VON day pro­gram of­fers ac­tiv­i­ties, fel­low­ship

The Casket - - WHEELS - SAM MACDON­ALD sam­mac­don­ald@the­cas­ket.ca

The Vic­to­rian Or­der of Nurses (VON) Adult Day Pro­gram (ADP) serves as a great way for peo­ple to spend some time to­gether and pur­sue a va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties in a com­mu­nal set­ting with oth­ers. The pro­gram brings peo­ple to­gether from across Antigo­nish town and county in a sense of fel­low­ship.

"The ac­tiv­i­ties we do are all car­ried out around the in­di­vid­ual needs of the clients that come," Don­alda Ma­claugh­lin, com­mu­nity sup­port co­or­di­na­tor with the VON Antigo­nish district, said.

"The main ac­tiv­ity, I would say, is getting everyone to­gether and be­ing out – just be­ing part of an ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­ity that is sep­a­rate from the home life of in­di­vid­u­als where they live."

Mu­sic, art, dis­cus­sions fo­cus­ing on cur­rent events, ac­tiv­i­ties that develop per­sonal and so­cial skills and lessons in self-care, are all part and par­cel of the ADP, and among the many ac­tiv­i­ties par­tic­i­pants en­gage in.

In ad­di­tion to giv­ing peo­ple in care some­thing to do, Ma­claugh­lin noted the ADP helps care­givers stop to catch their breath and take a break.

Olivia Ros­song, an ac­tiv­ity aide, said a typ­i­cal day pro­gram runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and con­sists of "a lot of laugh­ter and car­ry­ing on." That much could be at­tested to in the back­ground, as a group was led in a col­lab­o­ra­tive jam ses­sion, re­plete with tam­bourines and a guitar.

Ros­song said that what she loves most about the pro­gram "is see­ing all the in­di­vid­ual skills everyone has, all the dif­fer­ent chal­lenge everyone has," adding that all par­tic­i­pants all have some­thing unique and valu­able to bring to the gath­er­ings.

"Everyone has a skill, and they’re also dif­fer­ent, so to­gether they have a role in help­ing each other and sup­port­ing one an­other. It’s all re­ally based on us­ing those skills and work­ing to­gether – it’s al­most like a fam­ily," Ros­song said.

Ros­song em­pha­sized that ac­tiv­i­ties are fo­cused on mak­ing sure everyone par­tic­i­pates to the best of their abil­ity.

"It’s about en­hanc­ing and em­pha­siz­ing their abil­i­ties, and not fo­cus­ing on their dis­abil­i­ties," Ma­claugh­lin said.

Par­tic­i­pants in the ADP are equally en­thu­si­as­tic as those who ad­min­is­ter the ac­tiv­i­ties, with one par­tic­i­pant de­scrib­ing it as "my safe haven."

"Since my dad passed away, they’ve been able to turn my bad days into good ones, and I feel loved and cared for here," Diane Macken­zie said.

"Peo­ple treat me very well, and everyone is kind – and sure that our in­di­vid­ual needs are met," Dan Mackay, who strongly rec­om­mends oth­ers join the ADP, said. "I am a new par­tic­i­pant and re­ally look for­ward to it, and en­joy com­ing."

The pro­gram runs on Wed­nes­days and Fri­days, and is $20 per day, per par­tic­i­pant, and fea­tures an as­sort­ment of ac­tiv­i­ties through­out the day – that in­cludes break­fast and lunch.

"We do out­ings, and over time as we change, we’re think­ing of grow­ing more com­po­nents to the pro­gram, in­clud­ing speak­ers down the road," Ros­song said.

Above all, the day pro­gram pro­motes healthy liv­ing, Ma­claugh­lin said, adding that she meant "healthy liv­ing on a nu­tri­tional level, ac­tiv­ity-ori­ented level, and in­tel­lec­tual level."

Both Ma­claugh­lin and Ros­song stressed the need of health care providers to re­al­ize that health­care has a di­men­sion that needs to be re­spected – one that en­tails mak­ing sure peo­ple are do­ing art and ac­tiv­i­ties, in gen­eral, and are en­gaged in mean­ing­ful so­cial in­ter­ac­tion on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

The APD is grad­u­ally grow­ing, with three new clients join­ing in the last few weeks. Ros­song noted this growth could even­tu­ally lead to ex­pan­sion of the pro­gram, if the de­mand is there.

Ros­song said, "One new par­tic­i­pant was go­ing to sign up just for one day a week, but he liked it so much he checked with his daugh­ter and got set up for both days right away."

Sam Macdon­ald

Par­tic­i­pants and in­struc­tors in the VON Adult Day Pro­gram, in a song-along on Aug. 29.

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