Omaha, NEAzria Health Midtown is proud to announce that our activities director, Ruth Wells, will be receiving the Community 360° Award for Activity Director of the Year this October. Every year this honor is bestowed upon one activity director in the Greater Omaha area who shows exemplary compassion, leadership and passion in the field of activities work in a long-term care setting.

Ruth began her career at Azria Health Midtown as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), and was promoted to the activities director role in the fall of 2015. Director of Nursing Heather Brown encouraged Ruth to apply for the job. “She always took the initiative as a CNA to take the extra step to develop relationships with the residents. She was creative and thoughtful with basic things, such as how to get residents engaged and participating in their morning routines. She’s incredibly attentive and shined as a team leader, setting a fine example for staff.”

Having always considered herself a people person, the activities director role was a natural fit for Ruth and she has been very successful throughout the past two years, earning praise from both residents and staff. Nonetheless, Ruth was shocked when she heard she was being nominated for the award. “It wasn’t anything I applied for and to be honest, I didn’t even know I had been chosen by Community 360°.”

Community 360° is a non-profit group of volunteers for nursing homes throughout Omaha. The organization has been extremely helpful to the residents at Azria Health Midtown, providing Christmas gifts each year to those who don’t have family as well as volunteering their time to spend with the residents.

Maddy Wahl, assistant director and a volunteer at Community 360°, has partnered with Midtown for years and knew that Ruth was well deserving of the award nomination. “The residents at Midtown love her,” she said. “Many of them sing her praises while I’ve been there. She’s so personable and really cares about each resident.”

Marvin, a resident at Midtown, shared, “That Ruth is a neat girl. She always has time to talk to me and if I need a shave, she will shave me. I really like her.” And Ron, a long-time resident, said “Ruth is wonderful, stupendous, amazing. We are so lucky to have her!”

Spencer Bartlett, the executive director at Azria Health Midtown, added, “She’s the type of person you’d want caring for your loved one. She inspires me to work harder. She always looks for opportunities to serve others and her positivity allows her to see the good in others. She is constantly recognizing the people around her and we are so grateful to have her as part of this wonderful team.”

When asked what her role as activity director means to her, Ruth said, “Recreational therapy ties into the residents’ entire well-being. It’s often difficult for them to open up when they come to a facility, and many of our residents don’t have any family or their family is far away. I feel like I can bring them joy and happiness by spending time with them and getting them to mingle with others, socialize, attend group activities and participate in therapy.

Ruth’s favorite activities are by far the outings. “I like taking residents to movies and musical outings and watching their reactions. We’ve gone to the Rose Theater to watch children’s plays and their faces just light up. It brings them such joy and they’re able to come back home to talk about. And shopping is always an adventure. I like helping them find things. It’s like we’re on a quest for specific items and there’s always a joy to it when I am able to help them find what they were looking for.

They’re an extension of my family and I get to nurture our relationships and encourage them to enjoy their time here, be it for a short or long period of time. I help them grow and they help me grow to be a better person, too”.

Ruth will be recognized as Activity Director of the Year by Community 360° at their annual event on October 12th, 2017. To learn more about Community 360°, visit www.community-360.org. For more information about Azria Health, please visit www.azriahealth.com

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