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Harris to present children's book about visiting nursing homes at signing Saturday

Chelsia Harris reads and signs book to dispel children's fear of nursing homes at Barnes & Noble March 2.

Anna Moseley  | 

News - Chelsia Harris Book

Dr. Chelsia Harris, associate executive director of nursing for degree development.

Nursing homes can be unfamiliar, and even scary places, for anyone, but especially for children. One Lipscomb faculty member is hoping to change that perception in the next generation with her new children’s book, Hannah Visits Nana in the Nursing Home.

Chelsia Harris, associate director of nursing for degree development in the Lipscomb College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences's School of Nursing, will be at Barnes & Noble in Cool Springs for a reading and book signing of the book on Saturday, March 2, at noon.

Fueled by her own personal losses and life experiences in the health care system, Harris dedicated years of academic research to uncovering the challenges nurses face caring for patients and the consequences those challenges can have on patient care, especially for nurses working with the geriatric population.

Reflecting on her own family’s experience with loved ones who were living in long-term care facilities, Harris, who has a three-year-old of her own, was inspired to write a story focused on instilling compassion for the elderly into the heart of a child.

“I want kids to see the incredible value that the older adult population brings to this world,” said Harris. “They are so full of wisdom. Sometimes nursing homes can be scary and intimidating, but I hope this book dispels that myth, and encourages children to visit often.”

Hannah Visits Nana showcases both a heroic nurse who daily faces the trials of long-term care with a smile, providing the best possible care for her patients, and the experience of a child who realizes there is nothing to fear in the nursing home.

Hannah’s visit in the nursing home starts with a tour from Nurse Faith. She meets some friendly patients and learns the meaning of compassion along the tour. Hannah ends her tour by curling up in her Nana’s lap, recalling her day and reassuring her Nana she will be visiting often.

Harris said she felt called to become a nurse, even from a very young age, and that desire only grew after caring for her 80-year-old great aunt.

“She became very ill right after I was accepted to school and she went into the hospital,” said Harris. “I found that she didn’t receive the greatest quality care or the most compassionate care, so I really knew I was on the right path with nursing.”

As a researcher, Harris later studied the phenomenon of compassion fatigue, where nurses who are exposed to trauma and loss on a daily basis, begin to feel indifferent to these losses. She felt a calling to make this problem a major focus of her work.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Harris began her nursing career as a Registered Nurse in a small community hospital in Branson, Missouri.

She later earned her Master of Science in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner from Vanderbilt University, and within a couple of years, began teaching at the College of the Ozarks, where she taught in their Bachelor of Science in Nursing program for 8 years.

During her tenure at College of the Ozarks, Harris suffered another personal loss when her own “Nana” died during her stay in a long-term care facility.

“I asked God what he wanted me to do about this loss, so instead of getting mad and angry, I channeled those feelings into wanting to be the change that is necessary in this profession,” said Harris. “I felt called to get my doctorate.”

During her doctoral program at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, Harris performed original research in hopes of improving nursing home care.

“I told my professor I wanted to make sure every single resident of nursing homes and people in the hospital receive the quality of care that they deserve, at the hands of people who are compassionate, kind and loving,” said Harris. “I wanted to fix what is broken in nursing.”

Harris was a pioneer in exploring the concept of compassion fatigue among the nursing home nursing assistant population. Harris’ research also explored the relationship between compassion fatigue and daily spiritual experience of nursing assistants working in nursing homes.

The idea for Hannah Visits Nana came to Harris in 2014, as she was making her way to the airport to fly back to Ohio for her doctoral studies.

“I was driving down the road and the words just came to me,” she said. “The concept of helping little children to recognize the value of people who reside in nursing homes, to not be fearful of them, or the way they look, or the sights, sounds or smells and to make the nurse really compassionate and the hero in the book.”

Dedicated to her daughter Hanalee Faith, Hannah Visits Nana In the Nursing Home was published through Christian Faith Publishing Inc. in 2018 and is available for purchase at Barnes & Noble or online.