Resident Lillian Linn and her son William with Tinker Bell

Miniature horses are a fun and novel sight, bringing smiles and joy to people of all ages.


This was certainly true at Life Care Center of Ooltewah, Tennessee, on May 13, 2016, as the center celebrated National Nursing Home Week. Tinker Bell, a miniature horse, came to visit.


Tinker Bell is a certified therapy horse owned by Sarah Haase, a nurse at Life Care Center of Ooltewah. Haase owns a non-profit on the side, Hozho Therapeutic Equestrian Services, and has brought her horses to interact with all sorts of people, from children to individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder, autistic individuals to seniors.


“I’ve always liked kids, and I’ve always liked horses,” Haase said.


Haase has had her equestrian service for 12 years now.


The residents at Life Care Center of Ooltewah certainly appreciated the visit and lit up when Tinker Bell walked into the courtyard. The gentle creature let residents and associates pet her.


“I’d like to have it for my grandkids,” said resident Hazel Morris. “It’s pretty, and I rubbed its nose.”


The horse brought back memories for Morris of working on a farm with the help of horses and mules.


Fellow resident Ernestine Parker shared that she’d never been up close and personal with a miniature horse before.


“It’s therapy for all of us,” Parker said.


Resident John Gilmore looked out his window and saw Tinker Bell in the courtyard and quickly came wheeling outside to see the horse in person.


“I’m impressed,” Gilmore said. “She’s a cutie.”


The horse’s visit was just part of the facility’s celebration of National Nursing Home Week, May 8 – 14. Each day, the center had a different theme.


On Monday, May 9, residents played a fishing game in the courtyard fountain with the chances to win prizes, in addition to having makeovers that afternoon.


Tuesday the 10th was especially popular as Disney Day. Several associates and residents dressed up in Disney gear, from Mickey Mouse ears to full princess costumes, and did a parade for the residents to watch.


“The patients love seeing all the staff dressed up,” said Marie Ross, activity director. “It’s like an activity in and of itself.”


Wednesday the 11th offered more fun outfits to view for Decade Day. Associates dressed up in the popular styles of the different decades, from the 50s through the 80s and more.


Thursday the 12th offered a magic show, which residents watched with enthusiasm.


Friday the 13th was, of course, Western Day, and besides the horse’s visit, residents enjoyed listening to a banjo player while they ate a Western-style lunch.


The week closed out on Saturday the 14th with a bingo blitz.


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