The power of a story and a smile

It is an ancient need to be told stories. 

For many, the best story comes from a great storyteller.

Working with people brimming with tales of unrequited love, battles on a global scale and passions found and lost, a team of activity professionals finds pleasure in the details of its work.

“I enjoy knowing their stories,” says Melanie Powers, a member of the Activation Team at Carveth Care Centre which works to enrich the lives of residents through programs and outings.

Developing a rapport with residents at the retirement/long-term care home in Gananoque can be immediate or take years. When a bond is made, it can be a powerful connection between residents and staff.

“We become their family as much as they become ours,” explains Tammy Kean, Activity Aide.

It is a family attitude and atmosphere that is felt everywhere in the home.

“We have a passion for dealing with seniors,” says Shannon Buell, Activity Director. 

“We try to meet their spiritual, emotional, physical, intellectual and social needs.”

Poised to celebrate Activity Professionals Awareness Week March 6-12, the team is proud of the daily activities offered at the home.

Carveth Care Centre's Activation Team pose together for a photo outside the long-term care home, along with two statues

“Our programs are designed to meet the interests and well-being of every resident,” explains Shannon.

“The goal of the Carveth Activation Team is to promote social interaction, self-choice and self-expression as well as improve activities of daily living & functioning and reduce behavioural & psychiatric symptoms. Through interdisciplinary teamwork, continuing education and benchmarking with other homes, our department strives to make each resident the real winner.”

A member of the Activity Professionals of Ontario, the Carveth Activation Team is trained and certified in Montessori Methods for Dementia, Restorative Therapy and Volunteer Management.

But the team’s real passion is for the people in its care. 

“Activation is the heart of the home,” says Tammy, Carveth Care Centre’s Employee of the Month for March 2016.

“It’s homelike here,” adds Melanie. “We still have carpeting in the hallway.”

Pointing to a large bright room where they hold activities, Tammy notes, “That’s not an activity room, that’s a living room.”

Expressing their appreciation for the time they spend with residents, the team of six is committed to making residents smile and enjoy their day.

“It’s fun to walk-in and see residents' eyes light-up and a big smile on their faces,” says Krystyna Sikora, Activity Aide.

“I leave work every day feeling I made at least one person happy. I have received so much perspective on life from working with the elderly. It has changed my life.”

Focused on innovative and effective programs and activities, the team has set its sights on becoming the best Activation Department in the country.

“These guys do so much more than any other recreation program,” says Activity Aide Brooke Moorhead about her coworkers.

“We’re kind of willing to do anything,” agrees Tammy with a laugh about the home’s famous outings around the Thousand Islands.

“We highly encourage family interaction and intergenerational programs,” adds Shannon. “And, I think families feel welcome.”

With 83 years of combined service among them, the Carveth Activation Team is committed to improving the health and happiness of the residents in their care.

“The benefits of working with residents with various levels of cognitive abilities has no boundaries,” notes Amy Heddon, Activity Aide.

“I enjoy improving programs to meet the needs of residents and supporting their families. I personally find the response from residents as rewarding as the program is to the resident.”

Passionate about the people in their care, members of the Activation Team can see the impact of their work through residents’ behaviour and feedback. 

They know they have done a good job when they hear a story that ends with a smile.

“The residents might not remember our names,” says Tammy, “but they remember our faces and the way we made them feel.”

In photo: The Carveth Care Centre Activation Team poses for a photo outside the home.