Hebrew SeniorLife staff are well-known for going that extra mile for their residents and patients, but the Orchard Cove "Dream Team" deserves credit for creativity. Thanks to the "Dream Team," 95-year-old Bubbles Gittelsohn rode a horse again and Miriam Ulman, 92, went to the opera. The Dream Team is dedicated to fulfilling the dreams and wishes of long-term care residents at Orchard Cove, HSL's award-winning continuing care retirement community in Canton, Mass.
"In addition to the regular activities provided on the skilled nursing unit, we are trying to discover what activities our residents enjoyed when they were younger and thought they would never do again," says social worker Nita Aines, a member of the Dream Team. "Then we help them fulfill their dreams of doing once more what they loved in the past."
The Dream Team is part of Orchard Cove's culture change efforts, promoting more resident- and family-centered care. The Team, which includes activities professionals, physical therapists, social workers, and others, collects "dreams" from residents, family members and caregivers, and meets every other week to make the necessary arrangements to fulfill the wishes.
Ms. Gittelsohn, who is now wheelchair bound, rode and groomed horses in her younger years and wanted to do so again. Physical therapists at Orchard Cove arranged to have a platform built so that Ms. Gittelsohn could get on the horse, and staff were stationed on either side of the horse as she rode.
Ms. Ulman traveled to Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline with her two daughters to see "The Magic Flute," streamed live on the big screen from Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy.
"Making their dreams come true makes residents feel happy," says Debora Symonds, R.N., director of nursing at Orchard Cove. "And it's another way for staff to get to know the residents even better. Staff members know when residents like to go to bed and when they like to get up, but what are their dreams? This adds a whole new dimension to the caregiver/resident relationship."
And, says Ms. Aines, the program is exciting for staff as well, "giving them a way to think outside the box and do something that enhances quality of life for residents."