Where she leads, Emmanuel's residents follow; Detroit Lakes' Nancy Lickiss receives 2008 Leadership Award from MHHA

For almost 20 years now, Nancy Lickiss has been caring for the residents of Emmanuel Community, and her enthusiasm and passion for her work continues unchecked.

For almost 20 years now, Nancy Lickiss has been caring for the residents of Emmanuel Community, and her enthusiasm and passion for her work continues unchecked.

"I get so much more than I give," she said Thursday. "The feeling I get when I walk into a (resident's) room and their face lights up with trust -- I just don't think it gets any better."

And the feeling is mutual, according to the staff and residents at Emmanuel. Lickiss was recently honored with a Leadership Award from the Minnesota Health and Housing Alliance (MHHA), at its annual Institute for Older Adult Services.

During the presentation, which was made on Feb. 9 at a ceremony in Minneapolis, Lickiss was praised as a teacher, mentor and caregiver who is passionate about her role as a nurse leader within Emmanuel Community.

"Emmanuel Community, as part of Ecumen, lives the promise to create a home for older adults wherever they choose to live. Nancy is highly committed to this promise, and it shows in the way she listens to the residents, their family members and the staff," said Emmanuel Administrator Janet Green.


"Nancy is the perfect role model to nurses who are considering entering the long-term care field," said coworker Susan Bachleitner in a press release announcing the award. "She shows enthusiasm, expertise and she continues to grow and help our nursing home grow.

"We've seen many changes in our type of residents and their needs and demands. Nancy welcomes these changes and becomes part of these changes. She's a wonderful nurse, a wonderful person. She's what long term care is all about."

But Lickiss shies away from the praise, noting, "It's a huge honor to win this award, but I don't work for awards. I just love my job."

She enjoys stopping by Emmanuel's coffee shop and chatting with the residents and staff gathered there. "A lot of important business goes on in that coffee shop," she said with a smile.

Lickiss also enjoys seeing the residents who stop by her office "just to say hi."

One of the more important things Lickiss feels she has accomplished during her tenure at Emmanuel is her work with the Circle of Care program.

This program offers a personal, individually centered approach to dying residents and their family members. One part of the program is to employ a Comfort Cart, a package of care that includes information on the dying process, religious materials, massage lotion, soothing music and special bedding.

The comfort provided by this package was so appreciated by one family member at Emmanuel that they wrote, "Dear Nancy, thank you so much for helping me and my family as we gathered with Mom through her last days. I appreciate the comfort, the Kleenexes, the coffee, the direction and support you showed to us. We knew she was in loving, competent and caring hands. Thank you for the colored sheets, the comfort cart and the hugs. You are a very special person."


Lickiss feels that through her work with Emmanuel's end of life committee, she has helped to soften, and honor, the dying process.

"The dying process is a very important part of life," she said, noting that Emmanuel has implemented a "walk of honor" for its deceased residents, a process where their body is escorted from their room to the front door, where a funeral home representative is waiting.

The resident is draped in a special blanket -- made by Emmanuel volunteers -- that is, as Lickiss puts it, "the last act of dignity that we can provide for a person."

Recently, Lickiss was appointed to a new position at Emmanuel, as an admissions nurse. Her new duties include meeting and greeting new residents, doing a head-to-toe physical assessment and developing a care plan.

"I work with social services as well as our staff therapists, nurses, activities, dietary and maintenance people, and of course, our chaplain," she said. "I try to make the families feel as if they are a very important part of the team, because they are."

A resident of Detroit Lakes since 1971, Nancy and her husband Mike Lickiss have raised two children, Cory and Amy, who are now starting families of their own.

Cory, who lives in Bowling Green, Ky., with his wife and two children, is a store manager for Gander Mountain. Amy, who works for Waste Management in Detroit Lakes and lives in Park Rapids, is in the process of planning a June wedding.

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
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