Betty McPherson enjoys a chair exercise session at the Campbell River and District Adult Care Society Monday morning.

Putting smiles on faces

Campbell River Adult Care Society provides love and care

Margie Soles has a big smile on her face as she stretches her arms out wide during daily exercises from the comfort of her chair.“These exercises I would never do at home, that’s why it’s so good to come here,” says Soles.“Here” is the Campbell River and District Adult Care Society, a place for adults who struggle with a variety of mental and physical disabilities or those who either can’t or don’t want to be on their own all day.At the Adult Care Society, which currently serves about 60 clients (although not all at once) ranging in age from 56 to 96, people like Soles are kept busy with a variety of activities while in the care of an experienced staff which includes program workers, a registered nurse, a cook and a bus driver.The Adult Care building, located on Larwood Street, includes a large hall for entertainment, a dining area, kitchen and a sitting area with recliners for clients to relax.The society is a non profit, charitable organization that was started in 1980 with the help of the Altrusa Club. Altrusa, although in no way affiliated with the society, has been a long-standing sponsor and continues to fund the society’s Christmas parties every year.Betty McPherson says the society provides her with a place to go after she had to give up driving and couldn’t go out on her own anymore. It also gives her a sense of camaraderie, says McPherson who enjoys taking part in afternoon activities with her society friends.“Whether it’s trivia, sometimes entertainment, manicures or an assortment of games…I enjoy it all,” says McPherson. “You don’t have to choose, it’s just there for you. That’s the part I like.”Last Thursday, she put aside her walking cane and got up and danced.“When you haven’t danced for 20 years and you get up and do something like that, it feels pretty good,” says McPherson.Pam Mann, nurse and Society administrator, says dancing is just one of several afternoon activities the organization provides to its clients. Bingo, crafts, painting, manicures and massages are also very popular. Highland dancers, square dancers and a children’s choir have also been known to come and entertain the clients. Klara Meissl, who has been coming to the Adult Care Society for nearly four years enjoys the meals, bingo and the sing-a-longs at the society and, above all, the company.“If I wasn’t here I would be home by myself and I need people around me, I don’t like being alone,” says Meissl, who is fondly referred to as “Mamma Bear” at the society for her nurturing nature.Clients are all picked up and dropped off by bus courtesy of the society and are provided with breakfast and lunch each day. After breakfast, staff lead the clients in chair exercises to stretch their arms and legs without ever having to get on their feet.For McPherson, who lives on her own, the Adult Care Society gives her family the peace of mind of knowing their mother is safe during the day.“If we weren’t here, where else would they go?” said Mann. “Either they’ll sit at home alone and get stressed out or they’ll get moved to a facility and be removed from their family. They look forward to actually coming here.”A few clients suffer from depression and Mann says the Society gives them something to get excited about and a reason to get dressed in the morning.The society is also there to provide respite to caregivers and support to the families.“Caregivers need a break so they don’t get burned out,” says Mann. “And sometimes family members need counselling – I’ve talked for hours with people over the phone to provide support and offer assistance.”McPherson says the staff at the society are genuinely interested in the clients’ well-being.“I see how they treat other clients with wheelchairs and walkers and I know when I reach that stage I will be in good hands.”In case of a medical emergency, the society is equipped with things like oxygen, suction, a blood pressure cuff, dressings and an emergency mask. Mann, being a registered nurse, can also administer insulin shots to those clients with diabetes.“We don’t have fancy equipment but we have what we need to function,” says Mann. “And we have a really caring and loving atmosphere that makes the clients feel very special.”There is even a bulletin board that features a Client of the Month complete with photos and a profile which includes children, grandchildren, favourite colour, favourite food and most memorable moment.“We hear all the time from family members about how wonderful a place this is,” says Mann. “People with dementia may not remember but they go home so relaxed and calm and will say they can’t remember what they played but it was really fun and they can’t remember what they ate but know it was really good.“We do get really attached to our clients,” says Mann.To join the Adult Care Society you must first be assessed by home and community care nurses and then referred to the society. For more information please call Adult Care Society at 250-923-0991.    

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