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Pretty in Pink with Barbie

By Sarah Scott, Director of Rehab, Draper Rehabilitation and Care, Draper, UT

This story is one of the most remarkable examples of love. This week was very busy. Four admits on Thursday and three on Friday. Isolation rooms. Full caseloads. Staff out sick. And additional work and efforts toward facility Oktoberfest, which was amazing. Several of the female residents expressed interest in watching the Barbie movie. Corina Bancila (PTA); her 14-year-old daughter, Maya; and Katelyn Kunzler (COTA) decided to hold a “watch party” for Draper Rehab residents. The manager of Recreational Therapy purchased and delivered the items they needed. These ladies volunteered their time on a Saturday to set up and host an incredible party, making each and every resident feel special.

Corina, Maya, and Katelyn set up tables, decorated, provided refreshments, and made it a true screening experience. Two of our long-term care residents were recently at the hospital and discharged, unable to leave their beds, one bed-bound for several months. They are both social ladies who are accustomed to being around their friends and the staff. The team actually made it possible to wheel the residents down to the movie screening in their beds! When the two beds were rolled down to the dining room, much fuss was made over these residents as everyone showered them with love and social support.

Everyone donned pink, and the girlier, the better. They had pink leis and feather boas for the residents. They set up a backdrop and photographed them in their regalia, making each resident feel special. They watched the movie together and laughed and cheered. They all hugged each other and their party hosts and volunteer therapists. Katelyn shared the following resident comments:

● Kenny: “It was everything I hoped and dreamed for.”

● Janice: “Happiest I have been in a long time”(laughing).

● Mike: “That was so heartwarming.”

When I was growing up, I learned a song with the lyric, “There is beauty all around when there is love at home.” One of our core values is Love One Another. Add this into the mix. Loving relationships and loving homes have been linked to improved mental health with decreased anxiety and depression. Having loving relationships has been linked to less stress and improved mood, decreased risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, improved immune health, and faster recovery from illness. Studies suggest that people with loving relationships have less pain and live longer.

We work in the home of our residents. We bring our good and bad days/moods to them for better or for worse. Imagine if all our long-term care residents could feel that not only do we want to care for them and like them, but we also love them. The day of the Barbie party, those residents felt included, special, wanted, worthwhile, important, and yes, loved. The impact of those moments is more powerful than something we can package or bottle. It is the best medicine and therapeutic intervention we can practice. I look forward to more evidence of this type of special love the staff of Draper Rehab have for their residents so that our residents can also have the benefits of beauty all around and love at home.

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