It has been said great leaders don’t get other people to follow them. They empower others to lead.

That’s the frame of reference Hanceville Nursing & Rehab Center used to develop the “We Can Do It!” program.

“Our residents are looking for something to do and something that gives them purpose,” Hanceville Nursing & Rehab Center Marketing Coordinator Jaime Medlock said. “They want to be involved and want something that gives them the feeling of empowerment.”

To meet that need, Hanceville created the “We Can Do It!” program. It lets nursing home residents use their expertise to plan and lead group activities. These activities are completely led by nursing home residents. Staff members only assist with gathering supplies and setting up the room.

“We have one resident that was a photographer in the Navy,” Medlock explains. “He loves to take pictures and share them with other people. So we thought what better way to give him a sense of empowerment than to allow him the opportunity to lead an activity. He went as far as to make a power point presentation on how to take pictures. We let everyone who wanted to participate in the class borrow a camera and everyone took pictures.”

Letting residents design and lead activities allows the staff members to know the residents on a more personal level and discover their unique strengths.

“Some of the leaders overcome the feeling of dependence,” Medlock said. “They feel like they’re independent and they’re able to do more when they can lead these activities. They have a sense of accomplishment and a feeling that they can give back and feel purposeful.”

Another example of a “We Can Do It!” activity is the Prayer Circle founded by resident Lydia Guthrie. Ms. Guthrie uses the skills she learned as a United Methodist choir director as she plays the piano and leads other residents in singing. She’ll then gather everyone in a circle to pray for the needs of nursing home residents and staff. Leading the Prayer Circle is one of the reasons Ms. Guthrie was selected as a top 10 finalist for the 2015 Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant.

Medlock encourages every nursing home to adopt a program similar to We Can Do It!

“It’s a wonderful experience because you’re really going to have an opportunity to learn a lot more about your residents,” Medlock said. “You are going to find out things you never knew. Every nursing home resident is different and has so many great qualities. This allows them an opportunity to share their passions and things that they love with others.”

Because of the program’s success, Hanceville Nursing & Rehab Center will present “We Can Do It!” at Alabama’s Best Practices on August 27, 2015, in Birmingham.

Click here for detailed information on how to implement Hanceville Nursing & Rehab Center’s best practice in your nursing home.