Cultivating a sense of community with Christa, one of LOFT’s Life Enrichment Program Coordinators.
Christa has been working with LOFT for the past three years, initially joining us as a Life Enrichment Worker and now working as a Coordinator for our senior programs.
LOFT’s Life Enrichment Program provides evidence-based prevention against dementia to our senior clients and serves clients’ emotional, social, cognitive, and spiritual needs. We recognize that people experience improved physical and mental health when they have meaningful relationships with others and feel a sense of belonging in society. Our Life Enrichment team works closely with clients to coordinate activities that inspire them to enjoy life, try new things, and participate in their local community. The goal is to ensure that clients can access stimulating activities and social opportunities to help improve their physical, mental, and cognitive well-being and foster a sense of belonging in society.
“The best part of my job is facilitating programs my clients have never experienced. When clients tell us, ‘Thank you, that was a really good day,’ it reminds us why we do what we do.”
According to Christa, a lot of research goes into activity planning. “Our work aims to engage with clients and switch up their day-to-day routines. It’s important to add an element of excitement, so clients constantly feel stimulated and energized to take on the day.”
LOFT’s Life Enrichment Program encompasses a wide range of activities to accommodate clients’ unique challenges. Some activities include:
- Music Therapy: Instrumental music and singing exercises can help those with dementia strengthen their cognitive abilities and tap into happy memories.
- Arts and Crafts: Creating arts and crafts can improve dexterity in seniors’ hands and inspire enjoyment and satisfaction for those with physical limitations (i.e., those who use a wheelchair).
- Holiday Activities: Many of our clients have complicated relationships with their families and often have nowhere to turn during the holiday season. Holiday activities provide clients with a sense of belonging, an opportunity to build meaningful experiences with others, and help prevent feelings of isolation.
- Behavioural Support Activities: Understanding our clients’ behaviours makes it possible for us to tailor individual support.
- Virtual Games: Keeping the mind active can help minimize feelings of loneliness, boost seniors’ confidence, and improve overall brain health.
“When a client joins LOFT, we begin by asking questions about their background and interests to understand what activities they would enjoy. Sometimes clients don’t offer information, and we are patient. We build friendships with our clients to help grow their self-esteem and earn their trust. It takes time to form a relationship because of their complex health challenges and previous experiences. But, once we find one way to connect with a client, it’s huge.”
In Christa’s experience, all of LOFT’s clients are very grateful to participate in activities. “Because most of our clients face several challenges simultaneously – whether related to mental and physical health, homelessness, or addiction – our services are a luxury to them. They are extremely grateful for the experiences at LOFT as many clients have not had these opportunities available to them previously.”
In Christa’s spare time, she enjoys spending with family, travelling, and playing tennis. Christa would consider herself pretty athletic; apart from tennis, she also plays volleyball throughout the year and snowboards in the winter.
LOFT’s Life Enrichment Program has helped to improve the quality of life of seniors across the province seeking complex physical and mental health, homelessness, and addiction support. In addition, this personalized level of care has enabled us to expand our reach further, hire dedicated staff, and offer a person-centered approach that best responds to each client’s unique needs.