We recently completed a fun project at Otterbein Monclova Skilled Nursing and Rehab Neighborhood, part of the Otterbein community in Lebanon, OH. Our elders enjoyed the unique experience of watching firsthand the life cycle of monarch butterflies. Each of the five small houses in the neighborhood were provided two monarch caterpillars in viewing containers that allowed them to observe the day to day transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly.

Our Skilled Nursing and Rehab Neighborhood is special. The way we offer skilled nursing care is different than most facilities, because that is exactly what we are not. We are not a facility; we are a home and a community. Our Skilled Nursing Neighborhoods are made up of several small houses that each house up to 10 residents. Residents have their own private rooms and bathrooms, set their own schedules and live their lives as if this was their home. Everything is customized for each person. We create customized activities and projects for our residents and as a neighborhood we like to do things that get everyone involved. The butterfly project was something that each of our residents were able to participate in and would offer a new experience.

For the project, the elders were provided with an educational pamphlet and enjoyed a presentation on the different stages that their caterpillars would be going through on their journey to becoming a butterfly. This has been a great educational experience for them. Learning is something that you can do at any age and helps our seniors to stay focused and engaged. New experiences help our residents to have a full and well-rounded life and offer opportunities to spark an interest in something they may have known nothing about.

Each day we monitored the progress of the caterpillars and watched them grow and form their chrysalis. Another benefit of this project is that it provided a good topic of conversation among the elders and staff. It was great to hear the excitement among the residents over how their caterpillars were doing, and whose was going to emerge first. The elders have been excited to share their butterflies with family members and visitors to the neighborhood and have even been answering questions for anyone who was curious. Each house has celebrated the transformation by having a release party after the butterflies emerged. Everyone enjoyed refreshments while watching the butterflies fly off into the gardens. It was a very beautiful moment.

This has been a wonderful experience for the whole neighborhood to share and was beneficial to our residents. They not only learned something new and had a new experience but also bonded with friends, family and staff because of the project. It brought many residents out of their shell and allowed them to share in something with our community.

Katie Ohm is the Quality of Life Coordinator at Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices. To learn more, visit http://www.otterbein.org/skilled-nursing-rehab-neighborhoods/amenities