New programming and return of longtime favourites bring cheer at Garden Terrace in 2021

An educational environmental program, a carnival and the return of pet therapy mark a busy year at the home

Garden Terrace had a busy 2021, a year that saw life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Rachael King join the team and bring some new, innovative programming to the home as well as resume some favourite activities that were on hold during much of the pandemic.

Rachael, who became the LEC at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home in April, has a background in environmental education, and she used her expertise in this area to launch a weekly outdoor environmental education program for residents in summer.

The program teaches residents about North American animals and plants. The activity is similar to a scavenger hunt and encourages residents to move around the Garden Terrace courtyard to find animal miniatures and examples of flora with ID tags.

When residents find animals or plants, they read information sheets Rachael provides to learn about what each specimen is, its native habitat and a fun fact.

“There are a lot of great things to explore, and this program helps with cognition, memory and reminiscing, so I thought it would be cool to bring this to Garden Terrace,” Rachael said.

Another program highlight we saw at Garden Terrace this year was an outdoor carnival day the life enrichment team created that brought back many fond memories for residents.

The July 9 carnival included a candy-floss machine, a target game played with bean bags, a T-shirt painting contest (done with a water gun) and carnival music.

“Residents had a really fun time,” Rachael said. “They got to have fun and not worry because it has been a tough year.”

In September, with some pandemic restrictions eased, a longtime favourite program returned to Garden Terrace: pet therapy.

Two trained therapy dogs – a Labrador retriever and a Shetland sheepdog – visited Garden Terrace with their handlers from Ottawa Therapy Dogs on Sept. 14.

To keep everyone safe during the pandemic, the program was kept outside, and mask-wearing and social distancing protocols were in effect.

Rachael said residents were overjoyed to be able to visit with the dogs. The therapy dogs had been to the home before the pandemic began.

“They haven’t had pet therapy in over a year and a half, and a lot of the residents adore animals,” she said. “It was nice for them to get to see the dogs again.”

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PHOTO CAPTION: Residents got to throw pies at Garden Terrace team members during the July carnival the home hosted.