Abbotsford House – serving seniors in challenging times

By Karen Anne Blakely

The services and programs delivered today at and from Abbotsford House are much different from March 13, the day we closed our doors and began our pandemic response. Though our doors remain closed, the staff are busy serving clients and members daily. We are following guidance from Ottawa Public Health, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility. Regulations of the Emergency Measures Act caused some staff to be deployed to work in long-term care, and others started a leave of absence. Our government funders have committed money for 2020 as we offer new and different types of programs and services in Community Support Services and the Seniors Active Living Centre. We have focused our efforts on essential deliveries, drives to medical appointments, virtual programming, telephone conferencing, helping everyone navigate to get what they need and sharing important information on how to stay safe.

Groups of seniors like the Craft and Teddy Bear group continue to meet and create at Abbotsford via Zoom.  
PHOTOS: Pat Goyeche

We have a telephone reassurance program that has engaged 40 volunteers and students to check in on more than 300 older adults, daily, weekly or occasionally. If more than a friendly check-in is needed, the senior is referred to staff for follow up. Everyone is dealing with the pandemic in different ways. We are assisting seniors who are struggling by referring them to appropriate places and getting them what they may need to cope better.

As always, we have been referring seniors for house cleaning, home maintenance, yard work and other services at home. We referred members and clients to foot-care nurses who come to seniors’ homes.

Our virtual programming on the Zoom platform has been a grand success for those able to navigate their iPads and tablets to connect to instructors offering aerobics, dance, stretch and balance, yoga, language lessons and art classes. We have brought together small groups of people who wish to socialize together from home.

We also have embraced telephone conferencing with a platform called Mercuri to offer Seniors Centre Without Walls so people can use their phone to connect to small groups of people that would normally meet in person, like the Craft and Teddy Bear Groups, the Aerobic Gang, Luncheon Club, Dementia Day Program and a weekly meditation class.

We started a book and puzzle sale on the front porch to help members be engaged with activities they are able to do at home; it has also provided a destination for a daily walk. While here, walkers can take in the lovely garden in full bloom surrounding the house.

We are planning to sell our already-priced, high-end items during Bazaar Days on three Saturdays in September (September 12, 19 and 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) We are taking pandemic measures seriously to ensure members can safely enter part of the house to shop for treasures. We will have some art displayed on our patio (Bank Street parking lot) and more in our multipurpose room, which will also house vintage and elegant treasures, handmade crafts, knit wear, teddy bears and high-end jewellery, with new items each week. We have limited capacity at the moment to fundraise in our traditional ways, and we continue to rely on community support to make the seniors’ centre the best it can be.

Having received many cards, calls and emails throughout the shutdown, we are very grateful to all our members and clients for their care and concern. We are looking forward to the day we can open our doors, greet everyone in person and enjoy the company of friends in the multipurpose room, art room, pottery room, dining room, second floor and the boutique. Until then, the staff and I wish you all good health and happy moments during these challenging times.

Abbotsford is your Seniors Active Living Centre for adults 55+.  It houses 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 telephoning 613-230-5730 during regular business hours or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website glebecentre.ca.

Karen Anne Blakely is director of community programming for The Glebe Centre.

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