Therapeutic recreation team at Mount Hope is ‘going places’

Innovative recreation programming earns provincial honour

When Gene Hayward steps into a virtual reality (VR) setting, he’s going places. Really going places.

Gene lives with a traumatic brain injury. Earlier this year, he was among the residents selected to trial virtual leisure experiences at St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care.

Gene chose to ride a simulated roller coaster. “VR is virtually real,” he quips. “It’s so close to the real McCoy and a lot safer. You can even get motion sickness on the VR roller coaster. When I’m involved in virtual experience, I feel like I’m doing the things I always wanted to do before my accident.”

His virtual ride was part of the unique leisure experiences that are continually being explored at Mount Hope. This week, the therapeutic recreation team was recognized for their innovative approach and named as “Organization of the Year” at the Therapeutic Recreation for Ontario conference.

“This award is a testament to how therapeutic recreation professionals at St. Joseph’s contribute to the wellbeing and care of our patients and residents,” says Roy Butler, Vice President, Patient Care and Risk Management. “For our Mount Hope team, the honour demonstrates the effort and creativity it takes to develop therapeutic recreation programs within the unique setting of a long term care home.”

The potential of Mount Hope residents enjoying virtual leisure breaks barriers and opens opportunities.

“A resident can virtually experience anything they choose,” says Bernice Haasen, Coordinator, Therapeutic Programs at Mount Hope, “such as participating in adventure travel, returning to former life roles like being a mechanic in a virtual workshop or using virtual brushes to create a piece of art in a 360-degree studio.

“These kinds of experiences give individuals a chance to do something that they feel excited about or that they find calming and relaxing.”  

Beyond ‘Going Places’ where residents enjoy virtual experiences, Mount Hope has developed an ever-evolving calendar of recreational leisure, including an Interactive Village, Internet Café, Wishing Well and Resident Ambassador programs. Each offering is tailored to meet the needs of residents in long term care.

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