Like many non-profits, the Mount Newton Centre Society has had to change the way clients are taken care of during this pandemic.
Under normal circumstances, Bridget Shumka coordinates the community bathing program along with an adult day program that provides seniors, who may be isolated or who are being cared for at home, organized therapeutic health and social activities.
But the centre closed its doors on March 13, slightly earlier than some other programs as staff were worried about the impact the coronavirus could have on the seniors attending programming.
“We sent everyone home and I was thinking we’ll just take a few weeks to figure this out and we’ll be back up and running again once this settles,” Shumka said.
Her role as a nurse began to change as she started calling clients, just trying to keep in touch with them throughout the closure. “It became very clear in the first and second call that they were panicking at home.”
And Shumka quickly realized the centre had the ability to continue caring for those clients outside of its traditional role.
Now, the centre is providing clients with three hot meals a week that are delivered to their home, staff will grocery shop for clients and the day program has gone virtual with more than 50 people registered.
“We realized we had the capacity to do more,” said Shumka, who contacted the Peninsula Health Unit to see if there was anyone who needed a helping hand or would benefit from the connection.
The referrals started to pour in and soon more than 60 people had been referred.
Throughout all this change, Shumka and another nurse kept calling clients, just making sure they were OK and seeing if they had needs that could be met with the centre’s help.
As B.C. continues with its reopening plan, masked porch visits have also been added to the programming. But it hasn’t been easy getting to this point.
One of the biggest hurdles the centre has had to overcome is getting the technology out to seniors in the virtual day program. The centre is using second-generation iPads with 10-inch screens to communicate with clients via Zoom. Using a program from the Alberta government, the virtual day program has different kinds of resources to offer such as Jeopardy games, bingo or trivia for mental stimulation. Shumka said the centre is still in need of about 15 to 20 iPads to ensure each client can stay connected.
“It gives them a purpose to their day. They can dress up for their meeting because we remember that when people came to Mount Newton Centre it was kind of their club,” Shumka said.
To learn more about the adult day program or to make a donation, visit mountnewtoncentre.org.