During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, many are left out of the joy and celebration. The Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency of the Bluegrass (NHOA) is hoping to change that by spreading a little cheer to some of Central Kentucky’s long-term care residents living in nursing homes, personal care homes and family care homes through the Silver Bells Holiday Gift Drive.
Their mission is simple. They accept holiday gifts to fulfill the wishes of long-term care residents who will otherwise receive no gifts during the holidays. Now in its seventh year, the Silver Bells Holiday Gift Drive spreads a little happiness to those who often need it most.
“We find that 60% of long-term care residents do not have a regular visitor, meaning many residents are forgotten during the holidays. Residents miss the tradition of being home with family and loved ones,” explained Denise Kennedy, Bluegrass District Ombudsman. “Our Silver Bells project presents the opportunity for the community to give gifts to residents so they are able to share in the holiday spirit.”
The success of the program is its own reward. “Not only do the residents experience joy when they receive their gift bags, but I am overjoyed to witness their excitement and appreciation,” said Becky Hacker, a certified NHOA ombudsman.
Frequently, residents fill their wish lists with the basics: socks, sweatpants and sweatshirts, nice-smelling shampoo, lotion, and body wash, chocolates, stamps, and quarters to buy snacks from the nursing home vending machines. These small items are hard to come by when impoverished, like the 70% of nursing home residents utilizing Medicaid. Their $40 monthly allowance doesn’t stretch very far, leaving them without funds for the things they need and want.
NHOA is a non-profit agency that provides a trained, certified ombudsman for all long-term care residents in the Bluegrass area. They serve as advocates for each resident and identify, investigate, and work to resolve complaints made by or on behalf of all residents, all in addition to coordinating care projects, like Silver Bells. To learn more about NHOA’s services, call 859-277-9215 or visit ombuddy.org.
Kennedy hopes that many more Central Kentuckians will join in spreading holiday cheer with the Silver Bells program. “Last year, the community rallied to provide thoughtful gifts to 655 long-term care residents,” she shared. “I am excited to watch the program continue to grow, and I’m challenging our community to beat last year’s record!”