Nursing home queen tackling stigma of long-term care facilities - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Nursing home queen tackling stigma of long-term care facilities

(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)
DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) -

Sarah "Sally" Scott says she's never won anything in her life, let alone competed in a pageant... until now.

"Words can't express it. I've never won anything in my life. I've never entered anything. When they did that I thought I was going to freak out, but it was the most wonderful feeling I've ever had," said Scott.

She's the new Ms. Alabama Nursing Home after winning the local pageant at Westside Terrace Nursing Home, and the state pageant against nine other contestants.

She chuckled as she remembered her first win - taking the crown as she dealt with a bout of pneumonia. 

"I had a temperature, but they came in and helped me get out of bed and get dressed. I entered Ms. Westside Terrace and I won. I said, 'Oh my goodness. I'm headed to Birmingham'," she said.

For Scott, this is more than just a crown - it's a platform to spread a message that's personal to her: transitioning into a nursing home and the stigma associated with nursing home living.

"For years, long-term care has had a negative stigma associated with it. They don't know what to expect. That creates fear. When they come they're usually pleasantly surprised at the experience they have - that it's nothing like they expected," said Kristie Hughes, administrator, Westside Terrace.

Scott became a permanent resident at Westside Terrace after she was injured during a fall.

"The doctor told me - one day I asked him, 'Am I going home tomorrow?' and he said, 'you can't go back home.'" Scott said. 

Scott said the doctor told her she would need 24-hour care, which was something she couldn't afford. So, her husband moved into the facility to be with her, making Westside Terrace home.

"I brought my china cabinet and china, and the bookcases my husband made," Scott said.

Scott says she was nervous about the move, especially having to switch doctors, but says she is truly happy and still has a sense of freedom. She says some people think they lose freedom coming to nursing homes, but that's not the case.

"The stigma, is a lot of them thought a nursing home was a place you go to die. We wanted them to know that they're coming here to live," said Scott.

The facility offers church services, musical entertainment, day field trips, and formal events. Residents also have the freedom to choose activities and plan their day. 

"The reality is nursing homes are a fun place to be. They're a lot of activities. People are able to select their own schedule and determine the course of their own day," said Hughes.

Scott says she plans to use her platform as queen to travel around the state sharing her story of a positive transition and dispel the myths associated with nursing home care. 

"This is the best place to be if you can't take care of yourself. Everything is done for you. Your laundry, your cleaning, your meals and you have freedom," said Scott.

Scott's first speaking engagement is next month. She will travel to Birmingham to speak at the Alabama Nursing Home Association Convention.

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