By Karen Anne Blakely, Director of Community Programming for the Glebe Centre
The services and programs delivered today at and from Abbotsford House are much different than March 13, 2020, the day we closed our doors and began our pandemic response. Our doors remain closed however the staff are busy serving clients and members daily. We are following guidance from Ottawa Public Health, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility. Regulations of the Emergency Measures Act caused some staff to be deployed to work in Long Term Care and some staff started a leave of absence. Our government funders have committed funds for 2020 while 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.
We have a telephone reassurance program that has engaged 40 volunteers and students to check-in on over three hundred older adults, daily, weekly or occasionally. If more than a friendly visit is needed, the seniors 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 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 completed 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/balance, yoga, language lessons and art classes. We have brought together small groups of people who wish to socialize together but 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 for groups like that would normally meet in person like the Craft and Teddy Bear Groups, the Aerobic Gang, Luncheon Club, Dementia Day Program and for 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 and have 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 on selling our already priced high end items during Bazaar Days on three Saturdays in September. (September 12, 19 & 26 10:00 am – 2:00 pm)We are taking pandemic measures seriously to ensure members can safely enter into part of the house to shop for treasures. We will have some art displayed for sale 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 jewelry, with new items each week. We have limited capacity to fundraise in our traditional ways at the moment 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, and we do not know when, myself and the staff at Abbotsford House wish you all good health and happy moments during these challenging times.