The Converse Home is an assisted living community located in the heart of Burlington, Vt. Established in 1886 as a private, nonprofit organization, the center has 50 traditional assisted living apartments, as well as a memory care community called Gardenview.
The 16 residents of Gardenview enjoy an environment specially designed for folks with memory impairment. Trained staff provide consistent care and programming that support each individual resident’s strengths.

Poetry Lovers Welcome

Recently, we implemented a new Life Enrichment Program that has greatly enhanced the quality of life for our residents.

The first program is called the Poetry Circle. The group was initiated as a result of a resident who had a passion for poetry, and also taught poetry at the college level.

The Poetry Circle meets once a week to read a selected poet (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman) or theme-based poems (spring, friendship, love). You will often observe the residents
reciting the words right along with the director of life enrichment if it is a poem familiar to them.

Following the reading, a poem is created by the group based on the poetry we read. The residents love having the final product read out loud, as evidenced by smiles, positive comments, and clapping.
A collection of poems has been framed and hung as part of a Poetry Gallery in the community. There is also a framed poem in our lobby that changes weekly for families, friends, and all residents to enjoy.

Gardenview Newsletter

Another Life Enrichment Program is called Dear Gardenview. This program was designed as an advice column. Residents, staff, and family members are encouraged to put their “issue” on a piece of paper and deposit it in a box in the front lobby. The issues are collected and presented to Gardenview residents, who meet weekly to provide their input and advice.

It is fascinating that, even with memory impairment, people do not lose the ability to give advice or their opinion! We publish a weekly Dear Gardenview newsletter and post it in our elevators for all to read and enjoy.

Enjoying Fine Art

Art Appreciation is another successful program that has been added recently for the Gardenview community. The residents observe art from a variety of artists, including Monet, Norman Rockwell, and Van Gogh. Discussion is based on questions such as, “Do you like this painting?” “Would you hang it in your home?” “What is the mood of the painting?” Even if residents do not have a history of engaging in art, they have the opportunity to express their likes and dislikes.

The main focus of all three programs is for residents to actively participate. These programs are successful because they are resident-centered, they provide opportunities for residents to make choices, and they focus on the contributions that these elders still have to offer.

Ellen Meagher, M Ed, is director of life enrichment at The Converse Home, an assisted living community in Burlington, Vt.