After a trying year, the Vermilion Valley Lodge is looking forward to celebrating the holidays with their residents with a little extra flair this fall.
Thanksgiving and Halloween are fast approaching, and though they will look a little different, staff are eager to plan some fun parties.
“We can’t have large groups so we are planning something a little more special for our Thanksgiving meal, and a Halloween scavenger hunt for residents that I’m really excited about,” said Recreation Director Brittany Lysons.
Back to using their regular dining room means residents can all enjoy a large Thanksgiving meal together. In addition to being offered wine this year, each resident will each receive a small gift. They can also choose to go out and celebrate a meal with their families.
For Halloween, each resident will be given a game board and will go to various stations completing tasks such as beanbag toss. Lysons said there is a fairly large group of residents that are eager to participate because staff will be in costumes, the kitchen will be making festive appetizers, and there will be prize draws for the top three finishers.
Without their regular outside visitors, Lysons wanted to remind everyone that family can now visit residents in their rooms, but all visits are by appointment only. They need to be scheduled and approved by CAO, Paul Kim, and all visitors must be screened, masked, and hand sanitized.
“The safety of our residents is our number one priority,” said Lysons.
“It can change quite rapidly and when we receive new information from the government, we try to sit down right away and review the regulations to see how we can accommodate for our facility. Currently, residents are allowed to leave the building on their own or with family as long as they aren’t away more than 24 hours to avoid having to isolate when they return.”
Before they could enjoy the joint activities in the rec room, residents played socially distanced games in the hallways. They took part in mini-putt, happy hour, bingo, and treat services such as ice cream sundae day.
There are still no volunteers allowed inside the lodge so in September they arranged for singers to stand on the grass while residents listened from the deck, and in June residents gathered outside the foyer to view a community car show.
“We had live music for the first time in six months which was really great, and the COVID Classic Car Show was a huge hit,” said Lysons.
“I feel that keeping seniors active and engaged is one of the most important parts of being in our building. A lot of times when residents move in there is a lot of loss they experience, and my job is to give them a purpose and feel they are contributing to society. All of the programs we plan are therapeutic meaning there is a purpose or a reason behind everything. We aim to encourage social skills, cognition, spiritual and physical well-being, and purposeful lives; and we have a lot of fun while we are doing it.”
Lysons said she can’t even begin to share all the things she’s learned from the seniors in the last 10 years. She loves going to work knowing she can potentially make a difference in someone’s life.
“The really cool part about working here is you get to learn something new every single day,’ said Lysons.
Meeting all of the sanitation guidelines, the Vermilion Valley Lodge will also be resuming their bus outings in October. They have two country cruises scheduled and with harvest ongoing they will stop for snack on the road and tour farmer’s fields in the area.
“Our residents love to get out in the community as much as possible. There is always a lot of knowledge and stories shared about how harvesting was done throughout the years,” said Lysons.