Saturday February 9, 2013

GREENFIELD, Mass. -- For Activities Director Zenaida Diaz, one anecdote about Poet’s Seat Health Care Center sums up her experience at the facility.

"One of our residents," said Diaz, "told me that when he came to Poet’s Seat, he thought he would be staying in his room all day long. He stated, ‘I really felt that my active life was behind me. But it’s turned out that I’m so busy that I don’t have the time to be in my room. There are so many things happening here.’"

That gentleman’s story brings a big smile to Diaz’s face. "I love my job," said Diaz. "It’s a privilege to help make residents happy. The whole staff tries to improve the quality of life for every person who stays here. Above all, this is a loving and caring facility."

Zenaida has worked at Poet’s Seat for 17 years, beginning her tenure as an activities assistant. She was named activities director in 2006.

Diaz notes that the tone for employees is set at the top by first-year Administrator Andy Goodsell. "He’s an excellent hands-on leader," said Diaz. "You can find him passing out dinner trays to residents, visiting with them. He really cares."

Another dynamic member of the team is Director of Nurses Megan Wheeler. Also very devoted and committed, according to Zenaida, "Megan is up and down the floor all day long, always contributing along with the rest of the nursing staff and the certified nursing assistants."

In addition, the activity director pays tribute to her assistant, Cathy Stevens. "Cathy brings a tremendous amount of energy to her tasks," said Diaz.

When each resident-to-be enters Poet’s Seat, Diaz compiles a history of their life experiences, routines, and preferences. "I want to know," said Zenaida, "what they’re interested in and what they like. It’s important to know what they did for work, their education, their family life. I try to have a little bit of individual activity, as a minimum, for each resident at Poet’s Seat."

In addition, there is a tremendous number of group activities at the facility. For instance, Poet’s Seat will hold its Valentine’s Day Social on Thursday, Feb. 14, at 2:30 p.m. Kevin Bell, a favorite singer of the residents’, will be on hand with his karaoke machine to give folks a chance to belt out a few of their own top tunes, too.

Staff will vote for a King and Queen of Valentine’s Day, and both royals will receive a crown and a prize, while the kitchen will make yummy treats. All the staff participates in these special festivities.

Another big event occurs just two days later. The Winter Carnival takes center stage Saturday, Feb. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Splash The Clown will be on hand, creating face paintings and balloon animals. Cotton candy, popcorn, and fried dough will be served. And there’ll be prizes and games.

The event was open to the public last year but this year’s edition of the carnival will be limited to residents, their families, and staff. Families and staff may bring children, according to Diaz who said, "Residents always love it when the kids attend."

Also coming up is the Hawaiian Luau to be held Thursday, Feb. 28, at 2:30 p.m. Music, dancing, coconut drinks, and Hawaiian pizza always make this a fun-filled event.

Another treat for residents is Classic Move Night, scheduled once or twice a month at 6:30 p.m. Residents vote for the vintage picture of their choice. In the past, films such as "Casablanca," "The African Queen," "Breakfast at Tiffany’s" and "The Maltese Falcon" have been shown.

Each Sunday at 2 p.m., a Western Movie for men takes the spotlight, featuring a film about rugged adventure in the Old West.

Meanwhile, exercise is also on the schedule, according to Diaz. "We try to exercise three times a week," said Zenaida. "We have so much fun that sometimes participants don’t realize they’re exercising. I try to accomplish this by having music always playing in the background during exercises." In addition, Jody Fontaine leads a yoga group one Tuesday a month.

There are also events for families, including holiday meals, socials, plus Mother’s Day and Father’s Day activities.

Furthermore, Poet’s Seat has group discussions, including one which addresses current events. The ladies have a tea time; every now and then the game of "The Price Is Right," featuring prizes, is played. There are cooking and baking events and there is a great deal of hands-on activities, such as arts and crafts.

"One of our most favorite activities," said Diaz, "is the video game known as ‘The Wii.’ Residents use this to do bowling, golf and boxing."

Monthly outings are also on the schedule. They include trips to restaurants and special destinations such as Magic Wings.

In addition, community volunteers play an important role at Poet’s Seat. Greenfield High School students visit the facility three days a week, sharing activities with participating residents or visiting other residents in their rooms. Pupils from Northfield Mt. Hermon come to Poet’s Seat twice a week, while Stoneleigh Burnham students visit once a week as a group.

Poet’s Seat Health Care Center was founded in 1966. Named after the famous Poet’s Seat Tower on nearby Rocky Mountain, the center is an outstanding skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility. The building houses 63 beds and is located one mile from Baystate Franklin Medical Center.

For more information, call 413-774-6318 or visit www.poetsseathealthcarecenter.com.