Find out what's happening at our three New Mexico homes, learn from our Caregiver Tips, and get a glimpse into the rich daily lives of our elders. It's the simple things that make a difference!
Our very own Ruth Dennis, our Senior Director of Social Services and Education here at Vista Living Care participated in an interview in #StayHomeInstead Chats, a recurring interview show hosted by Home Instead Senior Care (Santa Fe).
In her interview, Ruth talks about how art and other creative forms can be an outlet for those living with dementia and their caregivers and references her recent video, 'Art Saves Lives'. Ruth does hosts many art therapy sessions with out elders which include pottery, mural painting, crafting, and much more. In the video referenced, 'Art Saves Lives', Ruth discusses how at her latest art therapy session with a group of elders, she was able to guide them through creating a mural and used this process as a way to help them develop new skills that they may not have thought possible before. She also notes that during this time of COVID-19, the elders can feel the loneliness and stress that comes from not being able to visit with their family members and so she wanted the elders to work on this mural together as a sense of community and connection.
Ruth goes on to share a story about how art changed an elder's life which was mentioned in her recent book "Mindful Dementia Care". This particular elder had been a corporate lawyer for her whole life and had always been extremely articulate and sharp, but when she developed dementia she began to have difficulty speaking and expressing herself. Ruth and the other caregivers introduced her to drawing and sketching, and she soon fell in love with drawing as a means to express herself and to tell a story. She even started to tell people that she considered herself an artist. This powerful story illustrates how art can become part of a person's identity and really shape their lives.
Ruth's tips for caregivers at home who would like to bring art into their loved one's life are simple: she says all you need to do is simply get the supplies, like sketch books, a nice set of sketching pencils, water colors, etc. and make them accessible in your home. Give your loved one the opportunity to explore these art tools and create from them.
Ruth closes her interview by sharing her description of 'perfect moments' in time that sometimes just happen, but are priceless. She describes how at Sierra Vista a few years ago, they experienced one of these moments when on a cloudy afternoon it had just began to snow and the scent of fresh baked cookies was filling the home as the elders gathered around to draw and listen to music, and the moment just felt perfect. She talks about how at the three homes, they really try to get these 'perfect moments' to happen organically as much as they can for their elders and their families.
Our monthly We Cook! Honors Awards are back! Each month we have a food competition between our three homes and award a winner. The judges are asked to rate the meal on:
This month we had to expand to 11 different voters! Hermosa had nice presentation, good meal variety and some really great food. The Arbors had great presentation and some great food as well. Of the 11 voters… 5 of them selected Hermosa overall and 6 of them chose Arbors overall. So we are excited to announce that THE ARBORS has retaken the Cup for May! Congratulations Team Arbors!!!
We suspect June will be the tightest competition yet!!
Our very own Ruth Dennis, Senior Director of Social Services and Education, shares a touching video surrounding the quote "Art Saves Lives". Ruth talks about how this quote has shifted from just a saying, to reality especially in these times of pandemic. She has seen art heal, bring comfort, be an escape, and help elders communicate with each other and their loved ones.
She stresses that in these times of uncertainty that are filled with fear, grief and loss, there is another story to tell. A story of positivity, hope, and resilience that is taking place all around us as well. Art, music, laughter, good food, and love are keeping our communities and our elders safe. Art, love, and hard work really do save lives!
Vista Living Care has been always been focused on helping the community, and they continue to help in any way that they can. With the recent pandemic, it has been extremely hard for elders within the community to go grocery shopping and get the essentials that they need. The team discussed ways that they could potentially help and deliver groceries to these elders, and the two Santa Fe homes (Hermosa & Sierra Vista) took the lead. The executive directors of the two homes got in touch with Dora Terrazas who runs the Española Senior Center and she shared a list of 20 homebound elders who could benefit from the groceries. The two homes then reached out to the food distributor Cisco and they were able to provide the food and supplies.
The homes put the grocery bags together with the help of their resident elders. The elders were so proud and excited to know that they were involved in helping others in the community. The grocery bags included essentials like bread, rice, beans, oatmeal, macaroni, hotcereal, and much more. Once the groceries were prepared, they were delivered to the Española Senior Center where Terrazas then delivered them to the elders in the community.
This experience was extremely rewarding and brought joy to the entire family at Vista!
We don’t let COVID-19 keep us from celebrating our Mother’s here at our homes!
At Hermosa our elder’s enjoyed some homemade doughnuts made by our Chef Laura along with other goodies at their Mother’s Day tea party!
Sierra Vista and the Arbors had beautiful flowers, and yummy treats during their celebration to honor all their lovely mothers.
The April We Cook! Honors Award goes to Vista Hermosa!
Vista Hermosa stole the trophy from the Arbors, ending their three month winning streak. Vista Hermosa stole the show this month with their variety, presentation, and flare. Not only did they make delicious food, they also prepared homemade drinks and smoothies!
On the menu were many tasty treats like:
Chilaquiles, eggs, garlic bread, smoothies, red spaghettini, corn beef, fresh fruit, watermelon agua fresca, hot fudge cake, and much more!
Watch out for next month's winner, because it's going to be tough competition and it's anyone's game!
Sierra Vista introduced two new additions to their family! Meet Laverne and Shirley, two female rabbits. Our elders are already so happy to have them around! They bring so much joy and smiles to the home. Our elders have been volunteering to help us take care of them each day.
The Vista Living Care team in Santa Fe partnered with local restaurant, Pecos Trail Cafe, to donate meals to the homeless population of St. Elizabeth's Shelter. A delivery of 40 enchilada dinners were delivered to the shelter!
In an effort to support local business who are struggling during this time, Vista Living Care has decided to continue their quarterly volunteer service by not only donating meals to the community, but by also purchasing the meals from locally owned restaurants who may need the business in these hard times.
It is embedded deep in the roots of Vista Living Care to stay involved in the community and support others as much as possible. One of their favorite ways to show their support is through sharing meals and breaking bread!
A comforting note from Ruth Dennis:
In the Shadow of COVID 19…
Maybe our world has changed forever in the past few weeks. But we will be ok. All of us together, families, friends, elders and children will slowly, with grace figure this out. COVID 19 has created a need for refuge. This virus has created what Jude Thomas from the Eden Alternative so beautifully calls a human sanctuary.
We have all become one another’s sanctuary. Our homes; both at Vista and our houses, simple texts sent between friends, a call on facetime as an elder gently touches her daughter’s cheek on a screen, doughnuts left on a table by the front door, children’s jokes and drawings, music, paint, homemade tortillas, laughter, silence and protection in the deepest, kindest way possible are all sanctuary. The numbers, fears, losses are all very real right now. This thing will alter the course of all our lives for a very long time, maybe forever. My father had a line “there are gifts of the spirit, sometimes these gifts are not easy”. Could this time be one of those gifts? The protection, simple acts of kindness, support and commitment that surround all of us right now are amazing. They are also everywhere.
Saturday and Sunday, I worked. I was blessed to spend the weekend surrounded by heroes. Our elders, the families waving through windows, calling daily figuring out how to be with someone they love in the presence of absence, the amazing caregivers who have supported our elders and each other, a friend, who was an RN of many years, being obsessively protective and careful about COVID 19, another friend messaging jokes and politics, and the rest; Amanda, Yolanda, Carol, Blanca, Monica, Luke, Liz and Tensin, Gary and Jose and all those who keep things flowing in our homes; all these people are fighting this virus every day in quiet ways, being heroes in those quiet ways. My weekend was about connection not distancing. It was about knowing that the people near me are fighters and protectors. This is a gift.
Another gift from the weekend was seeing the elders. They are amazing. They have done beautiful things through this. Bob helps clean the kitchen and sweep almost every day. Betty is helping with cooking. Two normally soft-spoken ladies spent part of Saturday watching a cowboy movie with no concern whatsoever about the story, only which cowboy was the most handsome, laughing as they pointed and compared notes. Another lady watched them and smiled. Carolyn and Allen shared newspapers and had tea in quiet companionship. One woman followed a cozy nap with feet up on the couch, by learning how to use an art program on the iPad with Joan. They picked bright, vivid colors and placed them. They created a lively spring drawing. Allen continues to learn Spanish; he is up to complete sentences. The caregivers aren’t doing as well with French though.
Our elders are ok. We are ok. Thank you, thank all of you, always.
We Laugh! We Cook! We Dance!
Each month we award a facility for their exceptional food and nutritional focus. The Arbors' focus on presentation and creativity has shined two months in a row! The February and March We Cook Honors awards go to The Arbors!
Breaking bread with friends, family, and colleagues is a critical part of the culture at Vista Living Care, deeply rooted from the family of our founders.
In March we celebrated three of our dedicated care partners who make a difference in our homes.
Liliana Jimenez was honored as employee of the month at Sierra Vista in Santa Fe for the month of March. We admire her hard work and dedication to our elders and her constant drive to become a better caregiver and role model. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
Dandy Mendez has been nominated for our staff spotlight by her team at Hermosa. Dandy's cheerful and outgoing personality brings happiness and joy to everyone around her. She spends her free time attending classes at Santa Fe Community College where she plans on going to nursing school. We are so proud of her!
Annie Garcia was honored as employee of the month at Sierra Vista for the month of February. She is a wonderful and gracious part of our team with a fun sense of humor and a great work ethic. We admire her patience, loyalty, and compassion for all our elders.
We appreciate these amazing ladies, each and every day!
Here at Vista Living Care, we like to keep our elders engaged and active so that they feel they are part of a family and living as they would be if they were at home. Oftentimes they offer to help us with our daily tasks like sweeping the floor, doing laundry, feeding the animals, and prepping the meals. We love to encourage them to participate in these tasks so they stay active and they thrive from responsibility. We are always touched by the care they take when helping us, and we appreciate it immensely.
Another thing we make a priority are hands-on activities that stimulate their minds and creativity. The elders love making colorful puzzles, painting, gardening, and much more. We try to incorporate these fun group activities a few times a week so we can get everyone together and get their creative juices flowing. Keeping the mind active is especially important for our elders who have alzheimer's and dementia, and so we have a trained and experienced staff who support the elders and work with them daily.
Here at Vista Living Care, we laugh! we cook! we dance!
Each month we recognize a facility for exceptional food and nutritional focus by awarding them with the WE COOK! HONORS AWARD.
The first award of the year goes to The Arbors! The Arbors focus daily on high quality food and presentation and they really shined in January. Congratulations to Michael Manzanares and the whole team at the Arbors for their awesome job.
Breaking bread with friends, family and colleagues is a critical part of the culture at Vista
Living Care deeply rooted from the family of our founders and we are so happy that we can keep these traditions alive.
Our three homes each had a wonderful holiday party to celebrate with their elders. Family and friends gathered at each location and enjoyed an evening full of fun and love. Each party had hand-prepared northern New Mexican food, like enchiladas, tamales, chile, and much more! Along with this, there were tables filled with desserts ranging from biscochitos to pies, and cakes, and everything in between. The homes were decorated beautifully, with garland, ribbons, ornaments, bells, and lights. The elders were all dressed up in their finest holiday outfits and enjoyed the live mariachi music and performers. Families came from near and far to spend quality time with their beloved elders, and many of them even danced around to the music! Thank you so much for everyone who visited and spent time within our homes this holiday season, it means the world to our elders. Also, a huge thank you to all of our caregivers, directors, and staff for coming together and decorating, cooking, and hosting a wonderful evening for all to enjoy. To see all the photos from each home, click the links here > Sierra Vista, Vista Hermosa, The Arbors
Ruth Dennis and Yolanda Rodriguez from Vista Hermosa made a special trip to Sweeny Elementary in Santa Fe to read to the students. It was a fun experience for everyone involved and Ruth and Yolanda can't wait to do it again!
The Arbors had a wonderful celebration for all the elders and their families!
There was tons of beautifully prepared food and hand-crafted desserts that filled the hearts and stomachs of all the guests. The lunch was accompanied by music and entertainment provided by the awesome Jazz Trio that helped make the lunch extra special. Thank you to all the friends and family who came and spent Thanksgiving lunch with us, it meant so much to each of the elders.
Also, we would like to show our appreciation to all of our staff, caregivers, and team for all their hard work and preparation for this amazing holiday celebration. You guys are the best!
The elders at Vista Hermosa had a great time creating collages from newspapers and magazines. The caregivers and staff helped the elders bring their creativity to life! It was a wonderful afternoon filled with coloring, collaboration, and collages. Our elders love to do hands-on activities so we try to incorporate them into our days as much as possible.
So much fun this Halloween! Each home had a Halloween party and invited children and families to come trick-or-treating and to celebrate with the elders. The staff worked together to make delicious meals and treats that got everyone in the spooky spirit. The elders had so much fun handing out candy to all the children and dressing up in their costumes!
Not only was there delicious food and beautiful decorations, there was a costume contest, dancing, singing, and a whole lot laughs. Thank you to our wonderful staff for making this Halloween extra special for everyone!
Our awesome chef, Micheal Manzanares, from the Arbors just participated in the annual Men Who Cook fundraiser! Michael is a regular at this annual fund raising event helps support the programs at Mesilla Valley Hospice. It includes auction items, entertainment, and plenty of dishes to sample. The event was held at Las Cruces Convention Center on Saturday, Aug. 10 from 6 pm to 10 p.m. as some of the area’s most talented community leaders, business people, local celebrities, and supporters showcased their culinary skills. Great job Michael!
Vista Hermosa by VLC Santa Fe, is proud to announce NAHCA scholarship winners: Yolanda Rodriguez, CNA/Administrator in Training; along with Laura Aleman de Morales CNA Administrative Assistant of the 2019 Annual CNA fest in Little Rock Arkansas. They were nominated by Velma Arellano, Dir. of Operations, and were required to write a 500 word essay about what caregiving means to them, as part of the required criteria. These two outstanding employees have been with Vista Living for 10 years combined and were joined by 222 CNA’s and other professionals from around the United States and from here in New Mexico, who all began their successful careers as CNAs. The mission of the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) is to elevate the professional standing and performance of caregivers through recognition, advocacy, education and empowerment while building a strong alliance with health care providers to maximize success and quality patient care. Avery special thank you to Tracy Atler of the New Mexico Health Care Association (NMHCA) for her guidance during the nomination process. Congratulations girls!
Ms. Claudia de Leon of Sierra Vista was awarded a statewide Best of the Best Direct Caregiver award; sponsored by the New Mexico Health Care Association (NMHCA) and New Mexico Center for Assisted Living (NMCAL). This award coincided with the Association’s annual convention last August. Our hats go off to Claudia for being a dynamic employee! This year more than 100 caregivers were nominated in seven categories. Claudia and the other amazing recipients were honored at a special banquet kicking off the Annual Convention Expo, at Isleta Resort & Casino. She was accompanied by Directors of Sierra Vista Carol Valdez and Yolanda Arrey who played a vital role in Claudia’s nomination. Congratulations Claudia!
Here are the Arbors we are celebrating International Left Handers Day. International Left Handers Day on August 13th recognizes everyone who has mastered using their left hand in a right-handed world. We take our hats off to you – left-handed! We are celebrating it with some creative art.
Find out what's happening at our three New Mexico homes, learn from our Caregiver Tips, and get a glimpse into the rich daily lives of our elders. It's the simple things that make a difference!
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