Brownwood’s Cross Country Healthcare Center unveiled its new activity room for residents in a ceremony on Thursday morning.   

The Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce was on hand to perform a ribbon cutting for the new area, which features decorations, instruments, a typewriter and other items that residents can handle and use. The room is located in a secure wing of the facility called Eden, which is typically reserved for patients with advanced dementia, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive or memory impairments.   

Wendie Nevels is the director of sales and marketing at Cross Country. She and activities director Tessa Anderson spent weeks redecorating the room for its grand opening today. “I had this idea many years ago in another facility,” Nevels explained. “I had a secure unit, and I had residents that wandered around and didn’t have anything to do.”   

Nevels had the idea to turn some extra rooms into an activities space. The residents loved it. “They can come in and touch and do anything they want to do,” she said. “It will be open. They can come in and out of here any time they want to.”   

Nevels pointed out several nostalgic items on the wall, like an old Bing Crosby album cover. She explained that even patients with dementia typically retain their long-term memories. “What we tried to do is specifically design things that were safe for them to do, that would kind of remind them of things they used to do,” Nevels said. “It’s tactile stimuli, it’s auditory, they can hear, they can see … It gives them a purpose, a meaningful purpose, to have something to do.”   

As soon as the ceremony was complete, Eden patients were allowed to enter the room for the first time. Anderson said the residents were “really happy” when they saw the room.   

“That made it so much better, just seeing their faces when they walked in,” Anderson said.   

“It did,” Nevels agreed. “I almost cried.”   

Nevels said the new space embodies the Cross Country motto, ‘Where your family is our family.’   

“We want to be a part of their family, and we want them to be a part of ours,” she said.