This Christmas follows an unprecedented nine months that has been especially difficult for seniors living in the community, retirement residences and long-term care homes – or staying in hospital. That’s why local organizations are making sure their clients, residents and patients enjoy special festive moments while remaining safe.
The Arnprior-Braeside McNab Seniors At Home
During the holidays, Seniors At Home typically holds an Annual Seniors Christmas Party that brings together 250 seniors to celebrate Christmas over a meal and entertainment. While their programs and support continue, COVID-19 has put this event and many others on hold.
“With this unprecedented year, Christmas for many of our clients has changed,” explained Dennis Harrington, Executive Director, Seniors At Home. “With the restriction limits on family gatherings and many of our clients living alone, this holiday will be tough.”
For Christmas, the organization has partnered with community-minded individuals to deliver gift boxes of groceries to some of their most vulnerable clients. As they did when the pandemic began, they’ve also initiated wellness check calls to ensure clients are doing okay and have everything they need.
Arnprior Regional Health
This year, Grove Nursing Home residents will not be able to leave the home to attend holiday festivities with family and friends. However, each resident may have up to two designated essential caregivers visit them in-person and can connect with other loved ones virtually.
“We’ve had to significantly adjust how residents can stay connected with their loved ones safely – and this carries over to Christmas,” said Judith Gilchrist, Director of Care. “At the Grove, we’ve been getting into the holiday spirit and we’re looking forward to celebrating new and old traditions together.”
Over the holidays, the Grove is making an exception that allows families to drop off a single serving of homemade goods for their loved one (with safety measures in place). The residents are also enjoying special planned festivities, including the opportunity to tune into virtual Christmas concerts.
Throughout the holidays at the Hospital, inpatients can continue enjoying in-person scheduled visits (with safety precautions) and virtual visits with their loved ones.
Arnprior Villa Retirement Residence
Christmas at Arnprior Villa is often when residents enjoy visiting their families. These outings are being discouraged this year and the Villa is hosting new holiday traditions to make the season memorable.
Families are encouraged to drop off decorations for their loved ones and many seasonal activities are scheduled, including an outing to view the Christmas lights in the community. At the request of the community, the Villa is hosting an angel tree for residents (with safety measures) and are accepting the community’s Christmas cards for the residents.
“The support shown to us through this ‘special’ year has meant a lot to both residents and staff,” said Janice McIlquham, Executive Director, Arnprior Villa. “It’s been a stressful time, but knowing the community is behind us makes it easier to get through.”
Island View Retirement Residence
The holiday season at Island View will focus on residents connecting with new and old friend safely in their small community bubble.
The resident’s holiday theme is an ‘Old Fashioned Christmas,’ and many festive events are being held in smaller groups, including poetry and stories, Christmas music that fills the hallways, a traditional homemade Christmas turkey dinner and an antique cutter (sleigh) sits at the entrance where residents can have their photo taken.
“Typically, we welcome the community to participate in holiday events, but that’s not possible this year,” said Tracey Foster, General Manager, Island View. “We would love for letters and cards to be dropped off in our mailbox outside labeled ‘Letters for Seniors.’ But our wish this holiday is for everyone to stay safe by following the public health guidance.”
Dr. Robert Cushman, Acting Medical Officer of Health, Renfrew County and District Health Unit, adds: “One of the best ways to keep our community safe over the holidays is to avoid non-essential travel, especially travel from an area of higher transmission to lower transmission. Almost all of our cases in Renfrew County and District can be traced to travel, folks who came into the region or those who travelled out and returned.”