LEA underscores value of including families in programming

Life enrichment aide Shannon Lynch (left) and personal support worker Becky Smith (right) join outreach worker France Jalbert (centre) as she plays her ukulele for residents at Forest Hill.

‘I have so many family members who want to come in for certain programs, just because they see the joy that the programming is giving their loved ones’

Life enrichment aide (LEA) Shannon Lynch says she engages Forest Hill’s residents’ family members in programming for two reasons: it makes everyone happy and family members get to see first-hand how their loved one’s quality of life is being enhanced.

“I teach the family members – the children and spouses of residents – what environment this is and what I do in my role. And I teach them how to adapt, and they’re so, so wonderful,” she tells The OMNIway.

“I have so many family members who want to come in for certain programs, just because they see the joy that the programming is giving their loved ones.”

Family members often take Shannon up on her offer. For instance, one family member comes in on Tuesdays and Fridays to be with her father during programming. Another family member comes in during the trivia program.

“That’s what it’s all about; you can come in as much as you want, whenever you want to be involved,” Shannon says.

Having family members attend programming with their loved ones creates a strong community bond at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home, she adds.

“It’s them seeing that … this is a place where their (loved one) can enjoy life, and they can learn how to be involved in programming and everyone can learn as a team,” Shannon says.

And family-member involvement in activities is growing at Forest Hill.

“My groups are getting bigger; (there is) about one family member for every four residents (during activities),” Shannon says. “It’s really booming.”

Shannon says she recommends other long-term care homes encourage family-member participation in activities. This is especially true for younger residents. Shannon says there are residents who are in their 50s who have children in their teens or 20s. They’re upset because their parent is in a long-term care home, so Shannon teaches them how they can be a part of programming and make a difference.

“Now,” she says, “they’re so full of joy when they come in to visit their mother.”

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