Morton Bakar Center "Goes Wild" for National Nursing Home Week

National Nursing Home Week was recognized from May 13-19 and is celebrated annually at ؼ . Each day of the week was centralized around a theme. On Wednesday, May 15, the team celebrated "MBC Goes Wild" — staff dressed up in safari gear and animal print while others brought their pets into work. Birds, dogs, and bunnies paraded through the building throughout the day so that residents could touch and play with them.

One staff member was able to bring her relative's horse, Jugete ("toy" in Spanish), to MBC for the residents to interact with. MBC had never brought Jugete in before, and it was such a special treat for residents and staff alike to touch and take photos with the horse. They opened up the back patio area for the horse to stand in and for residents to be able to view and play with the horse safely. Residents of MBC were pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

How to Fill in a Garden with Gratitude (and Ditch the Dirt)

Telecare Gratitude Garden

As mental health service providers, the benefits of practicing gratitude have been on our radar for quite some time. Research tells us taking the time to cultivate a regular practice, gratitude improves sleeping habits, lowers blood pressure, and can significantly increase life satisfaction and a sense of wellbeing.

At Telecare, we strive to create a company culture in which gratitude thrives. For most people, the biggest challenge of practicing gratitude is finding the time, so we wanted to find an easy way for our staff and the people we serve to practice wherever they are. What we found was even better: a simple way to practice gratitude and connect with others that also promotes a healing environment. We planted a Gratitude Garden.

What is a Gratitude Garden?

Shannon mong, Director of Innovation Initiatives, found destiny at the solar exclipse in 2017. A few months later, Telecare began piloting a gratitude program based on these cards.

Shannon mong, Director of Innovation Initiatives, found destiny at the solar exclipse in 2017. A few months later, Telecare began piloting a gratitude program based on these cards.

Unlike an actual garden, a Gratitude Garden includes far less dirt and worms. The idea stems from two women who created , a card deck created by them with handwritten themes based in nature to inspire mindful reflection. The founders later expanded their idea to create a , "a playful and interactive gratitude experience designed to create inviting spaces for people to contribute their seeds of gratitude and wisdom with the messages they leave behind."

Each kit contains a poster and postcards featuring the designs from their card deck with a prompt written on them.

So, how did Telecare get involved with Gratitude Blooming?

"I was at the solar eclipse last year in Oregon and sat beside people pulling cards from an unusual looking deck," said Shannon Mong, Director of Innovation Initiatives. "I'm a curious person, so I asked what they were. They told me to pull a card, and I got one with a beautiful flower on it and that said destiny. I thought, okay, here we go! I want to learn more."

Growing Gratitude


Inspired by the properties gratitude and nature have, Shannon later  tracked down the women and learned Gratitude Blooming was based near ؼ corporate office in the Bay Area – destiny! They met and discussed putting together a gratitude project to engage both employees and clients, breaking down barriers around education or personal experience.

Shannon recruited sixteen Telecare leaders to pilot the use of large Gratitude posters at their programs. Each month the program employees and clients plant "seeds" of gratitude by writing and posting reflections in response to a unique prompt on each poster. 

Highlights from the Field

Our Gratitude Garden pilots at our programs ended in spring. Below is feedback from our programs that implemented a garden at their facility. 

This July, ؼ corporate office is planting a "gratitude garden" in Alameda, and in the future, we're excited to continue collaborating with Gratitude Blooming to explore new ways to spread gratitude more deeply throughout the organization. 

  • "People who never talk in our group sessions were sharing stories and opening up with their peers. By the end, they were having conversations without the facilitators." – Melissa Planas, Clinical Director at , a community-based Transition Aged Youth program in Stockton, California.
  • "When we first took the idea to members, the response to ‘gratitude’ was instant: I’m very grateful for Telecare. It was nice to hear for the staff, because it isn’t always verbalized." – Rachel Schwartz, Administrator at , a community-based Intensive Recovery Treatment Program in Bellflower, California.
  • "Clients are so happy to fill the posters with messages. One client is really involved and consistently promotes it during community meetings. The clients and staff are more positive, motivated, and engaged with one another." – Jennifer Sevilla, Director of Nursing at , a 40-bed Mental Health Rehabilitation Center in Oakland, California.       

Programs that Piloted a Gratitude Garden

  • Sub-Acute Programs
    • , , , , .  
  • Community-Based Programs
    • , , , , , , , 
  • Residential Programs
    • , , .

Interested in Learning More?

Gratitude Garden kits vary in the number of items and price and have corporate and community options available.

  • Contact Belinda Liu at
  • Visit

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RCCS Tidbit of the Month: Judgment

Telecare RCCS Logo

The RCCS Tidbit of the Month is part of ؼ Recovery-Centered Clinical System curriculum to reinforce a culture of recovery in mental health service programs. For more information, .



According to the report of the , stigma is "a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the general public to fear, reject, avoid, and discriminate against people with mental illnesses." The report also says, "Responding to stigma, people with mental health problems internalize public attitudes and become so embarrassed or ashamed that they often conceal symptoms and fail to seek treatment."

Stigma perpetuates two significant myths about people with mental illnesses: 1) They are violent; and 2) They do not recover from their mental illness.

Both are false. Studies show that, at most, mental health status contributes a trivial amount to the overall violence in society (as we know, people with serious mental illness are far more likely to be victims of violence). Studies also show that people who have mental illnesses can and do recover from their illnesses.

Stigma and discrimination can have a negative impact on someone's physical and mental health care. Health care providers may not provide the necessary treatments to people with mental illnesses. For example, people with schizophrenia who are hospitalized for reasons unrelated to mental illness are at least twice as likely as patients without schizophrenia to experience medical problems associated with poor outcomes, including death. One hypothesis is that a lot of the increased risk may result from inferior medical care. For example, studies have indicated that healthcare professionals might not take the medical symptoms of people with schizophrenia seriously, leading to a delay in treatment. Mental health care providers may act coercively or impose mandatory treatment on people with mental illnesses.

So, what can you do to fight stigma? One of the first steps is to acknowledge that we all harbor some level of stigma and judgment toward others or toward ourselves. Discussing the source of those judgments can assist in fighting our myths and giving us real information to bust those myths. Participating in and joining others trying to educate our society and bust stigma and myths can be energizing and raise our hope. Programs hiring and supporting Peer Staff in their important and unique roles, also reminds us all that recovery is possible.


  • by Patricia Deegan, Ph.D.

  • by Shaul Schwarz, Director, and Demi Lovato, Executive Producer

  • by The Family Cafe


View any or all of the videos with your team. Following the video, have a group conversation using the following questions:

  1. What about the video stood out for you?

  2. What surprised you?

  3. Can you connect or relate to anyone in the video or any of the messages you took from the video?

  4. Did you find yourself feeling judgment or stigma about anyone in the video? Why do you think? View the videos with clients/members and have a similar

Read More About the RCCS:

More RCCS Tidbits of the Month

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