Clone this woman. Steal this idea.

Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:


Clone this woman. Steal this idea.

A few months ago, I was consulting at the Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Jamaica, NY, when a remarkable woman named Trudy Schwarz walked down the hall. Her noteworthy qualities were obvious in several ways.

A diminutive woman, she nevertheless was pushing a sizable rolling metal cart filled with all manner of neatly arranged goods. This was despite being as old or older than many of the residents at the facility.

Version 3

She exuded a calm, pleasant demeanor enhanced by her smile and her peach-colored lab coat as she purveyed merchandise from what I’ve previously termed an “independence cart,” an essential yet rare enterprise in long-term care.

“Trudy’s here!” exclaimed the resident I’d been speaking with, excusing herself for a moment to exchange a few dollars for a bottle of lotion. “She buys me the things I can’t get here. She’s a real lifesaver.”

It was a sentiment I heard echoed by many other residents over the next few months.

Overcoming systems failure

An “independence cart” is a small store on wheels that brings goods to residents. While many residents have personal needs allowances and therefore a small amount of money for purchases, it’s virtually impossible for many frail elderly to spend it due to a systems failure within long-term care communities.

Residents generally have no access to a store unless it’s one that visits their facility or they’re physically able to go off-campus with a family member or as part of a staffed excursion. Social workers are usually too inundated with other tasks to assist with online purchases and most residents don’t have access to a credit card, debit card or PayPal account necessary for web-based transactions anyway. Residents without family members to make purchases on their behalf are left to ask for help from staff members who sometimes assist them out of kindness — but against facility policy.

The psychological impact

For the entire article, visit:

Clone this woman. Steal this idea.

2 thoughts on “Clone this woman. Steal this idea.”

  1. What a lovely idea for a volunteer and for the residents! As the Activity Director, I encouraged and assisted in purchasing in multiple ways at my facility.
    Some residents were able to have an Amazon card, a chain store discount card or would shop via sales papers and ask me to get the items for them. (Upon returning with a receipt, many would check the math to ensure getting correct change and I always kept receipts and copies of shopping lists to share responsiblity of funds with family and the facility.)
    I agree that an in-house ‘store’ is a great idea for both the volunteer and resident, but helping those who want to shop in other ways, is also important to the Quality of Life we all want to have.

    • Jodi, those are great alternatives to the shopping cart. I once worked at a facility that had a volunteer errand-runner. The residents told Michael what they wanted and he’d go to the store and get it for them.


Leave a Comment