Return of safe, small-group programs has been a ‘huge blessing’ for Willows residents

Bingo and other resident-favourite activities are being held with safety measures in place

Willows Estate has been able to bring back some of residents’ favourite activities by hosting programs in small groups of five residents or less with other measures, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, in place to keep everyone safe during the pandemic.

While safety is still top of mind and safety protocols remain in place, being able to adapt programming to small groups has been a “huge blessing for our residents,” says life enrichment co-ordinator Teddy Mazzuca.

Bingo, which Teddy says has long been the most popular program among people living at the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home, is one of the activities that has been brought back in small groups.

In addition to playing the game in small groups with everyone wearing masks and socially distanced, there is also Plexiglas separating residents at tables for extra safety.

“(Bingo is) their favourite program, and even with only groups of five residents playing, you can still run the program by making it fun and upbeat,” Teddy says.

Another resident-favourite activity is the Willows’ bowling program, which returned to the schedule about three weeks ago. Like other programs, the bowling activity is hosted in groups of five residents or less with safety measures in place.

To ensure all residents wishing to participate get a chance, the activity is held a few times a day when it’s on the schedule to ensure everyone gets a turn.

Some residents, Teddy notes, have been struggling to understand what has been going on during the pandemic, but staff members have always been there to provide the emotional support that has been so crucial.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is still a major concern and safety measures remain fully in place, Teddy says there’s also a sense of hope among residents and staff.

“Slowly it is going to get better for all of us,” she says.

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