Good Samaritan Society Syracuse residents hang out with some new friends. Photo courtesy of Good Samaritan Society Syracuse.

For younger children, a nursing home might be seen as a scary place. At Good Samaritan Society in Syracuse, NE, nursing home administrator Shyann Walker hopes to challenge this perception with the wave of a magic (bubble) wand. 

“I have three kids myself and they spend so much time in my facilities, interacting with my residents, and building those relationships,” said Walker. “I think starting young helps them realize that the older population is kind and caring and they have so much wisdom, warmth and love to share.” 

The Syracuse Good Sam community recently hosted children from a daycare across the street for an event called “Bubbles with Buddies.” Walker was inspired to pursue a collaboration because of its proximity and the isolation that the COVID-19 pandemic wrought on long-term care communities.

According to Walker, seeing the event live validated her decision.

“Being a mom, sometimes you’re just like, ‘My gosh, I’m tired. The kids are driving me up the wall.’ But seeing the residents interact with these kids, it made me realize that sometimes we take things for granted that we get every day,” said Walker. “These residents no longer live in their homes.They’re  usually by themselves. I’m very lucky to have this geriatric population that I get to interact with and bring those two [populations] together.”

While they originally planned to gather in the courtyard, rain moved them into the community’s chapel. But that didn’t stop the fun. 

Residents and children alike filled the air with laughter, cheer and, of course, more than a few soapy bubbles. This is not only beneficial for the young children but for the residents as well, says Walker.  

“When [residents] leave their home to come to the facilities, sometimes families are not always able to visit as often as they would like,” said Walker. “There’s an old farmer and he just doesn’t talk a lot, kind of keeps to himself. When he came to ‘Bubbles’ and was around those children, he lit up. He was laughing, he was engaged and the kids loved him. It made me tear up. That is why we do what we do.”