Winter Wonderland

Snow Moles meet at Abbotsford House and report to Councilor Shawn Menard

Winter Wonderland

By Pat Goyeche

Snow & Snow Moles

Such a snowy winter to date with accumulations in January alone surpassing most of our expectations!  There are many benefits of snow, brightening the landscape, softening city noises, snowshoeing and skiing but…it can be a hazard as well.

With the snow comes slippery, unploughed sidewalks and dangerous conditions for walking.  Out come the ‘Snow Moles’ lead by The Council on Aging, auditing the people pathways and pointing out the problems.

Councillor Shawn Menard joined a group of intrepid ‘senior’ auditors this year to see for himself the barriers many seniors face daily in their day-to-day activities.  Unplowed crosswalks, bus stops with mounds of snow between the sidewalk and the door of the bus and slippery pathways make for dangerous conditions for everyone but these can be insurmountable for seniors.

Thank you to the snow moles for dropping by Abbotsford for a warm drink and cheer on their quest to audit the conditions in early February.  Your trepidation will help ensure the City is aware of the dangers and will now target known areas that pose particular barriers to seniors in our City.


The Executive Director of the Glebe Centre, Lawrence Grant retired late in January after 15 years of service.  The Glebe Centre long-term care home held a party for him to celebrate his accomplishments and wish him well. 

The search is now on for a new Executive Director who too, will oversee both the long-term care home at the Glebe Centre and Community Programs and Services through Abbotsford Seniors Centre.  Susan Zorz, the Director of Operations for the Glebe Centre will ‘keep the ship on course’ as Acting Director in the interim.

Spring Programming through Abbotsford

Spring weather brings new programing through Abbotsford Seniors Centre.  As the snow, slowly melts and we seek out crocuses and snowdrops we can renew plans to join in the varied activities offered through Abbotsford. 

The spring guide will be in circulation by mid-March, make sure you check out all that is on offer by looking at the website:  Abbotsford Programs & Services and Current Guide.

The spring Learn & Explore ‘Speaker’s Series’ will have a special three part series on seniors housing in late May in conjunction with volunteers with SWOOS (Seniors Watch Old Ottawa South) who are interested in exploring the Abbyfield model of housing.  Dates and topics will be available in the spring guide, which can be seen on-line or picked up in person at Abbotsford house by mid-March.

OTF Grant Helps Senior Stay Connected Virtually

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                 January 9th, 2023

Abbotsford House Seniors Active Living Fair $96,300 OTF Grant helps Seniors Stay Virtually Connected

Ottawa, ON – On Thursday, January 5th, local MPP Joel Harden of Ottawa Centre joined the Abbotsford House team and local community gathered at the Abbotsford Seniors’ Fair as the organization recognized the $96,300 Resilient Communities Fund grant received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). The funding has been used to connect older adults to online programs, family, friends and volunteers using tablets on loan from the Tablet Project. 

“Abbotsford House has done an amazing job supporting seniors in our community by giving them a place to socialize, learn new skills, and stay active,” said Joel Harden, MPP for Ottawa Centre. “The staff and volunteers at Abbotsford House did incredible work in keeping their programs going with proper COVID-19 regulations, and I am excited to see how they have used their Ontario Trillium Grant to combat the social isolation many seniors have felt throughout the pandemic.”

Powered by the OTF grant, Abbotsford House has been able to rebuild and recover from the impacts and challenges of COVID-19. This was achieved by hiring staff and procuring 100 tablets for member use. This project started in May 2022 and gives older adults in the community improved access to online programs at Abbotsford House, reducing the social isolation that many seniors have experienced at an increased rate since the start of the pandemic.

Karen Anne Blakely, Director of Community Programs stated, “Many older adults have found that using the tablets was not as hard as they first thought. With the help of Shirley Lee, the Abbotsford House Program Facilitator, seniors connected with their adult children and grandchildren through video chats, shared emails and photos and participated in fitness and yoga programs online. Some learned to do online grocery orders, video chats with their doctors and participated in online art classes. Winter storms may stop some people from going outside but with the tablet knowledge they have gained, older adults will continue to connect, enjoy the company of others and continue to be active in their leisure activities in a virtual way.”

Abbotsford House is a vibrant community centre for adults 55+. Abbotsford House is 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 programs and services by dropping by 950 Bank Street in Ottawa, Mon- Fri 8:30 to 4:30 pm, telephoning 613-230-5730 or by checking out all The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations celebrates 40 years of grantmaking in Ontario and making a lasting impact in communities. Last year, OTF invested nearly $209M into 2,042 community projects and partnerships, which included funding for the Government of Ontario’s Community Building Fund. Visit to learn more.


Organization Contact for Media Inquiries:

Karen Anne Blakely, Director of Community Programs

Abbotsford House

The Glebe Centre

613-230-5730 ext. 322

Meet and Greet at Abbotsford

Meet and Greet at Abbotsford

By Julie Ireton

After retiring from a busy career as the director of education at a school board in Manitoba, Constance McLeese was ready for a low-key, stress-free job — and it was OK that her new role wouldn’t pay in money.

Two days a week, McLeese volunteers at Abbotsford House at the Glebe Centre, answering phones, working on databases and helping with fundraising efforts. 

The reward, she said, is she’s keeping busy and meeting new people in a safe social space, especially during COVID.

“I was very busy in my career, so it’s hard to just go full stop,” said McLeese, who along with her husband relocated to the Glebe after retirement. 

“It’s interesting and I can’t predict what I’ll be doing when I come in. Just whatever needs done is what I’ll be doing,” she said. “If someone is concerned about something, I direct them to a hired staff member.” 

Volunteers are essential to the work at both the senior’s centre across from Lansdowne Park, and at the long-term care facility. 

Whether it’s driving seniors to appointments, visiting elderly residents, or helping raise money for various programs, volunteers help fill the gaps at the facilities.

McLeese had only started pitching in about six months before COVID hit. After the pandemic began, she started helping screen Abbotsford visitors, making sure people were vaccinated and filling out the necessary paperwork.

“We have a very fragile clientele and we don’t want COVID running rampant over here,” she said. 

Like many of the volunteers at the centre, she’s also an Abbotsford member, taking part in the water colour art courses and trying out zumba classes. 

“They have great teachers,” she said. “For zumba, I was going outside my comfort zone. I’m not a dancer, and you need a bit of rhythm for it, but it is very non-threatening and you certainly get exercise.” 

“It’s a wonderful place.” 

For Isla Paterson, her introduction to Abbotsford House began when her mother moved into the Glebe Centre long term care home next door.  She would take her to activities there. She loved the outdoor garden, the music concerts, the teas,” said Paterson.  “I enjoyed taking my mother over there, so I became a member myself.”

The speaker’s events and the ‘how to use your cellphone’ course are among the favorite activities for Paterson. 

“I also joined their play reading program. This is a unique opportunity. I’m really enjoying that. Six to eight men and women get together on Tuesday afternoon and we read plays,” she said. 

Her mother was a resident at the Glebe Centre for six years before she died last winter. But Paterson continues to volunteer as the secretary-treasurer for the facility’s family council. This group meets once a month and advocates for the 254 residents.

She’s glad Abbotsford and its many activities are now part of her life. 

“It’s a one stop shop for information for elderly,” said Paterson. “You can call and get reliable information. They offer a meeting place, a place for exercise and intellectual stimulation.” 

Abbotsford House and the Glebe Centre are always looking for volunteers.

If you are wondering about volunteer opportunities to contact Lonelle Butler at volunteer services 613-238-2727 (ext. 353). If you are thinking of becoming a member, call Abbotsford or drop in any weekday at reception.

Abbotsford is your Seniors Active Living Centre.  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 9-4 pm, telephoning 613-230-5730 or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website

Abbotsford House Birthday GALA, 150 Years Old

That was a ‘Night to Remember’

By: Karen Anne Blakely

The Abbotsford House Gala certainly was “A Night to Remember”! On October 19th 2022 on a rainy evening, 225 supporters gathered at the Horticultural Centre to honour and celebrate the 150th anniversary of Abbotsford House. The striking gothic revival home built for Alexandra and Dorinda Mutchmor and their family in 1872 still displays its remarkable gingerbread gables and solid grey stones, a gem of a historic building on Bank Street.

Attendees of the gala enjoyed gourmet tapas by Dave Smith Catering; live music by the Glebops and then Peter Liu and the Pollcats; Fred Astaire Dance Studio dance demonstrations; and a watercolour artist and student Meredith Lyman skillfully painted an breathtaking image of Abbotsford House for the auction. For theatrical amusement, Pat Goyeche and Ross Imrie dressed in period costumes to portray the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Mutchmor. Local businesses and artists donated numerous gift certificates and art for the silent auction.

All proceeds raised support Abbotsford House for programs and services to seniors and adults with disabilities.

While the final revenue results are still being tallied, we are pleased to report sponsorships totaled $32,000. Led by platinum level sponsorships: Judy Faulkner Real Estate, offering boutique and personalized realty services; and Amica the Glebe, a state of the art retirement home that opened its doors to residents in July 2022. Gold level sponsorship companies included Minto Communities; Whole Health Compounding Pharmacy Glebe; and the Jack Uppal Real Estate Team. Rounding out this corporate support were silver sponsors: Hulse, Playfair & McGarry; McKeen Metro Glebe; and Carmichael Engineering. Bronze sponsors were Randy Douglas Echelon Wealth Partners; Stinson & Sons; BMO; and Capcorp.

Among the many highlights during the evening was the announcement by MC Joseph Cull that an anonymous Abbotsford House member had agreed to match all donations secured that night to a maximum of $5,000. The end result? One amazing gift of $5,000 from the Jack Uppal Real Estate Team, a second generous anonymous donor for $5000, and many others who gave for a total over $15,900.

The gala was a grand and hugely successful evening in support a worthy cause, Abbotsford House!

FINE FINDS Fundraiser

This grand affair will be held on the ground floor of Abbotsford House on Saturday, November 12th from 2:00 – 5:00 pm.  We will be featuring Art, Jewelry and Elegant/One of a Kind Treasures that are ‘new’ to Abbotsford.  Every item is individually priced and can be purchased by a ticket holder on a first come first serve basis. 

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon with a limited number of other attendees over a glass of wine and canapés. Your $20 ticket can be purchased by calling Abbotsford Monday-Friday 8:30 am – 4:30 pm at 613-230-5730.

The items on offer have never before been displayed at any of our other sales; they are unique and ‘new’ to you. 

Find your FINE FINDS and support your local seniors centre.

Abbotsford Holiday Craft Fair

Saturday, November 26

10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Abbotsford House 950 Bank Street:

-Home made Crafts, Ornaments, Baby Clothes, Knit Wear, and other clever and creative gift ideas.                                                      

-Hand made Teddy Bears & other delightful comfort creatures.                                                                  

-Home baked goodies including frozen apple pies to go.                                                                      

-Tea Room to restore, chat and enjoy the comfort of food and friends.         

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

Abbotsford Needs You!

Man and woman pointing at computer touch screen

Abbotsford Needs You!

By Julie Ireton

If you’re newly retired, love to organize events and ready to shift your skills to volunteer in your own community — Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre could use your help.

With a full slate of both in-person and zoom activities set to launch, the seniors’ centre in the old, stone house across from Lansdowne Park has a lot on offer, but raising the money to keep seniors active, and to keep the centre operating, will be a key focus in the coming year.

Right now, planning is underway for the “Abbotsford House Gala: A Night To Remember”, a 200 person fundraiser at Lansdowne’s Horticultural Building set for October 19. It will feature cocktails, dinner, live entertainment and auctions in support of Abbotsford’s programs.

Volunteers and sponsors are critical for the event to proceed, and the centre’s director of charitable giving, Bruce Hill, is eager to find generous donors and local companies interested in helping out.

Annual bazaar replaced

In the past, folks from far and wide would line up outside the Abbotsford House and crowd into every room to find bargains, baking and treasures inside at the annual bazaar.

But in the wake of COVID, cramming inside small spaces is no longer prudent, so Abbotsford is hosting several, smaller events at different venues to raise some dollars.

Other upcoming fundraising functions include Abbotsford’s Fine Finds: Art, Elegant Treasures and Jewels, to be held Saturday, October 1, from 2 to 5. Tickets are $20 each for this afternoon sale and gathering in support of programs.

And for those who still covet the crafts, baking and teddy bears well-known to former bazaar attendees, Abbotsford’s Craft Fair will take place at the centre on Saturday, November 26 between 10 and 2 complete with a tea room.

Funding struggles

As an organization that operates on government grants, fundraising and membership fees, securing stable funding is always a struggle, according to Karen Anne Blakely, director of community programs at Abbotsford.

“We did lose funding for next year,” said Blakely. “Initially, the City of Ottawa cut all our funds, $91,000 for 2023. We wrote a letter to the mayor and he investigated. The result was they reinstated us to the amount of $44,000.”

But the seniors’ centre is still losing more than half the funding it received from the city in 2022.

Abbotsford’s programs reach a diverse community, including LGBTQ seniors and those who live in subsidized housing and require extra support services, according to Blakely.

“The challenge is making up the money we’ve lost,” she said.

Back stronger with different options

Despite the funding shortfall for 2023, the centre has plans in place for the rest of 2022.

“We are offering more and more in-person classes. We’re also continuing with Zoom, since we’ve found some people like the ease of joining in from home.” said Pat Goyeche, coordinator of community programs at Abbotsford.

New this coming season is a Broadway dance class that will be taught by Mary Tsai, who Pat worked with on numerous theatre productions at the Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group over the years..

There will be “Get Smart” classes to help seniors figure out the tricks and tips of using an iPhone. And for the first time in two and a half years, the pottery studio will be open for class and studio time.

Speakers series 

“Our speaker series is full blast in the fall,” said Goyeche.

That series will include guest speaker, Geoffrey Stevens who co-authored Flora MacDonald’s own story, Flora! A Woman in a Man’s World, which was published after her death.

There will also be a special travelogue session from Goyeche and her husband, Alex Neve about their trip to Greenland and the Northwest Passage.

New check-in and registration systems

A new, automated check-in system called MySeniorCenter is now greeting everyone who visits Abbotsford. The large, user-friendly touch screen is installed near Reception.

The touch screen will prompt questions concerning COVID protocols and will helps staff manage sign-up and sign-in information as well as take attendance.

A new registration system, which the membership helped fundraise for, now allows participants to register online, but those who prefer to register by phone still have that option.

For more information about the fundraising events or to donate please contact Bruce Hill at: 613-238-2727 ext. 316 or via e-mail at

Abbotsford is your Seniors Active Living Centre.  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 9-4 pm, telephoning 613-230-5730 or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website

Destination Abbotsford for the Great Glebe Garage Sale and Doors Open Ottawa


Destination Abbotsford for the Great Glebe Garage Sale and Doors Open Ottawa

By Julie Ireton

After a two year hiatus, due to the pandemic, Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre is once again inviting the public to the old stone farmhouse across from Lansdowne Park for Doors Open Ottawa on Sunday, June 5.

While it will mark 20 years for this popular event in the city, Abbotsford House celebrates 150 years since its construction.

Originally built in 1872, Abbotsford was the private residence for Alexander Mutchmor. In the late 1800s the home stood on a two acre, treed lot with a stable and gardens.

It eventually became a home for elderly residents and was known as the ‘Protestant House of Refuge’.

Today, the heritage house offers numerous activities for seniors including aerobics, language classes, community support services and day-away programs for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

These programs benefit from fundraising throughout the year, events that have largely been on hold throughout the pandemic.

This spring, for the first time since 2019, organizers are throwing their energy into the senior centre’s major fundraiser at the Great Glebe Garage Sale on Saturday, May 28.  It will be held both indoors and outdoors rain or shine.

Look for Art, Books, Jewellery, Women’s clothing and lots of Flea Market items.

Deb Hogan started volunteering at Abbotsford last fall and quickly became one of the many members involved in sorting through hundreds of items donated by the community for the garage sale tables.

“Every box we open is unique and kind of a window into the home that it came from,” said Hogan. “I often find myself thinking, what’s the story behind these items?”

A huge variety of treasures come in the door, she says. In the past week she unboxed a dozen champagne glasses and two hand-stitched quilts.

“We treat the donations with great respect. They meant something to somebody at some point,” she said.

About a dozen volunteers have been working in pairs, a couple days a week, to get ready for the sale.

Bev Hellman, who relocated to Ottawa from Saskatchewan to be closer to her daughter and grandchild said the volunteer group has allowed her to meet new friends.

I didn’t know anyone before,” said Hellman.

“We call ourselves the fleas. We’re women who love to go to garage sales, second-hand and antique stores.”

One of the volunteers researches the more rare or valuable donations, and recently discovered they’d acquired a $500 cup and saucer.

While organizers hope the garage sale brings in money to aid Abbotsford programs, they realize that the time they spend together, organizing the wares, has other benefits, especially after two years of isolation.

“It’s so nice to get back with these women, just chatting with them and catching up,” said Hellman.

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 dropping by 950 Bank Street (the old stone house) Mon- Fri 9-4 pm, telephoning 613-230-5730 or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website


Abbotsford House is 150 Years Old!



Abbotsford House Celebrates 150 years with Doors Open Ottawa on Sunday June 5th.

By Pat Goyeche

Built 150 years ago in 1872, in the gothic revival style, Abbotsford House was named by its builder and first owner, Alexander Mutchmor.   He named it Abbotsford House, after Sir Walter Scott’s home in Scotland.  By 1889 it had been purchased by a group of philanthropic Protestants from the then only other private owner of the house, Mayor Charles H. Mackintosh, who had purchased it in 1879.

The original site of the Protestant Home for the Aged, as it was then called, was on the current grounds of the Canadian Mint.   The vision was to create a home to “assist those who through age, infirmity and misfortune, were unable to help themselves.” Such a facility was much needed at the time, and the sale of Abbotsford to this group was timely.

In August 1889, the Ottawa Journal carried a sketch and accompanying article about Abbotsford House (Protestant Home for the Aged), which gives a sense of how significant a step this was.

Abbotsford House was renovated in 1928 with the addition of a wing to make room for more residents.  It was again renovated in the mid-seventies and converted into a Seniors Recreational Drop-in Centre. It remains a Community Centre for Ottawa seniors who are 55 plus.   Abbotsford is known for its well-rounded and affordable offerings of recreational and social activities as well as community support services to this day.  It is the community-based wing of the Glebe Centre and has been since 1975.

Inside, three original marble fireplace mantels still adorn the parlor and dining room. The ceiling in the front entrance is edged with decorative molded plaster. The house was officially recognized as a Designated Heritage Property in 1984.  The official plaque can be found outside the building under the bay window in the dining room.

In April of 2022 Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre was fortunate to receive the 2021 Glebe Heritage Restoration Award from the Glebe Community Association Heritage Committee for the refurbishment of the front porch and restoration of the bargeboard gables that adorn the ‘old stone house’ across from Lansdowne Park.

The main floor of Abbotsford will be available for viewing.  As part of Doors Open Ottawa, tea will be served at a modest price in the Abbotsford Dining Room throughout the day on Sunday, June 5th.  The community centre’s regular hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 am – 4:30 pm. Members of the public are always welcome to visit and shop in our Boutique, where patrons will find quality second hand women’s clothing, jewelry, books, puzzles, elegant treasurers and art, as well as handmade crafts and teddy bears.  As a charity that is not fully funded we rely on these sales to help maintain our quality programming and services.

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 visiting and/or telephoning 613-230-5730 during regular business hours or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website





What’s Up at Abbotsford


By: Pat Goyeche

Abbotsford Seniors Centre continues to offer in-person and Zoom programming and clubs for seniors 55 plus this spring.  The weather is encouraging. Melting ice and snow with the spring thaw brings hope for renewal.  Spring also brings new change and we are all certainly ready for that, with the lifting of some of the measures that have kept us apart physically.

At the time this article was written, Abbotsford continues to monitor and screen all of our patrons. We are committed to keeping you confident that you will be able to enjoy programming and club activities in a safe, relaxed and fun environment.  Keep up with the latest on our public health measures by visiting our website: under ‘What’s Up at Abbotsford’.

The house is buzzing with busy bee volunteers who are sorting, pricing and storing flea market items, books, art, jewelry and women’s clothing for the Great Glebe Garage sale, to be held on Saturday, May 28th this year.  We owe a great deal to our enthusiastic volunteers who help us raise much-needed dollars for our operations.  We are not fully funded and rely on the donations we are given by the greater community to help operate our not-for-profit centre.  Thank you all for your contributions, which we gladly receive Monday – Friday 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.

Abbotsford House is 150 years old this year!  We are celebrating by sharing our history as part of Doors Open Ottawa on Sunday June 5th.  We will be bringing out archival photographs and sharing stories of days gone by when the house was a mansion that Alexander Mutchmor built in ‘cottage country’ in 1872!  If you have any history or photographs of the house to share, please get in touch with us, we would love to share those memories widely.

To help celebrate our 150th anniversary we will be hosting a Gala on Friday, October 14th in the Horticultural Building.   Save the date, as we promise to have an event to remember as we celebrate our history and our future as a community centre for seniors.

Fitness, dance, yoga, Spanish, French and art classes, as well lectures and clubs such as bridge, ping-pong and mah-jong are all in full swing this spring.  We have more in-person programming now and it is great to hear the laughter and the groans from the multipurpose room, as instructors encourage “one more set of 5 squats”!

We also have a full slate of virtual programming on offer using the Zoom platform.  Many of our members find it an easy way to keep fit and keep in touch without having to leave their homes.  We will continue to offer virtual programming into the future. We clearly heard that request from members in our most recent survey.

We are pleased to announce another initiative. For the first time, we are offering the option of on-line registration, starting in the summer of 2022.  We have been able to purchase a registration system due to the financial support of members and friends of Abbotsford House.  This will streamline registration, boost attendance and help us reach out to more seniors in greater Ottawa.  Staff are excited to use this tool that will help better serve our members and volunteers.

Zoom programming, MailChimp e-mail ‘missives’ and telephone calls have kept us in close contact with our members when it was not possible to open our doors or meet in person.  Keeping in contact has been so important for us all in these challenging times.  Many thanks to our members and volunteers who have supported one another over the past two years.

Hope springs eternal. We are pleased to offer more, see more of you and serve you better with our programming and our new registration system.  Abbotsford is 150 years young and growing.  Grow with us and join in our programming, fundraising and volunteering. We are always enthused to welcome new members and volunteers.

Day Away Programming at Abbotsford House


By Julie Ireton

 For Ian Calvert, whose wife Caroline has dementia, the Alzheimer’s-Dementia Day Away Program at Abbotsford House at the Glebe Centre, gives him the respite he needs every week.

“I can feel pretty alone as a caregiver, but I don’t feel alone, because people at Abbotsford are on my team,” said Calvert.

For the past three and a half years, his wife has been attending the day away program. Prior to COVID-19, she would attend one full day a week.

“For brain health we have to be physically and socially active. The variety of activities is great. The staff is terrific. They’re very caring, and they’re fun,” he said.

Due to pandemic restrictions, the program went online for months, but returned to half days in late 2021. There are plans to go back to full-days once it’s safe to do so.

While the activities and exercises keep Caroline engaged and active, he says it’s also a chance for him to take a walk or do errands on his own.

“It’s a break for me,” said Calvert who’s her primary caregiver.

The program is important for the clients with dementia, but it also means a lot to all the caregivers, notes Shirley Lee, Program Facilitator at Abbotsford.

They concentrate on three types of activities: physical, mental and social.

“We try to incorporate an exercise class. It could be a game where they have to lift, bend, sit and stand quite often. We do a lot of quizzes and reminiscing. And the  social component is connecting with others,” said Lee,

Before the pandemic, the program ran four days a week with 12 clients a day.

With the assistance of three or four volunteers, clients are able to gather in smaller groups based on interests and functionality. Games and activities are adapted and geared towards a person’s cognitive level.

“So they can succeed in whatever programming we’re trying to do,” said Lee.

The program adapted quickly as the pandemic took hold in 2020, introducing “senior centre without walls”, a teleconference program in which clients could dial in and participate in trivia or music challenges.

Since the program has a waitlist, the virtual program allowed potential clients who weren’t in the regular day program to start participating in the zoom activities.

“People were isolated. They didn’t have support services. So we opened up the zoom activities to anyone on the waitlist. It allowed us to get to know them,” said Lee.

“When we reopened and they arrived in person, we were familiar faces and voices.”

Given the isolation during the COVID lockdowns, especially in the winter, caregivers have been anxious for the schedule to go back to normal.

“My wife was always reserved, but now she’s more so. She has less confidence and doesn’t take initiative. But at Abbotsford, she really responds and she’s engaged. She’s clearly enjoying it,” said Calvert.

Clients for the Alzheimer’s-Dementia Day Away Program need a referral from Ontario Health and there continues to be a waiting list. The cost is $20 for a half day and $35 for a full day. Round trip transportation is also available for $12, for those in the Abbotsford catchment area.

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 a.m.– 4 p.m. at 613-230-5730 or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and Abbotsford Community Programs on our website .