Three mornings each week people with a variety of health problems gather at the Summerland Aquatic and Fitness Centre to do exercises on land or in the pool. They are referred by their family physicians, guided by professional fitness instructors and supervised by a qualified occupational therapist.
A registered nurse is always on duty. The program is known as Recope, originally an acronym. Though most members can’t remember what each letter originally stood for, it was this: Recreational, Exercise, Coordinating, Opportunity, Physiotherapy, Enjoyment. But participants do know what it is all about and just call it Recope. The new tagline is, “Move better, feel better, live better.”
Elaine Sears has been attending for just over a year, hoping the exercise will help her gain greater control of her body. A brain injury causes tremors in her limbs. She is pleased with the improvement she is experiencing.
Ernie Panich, who had polio in 1955, led a productive life from a wheelchair. He then discovered about 14 years ago that his arms and legs were weakening. Not being able to play the violin any longer alarmed him. Recope turned out to be the perfect recipe to deal with his post polio symptoms. Besides swimming regularly, he is on the Recope board of directors.
Joan Guldner was in a wheel chair when she joined Recope 22 years ago. Recovery from a broken back, and then later a broken pelvis was hastened by the exercises, and she regained her ability to walk . As a senior she finds continuing the exercises keep her fit at a time in her life when movement and stamina are diminishing.
Saty Devi Mohan began to have problems with arthritis thirty years ago. Her doctor urged her to get involved with Recope. She did, and she found that regular exercises in the shallow end of the pool helped maintain her mobility and reduced her pain. At 99 she is the oldest person in the program.
“We provide a medically supervised exercise program for people with various medical conditions,” said Jean Munro, who manages the program. “We have a land class run in the centre as well as the water program. We run a shallow end as well as a deep end class. In the land class we run a chair class and standing class focused largely on balance and fall prevention. We have a registered nurse and occupational therapist available during all program times.”
Munro explains the special advantage of therapy in a pool. “It is really nice to be able to move freely without fear of falling and not being affected by gravity so much.”
Vivian Beattie, chairman of the Recope board of directors, says Recope is the only program of its kind in the province. Recope is a non-profit organization that is supported by partial funding from IH (Interior Health), client’s participation fees and generous donations through fund raising efforts of the board. The Summerland Health Care Auxiliary (thrift store) donates regularly. Beattie states that other places have tried unsuccessfully to duplicate Recope. They failed usually as a result of not having a solid base of volunteers.
Moira Lipscombe has been a volunteer for nearly two years. She helps clients in the dressing room and offers support in the water. Watching clients become more confident in the water and seeing their health improve makes volunteering well worthwhile to her.
Mitz Hikichi started volunteer work about 18 years ago. His laughter sets a positive tone in the change room, on the pool deck and in the water. The challenge of working out efficient access techniques for clients who have major mobility problems is very satisfying to him.
Anne Schulte, a retired nurse, has been a volunteer for 20 years, said the friendly social environment at Recope lifts the spirits of people who are lonely and discouraged.
Mavis Billington was enticed by a neighbour to join the volunteer team 21 years ago. She appreciated the basic training she received in handling clients and enjoys seeing them recover their health.
Recope was organized in 1976 by George Morrison, a local physician. The swimming pool was used as a therapy venue, with a nurse, physiotherapist and occupational therapist from the Summerland Hospital doing treatment.
In 1990 the program expanded to include land and water therapy, with 25 volunteers assisting in the rented facilities at the same pool.
Recope hopes to have a website up and running at recope.ca within the next six months. Email email@example.com Phone/fax 250-494-9006 or mail to P.O. Box 1625, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0.