The power of a smile
Lisa wants residents to see her smile again. As a recreational therapist at Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care, she works with vulnerable people, many of whom have dementia. Sometimes a smile is all it takes to put those in her care at ease and make them feel comfortable. “Wearing a mask means that people cannot see when we’re smiling. We’ve had to become creative and find new ways to make our residents smile and laugh.”
Long-term care facilities have witnessed many changes in recent months. Added safety measures and protocols mandated by the government have made it challenging for Lisa to plan meaningful therapeutic programs. She has to consider social distancing and limit the number of participants when planning activities. But it’s a responsibility that gives her energy. “Planning fun and engaging activities has kept me going during the pandemic. With a little creativity and motivation, we’ve been able to maintain a level of high care that meets needs of our residents.”
Visitor restrictions have also made it challenging for family members to see loved ones in long-term care facilities. It’s a challenge that motivates Lisa. It’s the reason why she facilitates weekly video visits to keep residents connected with family members. “Donations through St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation have funded iPads and other technology that enable residents to stay connected with loved ones. It has been heartwarming and a lot of wonderful moments have come from these conversations.”
The lack of face-to-face communication has also been tough for the therapeutic recreation team who like to work collaboratively and bounce ideas off each other. “Video, phone and email chats just aren’t the same as being in the same room and feeling the energy and excitement of new ideas.”
The past few months have not been easy for Lisa. But she wants you to know that underneath the mask, she’s still smiling.