Support from Covenant Foundation helps residents at Covenant sites across Alberta enjoy better quality of life
Thanks to virtual reality technology, John Miller, a resident at the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre, can travel and participate in diverse activities without ever leaving the comforts of home.
“When you get those goggles on, you can go wherever you want, and it just lifts your spirit,” says John, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair.
The virtual reality goggles are some of the equipment, technology and programs funded by Covenant Foundation to support the health, well-being and quality of life of residents at Covenant Health, Covenant Care and Covenant Living sites throughout Alberta. With the help of donors, the foundation has committed more than $8.7 million since 2016 in funding for seniors’ health care and well-being initiatives at 21 hospitals and continuing care sites.
“Working collaboratively with Covenant’s healthcare leaders and our generous donors and partners, we invest in pioneering new approaches to seniors’ care, innovating solutions to system pressures and gaps in service, and addressing the changing health needs of older Albertans now and into the future,” says Lisa Munro, President & CEO, Covenant Foundation. “Protecting and improving the health and well-being of seniors in our province is of fundamental importance. It’s an investment that not only ensures the best possible care for our parents, grandparents and elders today, but also helps innovate seniors’ care that will benefit all of us as we age.”
The foundation’s investment in seniors’ health and well-being is helping counter the impacts of COVID-19 on seniors, as well as social isolation and loneliness, which have been recognized globally as public health issues for this age group. In fact, research has shown that social isolation is associated with increased risk of death for seniors on par with or greater than risk factors such as alcohol use, smoking and obesity.
As of September 2022, more than 725,000 Albertans were over the age of 65. That number is expected to double within the next two decades.
Here we highlight some of the programs and initiatives supported by Covenant Foundation for residents across Covenant Family sites.
Helping seniors keep active
|Covenant Foundation funding for special equipment and technology is helping residents at multiple sites improve their mobility and physical health and maintain social and community connections. For example, the foundation has provided over $50,000 for the Motiview cycling program at eight Covenant Care sites across the province. Residents pedal while watching videos of cycling trails around the world. Recreation staff at the sites have noted that residents have experienced not only physical benefits from the program but also social and emotional benefits.
“There’s been quite significant improvement in their mood from before they started the program to right after. It was quite a big change,” says Ashley LaValley, recreation therapist at St. Teresa Place, a Covenant Care site in Calgary.
Initiatives funded at other sites have included a therapeutic bicycling program at Holy Cross Manor and St. Marguerite Manor in Calgary and recreation therapy at St. Michael’s Health Centre and St. Therese Villa in Lethbridge. The recreation program includes activities ranging from lifting weights to cooking, baking, playing cards and enjoying board games.
Residents cycle worldwide without leaving home: New cycling group at St. Teresa Place provides physical and social benefits.
Keeping active to stay independent longer: Day programs empower seniors and provide respite for caregivers.
Enhancing Dementia Care
|Funding for innovative technology is also supporting the mental health and quality of life of residents living with dementia at our sites. At Villa Marie in Red Deer, Covenant Foundation provided over $9,000 for ABBY, a wall-mounted dashboard with touchscreens and sensors that help trigger memories, provide a sense of purpose and promote calm, enhancing dementia care at the site.
Similarly, the foundation provided $78,000 in funding for a gaming system for those with dementia at Villa Marie and St. Teresa Place and has committed more than $125,000 to buy the equipment for three other sites. The system, called Tovertafel, provides a multitude of interactive experiences — from working puzzles to playing soccer ― that residents can enjoy. Staff report that residents have benefitted from the entertainment, connection and play it provides.
“Tovertafel has helped to decrease some of the behaviours associated with dementia, such as wandering and agitation,” says Stephanie Rogers, recreation therapist at St. Teresa Place. “It has also fostered socialization because residents can join together to participate in an activity at their leisure. There are also therapeutic benefits, since the games target physical, cognitive, social and emotional well-being.”