Many families in the community are unable to access pre-pandemic levels of in-home community nursing/PSW supports, which can mean little rest and respite for parents, and increased isolation for children. Our team has observed that: children admitted to our programs have had higher needs for complex care than pre-pandemic; and that the need for recreational respite is greater than ever.
- By growing our recreation team last year, we expanded capacity to support children and families earlier in their palliative care trajectory, and to meet them in their preferred location of care. As part of our daily recreation and child life programming, children increased their participation in local communities, or enjoyed having community brought to them at Emily’s House. Clients were happy to reconnect face-to-face with our team and other children/siblings; and parents were eager to connect with parents who shared similar parenting experiences. In-person programming quickly replaced virtual programming, and In-Person Peer Family Events were introduced (e.g., Hello Summer, Fall Family Fair, etc.). For many families, it was the first time connecting with peer families at Emily’s House, as many new folks had been introduced to us via Emily’s House at Home or our virtual Siblings’ Group. In-person Emily’s House March Break Camp was a highlight of the year with themes of adventure and around the world exploration.
- Increasingly, children and youth admitted to our programs communicate without words, so our Recreation Coordinators and volunteers tried different approaches to see what connected for each child (i.e., voice, sounds, song). With patient observation, the team recognized how each child communicates uniquely.
- An updated Daily Recreation and Play Calendar introduced more structured programming: to maximize inclusion for all ages, interests, ability levels and communication styles. It added variety – from crafts to basketball – with activities that were creative, social, sensory and physical.
- Special thanks to lead donors: The Lillian Meighen and Don Wright Foundation for Daily Play and Recreation; Frank Leo and Associates for renovations to the Snoezelen Room for multisensory stimulation therapy/play; and to Heather Hyland, for a refreshed and accessible Siblings Den.