Hope, purpose, belonging and KFC

Outings help change public perception of long-term care: LEC

Thursday, May 1, 2014 — Natalie Hamilton

Rachel Corkery fondly recalls an outing where memories and conversations were shared over a bucket of KFC.

On this occasion, she was in the company of Maplewood residents in the tranquil setting of Presqu’ile Provincial Park.

The 49-bed Brighton long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) says when the residents get together in a community environment it’s no different than when she hangs out with her 30-something group of pals.

Outings, while enjoyable for residents and staff alike, also play an important role in demystifying existing perceptions about long-term care, the LEC says.

“I don’t know if people’s perceptions of long-term care and nursing homes are that of the old-style or the news is putting a bad spin on long-term care, but they see that we still enjoy the same quality of life in long-term care that somebody would who’s not living in long-term care.

“We still like to go out for drives. We still like to go out to restaurants with our friends. We still like to take a drive on a nice afternoon through the park and watch the waterfowl.

“All of these things kind of epitomize quality of life. Things don’t diminish when you move to long-term care.”

Corkery suspects some people perceive quality of life changes when seniors move into long-term care and outings help illustrate that isn’t the case.

The LEC recalls when she first started at Maplewood and she and the residents were enjoying a day and a picnic lunch at Presqu’ile in Brighton. After lunch, a few residents wanted to go for a walk along the lakefront. A fellow picnicker approached them and started a conversation. After learning about Corkery and the seniors, the park patron handed the LEC $20 so she could purchase an extra treat for the residents.

When asked why she thinks Maplewood receives such a gracious welcome in the community, Corkery says “I think it’s because (people) can see themselves (in long-term care) some day. The fact we’re still going out for a drive or going to a restaurant is an ordinary thing — things you and I take for granted — but it does make a difference.”

“I think once people see what it is that we do besides that (nursing) aspect, I think that changes people’s perceptions. They want to help. They think ‘wow, you’ve just enhanced that person’s quality of life.’ I think that’s why we have such a great reception.”

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