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Wesley Village - A Story of Planetree Continuing Care Implementation

Implementation Example - Journey of Dreams

As a Planetree Continuing Care community, Wesley Village recognizes that, regardless of age or physical limitations, residents still have wishes and dreams.  For the last four years, the Journey of Dreams program has brought that community together to turn those dreams into reality.   

In every situation, it starts with a wish and sometimes a seemingly impossible dream.  It comes together with the help of connections, creativity, some good luck, and a generous dose of teamwork.  The program began in 2006 when a resident told her Life Story and shared her extensive background in drama and radio, and reflected, "those days are probably behind me."  The Activities Director responded, "Why does it have to be behind you?" – spurring the creation of a resident-led and directed Drama Club that still entertains the campus.  

After that dream was realized, residents were invited to write down their personal wishes, goals, or desires and place them in a wishing well in the lobby of the assisted living community.  In the skilled nursing community, recreation staff found a variety of ways of eliciting dreams, including asking residents to list what they'd like to do on a week's vacation.  The dreams began to filter in. 

Currently, over 45 residents have had their wishes fulfilled.  It starts with one resident's dream, but everyone's unique talents and passions support that dream and bring it to fruition in a community-wide celebration.  Individuals who only knew one another superficially find that they share common bonds – like a love of Disney World, skiing, and, of course, developing richer and more fulfilling relationships. 

Residents have ridden in a hot air balloon, a helicopter, and on a monster truck.  For some residents, most of whom are in their 80s and 90s, they may not be physically able to fulfill their exact dream.  In that case, the community works to enact the dream for them.  A resident who hoped to visit the Hawaii and the South Seas traveled with staff to the next state to enjoy Polynesian dining and dancers surrounded by banyan trees, tropical hand-painted murals and flowing waterfalls.   For a resident who was cheered up by NASCAR, the community became "Alice's Raceway," complete with a giant track for car races and checkered flags.  And for the resident who wished to go to Disney World, the lobby became Disney's Main Street, USA, complete with students from the local high school dressed as Cinderella, Prince Charming, and Mickey Mouse and 3-D roller coaster rides.

The program has expanded beyond anyone's expectations, and receives funding from donations and a 5K Road Race established in 2009.  Not only is this an opportunity for residents to continue to dream, regardless of where they are on life's journey, it is also a way that family, friends, other residents, and staff members can be more engaged and fully committed to the possibilities that exist when implementing Planetree in a continuing care environment. 

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