Nursing home residents’ vulnerability to COVID-19 has resulted in them being frequently characterized as frail and in need of protection.  

Angie McAllister

Though residents do need to be prioritized, Louisville, KY-based Signature HealthCARE spent the summer ensuring they didn’t buy into those characterizations and helping them find the superhero within them. 

The operator launched its “Super Summer” engagement program for residents over the summer. The program was aimed at helping residents “explore their own superhero identity” and beat the “villains of loneliness, helpless and boredom” the pandemic has brought, according to Angie McAllister, Signature’s director of spirituality pillar operations. 

“The project itself has helped participants focus on their individual strengths rather than the feelings of helplessness that have greatly increased in the midst of this pandemic,” she explained. 

Residents were tasked with various challenges throughout the 10-week long program. They included creating their own “Shields of Strength,” or items special to them, detailing what kind of superheroes they would like to be, and writing prompts on how to defeat their struggles during the pandemic. Some residents developed masks and capes to display their superhero characters, while others wrote poems. 

“Their dreams included having superpowers which could ‘kill the coronavirus’ and ‘be transported to the beach,” McAllister said. 

She added the the writing prompts “helped elders explore the appearance of those villains, discover how they impacted their daily lives and find creative ways to fight them.”

“One group of elders fought helplessness by choosing to give to others in their community,” McAllister said. “By using their gifts and talents, the elders created crochet hats to donate to newborn babies. Other homes chose to give back through random acts of kindness and food drives in their communities.”