Rainycrest celebrates Residents’ Council Week with fun activities

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

Rainycrest long-term care home did not lack two things last week: smiles and laughter, as all 132 residents of Rainycrest celebrated Residents’ Council Week.

During the week-long series of events, Rainycrest residents had the chance to engage with community members and businesses such as the Fort Frances Car Club, the Spry Farms, Couchiching First Nations drumming ceremony and Vince Sheppard’s live music performance.

Tara Morelli, Rainycrest Long-Term care home administrator, said the aim is to raise awareness around the importance of the roles of resident councils in long-term care homes.

“We’ve been planning this probably for the past month,” Morelli said. “This is Rainycrest’s first time celebrating this week.”

Residents’ Council Week, organized by the Ontario Association of Residents’ Council (OARC), is celebrated by many long-term care homes.

Although this is the first time Rainycrest has celebrated the week, Morelli said the home has a thriving Resident Council who come together as a group and meet on a monthly basis to discuss how they can improve resident experience at Rainycrest.

Pam Makarchuk, 84, is one of many Rainycrest residents who enjoyed a petting zoo facilitated by the Residents’ Council and the Spry Farm. This series of week-long events included a show from the Fort Frances Car Club, live music by Vince Sheppard and a drumming ceremony from Couchiching First Nation. – Submitted photo

“They have roles of advocacy such as: how to engage all residents in decision-making surrounding their care, and planning special activities and events that take place in their home,” Morelli said. “A lot of the residents were able to provide their feedback on some things they’d like to see in the event. We really want to engage them and offer something that they would really enjoy and that they’ve chosen.”

Gary Strickland, President of the Resident Council and a Rainycrest resident, said the goal is to celebrate every resident at Rainycrest and to have a week of events chosen by the residents that celebrate them being here and their rights in the home.

Strickland said with the help of Resident Council Assistant Cynthia Hudson they came up with more events such as window painting and bracelet making.

“This has been a very hard year for the Residents as with most people from the COVID restrictions. We came up with events that we could arrange,” Strickland said. “Next year we hope to have more events.”

Morelli said they have received positive feedback because residents were thrilled to be doing social activities, both with family members, other residents and community members.

“It plays a part in their quality of life,” Morelli said. “If you take away those interactions, it impacts them horribly. And sometimes, people end up having exacerbated mental health issues, maybe they are more depressed, their quality of life goes down.”

The events were chosen in order for residents to participate in different ways. This is why events touched on the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. 

“Someone may be able to do arts and crafts, but then others that have maybe a higher scope of dementia, they might have benefit or enjoyment out of just music, and listening,” Morelli said. “You really have to look at all the different avenues so that you’re meeting all the residents’ needs.”

Morelli said they are fortunate at Rainycrest to have weathered the COVID-19 storm, and they are happy to see an increase in morale when residents and family members were able to reconnect again.

“There was so much enjoyment. And some of our residents who are severely impaired, were smiling and enjoying it. It was just amazing. People in this community are so willing to participate and help and volunteer,” Morelli said.

“This is the resident council’s effort. We’re here just to support them along the way. It’s their advocacy for quality of life within their home. That’s really made a difference this week.”