Submitted by Maureen Cameron, TAPS community liaison
TAPS (Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors) hasn’t missed a step in supporting our aging seniors. Staff responded to the unpredictable changes these past months and continued to connect with seniors in safe and creative ways.
“We are welcoming spring at TAPS,” said staff in a collective statement. “The windows are open, the sun is shining in, and we are feeling a little renewed. We are not going to let changing rules get us down! We are looking forward to June and onwards when we can meet again in small numbers.”
With no in-person services, the emptiness of our TAPS space in the lower level of Rotacrest Hall was in contrast to past programming. No hustle and bustle of a room filled with our seniors catching up with each other; no scheduled trips in our vans. Now people are greeted by masked staff at a distance in an empty room, with maybe just a glimpse another staff member in a separate office or the kitchen. There is a lot going on behind the scenes. You might see volunteers coming and going with coolers full of packaged meals, or a couple of staff at a microphone singing and playing to an empty room.
Surprisingly, the calendar schedule is full, and staff report that the number of seniors they connect with has grown from 60 to 85. We have our own Meals on Wheels program running four days a week, which provides not only a meal, but a friendly face with a surprise activity or gift. We are successfully running an Uber Conference Call System. This gives us capacity for a group of people to join in by phone from their homes and has been a welcome initiative. It is an accessible phone-based platform replacing in person activities including book club, bingo, topical discussions, even fitness and music, games and more. During the day, staff spend a considerable amount of time connecting with seniors over the phone. One of our volunteers is a bridge between two hearing challenged seniors. She chats with each of them, then shares what they want to report to each other.
The importance of daily check-in calls has been highlighted during this time. Originally serving as a way to simply connect with someone at home to let them know what’s happening, or help solve issue issues by providing connection to resources, conversations are now longer and provide consistency resulting in deeper connections. Thank you to the volunteers who are working from home assisting the staff with this! Connecting seniors with other community supports, transportation, etc. is making a noticeable difference in reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Looking forward, staff are anticipating when they can meet in small numbers again, to hold our outdoor cafes, small group fitness activities, walks in the parks, and small group games. In the meantime, they are taking part in balcony bingos and fitness activities have resumed within senior residences. Thank you to Tia Wayling of the Creston and District Community Complex for hosting ParticipACTION’s Community Better Challenge through the month of June. Many people have signed up and are motivated to find fun ways to exercise.
In other news, did you know that the TAPS model is being used in pilot projects around B.C. funded by the United Way of the Lower Mainland? Bridget and Wendy recently hosted a Fitness and Bingo Uber Conference Call with the ‘Community of Practice’ for programs across the province! New TAPS program co-ordinators in other regions were able to experience first-hand how the calls work and how much fun it is.
Thank you to volunteers Sharon Wesolowski, Carol Rode Eggert, Marjorie and Mike Kennedy, Paul Dort, Irene Moman, Lynette Collins, Nellie Daniels, Doris Corbeil, Woody, Anne Miller, Lynda Slym, Barb Brummond, and Jean Edge Partington.
We want to acknowledge the following for their recent financial donations to TAPS: Royal Canadian Legion Br29 from Bingo Buddies and Pie Sales, Creston Valley Gleaners Society, and the community that supports these valued organizations.
For more information on TAPS, visit www.valley.services/taps-therapeutic-activation-program-for-seniors.html or call 250-428-5547.