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Bringing Entertainment & Normalcy to Draper Rehab

By Sarah Scott, DOR, Draper Rehabilitation and Care, Draper, UT

We are fortunate to work in healthcare, where we get to make a difference. However, at the end of the day, we leave and return to our lives outside of work. We take walks, go on picnics at the park, and go to movies, plays, and other forms of entertainment. Those activities and who we do them with are very meaningful to us. Our residents had lives with freedom and access to similar activities that were equally important to them. It is painful to imagine what their experience might be — the loss of freedom, access, and opportunity.

As a facility, the IDT team at Draper Rehab looks for meaningful ways to create access to experiences that restore a sense of community and entertainment. Professional magician Craig Davis has performed all over the world and finds joy in transporting his audiences to a place where magic is real. He volunteered to perform for the residents of Draper Rehabilitation and drove from his home in Phoenix to bring some magic into our lives.

The morning of the magic show, residents buzzed at breakfast. They were up, dressed, nourished and ready as they began to line the halls in anticipation of their outing. Nurses, CNAs, Transportation, Maintenance, Housekeeping, Recreation Therapy, and PT/OT/ST all collaborated to create this event. The show was performed at the Draper Historic Park a block away from Draper Rehabilitation.

Trains of wheelchairs could be seen on that Thursday morning as residents donned hats and sunscreen and were transported to the park for the performance. Music played, ice cream was enjoyed, jokes were told and then the show began.

Residents and staff alike laughed, gasped, exclaimed, and were engrossed in the almost hour-long performance, which 35 residents attended. Families were invited and there were children in the crowd, creating a feeling of true community and normalcy. This event cost $14, which was the cost of ice cream sandwiches. It was not difficult to coordinate.

Two months ago, a resident and his son, who are professional hypnotists, put on a show for the residents. They loved it, and it created a special opportunity to highlight the talent and prior role of a resident and involve his family as well. That resident passed away weeks after that performance. It was the last time he left his room. How can we measure the impact of this experience? It is safe to say we can’t because the value is incalculable. A PTA discovered this talent and created that moment, which cost nothing but a little energy.

There are ways to bring “normalcy” into the lives of our residents if we look for them. It is not the responsibility of one person or department to bring joy and happiness to our residents. We all are tasked with this job and can make a difference. Are there local choirs, theater groups, comedians, etc. in the community who might rehearse for our residents? The answer is undoubtedly yes. All you have to do is look and ask.

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