Shady Oaks feels like home

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Doug Lee, brightens the day of Shady Oaks Healthcare residents. The new dining hall decor from residents’ past also adds a touch of home.
Kim Break

When people reach the time in their life and find themselves a resident at a nursing home facility, often times, once they leave their homes, that is the last time they see many of their belongings, pets and for some, their freedom. However, Shady Oaks Healthcare Administrator Leigh Kincheloe and her staff, are making sure that isn’t the case for their residents.

When Kincheloe was appointed to the new position earlier this year, her new duties placed her in charge of nearly all aspects of Shady Oaks. She wanted to shake things up a bit, and the residents are happier than they have ever been. In a previous article, Kincheloe said, “I want to get Shady Oaks to feel like home when you come. I would like to have places where the residents can have living areas and talk to their families and feel more like home.” She also talked about wanting the residents to have more opportunities to go on outings and enjoy things they like to do like hunting, fishing and having cookouts.

Kincheloe and her staff members are well on their way to getting rid of the negative association that sometimes nursing homes have. One of the first steps was getting rid of the second set of the heavy, double doors. If one is familiar with the nursing home, once you walk in from the outside, there is a lobby and there used to be another set of security doors before leading into the hallways of Shady Oaks. Those doors were taken down so that the residents are able to enjoy the lounging space, which is more of a living room for them, rather than a lobby.

Straight down the main hallway is the dining room. Like many homes in general, the kitchen/dining area is the heart of the home. Shady Oaks’ dining hall is now the home of memorabilia from residents’ homes. The walls received a fresh coat of blue and then the decorating began. “She wanted to do equal the amount for the men, as the women,” said activities director Kim Harralston about Kincheloe as she was preparing ideas for the makeover.

The walls of the dining hall are lined with antique dishes, photos and various items that residents brought in from their own home. Now the residents have a piece of their home at Shady Oaks.

There are different sections throughout the room that are a tribute to different parts of life. Several of the residents are retired loggers or railroad workers, so is there decorations related to those careers. Old record covers are used as art work to represent the music loved by residents. Hymns, wedding photos, barn photos and so much more; are just a few of the personalized items. The staff of Shady Oaks encourages community members to visit their facility to see the improvements they are continually making, not just for the residents, but the employees as well.

The dining hall is used for much more than just eating meals. Harralston stays busy planning activities to keep the residents busy, and the dining area is the perfect space for some of those. One new activity, that we are Areawide Media are excited about, is “Coffee and The South Missourian News,” where the residents meet for coffee and time of reading the local newspaper. This is a new activity, but hardly the only one. Harralston has started taking residents to yard sales, auctions, movies and other places around town.

Also a change in the dining area, is the private room is now used for parties. If family members want to throw a birthday party or special celebration for a loved one living at Shady Oaks, they have that option of having their own space. The room originally was used for residents who required more assistance when eating meals, but Kincheloe felt it was wrong to single those residents out. “They deserve to enjoy the dining room as well,” said Kincheloe. “This is their home. I want them to be able to go wherever they please.”

In addition to removing the doors and redecorating the dining hall, Shady Oaks has a facility pet, Doug Lee. Doug belongs to Harralston, but comes to work with her and visits the residents. They enjoy their daily visits and cuddles with Doug and enjoy giving him treats.

There are many more improvements in the works for Shady Oaks Healthcare. The community is lucky to have a caring facility concerned with not only the health of our elderly loved ones, but their general well-being as well.

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