Seniors and Students Connect

Seniors and Students Connecting

December 2020 

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.”


Thinking ‘outside of the house’ at Abbotsford

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,

“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.


Abbotsford House is Still Standing and so are We All

By: Pat Goyeche

Fall 2020

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 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

In Person but Not Close Up!

October 2020

By Julie Ireton

After months of exercising in the isolation of their own homes, via zoom, several Abbotsford members were eager to meet up at Lansdowne Park to work out in the bright, safe expanse of the Horticulture Building with legendary exercise instructor, Joseph Cull.

“He’s everyone’s favorite and we’re so lucky to have him,” said Pat Smart.

She and many members have missed their regular drop-ins to Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre, across from Lansdowne.

In fact, Smart admits she’s been avoiding exercise since the pandemic was declared in March, but now she’s pleased to have the option of an in-person class.

“It made me feel so much stronger and straighter. Everybody was so glad to be there.”

Forced isolation due to concerns over COVID-19 has been particularly difficult for seniors who’ve been told to take precautions to avoid contracting the virus.

For many, that’s meant avoiding any kind of group activities.

“It’s relaxing and social and I think we need that. It’s good for the soul,” said Smart.

“Joseph was wearing a skirt and using a pool noodle to illustrate the 2 m distance between participants. It was brilliant.”

More programming is being planned for inside the vast Horticultural building space including an indoor walking program that the city of Ottawa is set to start in October.

Virtual programming continues

Abbotsford continues to offer virtual exercise programs for older adults with access to tablets, smartphones and the internet.

Those classes include aerobics, dance, stretch, strength training and yoga.

Beyond physical fitness programs, many seniors are embracing the virtual watercolour and sketching classes, conversational Spanish, device training and book club chats.

“This will bode well for them as winter approaches,” said Karen Anne Blakely, director of community programs at Abbotsford.

Blakely notes that the closure of in-person, adult day programs has been difficult for both clients and caregivers, but some are participating in zoom programs throughout the week.

These one-hour programs include seated exercise, trivia questions, music, themed activities and discussions.

“As well program facilitators are visiting clients on driveways and porches, walking in the neighbourhood being socially distanced and wearing masks and delivering individualized activity kits to the clients homes to help keep clients active and engaged,” said Blakely.

A telephone meditation program helps seniors remain calm and focus on relaxation and more than 40 volunteers continue to regularly call 330 seniors for wellness checks, to help those suffering from the loneliness brought on by isolation.

Abbotsford staff follow up to make sure seniors have access to the help they need, according to Blakely.

Snow Go

For seniors who aren’t looking forward to digging out the snow shovels, some city of Ottawa programs may be able to help.

‘Snow Go’ refers seniors and adults with disabilities to contractors who have passed a screening test, are properly registered and insured.

Some senior clients with disabilities and or low income may also quality for the city’s Snow Go Assist program that will reimburse up to $250 on the cost of their snow removal.

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




Abbotsford House…Serving Seniors in Community

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.

Abbotsford is Blooming and Zooming!

Abbotsford is Blooming and Zooming!                              June 2020

By: Pat Goyeche

Abbotsford Programing and Services at the Glebe Centre is Blooming and Zooming, both inside and outside of our physical walls.  Nothing is the same yet we are doing it!

The COVID-19 pandemic has of course brought enormous worry, uncertainty and  change, upending each of our lives in ways that are both mundane and profound.  We have some common experiences as a society but so many differences as well, that come with age, race, socio-economic and other realities.

This is a big change for seniors. This house has been serving ‘senior community members’ since the 1890’s one way or another!  It is used to the fitness pitter patter of many feet and the chatter of many voices.  Alas, it is quiet as our in-house programming has been suspended and many of our staff have been re-deployed to help in our long term care home.  Only a few of us are still working in the house.

Like so many facilities, Abbotsford had to close its doors on March 16th.  While the doors are closed, however, our beautiful garden out front has burst forth in full bloom; and inside we continue to connect by way of land lines, cell towers and virtual means.  We, like so many, are re-tooling ourselves in order to maintain crucial links with our community of neighbours, members, clients and volunteers.

We have a strong core of volunteers reaching out through telephone trees, making sure everyone has access to food, pharmacy, medical appointments and mental health supports.  Beyond those ‘essential services’ we are also connecting with our folks through weekly e-mailed ‘blogs’.  Our volunteers are chatting with their ‘new friends’, checking in and forming new connections.  The Community Support Services team is reaching out to our clients, whose needs vary; sharing information and engaging with their clientele.

We have some amazing women in our community of volunteers who are making cotton masks for our members and clients.   We have volunteers delivering packages and reaching out through the telephone to do what they can to keep others safe, secure and connected.  We are so appreciative of their generosity.  We also appreciate our community partners, in particular Evelyn Metcalfe and Amanda Brown of Colonel By Retirement Residence for adding a sweet treat.

As we do service the elder population (who are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus) we will likely be amongst the last to re-open our physical doors. Yet we are by no means dormant in the meantime. The house is storing up good vibes for the day when it can once again open its doors to its community. While we wait there is much on offer to help keep our folks fit, entertained, challenged, engaged and connected.

Who knew that Boomers would be Blooming & Zooming themselves?  So many folks are connecting with family and friends in new ways and we have all learned to be open to technology and the wonderful opportunities that it brings.  Coffee Klatches are meeting, people are learning Spanish, and there is lots of dancing to Broadway hits and Zumba beats.  We can still ‘work out’ with our favourite teachers and chat with friends, either in a conference call or a virtual connection.

Keep vigilant, keep heathy, take care of each other.  Keep smiling at strangers and asking if they need a hand or something from the grocery store.  Enjoy the summer, join in a class or two and know that though the doors are locked our hearts and services remain open and engaged.

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

Reaching out to the Abbotsford Community

Spring 2020

Abbotsford Community Day Program Facilitators facilitated the delivery of activity kits for some of their clients who are isolating in place along with everyone else…When you can’t come to the program, we will try to bring it to you! Thank you Terry (Glebe Centre Van Driver) for the safe delivery of kits and Meals on Wheels!

Look What’s Up at Abbotsford

Look What’s Up at Abbotsford

By: Karen Anne Blakely

Abbotsford house was built in 1872 and has seen many changes and renovations over the years. Recently, we replaced nine windows thanks to a generous grant from the Provincial Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility. Seven large windows originally built in a renovation during 1920s light up the multi-purpose room, which is just that, a room with multiple purposes. Older adults and adults with disabilities participate in fitness classes, dance, Zumba, tai-chi, and ping pong. The new windows will allow for fresh air into the room and continue to bring in light from the west.

The window in the main floor kitchen was also be replaced as well as one office window on the second floor.  One by one, grant by grant Abbotsford house is getting a new look.

The staff at Abbotsford house are busy calling and emailing all members and clients during our closure due to the pandemic. We want to ensure that our friends and neighbours are safe and secure during these times of social distancing and quarantine.

We continue to help seniors to get to essential medical appointments and we are helping with the delivery of Meals on Wheels. We understand the importance to remain connected during these challenging times. We will be recommending ways to socially connect in our email distribution and on our website. Call or email us if you would like assistance.

Abbotsford is your Seniors Active Living Centre.  We are the community programs and services of The Glebe Centre Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit, organization which includes a 254 bed long term care home.  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

Karen Anne Blakely is the Director of Community Programs and Services for Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre


Did you know?!

Students are a huge part of our organization, we’ve had students from across the country do their placements with us in all areas of The Glebe Centre. From long-term care to community support, students have not only gained valuable insights working in this sector but have provided countless hours of support for our clients, residents, members, staff, and volunteers.

  • We have 37 students participating in programs in long-term care and community support.  The students are from Ottawa U, Algonquin College, Heritage College, Algonquin Careers Academy and local high schools.
  • The students have provided over 1000 hours of support for clients and residents.
  • The students are an amazing part of our intergenerational programming.
  • The students have varied backgrounds with 15 being first year medical students from Ottawa U.
  • Several of our students are classical musicians.
  • Often once a placement is over the students will stay on and continue to volunteer.
  • Some of our students are now new staff.
  • Students can become very attached to our residents and clients
  • Students love to hear ‘stories’ from our residents and clients
  • Students take the time to engage!

Who Takes Care of the Caregiver


By: Julie Ireton

Every Friday morning at Abbotsford at the Glebe Centre, seniors who have taken on the role of caregiver to a spouse can grab a coffee and conversation with like-minded men and women.

“We plan for retirement. We don’t plan for caregiving,” said Janet Kuntz the volunteer facilitator of the caregivers’ coffee club at Abbotsford.

Kuntz, an active member of community, found herself a caregiver for 7 years. She knows that a spouse with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can alter a relationship.  Now she helps connect others.

“Once the caregiving starts, you have to find a way to still enjoy life and still take care of yourself, while taking on the new responsibilities for someone else,” said Kuntz. “Here’s a support group to help with those responsibilities and still find joy.”

The caregiver coffee club meets at 10 am every Friday morning for two hours to casually chat and then listen to a guest speaker. They share advice and information about local services and supports. Many of those who attend the group are over 75.

Since the club began in September, speakers have dropped in to talk about a variety of topics, including respite care, retirement and long term care homes, banking, finance, and tax issues according to Kuntz.

She said many attendees are coping with the changes and stressful situations presented when a husband or wife is diagnosed with dementia.

Others, including Jill Vickers, come because they’re helping care for elderly parents.

Vickers, a former professor at Carleton University, lost her husband last year and is now trying to handle the stress of managing her mother’s struggle with advanced Parkinson’s disease on her own.

“We talk about our own circumstances,” said Vickers. “It’s been a real lifesaver. It lets me focus on more than being a caregiver.”

Those members who drop in on Fridays, 10 am to noon, contribute a dollar for a cup of tea or coffee. There’s no long term commitment to the club or need to sign up.

For some, this casual connection to other caregivers helps the senior realize they’re not alone and there are others they can turn to for understanding.

“You come from a world where you’re having to repeat things and constantly telling their spouse what the next step is,” said Kuntz. “Sometimes you feel like you’re going crazy. So this group is for people to say I’ve had the same challenge and this is what I did.”