Cari Penner has seen depressed and isolated elderly people transformed, and she wants to spread the word about a Winnipeg Regional Health Authority program she credits it to.
"You can see transformations…one of our participant’s daughters called us and said, ‘can we get our dad in for another day?’ Because, all of the sudden he was more alive and he had all these friends here. She could visibly see the transformation in him from coming to our program," said Penner.
Penner, recreational director at Oakview Place personal care home on Ness Avenue near Moray Street, is talking about the Adult Day Program (ADP).
Oakview Place, one of 19 facilities in Winnipeg offering the program for $8.30 a day, accepts up to 50 people into the program each week – 10 each day from Monday to Friday.
It runs from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and includes physical activity, snacks and lunch, and cognitive games like cards or trivia. Transportation is also included.
Some of the participants at Oakview Place have been in the program for up to 15 years, Penner said.
"They’ve become part of this community where if they don’t show up people ask ‘well, where is this person today?’ They have that sense of belonging."
In the case of elderly people, the march of time can foster depression with the departure of friends and family and an end to activities previously enjoyed, Penner said.
"You go from thinking, ‘well, nobody cares about me, what’s my purpose? I used to do so many things and now I can’t do anything. Who cares?’ To, all of a sudden, you can go to a program and go out in the community with friends and, all of a sudden, it matters again," said Penner, who added the program is not limited to seniors.
Last Wednesday nine people in the ADP at Oakview Place were engaged in a spirited round of horse racing – a game played with dice, pennies, and cards. Jenette Ryan, 81, whose two of diamonds made her one of the victors, had been attending the program for about eight years.
"I like everything about it. Gets me out of the house, get to meet new people," said Ryan.
"My husband passed away and I’m alone, so it’s good for me to get out once a week. And everybody gets together here and plays games and talks, so it’s nice."
Penner says Oakview Place typically has room for about a dozen more ADP participants each week. She wants more people aware of the program so that available spots are filled and people benefit.
A spokesperson for the WRHA said people must be living in their own homes to be eligible for the program. Health issues and an inability to access other programming are also factors considered.
For more information about the program call the WRHA central intake service at 204-940-2655.