As individuals and as a team, the Wellspring senior staff at Powell are “Walking the Path” with Executive Director Sara J. Horne. We would like you to meet them, one day at a time.
Debbie would be the first to tell you that becoming a dietary director was a surprise to her family. “Whoever started the saying ‘She can’t boil water without scorching it’ was talking about my mother,” Debbie says. So, while she learned valuable lessons from her mom, Debbie learned to cook by hanging out in the kitchen with her dad and aunt. She remembers those times as special. Being “brought up” on chicken ‘n dumplings, cobblers, cathead biscuits, cornbread, and peanut butter gravy was special, too. She liked her dad’s chocolate gravy best: “It was to die for!”
Debbie continued “chef’s school” while traveling with her husband, sampling regional and ethnic foods at fine restaurants along the way.
To her gift for blending seasonings and flavors of regional dishes with southern cooking, Debbie added studies in nutrition. She also developed an ear for listening to what residents like to eat. “I’m an appetite detective,” she says with a grin. “When residents tell me I’m a good cook, and I know they’re getting the nutrients and liquids they need, it makes my day!”
Debbie meets with residents and their families to learn what foods the resident likes. Then she works to meet the state nutritional guidelines by including the resident’s favorite foods. A major challenge with memory care is encouraging residents to eat and to drink plenty of fluids. She knows from experience that serving food residents like is the key. And then, mealtimes make their day!
Experience as a caregiver helps Debbie know the meaning of quality care. She cared for and lost to lingering illness three people she loved dearly: her husband, father and mother. Debbie speaks softly of her mother: “She died in the spring of this year after living with Alzheimer’s for ten years. And I was blessed with a way to look after her every single year.”
Now, Debbie enjoys time with her three children and three grandchildren. She has married and moved into a new home on the Clinch River. She likes to mingle with people at flea markets and yard sales, keeping an eye out for antiques. Her music is blues, country and oldies. And, her favorite pastime is to camp out and go horseback riding at Big South Fork. “My brother breeds Rocky Mountain Saddle Horses,” Debbie says. “There’s not a finer horse anywhere.”
Photo by Cap Stewart