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With movements restricted during the latest increase in Covid-19 cases in the province, residents at United’s two communities are keeping their spirits up thanks to the efforts of families and employees.

“Nobody expected this thing to last this long,” said Garrison Green resident Jim Dolph. When we spoke with Jim last spring about staying connected with his family, Jim talked about the phone conversations and the special gifts that his family brings him. Almost a year later, Jim says the special treats are more welcome than ever.

Painting by Jim's granddaughter Melissa of Mellissa's daughter walking in the snow

Painting by Jim’s granddaughter Melissa of Melissa’s daughter walking in the snow

“They really outdid themselves at Christmas,” said Jim. “Christmas was quiet, but they brought me some of my favourite cheeses, breads, wine and scotch whiskey. We’re fed well here, but these are some of the fussy things that I like. And my grandchildren send me photos of our times together, which really sparks our conversations on the phone.” A special treat for Jim, who is an avid painter, was a painting done for him by his 31-year-old granddaughter, of one of her daughters walking in the snow.

“I really admire the employees. They are at risk as much as we are, but they are going the extra mile to help protect our health. They deliver our meals. It’s phenomenal service. It’s heroic what they are doing,” said Jim.

Jim’s daughter Laurie says the way the family connects hasn’t changed much. In person visits have changed, but the phone calls are regular. She applauds United for daily emails giving residents and families the latest news, and the creative facilitators provide regular Good News Bulletins with links to online events, and an email called Online Inspirations.

Jim continues to play his guitar and has even started writing music. “You have to find your style and experiment with it. I’ve been attracted lately to East Coast music, so I’m working on playing reels. And I’m still painting. You have to find your passion, and these restrictions have given people a chance to develop their interests.”

Sharyn and Landis Krause in their suite at Fish Creek

Sharyn and Landis Krause in their suite at Fish Creek

Sharyn and Landis Krause at Fish Creek are using technology to stay connected with family and friends. “Landis found a crib game online and plays several times a week with friends from Winnipeg, and we found a Bridge game as well. Our son and daughter found other games, and at one time over Christmas we were playing with 11 people on Zoom,” said Sharyn. “Even when Covid is over, this is a great way to stay connected with our friends and family all over the country.”

Jim is looking forward to receiving the vaccine and like others, is hoping it will lead to less restrictions. “People are tired of waiting for Covid to go away, so we’re hoping the vaccine will finally allow us to open things up again, to go out with our families, especially with spring not too far off we want our lives to get back to normal.”

Sharyn agrees, and is optimistic about the vaccine, but she says that even with the vaccine, it’s best to stay cautious. “Until most people are vaccinated, Covid is still a risk, so we’re still going to be careful.”

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Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Talk with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange in-person or virtual tours of our Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

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United’s full-time Kinesiologists have expanded their one-on-one exercise programs to address increased demand and to support residents’ health while more formal exercise classes are suspended. The one-on-one programs are unique to United because they are tailored to residents’ specific needs and conducted by professional Kinesiologists, which many older adult communities don’t have.

“One-on-one sessions have always been available at both communities, but now they are being widely offered as a way to keep residents moving and active while in their suites,” said Jenn Kitchen, Learning and Development/Occupational Health and Safety Leader. “We’re finding that the frequency of one-on-ones has increased during COVID, partly due to COVID restrictions and partly from a general increase in demand.”

Heather Weibe works with Garrison Green resident Jackie Naylor

Heather Weibe works with Garrison Green resident Jackie Naylor

Garrison Green Kinesiologist Heather Wiebe said United’s exercise programs are perfect for all levels. “For those residents who use our one-on-one services, they often address a specific or individual issue, like rehabilitation from a fall or surgery, or a chronic issue that may negatively impact their strength or daily functions,” said Heather.

“In some cases, we work closely with them to develop programs so the resident can work towards performing the exercises on their own in their suites. Whereas some residents prefer to work with the Kinesiologist continuously to ensure they are always safe and doing the exercises correctly, many residents don’t require the one-on-one support. In this case, our group classes work very well for them as they really appreciate and benefit from the social component when exercising.”

“Through our exercise programming and one-to-one sessions, we look to maintain and improve the mobility of residents so they can continue with the activities of daily life they most enjoy,” said Fish Creek Kinesiologist Kory Howard, who is seeing 15 residents individually. “Fall prevention is also a major component of our programming. We give residents the information, skills and confidence they need to maintain or improve their balance. Each resident is unique and our programs are tailored  to match their abilities and help them reach their goals.“

 

Kory works with resident Ken Cadman on hand-eye coordination

Kory works with resident Ken Cadman on hand-eye coordination

“We can’t do regular classes, so residents have asked for more individual support,” said Kory. One resident, Ken Cadman recently fell and turned to Kory to help him regain his mobility and confidence. Kory worked with Ken to sharpen his hand-eye coordination, his balance and confidence to mitigate the risk of another fall. “I’ve fully recovered from my fall, but I’m working with Kory on balance and stability to increase my confidence. He’s also helping me with my leg strength and weight distribution. It’s interesting to know what is happening in the body and how the muscles work together. I’m more aware now of what’s happening when I’m in the shower or walking so that I don’t risk a fall.”

“We’ve noticed that some residents have declined in their mobility due to COVID restrictions so we work with them on their endurance, balance and confidence either one-on-one or with a tailored exercise plan that they can do on their own,” said Kory.

“When formal exercise programs stopped running, the one-on-ones really took off,” said Heather. “We had more requests from families because they recognized that mom or dad are doing well when they exercised regularly and they didn’t want that to stop.” Heather often goes from suite to suite to answer questions and provide support. “I’m regularly doing three to nine one-on-one sessions in a day.

“Exercise is medicine. It’s not in pill form, but with the right programs, residents will find them meaningful, support their overall wellness, and enhance their quality of life,” said Heather.

She notes that the work the Kinesiologists do is leading edge, ensuring the latest approaches are taken to deliver the best possible health and wellness results.

“The demand for our specialized services has increased noticeably in this past year and it’s gratifying to see residents respond with better mobility and confidence,” said Heather.

Photos by United Active Living. Videos by Sherana Productions.

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Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Talk with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange in-person or virtual tours of our Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

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Kera Redlack, United’s new director of health and wellness, brings a wealth of experience to United’s residents. She has worked in long-term care, acute care and continuing care over her 12 years as a nurse. But working at United has presented Kera with a whole new way of looking at care.

Kera Redlack, United's director of health and wellness

Kera Redlack, United’s director of health and wellness

“I have found over the last 12 years that organizations that promote a person-centred approach to care don’t necessarily walk the talk,” said Kera. “What drew me to United is that they are literally transforming the experience of aging. Aging is a natural process in life and we help each resident maintain their wellness in their later years. The United approach is focused on each person within a social model of care rather than a medical model. That means that we see each resident as a person. They are the experts in their wellness. We focus on their strengths not their medical conditions, and the residents tell us how they want to live. We ask ourselves with each interaction how we can make their lives enjoyable and meaningful. That’s really special.”

Kera notes that as health care professionals, it’s important to recognize the value of the residents’ experiences. “It’s one of the most meaningful parts of my job. We learn from them just as much as they learn from us.”

She leads a wellness team consisting of resident care managers and registered nurses, who work directly with the licensed practical nurses and health care aides. As well, regular wellness meetings bring together the nurses, United Minds (cognitive care), food services, housekeeping, programming and fitness to contribute to a holistic approach that can help residents improve their quality of life.

Kera listens to residents about what's important to them

Kera and the wellness team listens to residents about what’s important to them

Working at United has been a completely new experience for Kera. “Instead of  working from a ‘top down’ point of view where the health professionals tell residents what is best for them, we engage with the residents and they let us know what is best for them. Decisions and process changes are made with resident input. That’s something that hasn’t been done before in my experience and it’s a breath of fresh air. I’ve been here only a few months so I’m still getting used to this unique approach. I came from a background where the medical side came first. Here, we think outside of what is the normal medical approach and think of what’s best for each person.”

Kera believes that residents know how they want to live and that the health care team can support them by providing choice and control over their lives. “Whatever condition you have, you’re still a person. Your condition shouldn’t define who you are. It’s our job to find out what you need to live a full, active life and help meet those needs. It’s all about helping residents live well rather than what is most efficient for the health care team.”

For instance, United doesn’t impose restrictions on the amount of time spent with residents. There is time to talk with them and get to know them. That approach can be a pleasant surprise for nurses who come to United from another community. Nurses at United always refer to the person by name. As well, nurses wear business casual attire, not scrubs or medical uniforms. Medications are given to residents in their suites to ensure privacy, dignity and respect.

Kera knows the importance of communication between employees and residents. She has started work on creating a communication system for each suite. “It might be something like an internal system where we post information using the televisions in the suites. It’s another way to promote independence.

“United has really improved the approach to care for older adults,” said Kera. “It’s something I’m very excited about. I love every minute being here!”

Photos by United Active Living. Videos by Sherana Productions.

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Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Talk with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange tours of our Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

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Staying home is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. But the resulting isolation presents its own complications. As we know, isolation is not healthy for long periods of time, so older adults and their families are finding ways to stay active and engaged. While here at United, we are focused on supporting our residents, we also believe that during these times, it’s important to share your learnings and initiatives so all older adults in our greater community can also be supported. There are a few things we can all do to support the older adult in our circle of family, friends or neighbours.

Help Out a Neighbour or Friend

Chalk drawing of encouragement at United's Garrison Green

Chalk drawing of encouragement at United’s Garrison Green

Older adults living on their own may feel isolated – even more so when everyone is asked to stay at home. One way to help is to recognize which of your neighbours, friends or family members may be alone, and volunteer to shop for them, drop off meals or special treats, or find a safe way to visit with them.

Laurie Dolph, daughter of Garrison Green resident Jim Dolph, regularly drops off treats fo Jim. Even though visitor restrictions are in place, she finds that doing errands and dropping off special items are great ways to make a difference.

Call Often

Technology gives everyone an easy way to reach out and stay connected. “We phone dad every day, and he phones us,” said Laurie. “I think that’s one of the best ways to stay in touch because we get to hear his voice. He doesn’t use Skype or Apple’s FaceTime, because he doesn’t use that technology, but that would also be a great way to stay in touch.”

Jean and Dean Geddes who live at United’s Fish Creek community stay in touch with family, who bring them groceries and other necessities. They also speak regularly with family and friends using the computer and phone. One of United’s employees helped them get set up on FaceTime. They might even try using free video conferencing programs such as Zoom.

If you’re new to technology, here are a couple of links to resources that can help an older adult.

How to become tech savvy

Online tech services for older adults

Find Creative Ways to Stay Active

Whether living in and older adult community, or in the family home, staying active and engaged these days is all about getting creative. While usual programs such as yoga classes or having coffee with friends aren’t possible, online versions are available. Yoga and other exercise programs are online, and using technology to have virtual coffee with friends is encouraged. Now that the weather is better, going for walks is encouraged, provided that adequate physical distances can be maintained. United is finding safe, enjoyable and imaginative ways to keep residents engaged physically, socially and mentally, which you can also share with older adults in your life. There are  various online events such as documentaries, concerts and virtual museum tours. You can also drop off artistic supplies, books or fitness resources.

Older Adults Helping Older Adults

Fish Creek resident Libby on her computer

Fish Creek resident Libby on her computer

When learning to swim or going for a hike in the mountains, it is always best to have a buddy. The buddy system is also useful in times of isolation. With today’s technology, a person can still socialize even when staying home. A simple regular phone call can work wonders, or connect with other older adults through Zoom or Facebook. Often there are interactive games available online. How about a game of chess with a friend, or a board game that can be played with three or four people? For some, it can be an interesting way to make new friends, even half a world away.

Photos by United Active Living, Pixabay. Videos by Sherana Productions.

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Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

The restrictions on visiting mean that tours aren’t available right now, but don’t hesitate to talk with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange for a tour once it’s safe to do so. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

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“The health and safety of our residents and employees is top of mind for us, so the measures we are taking, which align with the recommendations of Alberta Health, are focused on that,” said Kim O’Brien, president and CEO of United’s two communities. “This week we enhanced our procedures by allowing only essential visitors into the communities, and began actively screening for everyone including staff entering our communities. We also introduced social distancing practices by reducing the seating capacity in our dining rooms, as well as the number of residents who gather at our program and fitness offerings.”

Read the current update on United’s response here.

President Kim O'Brien greets visitors at Fish Creek's front entrance

President Kim O’Brien serves as one of the active screeners at Fish Creek’s front entrance

Essential visitors are those who are required to assist in the direct care and support of residents. Family can be an exception should they be involved directly in supporting a resident who may be nearing end of life. Contractors and volunteers will only be allowed in should they be performing essential services, such as building maintenance or for emergency work.

“We know how these changes can be difficult for our residents, their families and our team, however, it is so heartening to see how supportive and understanding everyone has been this past week,” said Kim. “We are making every effort to ensure our residents and employees remain healthy and safe, especially since the situation is changing so rapidly. Our team is working hard to strike the right balance between doing everything we can on the health side, with maintaining an active, engaged community, which United is known for.”

“I’m thankful that I’m here,” said Fish Creek resident Joan Patterson. “If I was in my own home, I wouldn’t be going anywhere. I would be quite concerned being on my own, but I don’t feel that here.”

Since moving into Fish Creek, Joan has established a group of friends. She cites United’s programming for giving residents a variety of new experiences. She also serves on the Fish Creek residents’ council.

“I’m learning to paint, which I can do in the art studio even though there are fewer people there, and I have my quilting, which I can do in my suite, so I’m still able to keep quite busy.”

Joan is pleased with the extra effort the community is putting in to keep everyone informed and safe. “I think it’s a good idea to limit visitors and that they have extra screening in place for those who need to be here. It’s hard not being with family, but everyone here understands the necessity. I’m very re-assured by what United is doing. We are getting plenty of communication, so we know what is going on, and we are getting a heads-up on future planning. It gives everyone a lot of comfort that we are being well taken care of.”

Photos by United Active Living, Sherana Productions. Videos by Sherana Productions.

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Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

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Employees at United’s two communities are taking extra steps to keep residents, employees and visitors safe during the coronavirus outbreak. As expected there is heightened concern about COVID-19, and this can be amplified in light of what we are all seeing in the media, which can raise resident’s and employee’s level of anxiety. United’s employees are working to address concerns by providing timely, accurate information to residents and employees.

“Our experience with the annual flu seasons has given us a solid foundation to refine and build on our formal processes, which include an extensive prevention program, with an escalating series of procedures should one or more residents become ill,” said Nikki Bonsall, director of health and wellness.

On the prevention side, employees are doing more intensive cleaning in high-traffic areas, pulling all high-touch items, and information sessions are being conducted with residents and employees so they understand what they can do to help prevent infections. United has also aligned their employee processes to reflect or exceed current Alberta Health Services recommendations. Letters circulated to residents and employees requested that visitors be kept to a minimum and that anyone who has been out of the country in the past 14 days refrain from visiting the community for an additional 14 days.

“Preparation, information and education are two of the most important aspects of prevention,” said Nikki. “We have been in regular communication with residents and their families, and will continue to do so. We are in daily contact with Alberta Health Services to advise them on our status, but to also receive the latest information from reliable sources about what is happening in other communities. Information on the Internet and in the media may not be accurate, so we want to be sure our residents are getting the best information possible.”

There is excellent advice about the virus and prevention at the Alberta Health Services website. 

And here is a link to an excellent YouTube video with Dr. Peter Lin, a family physician in Toronto, explaining in plain language, what the virus is and how we can all help prevent its spread.

United is evaluating its protocols daily, and should it become necessary, Nikki said that United will begin to take further measures such as limiting big gatherings and external visitors.

Kathy Cleary, United’s director of quality enhancement and innovation, is working alongside Nikki and the executive team to solidify the processes United needs, such as managing food and health supplies.

“Once we knew the virus had hit Alberta, we reacted quickly to get in front of it so that we are ready,” said Kathy. “Communication is important, so included in our handouts and our information sessions is information about how the virus is transmitted, and tips on prevention such as regular hand washing and hygiene.”

Both Nikki and Kathy are also asking for help from families, friends and other visitors. “An older population is at particular risk, so we’re asking all visitors to reflect on where they have been recently and why they are visiting,” said Kathy. “If the visit is not essential, we ask that you delay your visit until later. And if you’ve been travelling, we suggest waiting for at least two weeks before planning to visit, just to be on the safe side. The recent confirmed cases in Alberta were travelling out of the country, so we’re asking anyone who has recently travelled not to take the risk.

“The health and well-being of our residents and employees are paramount, so we’re asking everyone for their help to safeguard our community,” said Kathy.

Photos by Pixabay, Sherana Productions. Videos by Sherana Productions.

Ask us about our short-term respite stays.

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Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

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United’s staff at Fish Creek and Garrison Green were briefed this month on federal legislation around MAID (medical assistance in dying), which was passed by the government in 2016. MAID is a medical procedure that involves the administration of medications to end someone’s life, whose death has been diagnosed by a physician as being “reasonably foreseeable” and who has independently chosen MAID be performed. Learn more about MAID in this federal government link. Most Canadians support MAID according to recent polls. Even so, statistics show that only 2% of deaths in Canada are through MAID.

While United staff won’t be administering the procedure, they were informed about how the process works as part of United’s philosophy of continuing staff education.

MAID is supported by Alberta Health Services. Here is a link to more information. Quebec was the first province to implement MAID.

Fish Creek resident Trish Remmers

Fish Creek resident Trish Remmers

There are two ways to administer medical assistance in dying. Each involves a physician or nurse practitioner who either directly administers a medication through intravenous means, thus causing death, or provides or prescribes a drug that the person takes him/herself.

“I’ve always held the concept of controlling my life and my death,” said Fish Creek resident Trish Remmers. Trish is a member and co-founder of the Calgary chapter of Dying with Dignity Canada (DWDC).

She invited DWDC colleagues Sigrid Wili and Trudy Hall to assist her in providing information to staff about MAID – who is eligible and how it works.

 

Sigrid, also a member and co-founder of the Calgary chapter,  believes MAID can relieve a great deal of suffering as a person nears the end of life. She explained that the dying process used to often take a shorter time than it does today, but with today’s medical advancements, a person can stay alive much longer. That may  also mean suffering can be extended. If quality of life declines to that point, a person now has another choice to prevent a long dying.

As legislation now stands, to access the procedure, a person has to be mentally competent throughout the entire process. It can take up to two weeks to receive approval, which gives plenty of time for a person to change his/her mind.

Trish acknowledges that talking about death is tough, but it is something families should do. “People are talking about death more. They are becoming more comfortable with it. Family members can have different views but it really comes down to what the patient wants. Each province has an advanced care planning kit with various scenarios that can help families think through the process.”

Sigrid said a family discussion can help in the grieving process. She thinks grieving can be the same for families whose loved one chooses MAID or not, or it can be different depending on whether the family has held those important discussions beforehand. In some cases, it can be a relief that the person is no longer suffering. It makes a big difference in how family comes to terms with death especially if it has been discussed and the family is prepared for it. Each case is unique.

Trudy Hall, also an active member of the Calgary chapter said that she likes having a choice in how she lives and how she will die. She continued to say that we don’t actively promote MAID, but we support those who want it by providing witnesses for the applications and helping to walk them through the process. People should have the choice.

There are some who object to MAID, such as those who live a faith-based life or object on other moral grounds, but MAID gives a choice to those who are open to the idea.

What about those patients who are no longer mentally competent? “DWDC is working on getting federal legislative approval for advanced requests for those who are of sound mind now, but who may have dementia and not be in a position to approve the procedure in the future,” said Trish.

Others who have a longer illness, such as cancer, may have had more time to think through their options,” explained Sigrid. “Once a request is submitted, a person has a year to act on it before having to submit a request and receive approval.”

Photos and videos by Sherana Productions.

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Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

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A unique feature of United’s two communities is the work of the wellness teams. Meeting each week, the wellness teams are made up representatives of all departments – United Minds, nursing, food services, housekeeping, programming and fitness – to share their knowledge about individual resident’s concerns, successes, capabilities and needs, and develop approaches that can help residents improve their quality of life.

Health and wellness director Nikki Bonsall, right, with the wellness team at Fish Creek

Health and wellness director Nikki Bonsall, right, with the wellness team at Fish Creek

The key is that United operates under a social model rather than a medical model of care which means that they see the whole person, their interests, their personality and life history, not just their medical diagnosis. To provide a social approach means that residents are asked what they need to live well in the community. Staff then become accustomed their strengths, abilities and interests.

It’s a comprehensive formal process that creates action items, plans and ideas that also values the privacy of each resident.

“The success of the wellness teams is based on our ongoing work to get to know each resident,” said Nikki Bonsall, director of health and wellness. “Because we know the residents, everyone on the team can tell when something changes. Perhaps they aren’t eating as well as they used to, or they spend more time than usual by themselves. Often, housekeeping or serving staff will see changes in a resident’s day-to-day choices. By picking up on those small cues, members of the team can meet with the resident, and in a casual, conversational way, find out if there is anything unusual happening in their lives that we or their families should pay attention to.”

The fibre arts club at Garrison Green is a popular place to meet new friends

The fibre arts club at Garrison Green is a popular place to meet new friends

When a resident comes to live at United, a comprehensive assessment is done, which helps to understand a person’s history, lifestyle and preferences for meals and programming. As well, twice a month there are new resident transition meetings as another way for staff to help a newcomer meet new friends or enjoy new programs. While many older adult communities focus on medical care, Nikki believes United’s multidisciplinary approach to resident care is unique. At the wellness meetings, every department provides their perspective, which leads to ideas for helping to support residents.

The success of the teams’ approach has as much to do with the process as it does with resident choices. The team and the residents  collaborate to help the residents live life as fully and comfortably as possible, in alignment with their choices and values, regardless of any health issues they may have. 

Residents are making their own decisions about what is right for them, such as when they eat, what programs they attend, and the relationships they build. The benefit of this social approach is that it supports residents in maintaining their independence in order to have a meaningful and fulfilling life.

“Whatever condition you have, you’re still a person. Your condition shouldn’t define who you are. It’s our job to find out what you need to live a full, active life and help meet those needs,” said Nikki.

Even though residents may not be aware of the work the wellness team does, they are very receptive when a staff member engages them in a casual conversation over coffee, or introduces them to a new program or the art studio. “It’s a relationship building process that involves the whole person – their goals, lifestyle, likes and dislikes, along with their medical needs, ” said Nikki. “We want to be sure that each resident is getting the most from living at United. The wellness teams go a long way towards achieving that.”

Photos and videos by Sherana Productions.

Ask us about our short-term respite stays.

Contact us to learn more!

Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

Contact us here!

 


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“Start low, go slow.” That was the advice given to several dozen residents who came out to two lectures this week about cannabis and its two key components, CBD and THC. Lecturer Nancy-Anne Rose explained that the phrase means to start with a very low dose and patiently wait to see how you react.

“Everyone is going to react differently,” said Nancy-Anne, who works with cannabis producer Boaz Pharmaceuticals in Calgary, and also instructs a cannabis technicians course at Mount Royal University. MRU, a United partner, provides residents with a variety of educational discussions throughout the year.

“The over-65 age group is one of the fastest growing demographics for cannabis use in Canada, more for medicinal use than recreational, but there’s some of that as well,” said Nancy-Anne.

Residents were curious about the benefits they might receive from trying it, while several others had tried it but found no benefit in their situations.

In her discussion, Nancy-Anne covered CBD oils, creams and edibles, which have just become legal in Canada. She noted that cannabis containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient that gets you “high”, is used mainly for pain, sleep issues and loss of appetite, while the CBD component is non-psychoactive and is showing promise for treating inflammation, anxiety and tremors.

One woman in the crowd explained that her daughter, who has had epileptic seizures all of her life, has stopped using some pharmaceuticals thanks to the benefits she is getting from CBD oils. There has been a reduction in seizures and a 100% improvement in her quality of life. Another said he tried it for his pain, but it didn’t seem to work, so he stopped using it.

“CBD oils and other forms of cannabis can be a good complement to medications residents are taking, but to determine whether taking cannabis is a good fit, it’s always best to check with your doctor first,” cautions Nancy-Anne. “You don’t want any adverse reactions. If you do start taking cannabis, it’s best to start low and go slow.”

Some residents who attended had not considered Cannabis before, and picked up contact sheets for clinics and doctors who support using cannabis.

Residents are free to choose their health care options, and United’s nursing staff is there to support and assist where needed. “We support the medical choices of our residents,” said Nikki Bonsall, director of health and wellness. “Our focus is on the resident as a person. We follow a social model of care, which means the resident is the expert in their wellness. We focus on their strengths not their medical conditions, and the resident tells us how they want to live. Our philosophy focuses on enjoying an active, creative life supported by a highly educated staff that are trained to see the resident as a unique individual.”

Photos and videos by Sherana Productions.

Ask us about our short-term respite stays.

Contact us to learn more!

Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

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Nursing students prepare an art project for residents

Nursing students prepare an art project for residents

Third-year nursing students from Mount Royal University (MRU) spent five weeks at United’s Fish Creek community getting some practical experience working with older adults in a variety of discussions and educational and social activities.

“We invite nursing students from our partner educational facilities, MRU and St. Mary’s University at various times in the year, to come to either our Fish Creek or Garrison Green community to give the students practical experience in working with older adults,” said Nikki Bonsall, United’s director of health and wellness.

“During their time here, the seven students get to know the residents,” said Carey Palanca, nursing program instructor. “They learn about the person’s life, the changes they are going through and their decision to move to an older adult community.”

Nursing students guide residents through an exercise class

Nursing students guide residents through an exercise class

As part of their education, students are required to set up an educational program and a social activity. Today, the students were guiding the residents through an exercise program.

“My perspective on aging has changed,” said student Caitlyn. “The residents are very active and engaged in the programs. There is a lot of opportunity to be involved here.”

Student Zoe added, “Every person who lives here has a name, not a number. I was struck by how engaged they are in the planning of the programs. The wellness meetings [which involved every department] are particularly impressive. It really speaks to the high level of care. They’ve done an amazing job of giving residents the opportunity to stay in the community as long as they can.”

Carey said the students came away from experience with a better understanding of what’s possible as a person ages. “There is a high level of independence here, even when a higher level of care is needed. I was particularly impressed with the flexible meal times and menu and the variety of programs available to engage residents.”

Photos by Sherana Productions. Videos by Sherana Productions

Ask us about our short-term respite stays.

Contact us to learn more!

Imagine! Live the life you've always dreamed of at one of our United Active Living communities. Please contact us today to learn more about our two communities Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

Contact us here!