The holiday season is a time for peace, giving and celebration. Our world continues to look much different due to COVID-19, and we need to find other ways to connect and embrace the spirit of the season.
Across Alberta, our Covenant teams continue to find creative opportunities for our patients and residents to celebrate the joys and blessings of Christmas and the holiday season.
We’re sharing a few different ways our teams are bringing cheer to those they serve!
A forest of Christmas trees at Grey Nuns Community Hospital
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! More than 30 decorated trees are bringing joy to visitors, patients and staff at the Grey Nuns hospital.
“No one wants to visit the hospital during holiday season,” says Teresa Lucier, manager, volunteer services. “It isn’t always for a good reason like a healthy new baby. When they see a Christmas tree, it can lighten them for a moment and let them catch their breath.”
Staff and volunteers get into the holiday spirit by decorating the trees that are located in the lobby and cafeteria and on most units.
Santa came for tea at Banff Mineral Springs Hospital
Residents at St. Martha’s Place, a long-term care centre at Banff Mineral Springs Hospital, enjoyed their annual Christmas Tea.
Although pandemic safety concerns meant loved ones couldn’t attend this year, staff made the event special by dressing in Santa hats and elf costumes. They also decorated the dining room tables with Christmas ornaments and napkins, along with handmade place mats donated by the Canmore Mountain Cabin Quilters Guild.
“It was lovely,” says Blanche Hesse, a St. Martha’s Place resident. “It was so nice to have that done for us. It really made us feel good.”
The Mineral Spirits Choir, a hospital-based group made up of current and former healthcare workers, entertained residents with familiar tunes, giving them an opportunity to reminisce about past holidays.
And after the tea, each resident received a visit from a special guest — a jolly fellow with a white beard who shared “Ho ho ho!” greetings.
Festive fun at Holy Cross Manor
The Christmas spirit is alive and thriving at Holy Cross Manor. Residents have enjoyed a festive activity almost every day throughout December.
Staff have gotten creative to make sure residents enjoy different seasonal moments, including holiday movies, crafts, Christmas lights bus tours, pet pal visits, a door-decorating contest, a Christmas party and special days for wearing festive clothing. Music has also been a big part of spreading joy through the holiday season.
“Music and new faces can gather a crowd,” says Jackie Courtney, recreation therapist at the Covenant Care site.
One of the holiday highlights was a ride in “Santa’s sleigh” to the site’s Christmas party. Activity attendant Jonas Cornelsen dressed up as a reindeer and transported residents.
Winter Wonderland at the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre
Residents at the Edmonton General enjoyed the Christmas spirit at a festive three-day Winter Wonderland celebration that featured music, games and crafts.
This year’s event included a decorated photo booth, music by different guest performers and the opportunity to make Christmas ornaments. Residents also had a chance to win prizes at the "Christmas Wheel" if they correctly answered questions.
Recreation therapist Brenda Neuman says it was wonderful to see the annual event return since it couldn’t run last year due to COVID-19. “It was especially fun this year. We have missed getting together.”
Residents like Debbie Perlinksi (pictured below) enjoyed it so much that she participated in all three days of the event. “It was awesome. It has been a long time coming that we could get together to celebrate the Christmas season! The Christmas spirit is alive and doing well at the Edmonton General. I look forward to the upcoming events in 2022!”
Home sweet home
Residents at several of our sites, including St. Teresa Place and St. Mary’s Health Care Centre, indulged in some festive fun as they adorned gingerbread houses with bright gumdrops, crunchy candy canes and other delicious decorations.
The smiles on our residents’ faces could be seen all the way to the North Pole as they carefully put the finishing touches on their colourful Christmas cottages.
Teens lift spirits of their peers
Four high school students from Strathcona Christian Academy donated a trunkful of gifts for vulnerable teens at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital's Child Health Clinic.
“I know our clients who receive the gifts will be touched to know that they matter enough for somebody to pick out something to give them,” says Keryl Davidson, a mom of one of the students and a nurse at the clinic. “It will speak volumes to the kids in our care.”
It’s all part of the students’ missions work, where they come together in small groups and pick a cause to support. The Grade 10 students tried to focus on items kids their age would like because they recognize that teens might be missed during the holidays.
“I’ve made a commitment to the boys that I’ll share as many of the kids’ reactions to the toys they provided after the holidays,” says Keryl. “I want them to have a richer experience than just purchasing gifts.”
The donations support the Child Health Clinic’s annual toy drive, which collects gifts to be given at Christmas and throughout the year.
“We have a cupboard where we keep our toys, and when a child is newly apprehended by Children’s Services and they come visit us for the first time and are really scared, we let them pick something out of it,” says Keryl. “They’re so excited to pick out something. It’s valuable for us to give the kids something tangible that says, ‘I care about you.’”
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