Our mission is to educate and support families of long-term care recipients to become effective advocates for their loved ones by providing information on achieving optimal physical, spiritual, social, mental, and emotional health.
Our vision is compassionate and personalized long-term care services that honor the uniqueness and dignity of each individual.
In 2004, our mother was diagnosed with dementia. A sudden and severe decline in her mental capacity meant she could not function in her home, so we admitted her to a nursing facility in August 2009. Her speech had been scrambled for months and she quickly became very difficult to understand, rendering her unable to make her needs and thoughts known in her unfamiliar environment filled with strangers who were providing care for her.
Mother had always been an assertive woman, always advocating for social justice and the rights of others and herself. So now she used the only means available to her: nonverbal behavior. She protested what she did not like or understand by physical resistance, which staff in turn treated as agitation and noncompliance.
Having been a provider of long-term care for over 33 years, I was uniquely equipped to become her advocate, her voice to get her needs met. The struggles our family undertook to push for needed changes in the facility practices persisted for months, prompting my sister to make two observations. First, she knew that if someone had asked our activist mother whether she would endure these difficulties to make way for a better quality of life for all people in long-term care, she would have said yes. Second, she wondered how families without knowledge of the regulations and ability to navigate the system ever succeed in their efforts to meet their loved one’s needs.
In that instant, we realized we had to take up our mother’s role as activist and speak out for the group of which she now found herself a part. We had to do what we could to make sure the voice of people in long-term care who cannot speak out was heard.
Our Mother’s Voice® was born.
Our mother was a lifelong activist for social justice for those without a voice. Dementia took her ability to talk, and she found herself a member of a group without a voice: nursing home residents who cannot speak for themselves when something is not right. Her non-verbal communication with us, her daughters, was very clear to us, however; and called us into action, to advocate for this group without a voice, to carry Our Mother’s Voice.
We immediately answered that call, and began work to make Our Mother's Voice a reality. We assembled our Board of Directors in Autumn 2010, received our SC nonprofit corporate charter December 9, 2010, published our website in February 2011, obtained the trademark for the name Our Mother’s Voice® April 2, 2011 (registration dated May 10, 2011), achieved tax exempt status in South Carolina on April 12, 2011, and received our IRS nonprofit 501(c)3 status August 1, 2011. We have been empowering voices in long-term care throughout the country since 2010!
Founder & CEO
Kathy Bradley is founder, CEO, and Board President of Our Mother’s Voice®, a nonprofit organization that provides information to empower families to advocate for quality care and services for their loved ones who need long-term care at home or in nursing facilities.
Kathy spent a 33-year career serving people in South Carolina with developmental disabilities both in their homes and in care facilities. Her service ranged from direct care, to program and staff management, to Nursing Home Administrator, to Executive Director of a county Board of Disabilities and Special Needs, where she directed lifespan services for people with disabilities for over 16 years. She served over 750 people and their families while also advocating for their needs, impacting thousands of lives.
She retired in 2009 – just in time, as her father-in-law and her mother both suddenly declined into severe dementia, and both families needed her expertise. Her mother, a lifelong advocate for those without a voice in our country, had lost her own ability to speak and required care in a nursing home, thus becoming one of those for whom she had advocated. The challenges Kathy confronted in her efforts to secure quality services and supports for her loved ones led her and her sister to establish Our Mother’s Voice®. Through this nonprofit organization Kathy has empowered families throughout the country to advocate for better care.
Kathy works on the state and national level. She serves on the SC Adult Protection Coordinating Council and previously on several other state collaboratives. She serves on the Leadership Council for the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, participating in numerous committees and work groups, served two terms as Vice-Chair of the Council, and currently serves as Secretary. She is working with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on their national project to improve nursing home care, now in the phase of developing implementation plans via the Moving Forward Coalition; and participates in two federal GAO technical expert panels: to expand the quality measures for a new nursing home payment project to support high quality of care, and to examine the impact of COVID on infection prevention and control in nursing homes. She is a member of the Patient/Family Advisory Council for Health Quality Innovations, a technical assistance project of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In 2013 Kathy completed a certificate course from Johns Hopkins University in Care of Elders with Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Major Neurocognitive Disorders, and in 2018 she was designated by CMS as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in behavior as communication in those with dementia. She conducts workshops and seminars, presenting to diverse groups locally, nationally, and internationally, and has provided testimony to Congressional committees, with her message of advocacy and well-being for vulnerable people.
All artwork in our brochure and on this web site taken from original paintings © Carol J Hay, our mother; used with permission. “The Sentry Box”, “The Gift”, “Confusion In Red”, “Spiral Galaxy”, "Glass Mosaic" – mixed media on canvas; “Whitewater”, “Joy Cometh In the Morning”, “After the Storm”, "The Journey", “Irrational Exuberance” - oil on canvas. (Photos of “The Gift”, "The Journey", and “Whitewater” taken from giclee prints on canvas.)
Our mother developed her interest in abstract art in the years shortly preceding her diagnosis. She was able to enjoy artistic expression during the early stages of her dementia, even after her language began to fade. We chose these paintings to represent the major tenets upon which Our Mother’s Voice is founded, both as a visual connection to each of the concepts, and as a celebration of our mother’s talent and the joy she found in her work.
The following is an “Artist’s Statement” which our mother wrote on the occasion of a gallery opening in December 2006, which included all the paintings on this site and many others. It describes her love of art and the artistic process, and her inspiration for the paintings used by Our Mother’s Voice.
Carol J Hay: Journey in Art
My journey in the realm of art has taken me, in the broadest terms, from realism to the abstract; from water colors to oils, acrylics, and mixed media; from painting on 4”x6” paper or canvas board to using the largest canvases I can conveniently handle; from the use of delicate, transparent colors to the use of dense, intense, and vibrant media. This journey has not been made simply to get to a destination by the shortest possible route. On the contrary, there were many starts and stops along the way, experimenting here, exploring there.
The variety of artistic modes appearing in this exhibit do not represent yesterday’s paths that were abandoned in search of something better; they are, rather, paths that were pursued for their own sakes, for the sense of joy or fulfillment they themselves provided. I hope to visit most, if not all, of them again tomorrow.
Hence, there is no smooth line of development in my art from one stage to another. The important thing to me has not been to arrive at a preconceived goal, but to experience the journey itself.
At present I find myself painting in a more purely abstract mode than ever before. Abstract art has a special appeal for me because of the unique freedom it affords—not only the obvious freedom of form, color, line, texture, etc., but an inner, serendipitous freedom that comes from a source outside of myself. It simply happens.
For example, I frequently begin to paint with no idea where the painting will take me. I suppose one would say that I act randomly in choosing a canvas, paints, brushes or palette knife, and that I begin to apply them with no more thought than a very young child may have in playing in a mudpuddle—and, I may add, with the same unmitigated delight. Then there comes, sometimes but not always, a point when the medium takes on a life of its own, seeming to lead rather than be directed toward the accomplishment of a purpose. A moment of serendipity may arrive when I begin to see a motif, a “subject matter,” emerging. From that moment on, I try to do only what seems to be required of me to enhance the motif that the painting has presented to me. Signing my name at the bottom is my way of singing again, “Ars gratia artis.”
Carol J Hay: Her Life Her Work, Her Influence in Our Lives
Our Mother Carol Jones Hay, born Carol Eloise Jones, grew up mostly in Florida during the Depression, one of three children of a Presbyterian minister and his wife. “We didn’t know we were poor,” she said, “because everybody was.” She remembered having suppers consisting only of grits and sliced tomatoes.
Part of her childhood was spent in Ocala, where she and her brother and sister learned about reptiles and amphibians from the expert who wrestled alligators in the Tarzan movies, filmed in the Silver Springs. She enthusiastically taught us, her daughters, as well as friends, neighbors and anyone else who would listen, never to kill a harmless snake, and how to identify the poisonous ones.
When we were children our mother taught kindergarten in underserved communities and was active in our local school’s PTA. During these years, the early 1960s, she (together with our father) was one of few whites who worked to convince local school officials to complete the racial integration of our schools. Her deep feelings inspired us to befriend the few children of color in our school, who represented the district’s effort to pay lip service to the imperative set forth by Brown v. Board of Education. In 1963 she and our father took us to hear Martin Luther King, Jr. speak, despite the threat of violence surrounding him.
For 13 years our mother taught special education, resource room, and social studies classes in public middle school. While there she advocated for special-needs students and worked in local and state politics to improve conditions for public school teachers. She established a new resource room for special-needs students at a local residential school serving children of families in crisis. She served on the South Carolina Governor’s Educator Improvement Task Force to help establish performance standards for new teachers entering the field in our state.
As a teacher, she worked hard to cross social boundaries and bring people together. Our father tells with delight of a day when he visited her classroom, where most of her students at the time were African-American. As he left the room, he heard a student say, “Mrs. Hay’s married to a white man.”
After our mother left teaching she returned to art, which she had studied in college. Her watercolors of still life and landscapes were popular locally, and we family members especially treasure her portraits of family and pets. In more recent years she discovered odorless synthetic oils and a new passion for abstract painting. “The Gift,” a Nativity scene in gold and blue, is featured yearly by the retirement community where our parents live, and the Christmas card made from it was chosen by their church to raise funds for a local charity. The paintings you see on this website are all hers, and our design consultant for our print materials is her granddaughter, of whose talent she is immensely proud.
Whether defending harmless snakes, teaching disadvantaged children, or working for political and social change, our mother spent her life speaking out for those who could not speak for themselves or simply were not being heard. Suddenly silenced by the disabilities of dementia, she needed others to speak for her in her final years, until her death in February 2015. We as a family have learned much on our journey of advocacy, and we began Our Mother’s Voice as a way of continuing her work of speaking up for others. We hope that the information here will enable other families to help their loved ones in long-term care to live fulfilling lives of the greatest possible health, friendship, and joy.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE AND DISCLAIMER: The contents of this website are largely based upon the Code of Federal Regulations 42CFR483 Subpart B, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities, and standards for nursing homes. Not every long-term care provider accepts Medicare or Medicaid as a payment source, but those standards of care should be considered when choosing any provider. Our Mother’s Voice does not offer legal advice, but strives to inform so families can make decisions on their own. If you require advice, we recommend that you seek an appropriate advisory professional.