From a young age, Michaela McClymont knew that no matter what direction her career took she wanted to work with seniors in some capacity.
After first completing a Social Services diploma, Michaela ended up earning her Recreation Therapy diploma while she worked part time as a recreation assistant for the Adult Day Program and the Grove’s Recreation Department.
“I started working with seniors in high school as a volunteer in a hospital and nursing homes,” explained Michaela. “Recreation is a great job and I’m really luck to be able to interact with seniors on a daily basis.”
Finding a good fit in recreation therapy
Michaela found a home at ARH and transitioned to the Recreation and Community Services Coordinator role in 2019.
“Recreation has allowed me to spend more time with the residents to support them and their needs,” said Michaela. “If someone is feeling upset or anxious, the role allows you to spend 15 minutes to listen to the person’s concerns.”
Michaela explains that her close relationship with her grandparents helped connect her to seniors.
“My grandpa was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia in 2016 and that encouraged me even more to support seniors and their families as much as I could,” reflected Michaela. “My grandpa was admitted to long-term care during the pandemic, which was challenging but it also gave me a family perspective that allowed be to better support Grove families.”
An evolving role during COVID-19
When the lockdown happened in March, Michaela and her team focused on supporting residents by keeping them busy, engaged in meaningful activities and updated about the COVID-19 situation.
The pandemic also gave Michaela the opportunity to connect with families more as she facilitated the window visits and video chats.
“It has been great to get to know families more,” said Michaela. “I have a better understanding about the families’ histories, and it’s allowed me to connect even more with the residents. Also, I can now name off a resident’s 13 children (if they have them).”
As the visiting restrictions eased over the summer in line with the provincial guidelines, Michaela and her team coordinated different types of visits. More recently, they have also been able to safely offer live music in the courtyard. The space allows the residents to sit outdoors spaced out and 20 feet away from the entertainer. Residents can also enjoy the music from their rooms by opening the window.
“Our residents had missed hearing live music, and this has been great to be able to offer again,” said Michaela. “It is wonderful to help put smiles on their faces.”