Abington House at Foulkeways Retirement Community Goes Caribbean

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By Nancy Nolan

It was the end of a long day when Mary Knapp, Director of Health Services, got an email from a bathtub vendor to enter a contest and “win a one-of-a-kind, pink spa tub, made in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month October 2011.”  The Mastercare manufacturer was asking healthcare providers to submit stories that described how they supported breast cancer awareness within their community.

Having just completed her annual budget planning meetings, where a State mandate forced her to included a request for funds to purchase an Abington House bathing tub, Mary decided to fire off an essay.  She had fresh memories of a member of Foulkeways healthcare team who had recently completed treatment for breast cancer and she could easily share how the entire team had rallied around their teammate.   When she finished her submission, she hit the ‘send’ button on her computer, then left for home, putting all thoughts of spa bathing tubs out of her mind.  Within a month, she received a call from the CEO of Mastercare, who told her that her essay had been chosen as ‘The Grand Prize Winner,’ and that a new, $13,900, pink, Entrée Bathing System was on its way to Foulkeways from Nebraska.  Mary couldn’t remember the details of what she had written in her essay, and because she never dreamed that her article would be chosen, hadn’t made a copy, so now she and found herself agreeing with the Mastercare CEO’s comments as he went on and on about her award-winning piece being both poignant and expressive.  “I was racking my brain trying to remember exactly what I had written; and he was being so kind and generous.”

By the end of 2011 the tub arrived, and it weighed a ton!  It took most of the Foulkeways Maintenance Department, working together, to move it but move it they did, right into the permanent home that had been created in Abington House just down the hall from the Haircrafters Hair Salon.   Once Jon La Rue from the Maintenance Department installed the Jacuzzi, the healthcare team realized that this magnificent, top-of-the-line, made in America, bathing tub was not just pink, it was HOT PINK….I’m talking bubble gum, flaming, flamingo, PINK!   The team decided that this ‘beauty’ needed to be showcased in the new spa area they had created.   After all, it pre-heats the seat and the water coming into the chamber and keeps the water heated to a preset temperature during the bath. It comes with hot air jets and a wave action to enhance the spa experience.  Aromatherapy and a side door that raises and lowers with a touch of a button, makes this no ordinary bathtub.

The healthcare team decided that this new, big, bright, bold spa tub needed to be surrounded by a big, bright, bold Caribbean theme, since the winning essay was inspired by a staff person from Jamaica who was being treated for breast cancer.  Nursing staff stayed late into the night hanging a wall mural with a fantastic tropical fish pattern found on sale, online, and the Maintenance staff painted the rest of the room and repaired wooden cabinets.  Lisa Cianci, Administrative Assistant in Health Services, found two vintage Foulkeways chairs that she volunteered to paint and recover to match the new décor.  Staff searched every store in the vicinity, and online, to find the perfect big, thick, thirsty, king-sized bath towels, on sale, that also color coordinated with the newly painted walls, the bold fish wallpaper, and of course, the PINK spa tub.  These economical beauties also had to pass the Foulkeways Housekeeping Team’s ‘wash and dry’ test.

“One day,” explains Mary, “when I was heading home on Folly Road, I came across a pile of old wooden window frames, lying along the side of the road.  Some homeowner was throwing them out!  They were nice wooden frames with wooden cross bars, so I slammed on the breaks, got out and threw them into the back of my car.  I took them home to my garage, thinking to myself, ‘I’ll bet I can use them, I’m just not quite sure how.’   After a few weeks my husband, Karl, starting grumping at me about the pile of old windows taking up garage space, but I knew I’d stumbled across them for a reason, so I just let his complaints go in one ear and out the other….

“As the spa neared completion, it suddenly dawned on me that we would have to keep the drapes on the windows in the room closed, for obvious reason!  That’s when I realized my ‘roadside treasures’ would come in handy, so I bought a couple of 99 cent posters printed with beach scenes, tacked the posters behind the old window frames and then had the windows  mounted on the walls of the Spa.  Now when residents are luxuriating in the PINK spa, they can look out the ‘windows’ and enjoy a view of the beach”.

All residents at Foulkeways are encouraged to enjoy the new Spa; its use is not limited to the residents in Abington House.  Creating this new space turned into a labor of love, shared by members of multiple Foulkeways departments.  What began as a tribute to honor the caring and support coworkers willingly extended to one of their own, has grown into a special project that has created a space devoted to relaxation and rejuvenation.  Thanks to our new PINK tub and the hard work of so many Foulkeways employees,  residents can ‘book’ a mini  tropical vacation in our Abington House Spa, without ever leaving our campus.  “For a brief moment, they can step away from their everyday lives and immerse themselves into the soothing warmth and relaxation afforded by our new Pink tub.  We think we’ve come as close to duplicating a tropical ‘HUG’ as we could, and everybody can use an extra hug from time to time!” smiles Mary.

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