Nature scenes brighten walls, bring peace to nursing facility residents

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Residents James Hency, left, Jeff Jones, standing, Stephen Bateman, far right, and Robert Lynn, enjoy the new nature-themed photographs of the area that now decorate the walls and halls of Roaring River Health and Rehab of Cassville. Residents and staff say the pictures are bringing back good memories for residents, starting conversation between residents, and setting a positive, peaceful tone for all. The placement of the beautiful canvas print photographs added the finishing touches to the facility's remodel. On Friday, the facility plans to host an Open House event from 1-4 p.m., with a ribbon-cutting at 2 p.m., to celebrate the completion of its greenhouse and renovations. The public is invited. Julia Kilmer/

Inspiring canvas prints add finishing touch to buildings' renovations

If a picture can speak a thousand words, the walls at Roaring River Health and Rehab have a plethora of stories to tell to residents, staff and visitors about the inspiring nature scenes now adorning them.

About 30 canvas prints, taken by a local nature enthusiast, were recently placed throughout the building, reflecting the natural beauty and serenity of the area, in line with the facility's name and theme.

In October 2014, the facility changed its name from Red Rose Health and Rehab to Roaring River Health and Rehab, recently completed a major remodel, and wanted to obtain new, nature-themed decor to reflect its new name.

"The owners wanted local photographs," said Russ Newby, administrator.

But, the beautiful prints reflecting Barry County's rivers, wildlife, trails and flowers seem to be serving another purpose besides just decorating the walls -- they are improving residents' baseline of happiness and mimicking a concept that uses elements in one's environment to establish a positive, peaceful atmosphere, and ideology called the Eden Alternative.

The Eden Alternative is an international, non-profit organization that focuses on creating quality of life for elders and their care partners, utilizing education and person-centered practices that support the needs of various living environments ranging from nursing homes to neighborhoods.

Staff agree the pictures are having a positive effect on residents, and considering that many are from the Cassville area, they are also bringing back positive memories of places they've visited in the inspiring photographs, as well as creating a zen-like atmosphere for all.

Terry Derochers, social services director for the facility, said she has observed the pictures triggering good memories and happy feelings for residents.

"The residents have been talking about the pictures," she said. "They're really enjoying them and think they're so beautiful. Some [of the pictures] make you feel like you're right there at the river. And it's a good conversation piece because residents visit about them.

"They talk about how they used to go fishing there. They'll say, 'Oh I remember that spot, that's where I used to fish,' especially about the one hanging outside my office."

Resident James Hency said he used to take his children to Roaring River.

"Or, me and a friend would go get a cup of coffee and visit there," he said. "Some of my friends made the trails [in the pictures]. The pictures bring back our youth. When I look at them, I think of how gifted the artist is."

Resident Jeff Jones remembers walking some of the same trails he sees in the pictures, feeding fish, and resident Stephen Bateman also recalled memories of time spent in places depicted in the pictures.

For resident Robert Lynn, a Cassville native, the prints remind him of when he was a boy.

"I was 13 years old the last time I was at those places," he said. "To see the pictures is quite a deal."

The facility will be hosting an Open House on Friday from 1-4 p.m., with a ribbon-cutting at 2 p.m., to celebrate the completion of its renovations and greenhouse.

The public is invited to attend the event, view the photographs and visit the greenhouse.

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