The fragrance of beauty permeated the air. A soft scent of hair products wove through the smell of nail polish as dozens of enthusiastic ladies received a pampering session. It was the Salon Day hosted by ACR Homes, a special event for the female residents of ACR's homes that took place recently at J. Arthur's Coffee in ACR's main offices. An acoustic guitarist with a fedora provided upbeat mood music, smiling at the ladies in wheelchairs who were sitting in front of him nodding along to the music. Volunteers in pink shirts were at different stations or floating around offering beverages. One was doing an intricate braid as a resident relaxed under her gentle touch, while another volunteer was painting bright coral nail polish on a resident with an equally bright smile spread on her face. Over in a quiet room there was a table of ladies brushing paint onto canvases with the words, “Home Sweet Home” written in soft pink. The aura was relaxation, the tone was laughter, and the result was joy.
Unique Focus on Resident Interests
This idea for a salon day was the pre-nursing internship project of ACR employee Riley, a U of M child psychology grad seeking admission to a masters in nursing program. Riley says she was inspired by one of the residents at the ACR home where she is a direct care professional. Riley and her internship supervisor, Sarah Abbott, discussed how some of the things that young women like this resident enjoy are challenging for people with disabilities. Services that the rest of us take for granted, like a haircut or a manicure, can often result in a negative experience due to the lack of accommodations or a lack of understanding of how to best work with someone with a disability. From their discussion came the idea of a salon day as a way to create a positive experience and boost self-esteem for women with disabilities whom ACR supports. Thanks to Riley, not only did this one resident get a day of pampering, but so did 50 other ladies.
ACR Homes encourages its employees to focus on each resident’s best interests, in health and self-care, and also in their personal interests. Staff are trained within the homes to make sure the residents’ favorite music is on, or letting each individual pick out which TV show to watch. And as often as possible, special events are planned to give the residents a chance to experience something they may never have had the chance to do. Homecoming week and dance, being a part of a theatrical show, and having a salon day focused on looking and feeling good.
The joy on the ladies’ faces was obvious as they departed from their nail, hair, make-up, and art sessions at J. Arthur's through a rainy day. The carefully planned event was a huge success, judging by the many pictures posted on social media of ladies who were so excited about a colored streak added to their hair or lip gloss making them feel special. The ladies had a day of being wnderfully pampered, and the staff went home knowing they made a difference yet again in the lives of special people.
"Looking good, Christine" -Christine, an ACR resident
If you have your own ideas for how to make a difference in the life of a resident -- or lots of residents! -- consider doing an internship. Sometimes even the smallest of things can make the biggest impacts!