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Walworth County Care Center Staff Entertain Residents with Music and Dance

Walworth County Care Center

Nursing homes in the state have had to turn away visitors for more than two months as a precaution against spreading coronavirus. It’s an emotional strain on residents, but staff are finding creative ways to keep spirits up during the pandemic.

One home in Selby is using music and social media to encourage residents and their families.

Trista Bates is the administrator of the Walworth County Care Center. One day in early April, she heard “YMCA” playing outside her office. Bates says the facility’s Activities Director Marla Larson was dancing down the hallway with a radio in her hand. Soon, other staff members gathered to dance along.

“Residents started peaking out of their rooms and they started clapping and getting into it, and that’s just where the tradition started.”

Bates took a video on her phone and posted to the facility’s Facebook page. It was a hit with residents’ family members.

“They loved it, commented, ‘Please! Please send more videos!”

The facility started uploading videos of staff dancing and playing music for residents nearly every day—sometimes incorporating silly costumes. It’s a fun highlight for residents, and a comfort to family members like Heather Milton. In one video she can see her grandma smiling and swaying to The Beatles “Twist and Shout.”

“My cousins and I and my sister, we watch the videos to try find where grandma is and tag everybody in it," Milton says. "And it’s just nice to see her so happy because she wasn’t happy for a long time.”

Milton says her grandma struggled in a different facility and has thrived since moving into the Walworth County Care Center.

As a nurse in Georgia, Milton understands the strain the pandemic is having on long-term care residents and caregivers. She’s grateful to staff for making fun a priority for residents.  

“It seems like a good way to keep everyone involved, and it just is happy anyways. Music makes you happy.”

Administrator Trista Bates doesn’t know when the Walworth County Care Center will allow visitors again, but she says staff are doing all they can to care for residents in the meantime.