “great” than that.

The Best Things In Life Are Free

I’ve heard the quote “The best things in life are free” repeated to me over the years more times than I can count. However this morning as we start Memorial Day Weekend, I find it’s really true to reflect on such a statement as it relates to person directed care.

In my life, the things I really enjoy the most are completely free. The smiles of my family, the feeling of sleeping in late on a holiday weekend and of course the joy of just being and not “doing”.

It’s Memorial Day after all. We are celebrating this weekend, those who fought and passed to ensure we could have these personal freedoms. The very freedom we take for granted everyday that Elders living in long term care communities around the world do not always experience.

Sally Rineker, QOL Director at Sunrise Manor in Hodgenville Ky, shared this beautiful story about how precious freedom actually is

We don’t think of Elders living in our home as people who are grieving for others.  If they weren’t in a home this Memorial Day weekend they would most likely be planning a visit to the cemetery to decorate the tombstone of a spouse, child, parent, sibling or friend.  So why do we put limitations on them when they are in a nursing home? 

 Today we accompanied some Elders in our home to decorate the tombstones of their spouses, with flower arrangements they had made this week.  It was such a rewarding experience that touched the hearts of all of us. Words cannot describe accurately the gratitude these Elders had to have this moment of remembrance.

One elder went to her husbands grave for the first time since he had passed away two years ago.  It was the first time seeing the tombstone, the first time decorating it and the first time talking with him there.  As we assisted her with putting the flowers in the ground she stated “These are for you sweet man!”  We then gave her some time alone.  As we returned to the grave she was admiring the engraving on the back of the tombstone on her husbands side. It had a baseball bat and glove because he loved baseball.  We chuckled when we saw that on her side of the tombstone was a UofK shirt — because she LOVES the University of Kentucky Basketball team.  Once back in the van she started to tell us the story of how she chased him down and she knew that he was the man she was going to marry.  They were married 61 years.

 Things we take for granted mean so much to Elders.  We shouldn’t feel like life ends when coming to a nursing home or that grieving for a loved one is different when you become older or live in a long term care community. 

This beautiful story teaches us so many things. The distinct purpose of creating flowers for the tombstone for her loved one. The beauty of having those cherished moments at the graveyard to honor his memory and then the connection made with those around her as she shared those memories. This is real life. And many times real life is free.

Many people ask “how do I bring true culture change without the budget to do so?”. Individualize care to the point of creating real life for those in our care. If there’s a road to person directed care, this would be the express route. Moments like these build true relationships. And again, relationships are free.



What A Wonderful World

DSC_0208“I see trees of green, red roses too. I see them bloom for me and you. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.” Tonight as we were finishing our last evening together this song played overhead. I couldn’t help but reflect back on the week and think how very fitting it was to end our vacation adventure!

This week we set out to “catch a wave to mayorvisit (1)adventure” and that’s exactly what we did. Today actually, it was more like a “whirlwind” of adventure! The day began with three ladies who dreamed of parasailing. These ladies couldn’t wait to board the boat to go out into the ocean and get up into the air!  Once in the air, Ms Nina proclaimed about how high up she was and how beautiful it was up there. She said she felt “free as a bird”! As a matter of PCB 110fact, she loved it so much, she did it twice!

Another group spent the morning shopping for souvenirs to take back to their friends and families! The very best part of vacation is always looking for the perfect souvenir to take back home.  They also enjoyed touring around the Panama City Beach area and had a great lunch at Sharky’s on the beach!

We  had many that enjoyed free time on the PCB 115beach and around the pool today. The Elders loved  getting into the ocean, riding the rafts and spending time basking in the sun. Kenneth shared with us how excited he was to be sitting on the beach resting as he never thought he would be able to do things like this!

This afternoon Mayor Oberst of Panama City Beach greeted all of the Elders at the resort. She welcomed them to the city and shared a PCB 146brief history of the local area. Everyone was delighted about meeting and spending time with her this afternoon.

The day ended with a sunset dinner cruise on the Betsy Ann Riverboat. The cruise took us out into St Andrews Bay and we even spotted a few dolphins on the way. We had such a wonderful time sharing memories from our week together. The Elders reflected back on how much they had experienced and it wasn’t PCB 165long before the tears started flowing! One Elder threw her arms up and declared “this is heaven”.  Another lady shared how she had made so many new friends on this journey.

This week has indeed been an adventure. I must agree with Nina, it really is a little piece of heaven. Even after eight vacations, I still squeal with delight and enjoy spending this time with our Signature family.  So tonight as this vacation comes to a close, I leave you with the last verse to the song that made us reflect so heavily.

groupphoto“The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky. Are also on the faces of people passing by. I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do. But they’re really saying, I love you. “