Jewel the Horse Visits Longterm Care Residents at Their Windows

June 17, 2020, 8:55 a.m. ·

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Long-term care facilities have been closed to visitors for three months, leaving residents isolated. But facilities have worked to find creative ways to bring in fun and entertainment — like Sheila Carroll, a Lincoln woman who brings her horse Jewel to visit residents right at their windows.

"My heart's kind of always been in long term care, as a nurse," Carroll said. "I usually would take Jewel in the summertime around to visit and I just thought, I knew how the places were struggling trying to come up with activities and the isolation and stuff. So then I started just calling around to see if they would be interested in doing the window visits."

Carroll brings Jewel to the windows of longterm care facilities to visit with residents. (Courtesy: Sheila Carroll)

The team has visited at least a dozen facilities so far.

"I remember one of the first visits I went to, the residents had masks on and I remember thinking I could still tell they were smiling because I could see their sparkling eyes," Carroll said. "Even behind the mask I could still tell they were smiling."

Carroll dresses Jewel in bright ribbons and flowers, and sometimes a sparkly unicorn horn.

"I think about the residents, just in that brief interaction that I talk to them, and the things that you find out when you just have a simple conversation," Carroll said. "I heard one as she walked away just talking about how, boy that brought back a lot of memories."

Some talk about riding a horse to school when growing up; others did barrel racing or had horses with their kids. One man lamented that the farm he grew up on had work horses, but none he could ride. A woman recalled volunteering at the historic Pony Express Station in Gothenburg.

"It took them to a place in time that was something far different than where they're at today. So, good memories."