This week, I’d like to share the story of the first time I ever visited Elmcroft on behalf of The Memory Initiative. If you’re new to this blog, please read about the background of The Memory Initiative before jumping into this post!
On my first ever trip to Elmcroft, I was accompanied by Natalie and Alice. We were meeting with Elmcroft’s activity director. Our goal was to tell her all about the mission of The Memory Initiative and how we wanted to establish a relationship with Elmcroft. Alice had priorly spoken to her on the phone and reported that she sounded beyond exuberant to meet us. Although we got the sense that she was an amicable woman, we were still a bit nervous walking through the doors, because we needed this partnership to go well in order for us to begin progressing our mission.
As soon as Elizabeth saw us waiting in the lobby, a vibrant smile flashed across her face. She greeted us with words of excitement and led us back to her quaintly decorated workspace. Once we gave her a thorough overview of what we’d like to implement within the assisted living facility, she jumped right on board. Being that she knew the residents of Elmcroft inside and out, she was able to work with us to refine our approach, making it dynamic and most likely to impact the women effectively.
Following our logistical and planning meeting, Elizabeth proceeded to give us a tour of Elmcroft. One of the embedded projects within the home is called “Second Wind Dreams,” which aims to make some of the resident’s dreams come true. It is similar to the Make A Wish Foundation, which does the same for children. One of the walls in the main group living room is covered in framed photos from events that brought a resident’s dream to life. Seeing the beaming smiles and discernible joy in the scenes of the photos was heart-warming and brought a sense of lightness to our project, which can sometimes be weighed down by the heavy challenges it aspires to tackle.
Elizabeth showed us many of the shared rooms in the facility, like the dining room, the activity room, the music room, and the garden room that looks out onto the home’s patio where residents grow plants and enjoy the beauty of nature. As we made our way through the multiple areas of Elmcroft, I noticed that Elizabeth made it a point to greet each and every resident she passed. They shared genuine conversation, and the residents’ love for her truly became clear.
Far too often, employees in group living homes or similar facilities become so immersed in their employment responsibilities that they forget they are working with people. People all have feelings, and Elizabeth was sure to make the residents aware that their feelings are important, valid, and heard. Although the residents often lacked energy, Elizabeth made sure that she always radiated it. Natalie, Alice, and I became cognizant that if we were going to be visiting Elmcroft every week, we needed to emit as much energy and authentic care as Elizabeth to make the most of our mission. I’m glad to say that we were (and still are) up for the challenge.