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Recreational activities break the tedium of isolation, “We do these things to show them that we care”

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“We do these things to show them that we care”

Recreational activities break the tedium of isolation

Restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic has left many of us feeling isolated and bored. For residents at Good Shepherd’s Transitional Beds program, encouraging them to decide how to lessen the effects of the monotony of quarantine is having a positive effect on their emotional health.

The program, located at The Good Shepherd Centre on Mary Street, provides medical care to residents while they transition into the community. The residents, upon discharge from hospital, could be homeless, precariously housed or have limited ability to access to health and community services. Due to their circumstances, some may have extended stays at the Centre.

Adjusting to the “new normal” can be difficult for people who are accustomed to routines, according to Kaley, nurse manager at the Transitional Beds Program. The staff work to lessen the tedium of not being able to leave the Centre due to the pandemic. Televisions were installed in bedrooms and movie nights were planned, but staff wanted the residents to direct more of their own recreational activities. Did they have hobbies or special skills that they would like to share with other residents?

So they surveyed the residents and received some surprising activity suggestions.

“This has been a unique opportunity to say, ‘What do you want to do?’” says Kaley. “They told us that they want the same things that we all want.”

Since it is spring, some residents wanted to start a garden but there was no materials to be found, until someone saw cinder blocks stored in a Good Shepherd parking lot on Mary Street, just south of the Centre. They got permission to borrow the blocks and assembled them into a temporary garden structure and had soil moved into it.

Another resident was a chef and wanted food-based activities. That spurred the imaginations of the residents and staff alike. Now they have regular pie-making sessions and staff bring in homemade dinners for the residents.

Kaley says the delicious homemade “Family Meals” for residents often surpass the quality of dinners that staff enjoy at home. On separate occasions, residents have sat down to dinners of ribs and homemade macaroni and cheese. She says it’s because the staff are invested in the physical and mental health of the residents.

“They’ve said to us, ‘I didn’t know that anybody really cared.’ It’s rewarding because we have more time to engage with them; we get to know people on a social level,” she says. “We do these things to show them that we care. We don’t do them for the thank you’s.”

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