Nursing Home Expedition
- a gift (see below)
- a favorite toy or book
- a camera
- Scout out a local nursing home. Go to Nursing Home Info to find one near you.
- Check the website. Look up the nursing home online to find directions, visiting hours, and perhaps take a virtual tour.
- Talk with an administrator. Call the office and find out about policies for visiting with children. Ask for help identifying a resident to visit and inquire about his or her physical and mental status. Ask if there are any restrictions on gifts you might bring.
- Schedule your visit. Choose a time when your child will be well-fed and well-rested and one that won't interfere with the resident's rest times or treatments. Arrange the visit a week or more ahead of time, so the resident can enjoy the anticipation of your visit. Whatever you do, try not to cancel. If something comes up, call in advance and schedule a substitute time right away.
- Preview the trip. Talk to your child and let him know what to expect. Explain that some people will be in wheelchairs, some will walk with walkers, some will be in beds. The nursing home may smell like a hospital. Take the time to answer any questions he might have.
- Announce your arrival. When you arrive at the resident's room, knock before entering and shake hands when you meet.
- Bring a gift. Consider a plant if there are no health restrictions. Or have your child draw a picture, sing a song, tell a story, or share a couple of jokes.
- Offer your services. The resident might enjoy going for a walk or a ride through the halls. (Ask for a nurse's permission or assistance.) Perhaps there's a place to get coffee or a snack. If the resident is confined to bed, offer to write a letter or read a story together.
- Take a few photos. Take pictures of your child and the resident together.
- Investigate. Ask your child open-ended questions:
- Why do some people live in nursing homes?
- What did you like about the visit?
- Was there anything you didn't like?
- How do you think you made the person feel?
- Read all about it. Check out Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas by Cynthia Rylant, Sunshine Home by Eve Bunting, and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox.
For more exploring, play Dora's Great Big World game, find do-together Dora crafts, recipes, and activities, and print a personalized Explorer Kit for your child at DoraTheExplorer.com.
You can also get Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure app on iTunes!
Thanks to Susan Hood
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