“I’ve never seen myself so happy”

BBH Team gives Ms. Beverly her first birthday party

Staff and volunteers are always looking for ways to create joy for patients and their families. Here’s how one nurse’s quick thinking and the efforts of the entire Hospice team lifted a great-grandmother’s spirits on her birthday.

When Toni Singletary, RN, visits a new patient, she introduces herself by saying, "We're here to enjoy life together. What can I do to help you?"

That approach resonated with Beverly Thayer who lives alone in an apartment at Cherry Laurel senior living community. Ms. Beverly, as Toni calls her, has end stage emphysema. She gets around with the assistance of a mobility scooter but spends much of her time reading in a recliner that faces her front door.

"I always watch that door," she says, "waiting for somebody to come in."

One day in November, Beverly seemed down. She told Toni that her birthday was the next day, and more than anything, she wanted to go shopping. She hadn't been to the mall for years.

"I used to love shopping," Beverly says. "My daughter and my niece buy me clothes, but it's not the same."

Toni knew she had to act. She called Volunteer Department Manager Sharon Davidson, and the two put a plan into motion.

Janel Caine, a respite and companion volunteer, eagerly agreed to accompany Beverly on a shopping trip. The two women were already well acquainted. Janel visits Beverly for a couple hours each week, and they pass the time talking about a variety of topics.

Beverly enjoys discussing current events and the books she's reading - she loves mysteries. She also loves talking about her great-grandbaby - expected in February.

Cherry Laurel provided transportation, and Beverly and Janel were off to Dillard's, where Beverly purchased five tops she really liked. Janel immediately noticed a change in Beverly’s demeanor.

"This had an effect on her whole attitude that continues in her sense of self-worth," Janel says. "This was therapy."

When Beverly and Janel returned to Cherry Laurel, cupcakes, balloons and flowers were waiting. It was Beverly's first birthday party.

"Growing up, we just didnít have birthday parties," she says. "I will never forget my 86th birthday. It was pretty special."

The balloons and photos from that day are still in Beverly's apartment, and her positive outlook continues.

"As long as I'm alive," she says, “I’m going to live. I'm not going to sit down and mope."