Monday, October 15, 2012

Laying the Foundation

Cinder blocks.  


They're made from cinders and concrete.  The cinders give them their grey color.


In the UK, they're called "breeze" blocks for some reason...(just found it, "breeze" is a synonym for ash?)  Update from Sparkly Rock Girl:  "Breeze blocks were originally made with 'breeze' - small pieces of gas-works coke."

In 1977, when I was in seventh grade, many nursing homes still had walls of cinder blocks.   Though the blocks were painted, the paint couldn't cover up the cold feeling emanating from those heavy, institutional blocks.  It was anything but homelike.

Nursing home care really began to change in the 1980s when the Health Care Finance Administration shifted its survey guidelines from a facility-centered approach to a patient-centered approach, one that focused on the quality of care that the resident was receiving.  The passage of the Nursing Home Reform Act in 1987 included a nursing home residents Bill of Rights and federal standards for quality care delivery.  

Looking back on the facility where I volunteered, it was neither the best nor the worst facility of its day.  But the care delivered there was far from the standards that we have today.  And to a young girl,  the scenes I witnessed were often disturbing and upsetting though I tried very hard to see the beauty within.

As a grown woman I would go on to design, build and operate nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  Tremendous effort was placed on trying to create environments that were resident and family friendly and which put the patient first.  I can honestly say that most nursing home care is far better today than it was in 1977...but not nearly as good as it needs to be.

This block's story is set in a nursing home room in 1977.  

And I have just begun constructing the walls...


And giving some definition to the blocks...


I have quite a bit more refining of those cinder blocks but I wanted to to bop in here today to show you where I am...

It will remain grey here on this blog until Mrs. Rose comes to live in her room.  

Then I will share some of the beauty found within those cindered walls.

Happpy day everyone.

13 comments:

flyingbeader said...

I can't wait to see Mrs. Rose's life bring those gray walls to life. I've seen so many things nestled in nursing home rooms from a vanity covered with tatted lace and vintage perfume bottles,bulletin boards covered with cards and crayon drawn love, wilted flowers, toys,quilts, and then the really sad ones where there is nothing to identify the person except the rise and fall of the institutional blanket. Susan,this is going to be such an emotion filled journey for you the creator & us the viewer.

Alice said...

It takes a special person to work in a nursing home, and a determined person to design, build, and operate nursing homes.

I love your idea of building a quilt out of the 'blocks'. One day maybe the homes will be will be what you want them to be.

FlowerLady said...

Dear Susan ~ Oh my, not only are you a wonderful needle worker, you have done much to help others. I am awed.

Looking at the start of your block with the cinder blocks being defined brought tears to my eyes. I look forward to seeing this creation of yours made with lots of love and compassion. Mrs. Rose would love your room created especially for her.

Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

Cath said...

Already this quilt has atmosphere. Looking forward to seeing colour on this piece.

Sparkly Rock Girl said...

Re "Breeze" blocks in the UK - Breeze blocks were originally made with 'breeze' - small pieces of gas-works coke.

Didn't realise they were cinder blocks in the US - learn something everyday!

Alison
Guildford UK

Anonymous said...

Life is odd. My darling mommy died on Friday. She was in a beautiful assisted living home. Though she was blind we found comfort visiting with her in a lovely, 'homey' home. It seems I have you to thank for that on some level. So, Thank you Susan for making the lives of so many sooo much prettier, warmer, lovelier. I visit your blog almost every day and am delighted with the beauty I find here. Thanks so much. Suzie in Idaho

Susan Elliott said...

Hi Suzie,
I'm not sure if you'll come back by to read this but I just wanted you to know that I'm very sorry that your darling Mom is gone from this earth. Sending you hugs like your mother would give, Susan

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

I never had the experience of visiting a nursing home until the late 70's when Terry 's grandfather was placed there by his grandmother after he suffered a stroke. Visually it appeared to be a nice place..but not so physically for him.

I see that your volunteer work really played a huge influence in your life, as even now you will express your feelings about it in this piece.

Your needle skills always give us but a glimpse of what is in your heart.
Much Love,
Carol

Rachel said...

Even the best of these places can be upsetting. Perhaps you will teach us to see past the distress to the beauty and peace that can also be found.

gracie said...

As I mentioned to you earlier, I worked in a Nursing home many years ago. I know there can be warmth and tenderness there behind block/brick walls. Looking forward to meeting Mrs Rose.

Createology said...

Your heart is kind and caring. Your grey cinder blocks stitching will be as warm as you are my dear. I continue to admire you so much as I read bits of your life story. Blissful stitching continues...

char said...

I love visiting your blog, you are an amazing needle worker and your story telling skills are also amazing. Every stitch is a line in the story you are creating. I so wish I had just an ounce of your skills. Have a wonderful night, I'll stop by again tomorrow......Can't wait to meet Mrs Rose.

Catherine said...

Looks like a great start!

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