By: Karen Anne Blakely
As we work towards building community immunity, Abbotsford House is looking forward to a summer of online and telephone programs for older adults aged 55 plus with a shift toward in-person programs when it is safe to do so. For the summer programs, see what is on offer on our website www.glebecentre.ca under community programs. For new members, we are now offering a prorated membership fee of $25 for the rest of the year. All of our summer classes will be virtual or on the telephone. We hope you enjoy visits to the gardens surrounding Abbotsford House on sunny days and have a rest on our commemorative metal bench as it is in the shade after 1 pm. We continue to stock the bookcase with books and puzzles so come have a look to find the best summer read. Call Elleni Adane, our new receptionist, at your convenience to pay for the books and puzzles. We have booklets on Cannabis and Older Adults published by Active Aging Canada for you take at no cost.
Our Community Support Services continue throughout the summer. If seniors or adults with disabilities require assistance getting to medical appointments or vaccine clinics, call and register with our transportation coordinator, Jane Stallabrass. Currently our paid drivers, Tim and Terry Dale are driving seniors to where they need to be in our air-conditioned Pro Master van.
Whatever you might require assistance with to remain at home safely, we will work with you to find solutions. Kirsten O’Brien helps seniors find home help, gardening help, and referrals for professionals and trades people. If you have need groceries, let us know, as we have a new grant to help low-income seniors access food hampers.
Nick Bermudez is assisting seniors to acquire tablets so they may get connected to programs, family and friends, perhaps a learn game, check email or get a Facebook account. On Facebook, you can like our Abbotsford and Glebe Centre pages to get regular updates about what is happening and enjoy photography of Abbotsford’s blossoming plants.
Janet Kuntz is offering support to caregivers on Zoom and sends out weekly emails with resources and other information to help those caring for loved ones at home or have a loved one living in long term care.
Cassandra Ford, Shirley Lee and Jen Dare, our dedicated and skilled Program Facilitators continue to provide Zoom and telephone programs for those living with dementia and are being cared for at home. They facilitate activities, fitness and engage in interesting discussion topics to keep seniors and caregivers involved and entertained. Porch and driveway visits at a safe distance have resumed and they are enjoying the pleasure of each other’s company after a long break.
Kirsten O’Brien and Jane Stallabrass with the help of a few wonderful long-time volunteers continue the Luncheon Club on the Seniors Centre Without Walls, telephone conferencing platform. Participants only need their telephones to connect with their friends, exchange updates on how everyone is doing and groan together at Kirsten’s jokes.
Later in the summer when second doses of the vaccine are in community members and after the allotted waiting period has occurred, we will be keen to present our re-opening plans. We hope to offer some fitness classes in larger venues and smaller class sizes so seniors can exercise with generous space between each person. We will need to get accustomed to being indoors with others not in our household. Look for a mix of in person and Zoom programming in September. We look forward to communicating our plans to reopen Abbotsford House soon.
Abbotsford is your community support centre for Adults 55+. We are 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 us: Mon-Fri 8:30 am – 4:30 pm at 613-230-5730 or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and Abbotsford Community Programs on our website www.glebecentre.ca
By: Karen Anne Blakely, Director of Community Programs
Abbotsford House has commenced a special Seniors Tablet Project. The Champlain Community Support Network secured a collective purchase of internet-enabled tablets to be used by seniors and adults with disabilities in their homes in the community. Abbotsford House was given 10 tablets. The funding was secured through the provincial government, so there would be no cost to the client for use of one of these tablets.
The Royal Bank of Canada Foundation has generously donated an additional 12 tablets and protective cases for the tablet project.
Abbotsford House is also pleased to receive funding from the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) for the Abbotsford Seniors Stay Strong project, which includes a tablet loaning program to ensure seniors who experience barriers get the technology and help to use the technology to reduce isolation. The funds will pay for some tablets and accessories to loan to seniors, some online activities, training and wages.
All the tablets are android-based and are intended to be used by clients to access virtual care, participate in social and health programs, as well as help the older adults to engage with family and community through online platforms. The intent of this Seniors Tablet Project is to reduce barriers and support seniors and adults with disabilities living in community. Some seniors will require a lot of support to use the tablets and others have tech savvy family members who are able to assist them and they just require the tablet to get started.
Nick Bermudez is the staff person overseeing the project. He recently moved into a Program Facilitation position at Abbotsford House and he is looking forward to connecting with the members and clients of Abbotsford about this project. He will be setting up the tablets, promoting the program, dropping the tablets off at seniors’ homes, checking in by telephone and online. Nick will be supporting participants to use the tablets and connect members and clients to virtual programs, services and apps that interest them.
Over the next year, Nick will work with seniors to learn their interests, determine their abilities to use the tablets and offer some training. By the end of this project more seniors will have options to stay connected with others, get what they need online, get answers to questions they have about health and wellness or even book appointments with their doctor online. Perhaps some people will become active on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok! Others might play word games with their friends or listen to podcasts! We hope some will want to sign up for Zoom classes at Abbotsford House to learn a new language, do a fitness class or art class. These new technical skills will be useful now during the pandemic when we are restricting our movements and beyond during times when it is not possible to go outdoors due to inclement weather or moments of poor health.
Abbotsford is your community support centre for Adults 55+. We are 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 dropping by 950 Bank Street (the old stone house) Mon- Fri 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, telephoning 613-230-5730 or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website www.glebecentre.ca
By: Karen Anne Blakely
In 2022 celebrations will be held to mark 150 years since the construction of Abbotsford House on Bank Street. With planning underway to recognize this major milestone it is worth noting to Abbotsford House members, clients and our Glebe neighbours of the work that has taken place and will be done in the coming months on our heritage-designated home.
In March, all the old shingles on the roof were removed and to our delight exposed an interesting design feature. Whereas one might usually see sheets of plywood under the shingles the roof instead was layered with barn boards. These long pieces of wood were two inches thick and for the most part in very good shape. We were advised to keep these in place and add plywood over these boards so that roofing nails would hold. New soffits are coming in soon. Fortunately funding for this very significant project came partially from a government grant.
Over the past five years, twenty-five new windows have been installed while the heritage wood windows facing Bank Street have been refurbished with the aid of grants.
Next on the list are the front porch and the intricate wood gabling adorning the roofline of the house. Due of the heritage designation, we have had to follow a series of steps in order to comply with City of Ottawa rules and regulations.
Working with Tim Davis Design, an architectural plan was developed for the porch. Once approved by the City we can the move forward with the renovation in June. Thankfully we had initiated conversations with an experienced heritage property contractor in 2020 so they were able to commit to this work.
This contractor has made a commitment to try and reuse wood from the original porch but that task will only be realized once the old porch is dismantled and each piece examined. Given the pandemic and significant increase in cost of materials and renovations this project will be more expensive than originally planned.
The final project for this year is refurbishment of the roofline gables. The next time you walk by Abbotsford House cast your gaze of to the roof. Attached to it are intricate circular wood gables (also called gingerbread). Unique in style, it is interesting to note that these gables are different in look at the front and back of our home.
Quotes for the gable work are expected in the coming weeks. It is expected that work will commence in the fall. Come December you will see the same historic house on Bank Street, only better.
Specific tax deductible donations for the porch and gable work have come from many committed Abbotsford members and friends in the neighbourhood, including a nice gift from Amica Mature Lifestyles. Should you wish to make a gift please call Bruce Hill at 613-238-2727 ext. 316 or e-mail him at BHill@glebecentre.ca
Abbotsford House provides community programs and services. The building is currently closed to the public due to the pandemic however community support services and recreation programs for seniors aged 55+ and adults with disabilities living in the community are offered virtually on Zoom, on the Seniors Centre Without Walls telephone conferencing platform and by telephone.
Call us at 613-230-5730 for more information or visit our website at www.glebecentre.ca
By Julie Ireton
More than a year into the pandemic, the team at Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre has become creative with technology, music and distanced visiting when it comes to keeping its Day Away program clients engaged and active.
The Day Away program is for clients between 60 and 90 years old who are currently in the early to middle stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Pre-COVID-19, the program ran out of Abbotsford House, the seniors’ centre across from Lansdowne Park.
The clients and staff would gather regularly to play games, do exercises, sing songs, chat and have lunch. But over the past year, the sessions have become virtual, on Zoom or through telephone conferencing.
“This week we did scavenger hunt,” said Jen Dare, Program Facilitator Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre who has been working with seniors for 30 years. “They were running around and finding things, having fun with what’s around them. Some clients interact very well, while others are not sure where the voices are coming from.”
The online programming has also included music trivia and reading short stories.
A few times, Dare and her team have created individualized activity kits with puzzles and games to drop off at the clients’ homes.
For those who aren’t able to join via Zoom, a teleconference, “party-line” has been set up to gather 7-8 clients by phone.
While switching to the virtual platform has meant a steep technology learning curve for both the organizers and the caregivers, many quickly figured out how to get-together online, said Dare.
Quite often the care-givers are spouses who also depend on the Day Away program to bring some respite, allowing them to do something on their own.
“Keeping in touch with caregivers is also important,” she said. “We find out if they need other outreach services or if they need more help in the home. It’s a difficult time for all of us, but if you’re caring for someone 24/7 it’s more challenging.”
Throughout the pandemic isolation, some have struggled with keeping their loved-ones active, said Dare.
“It certainly is a struggle at times, finding things to do. Boredom sets in and then you can see other behaviours,” she said. “But even on our Zoom calls, it’s wonderful to see them engaging with each other. They just miss that togetherness,” said Dare.
As the weather warms up, the Day Away organizers will plan porch visits with their Day Away clients so they can catch up in person.
This spring, expanding vaccination programs across the city are bringing hope that regular programming will eventually resume.
“It’s the game changer. Once people have vaccines we can look at gathering again,” said Dare. “We can’t figure it out just yet, but there is hope we’ll get some sort of normal back again.”
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 www.glebecentre.ca
By: Pat Goyeche March 2021
Here we are one year after COVID-19 changed our day to day way of life.
Abbotsford Seniors Centre is no exception. We were planning our usual spring registration when, like everyone else, we came to understand the need to shut down with little or no warning. We all had to deal with the growing reality of the severity of the virus and its effects on society and, in our case, on seniors in community.
The verb ‘pivot’ has become the mantra of almost all businesses and organizations over the past year. And pivot we did! The priority for Abbotsford became both the personal and physical wellbeing of our clients, members and volunteers. Are you living alone? Can someone bring your groceries? Do you have a support network?
To pursue these questions we mobilized staff and our wonderful volunteers who made phone contact with our members and clients. That initial ‘check in’ grew into a phone tree of volunteers and staff to reach our clientele that has been maintained throughout this past year. Volunteers, clients and members have made new friends, shared resources and tapped into the tremendous network of resources that Abbotsford staff have at their disposal. Friendly chats have alerted us to the needs of seniors regarding food security, health, wellness and need for connectivity.
As we began to realize that we would have to ‘live with’ COVID-19 for quite some time, it became apparent that we had to reach our members where they were…at home!
The telephone was and is still a very effective means of communication with our clientele but we needed to connect in a new way, a way in which we could continue offering engaging programming that takes account of the realities of COVID-19.
Our clients, members and instructors were patient and imaginative in experimenting with virtual programming in those early months when for most of us the word ‘zoom’ was still a sound we associated with a speeding car!
What started with and continues to be a wish to ‘see’ family and friends we were not allowed to visit due either to distance or restrictions quickly morphed into a way of continuing to engage in treasured pastimes and keep up with fitness regimes.
Isabel Gonzalez is one of Abbotsford’s many instructors who initiated a way to keep our members engaged and fit. It started with a Zumba Gold workout video by Isabel that we could share on our website. While it was a new format it was also so familiar for our patrons to have Isabel take them through familiar routines. This became the bedrock of keeping engaged and connected when nothing was normal.
Isabel who is originally from Chile has also been facilitating Conversational Spanish classes for Abbotsford for many years. She and her students were keen to continue practicing their language skills. That interest and willingness paved the way for our first set of virtual programming using Zoom.
Zoom, like Google, has become its own very particular verb. We ‘Zoom’ with our family and friends and now we Zoom to practice Spanish, write memoirs, take art courses, dance, perfect our yoga positions and engage in a myriad of fitness classes.
Virtual programming is far from perfect and cannot entirely replace the connection, socialization and spontaneity of in person interaction, but it certainly does help keep us connected and motivated.
We still have a ways to go, as seniors living independently in the community await their turn to receive the vaccination against COVID-19. The challenges of the past year for individual seniors has been immense and at times overwhelming, but many have ‘pivoted’, flexed and changed their ways enough to keep both safe and engaged.
Much gratitude goes to the instructors, facilitators, members, clients and volunteers who have kept the faith and continue to find, partake in and create meaningful activities. Abbotsford will continue to do its part to keep up with you!
Our March/April programming schedule boasts of over 30 different classes to choose from. Registration for members will began on February 18th and will be ongoing, with most classes starting the week of March 8th. Anyone 55+ is encouraged to become a member and join in. You can join in and do four weeks of class if class size allow. Call Abbotsford to connect. 613-230-5730
By: Julie Ireton
Joan Norvid, 100, always looks forward to the mini-bus picking her up on Tuesdays and seeing her friends at Abbotsford House’s luncheon club.
Since the pandemic arrived last spring, the club now meets via teleconference, and while it’s not quite the same, Joan still enjoys catching up with the luncheon friends she initially met at the senior’s centre across from Lansdowne Park.
“They’re a nice bunch of people. I wouldn’t want to give it up,” said Joan, who still lives in her own home, but has family nearby.
Joan’s daughter, Nicole Norvid, visits and helps her mother daily. The luncheon club, even if it’s over the phone, gives Nicole, the caregiver, a bit of respite.
“They maintain a connection, it’s a tight knit group,” said Nicole. “It’s nice to know every Tuesday we have that call.”
Every week, at the end of the teleconference, Joan sings her friends a well-known tune before signing off.
I always sing Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll meet again’,” said Joan.
For Barb Neilson the calls help beat the boredom that’s come with being in a lockdown for so much of the winter.
“When I get with people I talk and talk and talk,” said Neilson. “I love the conference call and enjoy the people. There are about ten or twelve of us, including two men, but they don’t have too much to say.”
This telephone connection is just one of the programs that Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre has adapted throughout the pandemic.
This winter, 27 programs were offered to the general membership and 13 sold out. Realizing that both inclement weather and lockdown conditions have made it difficult for seniors to exercise, the centre has offered several fitness classes via zoom. Art, Language and dance classes seem to have struck a particular chord with the members this winter.
Meditation, conversational French and Spanish, memoir writing, yoga, book club and several art classes are also offered online with new eight-week sessions opening up for March and April.
Registration will be mid-February, with classes open to all members of Abbotsford House. It is the perfect time to join as the membership runs on a calendar year.
Marion Haunton usually travels the world every winter, but since that’s not an option this year, she’s trying out programs at Abbotsford for the first time, in fact, she has a packed schedule.
“I’m taking four art classes per week: watercolour, sketching, collage & mixed media, and one on colour,” said Haunton. “It’s very well organized and very flexible when it comes to the materials you use. I like to have something to do four days a week.”
Haunton, who is also recovering from hip surgery earlier this winter says the classes have kept her busy at a time when her choice of activities has been very limited.
While she looks forward to getting back to her travels when the pandemic is over, Haunton says she’s so pleased with the selection of classes she’s found at the seniors’ centre.
“It’s a very nice recreational thing to do and Abbotsford does a wonderful job,” she said.
Seniors and Students Connecting
Rosemary MacKinnon has made a new friend during the pandemic and spends hours each month chatting with her on the phone. Decades separate these new pals by age, they’ve never met face to face, but they have no problem finding things to talk about.
This fall, some Carleton University sports teams have been matched up with isolated seniors like MacKinnon, and they socialize with them by phone.
Some young women on the university’s rugby team are making calls to residents of the Glebe Centre and members of Abbotsford House seniors centre.
“With COVID I don’t get out to socialize much so it’s really nice to talk to someone about what they’re doing,” said MacKinnon. “Getting to know someone young brings more to our lives.”
University teams are still training and practicing, but varsity competitions are on-hold right now, giving athletes much more spare time than usual.
Some teams decided to spend that extra time giving back to the community.
“It’s really cool to make connections outside the school and it gives an opportunity for the seniors to keep in touch, keep busy, especially with COVID, because they aren’t able to do other activities,” said Zoe Coulter, a third year Carleton student and varsity rugby player.
Coulter, who is studying anthropology and sign language, is also hoping to put her signing skills to practice with other seniors in the community.
“It’s great practice for me,” said Coulter, “As a student, it’s nice to have a break and not think about any school work and just listen to them. It makes everyone feel good on both sides.”
Sometimes the phone calls last an hour or two, according to Coulter. They talk about anything and everything during these conversations, including politics.
Coulter says she looks forward to the end of COVID when they can meet each other in person, and maybe set up a “paint evening or story night.”
Kirsten O’Brien, program facilitator at Abbotsford House, makes the match between students and seniors and shares information about the clients so it’s not a “cold call”.
“They form friendships and look forward to the calls. They can all use a phone, so they don’t have to be techy with a computer for these chats,” said O’Brien. “The seniors are interested in that real connection, a voice at the end of the line.”
By: Julie Ireton
As COVID-19 continues to force everyone to adapt to new and safer ways of doing things, Christine Nassrallah thinks seniors should embrace new forms of technology to allow them to socialize, learn and enhance their lives.
At Abbotsford House at the Glebe Centre on Bank St., programs moved over to online platforms in the spring and continue to attract active seniors, including Nassrallah.
“Some of us are very conscious of the need to stay home and not mingle, but the Zoom classes connect us to the outside world without having to leave home. It’s a good way to diversify daily activities,” said Nassrallah, a member of Abbotsford House.
Every Monday morning, Nassrallah and half a dozen other members grab a tea or coffee, click on their Zoom app and greet each other in Abbotsford’s virtual Spanish class.
While the classes would normally be held at the senior’s centre across from Lansdowne Park, moving the program online still allows for lively conversations and direction from the instructor, in their own homes, according to Nassrallah.
But she says the zoom classes may inspire some to do a little house cleaning before class.
“Everybody comments on what they can see in the background, maybe a painting or something in your home. One person joined from her patio in Nova Scotia,” she said.
While the language classes help exercise the mind, Nassrallah and other seniors also take part in Abbotsford’s Zumba, aerobics and stretch classes to keep the body limber.
Over at Judith Yemen’s house, she shifts the dining room table so she can take part in her “functional fitness” classes on Tuesday afternoons in the air conditioned comfort of her Glebe home.
For Yemen, the Zoom class gives her the motivation to stay active.
“We’re still communicating with the instructor and the exercises are good, said Yemen, who plans to continue her twice weekly online exercise routine into the fall.
She, like Nassrallah, says she’s had no problem figuring out the technology, but notes that helpful staff at Abbotsford are eager to help those who have trouble getting connected.
“Once you have the app on your tablet or computer the link goes into your calendar. You go to that and tap it and it takes you right to the Zoom program, said Yemen.
Look for new interactive programming this fall to keep connected, challenged and fit. A paper copy of the fall program guide is available on the front porch of Abbotsford House and on the website, www.glebecentre.ca
“Zoom, Whatsapp, FaceTime are all essential, a lifeline throughout COVID to stay in touch and stay active and keep up with family,” said Nassrallah. “All community centres should continue to look at innovations that can engage people in the community to keep them active.”
Abbotsford’s 45th Annual Bazaar has a twist this year…it is taking place on three consecutive Saturday’s in September…12, 19 & 26! Patrons will come in through the patio/parking lot in small groups and move through the hallway and multipurpose room (with new windows that open), purchasing touchless as they go and exiting onto Monk Street.
Come out to support your local seniors centre and find an Art, Jewels or other treasures. Hand made teddy bears, knit wear and ornaments will be available for sale.
By: Pat Goyeche
It’s hard to fathom how many months have passed since Abbotsford was forced to close our doors to the general public. At the time we would never have imagined the doors would still be closed in November. Our doors may be closed, but we are not closed to you; and you have certainly not been idle.
I have been so impressed with the good sense and grace with which our members and clients have adapted to the reality of restrictions and change that have come with COVID-19. Things we never thought we would have to do are being done, and our virtual worlds have expanded as our one-to-one in-person interactions have decreased.
Even those who might not fully embrace technology are using landline telephones, cell phones, tablets and computers in ways they had not imagined. Banking, grocery shopping and medical appointments are often done with the aid of technology. Helpful friends, families and virtual strangers have played a role in this as well. A shoutout to our volunteers who ‘check in and chat’ with our folks and for perfect strangers who are lending a hand, keeping an eye on each other in our community.
I think everyone would agree that the point is to stay connected as we weather the pandemic storm which rises and falls, but still we sail on. We feel a breath of fresh air and renewed hope one month, but then we have to scale back and our anxiety grows the next month.
November might prove to be one such month, where we have to hang on, hang in, hold tight and reach out. Join a virtual something or other, call a friend, have a meal with a friend or family member, virtually or in person, and carry on making connections. Be safe but be ever mindful of our need to connect. Keep sparking your imaginations, and find moments to celebrate the mundane along with the regular holidays. A walk on a sunny day is worthy of celebration!
Abbotsford will continue to offer virtual programming for seniors throughout November and December, check out the website www.glebecentre.ca under Abbotsford Programming and What is up at Abbotsford for the latest information. We also offer free meditation over the telephone, a book/puzzle exchange and sale on our front porch (as long as the snow doesn’t fly) and numerous Community Support Services for caregivers and clients.
Members and Friends are asked to renew their yearly membership or join Abbotsford for the first time, starting mid-November, to help bolster Abbotsford Programming and Services. If you have made use of our services, you know how we strive to serve you and will continue to do so with your interests and needs at the centre of our mandate. We have been working at a reduced staffing level and coping with new challenges, and we truly appreciate how you have supported us. Your financial support will ensure that when the tide subsides and we are on post-pandemic safe shores, you will find our doors open and inviting, and all of us a bit humbled with gratitude for our mutual fortitude.
I would like to publicly thank the volunteers who made our 45th Annual Bazaar Days possible. We had keen young students and community members as well as tried and true Abbotsford volunteers who made beautiful displays and kept smiling and selling for two brilliant Saturdays in September. Let’s hope the 46th will be indoors and in November!?
Unfortunately, we are unable to take in donations of goods at this time but will let you know when we can. Your donations for the bazaar are part of what makes our fundraising and our functioning as a seniors centre work so well.
We continue to share our beautiful gardens with our neighbours and friends who pass by and appreciate what each month brings to the garden palette. Recently, ‘Carol and her Crew’ helped put the gardens to bed for the winter. That said friends of Abbotsford, resist the urge to ‘hibernate’ in the months to come, join in and keep connected with and through Abbotsford.
Abbotsford is your community support centre for Adults 55+. We are 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 us: Mon-Fri 9 am – 4 pm at 613-230-5730 or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and Abbotsford Community Programs on our website www.glebecentre.ca