A Gurwin resident and her family snap a picture at the Barbie photobooth. Photo courtesy of Gurwin Healthcare System.
A Gurwin resident and her family snap a picture at the Barbie photo booth. Photo courtesy of Gurwin Healthcare System.

The release of the “Barbie” movie on July 21 swept a tsunami of pink across the country. Gurwin Healthcare System in New York was no exception. 

Its campus-wide “Barbiefest” featured all-pink days of relaxation, fun and resident makeovers at the system’s Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Gurwin Adult Day Care Program, Gurwin Jewish Fay J. Lindner Residences Assisted Living and Fountaingate Gardens independent living community, on July 18 and 9. 

Gurwin residents think pink. Photo courtesy of Gurwin Healthcare System.

“At the Gurwin Center and the entire campus, we really try to incorporate anything for residents that’s happening out in the world,” said Director of Therapeutic Recreation Nicole Hopper. “When the Barbie movie was coming out, we wanted to jump on the Barbie wave and thought, ‘How can we do this?’ It really brought joy to all the residents that wanted to come and participate.”

Complete with a hair and nail salon, photo booth, pink mocktails and more, the event was a perfect portal into “Barbieworld.” Many of the residents grew up playing with Barbies and got to reminisce with other fans. But even if they are not Barbie aficionados, Assistant Director of Therapeutic Recreation Kathleen Biggs wanted to make sure they felt included regardless. 

A Gurwin resident gets pink streaks in her hair. Photo courtesy of Gurwin Healthcare System.

“We have varying levels of residents and their disease process [in the memory care unit]. For them, it’s an experience,” said Biggs. “It could be just being in an overly decorated environment, where it’s so visually stimulating. They get some auditory stimulation from the music playing and they’re with just a good mix of different residents and able to experience it in a different light. I know one of my residents just so elated to be included, she dressed head-to-toe in pink and the staff really got behind it and supported her. She just had a smile from ear to ear.”

The festivities were not only an opportunity for residents to engage with pop culture but also for their families to share the experience with them. Hopper and Biggs were especially touched by the interactions between one resident and her 10-year-old granddaughter. 

“[The granddaughter] walked in the room and she was so excited for her to have that moment with her grandma. It was just really special; she felt so included in it and I think it gave her a good experience being in the long-term care facility,” said Biggs. “It was really uplifting and she said, ‘I can’t wait for the next event.’ So that’s what we’re here for. We just want to continue to make those memories with staff, family and our residents.”