Horses considered essential workers at one Indy nursing home

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — We’ve seen nursing homes across the country get creative to keep those in senior living facilities happy and safe during COVID-19. 

Thursday, Rosegate Senior Communities on the south side of Indianapolis ponied up one of the most creative ideas yet. 

Wess Jackson isn’t just part owner of Rosegate, he’s also the proud owner of ponies and horses.

He decided to bring the two groups together to bring joy not just to the residents, but also the staff.

“Are you taking care of my staff?” Jackson asked resident, Arthur, through the window of his room at the living facility.

It was Arthur’s 97th birthday. In all of his years, he’s never had a birthday quite like this.

“Happy Birthday, Dad,” said Arthur’s son who was standing out his window with a large horse by his side.

Arthur served in World War II and is now living through COVID-19. 

Jackson said seeing these residents so happy to see the horses makes his day.

“I’ve got the easy job, hauling horses around,” said Jackson. “It’s such a blessing to see the smiles but what’s really a blessing is our employees.”

Every day, these essential caregivers are making sacrifices to keep residents safe. But some say it feels like the other way around. 

“In many ways, we thought they were going to struggle and they’ve brought a lot of light to us because they’ve been through war, they’ve been tough times,” said Rosegate Executive Director Ryan Levengood.

The staff is working hard to regularly connect residents with their family members through video chat. Residents are learning lots about technology.

“Honestly, in many ways we’ve enjoyed them more and they’ve enjoyed us more yesterday we had residents that had squirt guns and they were shooting our staff,” said Levengood.

Much like those who are still coming to work during this pandemic, Jackson said horses are essential workers.

“Because it’s essential that my staff and my residents smile, the emotional well being is as important as the physical well being,” said Jackson.

And if there’s anything you take away from this story, Jackson said it’s hope.

“I want folks to see there is hope,” he emphasized.

If you would like to see pictures and videos of these staff members making the best of this situation, visit their Facebook page.

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