Bringing smiles to long-term care facility residents

WATE 6 On Your Side Heroes

HUNTSVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The pandemic has been a challenge for everyone; especially nursing homes where there is often fear of more COVID-19 cases and loneliness due to the ban on visitors.

One woman at an East Tennessee facility brings a smile to every face by bringing their favorite Disney characters and other familiar themes right into their rooms. Olivia Taylor, activities director at Huntsville Health and Rehabilitation, is this week’s WATE 6 On Your Side Hero.

A sign outside the facility says it all: “Heroes Work Here.”

But we’re shining the spotlight on Activities Director Olivia Taylor who always makes sure residents are smiling, going to great lengths to make sure theme days are over the top.

She has dressed up as Uncle Sam for last week’s July 4th festivities; she talked her staff into joining her for a “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” party. She was a hit as Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” and came up with games like pin the heart on the Tin Man- just one of many activities designed to keep the 74 residents at Huntsville Health and Rehab active and engaged.

It’s not an easy task, especially now during the COVID-19 crisis.

“It’s been really tough,” Olivia says, “In my career, it’s always been ‘get the resident out of their room, get them involved in things,’ and now, it’s ‘put them in their room, keep them safe.’ So it’s a different turn of events for us in activities to keep them entertained and not have them depressed. Certainly they’re not having family or visitors come in so here we are, trying to keep morale up with staff and residents, too.”

Olivia’s assistant,  Leslie Harris, brought her miniature horse for a window visit with residents. She says Olivia makes every day at work fun and fulfilling.

“Everything just melds together,” Leslie says. “We can make such a big impression on the residents and even the staff. The staff think it’s great, too.”

The number one concern is keeping residents and staff healthy. They just had a party to celebrate staying COVID-19 free for 100 days.

“That was a big celebration,” Olivia says with a smile. “We had cake and a little poster for them to hold up. some of the residents gave thumbs up. We’ve worked really hard at keeping our facility sanitized and screening everybody that, you know, we have come in; workers and stuff. And we’re also in the process of getting tested weekly now.”

Thank you, Olivia Taylor, for being a health care hero.

It’s an honor she says she would like to share.

“I’m really honored by that but, all of us here are heroes. From housekeeping, dietary, laundry, we’re all heroes,” says this humble hero.

There’s a way you can help Olivia on her mission to uplift her residents. Since they can’t have visitors and some have no family in the area, they love to get cards in the mail.

Send letters & cards to:

Huntsville Post Acute Rehab Center
287 Baker Street
Huntsville, TN 37756


Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Latest News Videos

Sarah Jones inspires others to get in the game

Man vows to hike Mt. LeConte 100 times by 2022

'Best of times' reunion honors fallen vets

Makers Donuts last day is tomorrow

Newlywed injured in hit and run passes away

Habitat ReStore hiring drivers