Case Study

Autumnwood: How Discovering Preferences Can Change a Life

When Mary Lee Creeger, therapeutic recreation director, used the Preferences for Everyday Living Inventory (PELI) to interview Donna,* she learned that this new resident had been blind since young adulthood and was unable to pursue her preferences for many years.

At home, Donna’s family focused on her blindness, and may not have known how to help her maintain her interests even with vision loss. Once she heard this, Mary Lee’s first concern was to find out what made Donna feel happy and fulfilled. Donna said that cooking, reading, and using the computer were her loves prior to developing blindness.

To address Donna’s passion for cooking, Mary Lee and her team made sure to involve Donna in the bimonthly community “Chefs and Diners” event. Donna shared many of her recipes and she was able to stir, chop and roll out many of her favorites and enjoy them with others.

Positive Outcomes

To solve her reading issues, Mary Lee contacted the local library and obtained a list of all the available Playaway audio books. A volunteer met with Donna to help her make a list of titles that sounded interesting. Mary Lee also got in touch with a local university and the technology department donated a laptop complete with pre-loaded software for the visually impaired. Volunteers taught Donna how to use the laptop to play games or search the web.

In a follow-up note, Mary Lee shared the news that Donna has now gone home and receives home health services. Mary Lee said this successful outcome was due in large part to learning about and honoring Donna’s preferences. The team knw “what she wanted out of life,” “helped the [staff] know what to focus on,” and “helped Donna transition to home care.”

As Mary Lee said, “we knew [Donna] had abilities and just needed a way to enjoy her preferences.” Blindness didn’t need to stand in the way. As part of the Volunteers of America organization, Mary Lee explains, “it is our mission to reach and uplift all people.” She and her team carry out this goal by taking the time to learn about and respect what is most important in life to each person.

Thanks to Mary Lee Creeger, Therapeutic Recreation, Marketing Director, and Volunteer Coordinator at Autumnwood Care Center!

*Name changed to protect privacy

Success story sent in by Mary Lee Creeger,Therapeutic Recreation, Marketing Director, and Volunteer coordinator at Autumnwood Care Center