Children spread comfort and joy … and cuddly toys

AHS long-term care unit visited by Santa’s little helpers

img-santas-little-helpersStory and Photo by Lisa Sutherland

Santa’s little helpers in Black Diamond have done their part this year to ‘make spirits bright’ for local and area seniors.

Staff at Rising Sun Long-Term Care unit at Oilfields General Hospital recently made arrangements with a kindergarten class from C. Ian McLaren School in Black Diamond to help spread some Christmas cheer to the residents.

“The holidays can be a lonely time of year for some of our residents,” says recreational therapist Erin Molnar. “Some of our residents don’t have any family nearby who will visit them, and it can also be a sad reminder of loved ones they have lost.”

With handmade ornaments and teddy bears in tow, the children ventured to the long-term care unit and sang Christmas carols, visited with the residents, and gave them fluffy teddy bears.

The visit was filmed as part of Alberta Health Services’ Because You Cared video series, which shows how AHS employees, physicians and volunteers regularly go above and beyond to improve patient care and the patient experience.

The teddy bears and ornaments brought smiles to the faces of the 30 residents, who may not otherwise have visitors or receive gifts this Christmas.

“This was a really special visit for our residents,” says unit care manager Annette Kyndt. “The residents were so pleased to receive the teddy bears and couldn’t believe they were theirs to keep, many of them were looking forward to snuggling their bears while they sleep.”

But the real gift was the time the children spent visiting with the seniors.

“The kids came around and visited with us and it felt really nice,” says resident Rhoda Bremner. “It brought me back to my childhood.” The children enjoyed the act of giving, too. “We love them,” says student Logan Gould, “and we want them to know how much we love them.”