Community Bounce Back Project Comes to Park View Care Center

By Theresa Henson, LSW Quality In Living Specialist

The unique experiences of bringing students and residents together unfolded during the spring of 2018.  The program that began as a small book club soon took flight of its own.  Park View’s Quality In Living Specialists– Barb Anderley and Theresa Henson were asked by campus Administrator Annette Greely to meet with Anita Trutwin, Work Experience Coordinator at Buffalo High School to see how a book club with students coming here would work at our facility.

Initially, the goal was to provide opportunities in some key areas of a grant that we are participating in called ResoLute for our residents. The brainstorming session went well, and we came up with a group name called Senior to Senior Book Club.  It was determined we would meet at least two times per month from February thru early May, and the visits would include time to have discussions, tours and some snacks.

We also were thinking of ways to connect two generations and it was decided that the BHS students would host one of the sessions at the high school.  Initially, for our residents, it was an opportunity for them to feel that they had purpose and also a time to use their life stories to impact the students that were visiting our facility and share insights on the guideposts that Brene’ Brown highlighted in her book—“The Gifts of Imperfection”.

The desire to tie the Bounce Back Project in Buffalo to our ResoLute grant (created by the Empira Collaborative with a grant from the MN Department of Human Services) which is working with residents by having conversations to bravely face the work of aging for mind, body and spirit seemed to be a natural fit.  The Bounce Back Project is a unique collaborative of physicians, nurses, hospital leaders, and staff that have come together for a single purpose—to impact the lives of individuals, communities, and organizations by promoting health through happiness.

The work of the Bounce Back project indicated that numerous studies have shown using simple tools to help us retrain our mind to focus on the positive can increase feelings of well-being and decrease feelings of depression.  These tools can also open us to the possibility of greater social connections; improve sleep, enhanced memory and stronger immune system function.

Anita explained that students and faculty at Buffalo High School have all been reading the book and this was an opportunity to discuss whole hearted living as Brene’ Brown explains in her book.  It began with two discussion circles of three residents with six students and a leader to the end where we were all in one large circle sharing and contributing.

One resident remarked that she started to read the book and it was “too much”.  She stopped reading it after the first couple of chapters.  She wasn’t sure she would come to the book club, but did come to see what it was all about.  After the discussions began in the circles, she began to open up.  Sharing stories of her life and how it is always important to keep learning and asking questions.  When we interviewed her after the students left she said, “Well I guess I did have something to contribute after all”, “I better take the book back and finish reading it”.  She has been coming ever since.

Other conversations about how the parallels of going to college and moving into a new community such as Park View Care Center took new meaning together.  Students were discussing plans to leave for college and how it would be hard to go to new places.  Residents shared unanimously during the discussion to keep asking, keep learning and don’t worry so much about things– it will all work out.

When we finished our last session, one student stood up and read a speech she was going to be trying out for to be a speaker at their Commencement on June 8, 2018.  At the end of her speech, one resident remarked how proud she should be of her hard work.  Another student shared her college plans and a resident told her that her grandparents must be so proud of the work she is doing by going on to achieve her goals.

Reminiscing and encouraging were key elements of the discussion circles.  Brene’ Brown writes in her book to live with a whole heart we have to keep talking about things that get in the way—even things that make us vulnerable.  Discussions of work, life, family and what makes us happy were woven together by this group.  The happy places we spoke about were similar—time with family, fishing, hunting and even coloring our hair were elements of connectedness that allowed for reflection at early or later stages of life.

The simple goals of Bounce Back and ResoLute… connecting by conversations, and we learned that we all have the opportunity to connect with a simple Hello!