For as long as she can remember, Ashley Moore has loved to sing.
“Singing is just, it’s in my blood,” Moore said. “I’ve been doing it all my life.”
A licensed practical nurse, Moore works at Perry County Nursing Home in Marion, Alabama. When she first started the job about three years ago, she would occasionally hum a tune while walking the halls. A few residents started to notice, and they loved it.
“From then on, I sang, because … you know they’re living in a nursing home, this is where they’re going to be,” Moore said. “I don’t exactly know how they’re feeling at the moment. But if I can do anything to brighten their day, I will.”
Moore started singing during activities and church services, and she would even meet one-on-one with residents to sing their favorite songs.
But earlier this year, that kind of thing became more difficult.
The coronavirus has spread through most nursing homes in Alabama, including Perry County. Since March, people have not been able to visit in person and there have not been as many group activities, including group singing.
It has been a difficult time, according to 75-year old Fannie Bates, a Perry County Nursing Home resident.
“These past few months have been, I don’t know, it’s very lonesome,” Bates said. “Cause most people used to see their family, you know getting together and everything.”
Ashley Moore said it’s also been stressful for staff. With the restrictions and health risks, she said employees can’t interact with residents like they used to, and at the same time, residents are more confused and isolated.
“We were just trying to figure out ways to continue to try to keep some kind of normalcy in there,” Moore said.
Sharon Phillips, the administrator at Perry County Nursing Home, said one idea was to use the loudspeaker to deliver inspiring messages. But they needed a volunteer.
“Ashley said ‘I will,’ and she got on the pager and said a prayer and then started singing on her own,” Phillips said.
In the middle of the hallway, in her purple scrubs, Moore belted gospel hymns throughout the facility. Moore said she’s sung a lot over the years, but this time, it was different.
“The reaction was nothing like I thought it would be,” she said. “Everybody hears me sing. I didn’t know that those words to that song meant so much to them. People were even crying.”
Fannie Bates was among them. Bates, who is one of Moore’s biggest fans, said every song is spiritual and that comes through in Moore’s voice.
“She (Moore) does a great job with singing and a great meaning to it,” Bates said, “and I just love something like that.”
Bates also loves to sing, and she said it makes her feel better, even when she’s lonely.