Sheryl Hassan – Director of Life Enrichment – The Wealshire, Bloomington
Senior living communities all have activities schedules with dedicated directors. Some regard that as Life Enrichment. This title conveys the breadth of the discipline, particularly for those with dementia. However leadership is key in performance. Sheryl exudes a passion for the work that is infectious.
Not all activity directors are created equal
Sheryl first got the bug for high level enrichment programming in 2003 at a community embracing the highest philosophy with learning, certifying and training. The staffing support to realize the greatest benefits of this was lacking. After a few years at another community Sheryl discovered Wealshire of Bloomington in the winter of 2014 while visiting a former resident there.
Sheryl found herself engaging an entire group surrounding her former resident. This was noticed by the management and Sheryl was invited into a discussion. Her passion, desire and understanding of bringing forth “activities” derived from the lives of those being served struck a chord with management. It led to her joining up. She sounds as thrilled about her work today as she described her first experience at Wealshire.
It’s all about the person (at all levels)
Sheryl’s passion for residents is only the first stop for her energy. Then she weaves in the personalities of the staff and finally caters to the families and caregivers. But instead of each of these groups requiring a separate effort, Sheryl folds them together in helping serve one another to create a kind of perpetual energy machine. Imagine teaching 3 staff members to play the Hawaiian guitar. This led to the Uku-Ladies who buzz around the building from time to time playing favorite tunes and starting up singalongs with residents and staff.
“It all comes down to knowing your people!” says Sheryl. And that’s no bumper sticker. While upholding confidentiality Sheryl and staff maintain Resident Photo and Tips boards for all. Filled with details big and small these mini-biographies are updated on an ongoing basis. They provide a treasure trove of hooks to pull up ideas to engage with residents. And this is not just for de-escalating tense situations but helping them thrive in ways powerful to each individual. For instance, a resident was once inconsolable and scooting around the floor in her wheelchair. When other attempts failed, the music therapist who knew this woman loved a particular Swedish folk song from childhood, and had bothered to learn it!, went to work. She followed the lady around with another wheelchair gently singing her folk song until she began to listen and eventually singing along. That is knowing your people~
“From the first time I met Sheryl during our interview, I knew she had the potential to be amazing. I just never realized how much of an impact she would make in the lives of our Residents, their families, and her coworkers. She is relentless in her pursuit of promoting a life full of purpose and meaning as they battle the effects of dementia. She is truly the heart of the Wealshire.” Cory Wiskow, Vice President, The Wealshire, LLC
We can affect the journey
Serving mind, body and spirit combined with really knowing the individuals helps fill the activity schedule. Creating moments of joy and feelings of self-worth is what good dementia programming is all about. Below are ingredients you can find in Wealshire’s enrichment programming:
- support groups for family members and caregivers
- aroma therapy
- purposeful events making real contributions
- body/mind/spirit themed programming
- staff assistance engagement opportunities
- group crosswords and tailored trivia events
- chair yoga and balloon volleyball
- talent shows, holiday parties,
- hymn singalongs, worship services…
The list can go on and on and on.