A Wakefield resident and staff member work on their tie-dye shirts for National Skilled Nursing Care Week. Photo courtesy of Wakefield Health Care Center.

National Skilled Nursing Care Week kicked off on Mother’s Day, beginning a series of celebrations throughout the week, from coast to coast. At Wakefield Health Care Center in Wakefield, NE, they’ve been celebrating in full color. 

“We sat down with a resident and employee council and just talked about different things and I don’t know how we came to tie-dye shirts, but everybody was like, ‘Yes, let’s do it,” said Wakefield Administrator Traci Haglund. “So white T-shirts were donated to the facility and [we] got the tie-dye stuff. The last couple weeks, we just have worked on tying the shirts and getting them dyed. First it was like four residents were interested, and then the group just kept getting bigger and bigger. I think the last day it was like 2/3rds of the residents were out.”

During the community grill out fundraiser on Thursday (May 18), Wakefield residents, staff and family will all don their tie dye as they raise money for the facility’s activities department. All shirts will be emblazoned with a message across the front: “Cultivate Kindness,” which is the theme for this year’s NSNCW. 

In addition, residents have already mingled with junior high and high school music students during a few performances during the week and plan to do arts and crafts with the Wakefield Community School’s second graders they read with every month. Organizers say not only is it great for residents but it also offers intergenerational exposure to local children. 

“It is good for the students in the school to know that nursing homes aren’t scary,” said Haglund. “When residents go into nursing homes, there is a barrier to getting to see their family members all the time and so just being able to connect with the youth makes them so happy. That helps them just share their stories, share their memories with the kids or maybe their families further away.”

To close the week on Saturday, Wakefield will host a family-employee potluck complete with their own home-cooked items. While Haglund is quick to credit her activity director, Cheryl Greve, as well as Greve’s assistant, Lisa Litchfield, for a job well done, it was always a team effort from the start. 

“A week is never enough to recognize our employees for their dedication and all that they do,” said Haglund. “After COVID-19, they’ve been there, they’ve given their heart and soul to care for our residents and they’re a big part of what makes walking into our facility a great thing.”