Assisted Living Week 2021: Drive-by parade shows a depth of love for Homeland personal care staff


The sign Sandy Daily held out of the car window said it all.

“From Peggy, Rusty, and the Dailys, thanks for caring.”

Homeland Center celebrated National Assisted Living Week 2021 with style, putting extra-special touches into a show of appreciation for employees who have performed heroically since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Events included a big surprise for personal care staff – a drive-by parade of family members showing their appreciation for the kindness and care that Homeland staff exhibit for their loved ones.

Every September, Assisted Living Week shines a spotlight on the people and places providing loving care for the aging and people with disabilities. For Homeland, the week offers the opportunity to highlight its personal care side, where residents get companionship, socialization, and any help needed with the tasks of daily living.

For many people, assisted living is like “aging at home,” but better and safer, amid trained professionals in providing attentive care.

“Assisted living offers a chance to receive assistance 24 hours a day from dedicated and caring staff,” says Director of Personal Care Jennifer Murray. “Homeland Staff is like no other. There is no worry from the family members (especially those who have jobs and family responsibilities) on whether or not their loved one will receive the proper supervision and assistance.”

Assisted living is also less isolating than living alone and, at Homeland, much more fun.

“We encourage our residents to attend activities, and they have a great time with our staff,” says Murray. “At an end-of-summer party in the pavilion, we had residents up dancing with the staff and playing with squirt guns and water balloons. You can’t do that at home!”

Assisted Living Week 2021, themed “Compassion, Community, Caring,” brought an array of fun to Homeland. In personal care, the week started with a word search puzzle for staff, who circled words that are the hallmarks of Homeland: caring, compassion, dedication, community, gratitude, teamwork, respect, thankful, appreciation.

Other activities included a recognition photo display, provision of lunch or dinner, “Western Wear” day, and a cake and ice cream party with gifts in the form of a keychain and sugar cookies in the shape of a scrubs top. Residents voted for the winners of a mask decorating contest – first place to CNA Patti Moore and her Mr. Potato Head mask, second place to med-tech Anna Leland for her bedazzled mask, third place to CNA Aprile Greene for decorating her mask with a face complete with earrings. Honorable mention went to Michael Quinones from transportation, with a SpongeBob mask.

“The staff in personal care don’t need anything special to do what they love to do,” notes Murray. “They love the residents and provide the best care all year round. The activities and gifts were the least that I could do to show them that they are appreciated.”

The midweek surprise family drive-by brought tears to the eyes of many staffers. Murray asked Sandy Daily and her family to lead the pack. Sandy sat in the back seat, waving the sign that her son made. Her mother, Peggy Keiser, and brother, Rusty, love Homeland and constitute the only mother-son pairing in residence.

“As far as I’m concerned, Homeland is topnotch,” says Sandy. “It’s topnotch care, and they keep me abreast of everything that’s going on. They’re wonderful to work with. The staff goes out of their way. They’re so friendly.”

Ann Gralski and her husband also joined the parade to show appreciation for the compassion staff shows her dad, Bill McGinley.

“I was blowing kisses,” she says. At Homeland, “communication is never a problem. Dad sometimes requires that extra help and kindness from the staff. They are always there for him. They do what needs to be done to make the residents comfortable and feeling good. They’re all experienced, and they know how to take care of people.”

Ann often takes donuts or cookies to Homeland staff. During Assisted Living Week, other family members of residents did the same, dropping off treats and gifts.

“They all say much they care about my dad. He makes jokes. He likes them, too,’’ Ann says. “That’s the bottom line.”