Dancing

Sometimes, Dancing with Residents in Lockdown is an Extraordinary Act of Care

Aubrey Marrow, Resident Life Associate, Providence Place Senior Living Drums

A year ago, as COVID-19 continued to spread rapidly, millions of people around the world celebrated Easter by staying home and watching Andrea Bocelli’s solo performance in Milan, Music for Hope. As the concert ended, video footage was shown of empty streets from cities around the world where there were no sounds, no traffic, no people on the streets. The world was shut down.

Lockdown meant different things to different people. For some, it meant remote classes and conferences. For others, it was endless walks to nowhere, bread baking, and meme sharing. For seniors living in healthcare communities, the forced isolation was particularly hard on those who weren’t able to see family and friends engage in social activities, or in some cases, leave their rooms.

Senior living communities had to figure out how to protect patients and residents from exposure to the virus while helping them stay socially and mentally engaged and connected. Time and time again, it was caregivers who rose to the challenge. Ceca Foundation, which recognizes and rewards health workers for extraordinary acts of care, discovered just how creative dedicated caregivers could be. Aubrey Marrow is one of these.

Aubrey has been stepping and gliding his way into people’s lives since he was a boy. His talent earned him a place at a ballet academy, where he studied dance for several years. Aubrey sings beautifully, and, boy, can he dance! When he joined Providence Place Senior Living in Drums, Pennsylvania as a Resident Life Associate in early 2020, the hallways became his stage, and the residents his most enthusiastic audience. Aubrey’s impressive dance moves and lively sing-alongs have brought immense joy to residents, who had been so cut off from family and friends. [See a video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZIjXwtYd3c]

Aubrey was nominated for the Ceca Award by many of his peers. Some noted how his singing and smooth dance moves raised everyone’s spirits. Others talked about how much he cares. “When he first arrived, he jumped right in, requesting the assignment of caring for the COVID residents. Unphased by the pandemic, he nursed these residents back to health, staying past his shifts to make sure they had consistent care. His devotion to the COVID residents was undeniable,” said one nominator.

One of Aubrey’s biggest fans was a COVID survivor who was about to turn 101. To celebrate her recovery and her upcoming birthday, Aubrey helped plan her birthday party—decorating her room, setting up a Zoom call with all her relatives, baking a cake, and printing out the lyrics to her favorite songs so other residents could sing along with her. This was her 101st birthday, and Aubrey’s compassion, enthusiasm, and unique spirit made it one to remember.

Aubrey was born and raised in New York, and like so many caregivers, was part of a very large family— the youngest of his 16 siblings. Musically talented, he sings, dances, and plays guitar, a bit of piano, flute, and drums. But a leap of faith took him to Pennsylvania to help people. And there he works every day to make a difference in the lives of his residents.

Sharing one of his most memorable moments, Aubrey said, “I used to have a resident who loved to sing. I remember going down the hall and hearing her and I thought, ‘I’m just going to join her in that moment—we were singing the national anthem together, and I was singing songs I knew, and she was humming along. She had the biggest smile on her face, and it made me happy. It made my day!”

Aubrey’s advice to those thinking about becoming a caregiver is to have a big heart and to listen. “You learn how to be responsible, and you get to experience life through these people. They’ll tell you stories about what happened when they were younger and what they’ve been through. I just love learning about other people’s lives.”

Aubrey was surprised when he won the Ceca Award. He had only been at Providence Place for a month and a half, and he felt others might deserve it more. When his name was called, he said, “I was shocked. I was honored, and it made me want to keep performing at the highest level I was capable of.” He added, “I appreciate Ceca honoring me. I want to show people that healthcare is all about connecting with people—making their day.”

Aubrey Marrow is a man of many talents, and one whose dancing, singing, extraordinary care, and boundless optimism are the kind of welcome medicine that gives everyone a positive boost. It even earned Aubrey a spot in one of our COVID thank you messages.

Keep dancing Aubrey. TikTok Doc has nothing on you!

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