Bloom Where You Are Planted
Pete Balsamo – Grace Rehabilitation and Health Center
To some, the thought of a long-term stay in a skilled nursing environment seems like the end of the line. Bingo and butterscotch pudding served up in a monotonous cycle, where some people think they have little control of their day-to-day routines. For Wesbury Grace Rehabilitation and Health Center resident, Pete Balsamo, that type of sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. Since coming to Grace, Pete has shown that you can take an active leadership role even while living in a long-term care situation, proving one can make the best of any hand that they are dealt.
Pete is President of the Grace Rehabilitation and Health Center Resident Council and does what he can to be the best Resident Representative he can be. Not only does he lead the Resident Council meeting each month, he is also the voice for any concerns that the residents may have, covering a myriad of topics including food quality, activities, nursing care, and the overall management and services of the facility.
“I like to be busy. Sitting around twiddling my thumbs is not for me,” says Pete. “My responsibilities can help to soothe an otherwise overwhelming experience for someone adjusting to their new way of life by informing them of staff practices, what activities are available, or just lending an ear. It makes them feel good about where they are; myself included.”
When Wesbury’s Life Enrichment and Volunteer Services Director, Melissa Swartwood, launched a new program titled, “Greetings from Grace” with the intention of creating a resident-directed program that welcomes residents new to the long-term care living environment, Pete was among the first to step up to be an ambassador. Today, when a person is newly admitted to their neighborhood at Grace, Pete or other volunteer neighborhood ambassadors greet and get to know the new residents while sharing their own experiences as a resident and what that person can expect from living in a care setting.
“We love having residents like Pete,” says Swartwood. “People who make it their mission to ensure that the life transition to a skilled care facility can be as active and meaningful as living in their own home.”
Being a faith-based organization, Wesbury is always looking for volunteers to be part of the ministry programs offered to residents. Pete recently graduated from Wesbury’s Stephen Ministry program, affording him the opportunity to visit and pray with those who desire someone to talk with, while dealing with potentially difficult times.
Pete has been a resident of skilled care for five years. During this time he has been helping newcomers recognize that today’s “nursing homes” are breaking the stereotypes we have all heard about for decades. Thanks to Pete and many other residents in many other facilities, the perceptions of living in a skilled care environment can be active and full of purpose, demonstrating that no matter where you find yourself planted, you can find ways to bloom.