By Julie Ireton
This spring Abbotsford House at The Glebe Centre is finding new and creative ways to connect with and serve seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The old stone house across from Lansdowne Park usually bustles with activities including exercise classes, clubs, day-away programs, musical groups and foot-care clinics but during this period of closure, staff are finding other ways to touch base with clients.
“They started phoning people at the very beginning. A lot of us are out there on our own, so they call to say, ‘How are you’ and that kind of thing,” said Mira Mossop, a long-time Abbotsford member. “Then they started little projects, like the Zumba dancing video they sent out or a video to help with painting, and someone is making masks for people.”
Mossop says she continues to be impressed with how Abbotsford staff is finding ways to engage seniors who have been hunkered down in homes and apartments for several weeks.
Every few days, there’s something new to participate in, she said. She also received some homemade washable masks made by other members, to be worn on trips to the grocery store.
“You can count on them,” said Mossop.
Check out the website glebecentre.ca. Many regular instructors have fitness videos ready for you to do on your own time at home. Some new classes and sessions are starting up through Seniors Centre Without Walls phone conferencing and Zoom technology. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abbotsford’s day-away program for seniors with various forms of dementia usually gives clients a day out of the house each week to join others for brain-stimulating activities at the centre. It gives caregivers a break too.
During the coronavirus lockdown, the program has been suspended, so Abbotsford staff came up with a care package to drop off to clients in an effort to keep minds active.
David Shaw, who usually participates in the day-away program every week, is missing the social time.
“He misses the company. He only has me,” said Mary Shaw, David’s wife. “He keeps himself busy on his computer, but there’s not much of a social life right now.”
When the package arrived from Abbotsford, Shaw said she was amazed to find so many thoughtful activities, including crosswords, different kinds of puzzles with varying degrees of challenges, a target toss game, playing cards, a couple of homemade masks and even some chocolate.
“I was very impressed with the thought that has gone into it and some expense too,” said Shaw. “They’re also keeping in touch with us through phone calls and emails, and they always say, ‘let us know what else we can do.’ They’re looking after their clients really well.”
During this time, Abbotsford has been reduced to three full-time staff, and a part-time driver with some occasional hours for the other employees who also help out at The Glebe Centre long-term care home.
Staff are helping get groceries, Meals on Wheels and pharmacy needs delivered to seniors as well as driving clients to medical appointments.
If you are lonely and needing to talk, you can call A Friendly Voice, a toll-free phone line for seniors feeling isolated, from 8 a.m. to midnight. 1-855-892-9992.
A reminder that you can call Abbotsford Community Support Services directly; leave a message and someone will get back to you: 613-230-5730.
Abbotsford is your Seniors Active Living Centre. We are the community programs of The Glebe Centre Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit organization which includes a 254-bed long-term care home. Find out more about our services by dropping by 950 Bank Street Monday to Friday 9 a.m.–4 p.m., calling 613-230-5730 or checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website glebecentre.ca.
Julie Ireton is a journalist who contributes regularly to the Glebe Report on issues affecting Abbotsford.