Joan Icklan, a resident of Arden Courts, a memory care community in West Orange, has a lifelong passion for animals large and small.
So when Sierra Mason, program services coordinator at Arden Courts, asked her, “What is your ‘Heart’s Desire,’” the answer came quickly: “I want to spend the day with animals.”
Through the Heart’s Desire program, Arden Courts staff members ask residents for a dream they would like to see come true — and then make it happen. HCR ManorCare — now known as ProMedica/Arden Courts — first developed the program in 1997, as a supplement to existing service programs. It quickly became a hallmark in the industry and was honored with a Silver Anvil, the Public Relations Society of America’s highest award.
“Granting residents their ‘Heart’s Desire’ is one of the ways we can honor a resident and allow them to focus on a passion or cherished time in their past,” said Arden Courts executive director Martha Outz. “It’s our favorite program, and the residents really enjoy themselves.”
Joan Icklan, a graduate of Wellesley College, Montclair State University, and Seton Hall University, also received her JD from Rutgers University. She is an avid movie buff, an opera lover, and well appreciates the importance of the arts in our society. Her passion for animals — especially cats — runs deep.
To fulfill her “Heart’s Desire,” Arden Court arranged to have a “delegation” of animals brought in to visit with residents from an animal therapy center in New York. “The chinchillas were an overwhelming hit,” said Mason. “All of the residents enjoyed cuddling and petting them.”