Wellness Plan Fills Home With New Life
COVID has impacted every aspect of our lives, including our mental health. Now more than ever, it’s important to be intentional about self-care. At the Communitas home where Connie, Melody, Nick, and Patty live, a weekly Wellness Plan has been implemented that has made a difference in their lives, with some surprising impacts.
Karin Olsen has managed this home for 20 years and knows the residents very well. The home has always had a structured routine that incorporates activities to meet the emotional, spiritual, educational, relational, physical and intellectual needs and development for each person living there. Before the pandemic, this was easily accomplished by taking part in various programs and opportunities in the community.
“Our residents would visit the gym, go shopping at the mall, and attend church services. They would go to volunteer jobs and meet friends for coffee. There was always lots to do,” Karin explains, adding that taking in a concert, a movie, or visiting the art gallery were also highlights throughout the year.
But when COVID arrived, all of this came to an end.
At first, because the weather was favourable, the residents and staff took part in activities in and around the house. They took care of the garden, putting up bird feeders and wind chimes to create a bit of a sanctuary in the back yard. It was wonderful while the weather was good but as fall and winter arrived their enthusiasm waned.
“They would ask me over and over, ‘when is this ever going to end?’ Our staff became despondent and came to the end of their creative enthusiasm,” she remembers. “I knew I had to do something to reignite the flame and bring back some of the life that we were missing so terribly.”
Karin went back to the basics. Using the same paperwork that they once used to plan things in community, she created a wellness plan of activities that could be done within the home. She developed a theme for each day and focused on physical, mental, social, and spiritual needs of the residents. Her goal was to keep it simple and to make it fun.
Mondays focused on spiritual well-being. This was the day that they used to attend Circle of Friends, a time of worship for people of all abilities organized by another agency. Instead of going out, they created their own circle. Now they sing some familiar songs, have a short devotional, and a time of prayer.
Tuesdays have become the day to meet virtually with friends and family using Facebook. Some residents hadn’t visited their Facebook page for some time and it became a wonderful way to reconnect with friends.
Wednesday’s focus is on exercise and Thursdays are an opportunity to play some new games. As they explored different opportunities they discovered that Patty, who is usually quite quiet, enjoys playing games and is quite skilled. Her accuracy when playing bean-bag toss was 100%.
“We were amazed at our discovery and so very thankful for this opportunity that never would have happened if we hadn’t been stuck inside,” Karin says.
Fridays are focused on laughter and gratitude.
“We found video clips on Youtube of adorable babies laughing, which made us dissolve into laughter,” she says. “We talked about what we were thankful for and counted our blessings.”
What has surprised Karin is how this intentional wellness plan has had such a profound effect on the whole house.
“The people we serve seem to be more anchored with a plan in place and our staff team leave their shifts feeling like something good and worth celebrating was accomplished,” she reflects. “I had no idea that it was so needed and would have such a powerful, positive outcome. I am so very thankful and motivated to find more simple ideas that fill our home with life.”