Schlegel Olympics appeals to residents’ physical and emotional needs

When a resident at the Village at University Gates who would never attend programming unexpectedly began participating in events during the Schlegel Olympics, staff members knew they were onto something good.

Since the Schlegel Olympics ended, the resident has continued to participate in programming.

This resident’s story speaks to the value the Schlegel Olympics, hosted by Schlegel Villages’ long-term care homes in honour of the 2016 Summer Games, recently brought to residents, says Melanie James, Schlegel Villages’ recreation consultant.

A resident sits in his wheelchair holding up a stuffed animal horse, smiling, displaying what their version of 'equestrian' is“The residen
t won a medal, and he has done a 360 – he is now out of his room all the time and he’s going to all of the programs,” James says. “It has revived him and has given him new life.”

Schlegel Villages decided in 2010, during the Winter Games in Vancouver, that its long-term care homes – called “villages” – should host their own version of the Olympics to coincide with the Summer and Winter Games. A committee of recreation team members was created to develop the event.

Internal games were recently hosted in each of Schlegel Villages’ 16 long-term care homes. Residents competed in a myriad of events to determine who would go on to compete in a final Olympic Games.

The homes were divided into two geographic groups representing eastern and western villages. The eastern games were held August 16th at the Village of Sandalwood Park in Brampton and the western games on August 18th at the Village of Glendale Crossing in London.

Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded as were participation medals. Flower bouquets were also given to competitors.
Residents play their version of beach volleyball - tossing a beach ball back and forth over a badminton net, seated in their wheelchairs
“We all have a competitive nature to us, so when we brought residents together, they really felt they were representing their village,” James says. “Whether they were there participating in events or there as a cheerleader, it was the smiles on their faces, their determination to do their village proud that really stood out.”

Selecting residents to represent each home was not entirely based on competition, James notes. If a resident who won a competition was not able to attend or preferred to stay at home, another resident who wanted to compete in the finals would be selected.

Events included cycling, beach volleyball and a biathlon relay, among others. These events were customized for residents. For example, for cycling, residents used a NuStep. Beach volleyball saw two teams of three residents relaying a beach ball over a badminton net. The biathlon had residents race wheelchairs (instead of on skis) and aiming a basketball at a hoop (instead of shooting a rifle at a target). Each day’s event would end with a trivia competition.

As part of the home's biathlon, a male resident attempts to toss a basketball into a net from his wheelchairJames notes that aside from enhancing quality of life for residents on an emotional level, the Schlegel Olympics also proved to be an excellent forum for encouraging people to reach new gains in their physical health. For instance, a resident at the Village at St. Clair in Windsor reached a personal best of completing 1,100 steps on the NuStep during the games.

Gaining residents’ interest in the Schlegel Olympics was easy, James says.

“We (engaged residents) by decorating the villages, mentioning (the Schlegel Olympics) during programs and building the hype up in the villages,” James says. “Each village also hosted their own opening ceremonies to bring awareness to the event.”

The Schlegel Olympics is part of Schlegel Villages’ Wisdom of the Elder initiative, a signature program aimed at showcasing the knowledge, wisdom and strengths seniors possess.