We’ve all felt a little isolated at some point over the past few years. COVID restrictions kept us apart from family and friends during the height of the pandemic and, still today, caution is required.
The Sills 3 Integrated Stroke and Rehabilitation Unit at Belleville General Hospital has safely, with proper precautions, returned to some normalcy by resuming its Patient Dining Program. At lunch and dinner, all rehabilitation patients are encouraged to migrate to the dining room for their meal, rather than eat in their room.
“The dining program is a game changer for our patients physically, mentally and socially,” said Joyce Brant, Patient Care Lead, Sills 3. “There are so many benefits to patients dining together. They develop friendships, it helps to pass the time, they get extra movement in as they make their way to the dining room, and they are less at risk for choking because there are eyes and ears on them at all times. It’s really a rewarding experience for everyone.”
The interdisciplinary Sills 3 team works together with volunteers to encourage patients to participate. Sometimes patients are hesitant because they’re feeling unsocial or struggling with the realities of their condition, but once they join, they enjoy the experience.
“When recovering stroke patients participate, they see that they’re not alone,” explained Joyce. “They see that others are going through the same thing and they can witness each other’s progress and they think, ‘if they can do it, so can I.’ It gives them hope that this loss they’ve suffered is only temporary.”
Dedicated volunteers play a big role in the program, helping to support the lunchtime meal. Two volunteers per day, 7 days per week, help by setting up meal trays, opening lids, encouraging and socializing with patients.
“Volunteers are the anchor to our ship,” said Joyce. “They keep our unit flowing at a calm pace, they help when we’re busy, they make sure patients are getting to their physio appointments in the gym, and they go out of their way to sit and socialize with patients so they don’t feel alone. They keep us on a steady course, and we’d be lost without them!”
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