Great River Care Center hopes events will connect residents, community members

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Staff at Great River Care Center and Turner Pointe Assisted Living, in McGregor, have planned a series of fun events they hope will connect the facility’s residents with other community members. One of the activities, Community Coffee, will be held each Monday, beginning at 9 a.m., at Turner Pointe. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times 

Staff at Great River Care Center and Turner Pointe Assisted Living, in McGregor, have planned a series of fun events they hope will connect the facility’s residents with other community members.

“Every six months, I get a project to do,” explained activity director Debbie Johnson. “This last project was about the community—bringing them in more and getting our residents out in the community.”

Residents volunteered at the McGregor Public Library Halloween party and Kindermusik, a popular music and movement program for kids, was brought to the facility, allowing residents to interact more with children.

“It was a really fun project,” Johnson said, and she was inspired to do more.

“I wanted to find a way to give back and have [Great River Care Center and Turner Pointe] be a presence in the community,” she continued, “a place where people can have fun, have a treat or a low-cost meal.”

Community Coffee events began in April and will be held each Monday, starting at 9 a.m., at Turner Pointe. Coffee, donuts and good conversation will be available to all attendees.

“We invite the community to come in and visit and have some treats,” Johnson said. “This is a good way for people to stay connected to the community and it gives people a good opportunity to see our assisted living facility.”

On Monday, May 14, Great River Care Center will host its first Community Happy Hour. Held at 2 p.m., this social event will include adult beverages (beer and wine), as well as appetizers.

“This is a fun way to relax with the residents,” Johnson shared.

The idea, she noted, was based around Great River Care Center’s connection with Pocket City Pub. The McGregor bar has generously donated bird feeders so residents can enjoy watching the birds. For the past two Christmases, Pocket City has also put on a gift drive, with patrons donating gifts the residents have requested.

“It’s a fun way to reach out to them, for them to get to know the people they help and are so generous and kind to,” Johnson added.

Community Happy Hours will be held the second Monday of each month, at 2 p.m., throughout the year.

Another event—a Community Lunch—will also begin in May. People are welcome to stop by Great River Care Center at noon on Friday, May 18, for lunch, then stay for a rousing game of bingo.

Johnson said the facility has been working with a chef consultant from Cedar Rapids to add some special touches to the meals, which will continue the third Friday of each month. 

For this event, a small fee is requested, as well as an RSVP.

She said Great River Care Center is reaching out to local businesses to see if they’d be interested in donating prizes for the bingo winners.

On Tuesday, May 15, another unique event called Kindermusik with Grandfriends is planned. Beginning at 10:30 a.m., families with young children are invited to stop by Great River Care Center and make some musical moments and share life’s stories with their grandfriends.

“They’ll get to interact, play instruments together and sing,” Johnson said. “It’s fun to see them develop that relationship.”

Johnson said there will be a fee for this activity, which includes a Kindermusik instrument for each child and a CD for each family. Those who would like to attend are asked to RSVP.

The events don’t end there. From May 13-18, which is Nursing Home Week, the facility will hold a “Jail and Bail” event where people can pay to have someone put in “jail.” (No bars; just a fun photo.) For a small fee, that person can then be bailed out. Johnson said all proceeds will go to the Restore McGregor fund.

“It’s a fun way to give back,” she said.

Johnson stressed that all of the activities are open to people of all ages. One need not be a senior citizen. She doesn’t want people to shy away from the events because of preconceived notions that nursing homes only house sick people who lay in bed all the time.

“Long-term care has changed so much,” she said. “We want you to stay healthy and active. People go home all the time.”

“I hope the community is able to see what we have to offer,” she continued. “We’re not a scary place, and there’s joy in every life stage. I think this will be good for the residents and nice for the community, too.”

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