Today, residents at Saint Anne Nursing & Rehabilitation Center are “Dancing With the Stars.” Yesterday, they received facials and foot rubs for “Pajama Day.” Tomorrow (Thursday) they will be partaking of cocktails—and not the, gulp, kiddie kind.

It’s all part of National Nursing Home Week, which means business not “as usual” for many nursing homes around the country. That is certainly true at Saint Anne, a 47-bed skilled nursing facility in Seattle.

“My goal during this week is to do as little paperwork as possible so we all can take that time and share it—staff to residents and residents to staff, with good food, fun and memories,” Administrator Marita Smith said.

That fun included a major pillow fight in the dining room on Tuesday with a few jaw-dropping results.

“One lady heaved [a pillow] across the room,” Smith recalled, incredulously. “We had no idea. She is just a little dainty lady.”

Smith, a 30-year veteran of the industry, is a big believer in parties. It stems in part to her memories of the days when many activities weren’t encouraged in nursing homes.

“We had people restrained in beds and we thought it was good,” she said, adding, “This week particularly reinforces what we should do the rest of the year.”

National Nursing Home Week was founded in 1967. This year’s theme is “Nurturing a Love that Lasts.”

The week, Smith acknowledged, is for both her residents and staff. She likes when her CNAs, who often don’t get a chance to participate in activities, join in on the fun. Many are from other countries, such as India and Ethiopia. They will share their traditions on Friday—International Day.

It’s also a kick when the nurses take off their white hats, so to speak, for the week, she said.

“Nurses are so nursey,” Smith said. “When they come out of their element, it makes everyone feel better. You don’t get better unless you have good food and good fun.”

And there no doubt were some lighter hearts in the house today when the staff ended the festivities with a performance of “The Electric Slide.”

Marita Smith is more than interested in sharing ideas or talking about National Nursing Home Week. Feel free to e-mail her at Also, see the facility’s Web site at