New van equals big fun for Edgewater Garden residents

New van equals big fun for Edgewater Garden residents
DUNNVILLE—Reta Bacher from Edgewater Gardens took part in a sailing day trip along with a volunteer, just one of many day trips residents have enjoyed thanks to the purchase of a new van. —Submitted photo.

By Mike Renzella

The Haldimand Press

DUNNVILLE — Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Dunnville Hospital and Healthcare Foundation (DHHF), residents of LTC home Edgewater Gardens (EG) are cruising around the county in style, utilizing their new van for a variety of fun day trips.

According to EG’s Director of Recreation Therapy Judy O’Neill, the van was needed as their old one was in need of constant repairs: “The residents, families, and staff were so excited to receive the new van. Right away we updated and trained the Recreation Therapy staff on the new van – this consists of learning about all the instrumental options the van has to offer, learning about the lifts system of the van, and also the tie-down system,” said O’Neill.

DUNNVILLE—An Edgewater Gardens employee helps a resident board the new van before heading out on a country drive, one of many popular uses the van provides residents.

Staff continually receive requests to use the van, with recreation therapist Clint Tomlinson using the van regularly for community outings. 

Staff routinely field requests from families looking to use the van for special outings such as weddings, celebrations of life, and family reunions. 

Staff also use the van to take residents to medical appointments, but it’s the van’s function as a portal to a variety of recreational activities, including sailing, fishing, and golf, that cements its popularity.

“Because van outings are so popular, we utilize a resident rotation list to ensure everyone who wishes to go on an outing gets a chance. The van is in use anywhere from two to four times a week between the hospital and Edgewater,” said O’Neill. “The van has contributed to the lives of our residents in many ways.”

She said it provides a lifeline to the community following two-plus years of tough pandemic restrictions: “The scenery has changed and residents are very interested to see the changes in their old neighbourhoods.”

Edgewater resident Mr. Siddall enjoys fishing in Port Maitland, a favourite activity of his in his younger years.

She shared a story highlighting the positive mental health impact these outings bring, noting of a recent fishing trip, “Mr. Siddall noticed the fishing tugs right away and enjoyed reminiscing about his days on the lakes. Many residents still have that ‘sense of adventure’ and it’s great to be able to offer unique outings.”

On another trip she said, “We took Margaret Cronkwright golfing. She had been an avid golfer…. She hadn’t been on a golf course for seven years, but by the end of the fourth hole she was hitting the ball like she had never stopped. These outings ensure residents remain an active part of their community, ensuring their sense of belonging and involvement.”

Margaret Cronkwright got the chance to golf for the first time in seven years, with reports from the scene indicating that she hasn’t lost a step in the intervening years.

O’Neill said that herself and the entire recreational therapy team at EG and HWMH are committed to ensuring that all residents, regardless of their ability level or illness, are given the chance to remain active, whether through access to the van, or through a variety of in-home options like art programs, intellectual games, exercise, religious services, and music programs.

“It is important to provide outside excursions to a variety of places for our residents because we want them to remain connected to their community. Long-term care isn’t to restrict people from going out into the community and environment beyond the front door, it is to help people find a way to get there – that is why we make regular use of our wheelchair accessible bicycle and the van.”

She concluded, “The van offers choice, freedom, adventure, social connections, and for some a sense of identity when seeing their old neighborhood – and that contributes to their psycho-social wellbeing.”