The Independence Cart

IMG_9977As Father Bart pointed out in his July 28, 2009 blog interview, one of the greatest challenges facing the residents of nursing homes is their dependence upon others to meet their needs. I often work with them on coming to terms with this unavoidable fact of life, and to find ways in which they can retain control over their situation. After numerous discussions about the frustrations of relying on busy staff or family members to purchase items for them, I began to consider the merits of an Independence Cart.

An Independence Cart is a roving store on wheels. Imagine if twice a week the residents could buy stationery, pens, stamps, phone cards, eyeglass repair kits, personal care items, or order a birthday present for a grandchild. It would give them some means of accessing the goods available in the outside world, and free up time that good-hearted staff and family members spend on burnout-inducing errands.

I once worked in a nursing home with a candy and soda cart that traveled from floor to floor. Items purchased in bulk were sold at discounted prices, and the money from the venture funded resident activities. Residents helped the recreation department leaders stock and staff the cart. It was a dietary disaster, but a practical and financial success. I believe that this concept, taken in the right direction, could be successful in every way.

4 thoughts on “The Independence Cart”

  1. Thank you Eleanor. This idea has such merit! I am going to share it with the director of the nursing home I volunteer at.

  2. We have two at our facility and often ask residents what they would like to see on the carts… You will be surprised of the items suggested. One resident asked for pencils so she can write to communicate with loved ones. We take for granted all the stuff we have that others may need. Thank u for sharing.

  3. Thanks Di. Life in a nursing home is definitely a different world that takes some adjustment. Hopefully nursing homes will continue to make their own adjustments so it's easier for the residents to maintain more of their previous lives.

    Dale, I'm glad to hear of your interest in the idea. One thought I had was that if the Recreation Staff wasn't able to pursue the project, family volunteers might be able to get it off the ground. Once running, depending on the resident population, the residents might be able to do most of the work.

    Thanks, Brenda, for sharing a success story. It's important for people considering the idea to know it's out there working in other facilities.


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