The Making of a Home

The Making of a Home 

By Debbie Walls

Ian Flieger, Director of Plant Maintenance, chats with resident Verna Losier at the Family Dinner.

The smell of Holiday baking, Christmas music, visiting of family and friends—these are all part of holiday traditions in most Miramichi homes—including Mount Saint Joseph Nursing Home. The Mount, built in 1975 is “home” to131 residents who require level 3 Long Term Care.

To most people, entering a Nursing Home is thought to be the “end of the line,” however, as anyone who frequently visits the Mount can attest, most of the Home’s residents still have a lot of living left to do. This is recognized by staff who endeavour daily to capture each resident’s abilities and zest for life and this is more evident over the busy Holiday season.

Much of the activity is organized by the Recreation Department under the watchful eye of Krista Ward, Recreation Therapist. Preparations begin in the fall with residents making Christmas crafts, holiday baking, and pickling and preserves to sell at their annual craft and bake sale. The money made from this event helps support other events for residents throughout the year and is well attended by the community, looking to find that special gift for Christmas.

Residents Clara McClafferty & Marg Wrigly spin around the dance floor with staff & fam

Once December hits, the calendar fills up with events such as visits from the local daycare to make gingerbread houses with the residents, sing-a-longs with local visiting elementary school children, putting a float in the Christmas parades, the practicing of Christmas Carols by our very own Mount Saint Joseph resident choir, bus trips for Christmas shopping for presents for family and friends, and decorating the many trees, common areas and resident’s rooms, in preparation of family visits.

Families are an important part of our celebrations at the Mount, and this year we hosted several events designed with family in mind. The first was a sing-along in the main entrance as the annual Parade of Lights passed by. An afternoon Christmas party for residents and family was also held on First Floor—our specialized Dementia Unit—complete with food and dancing, a visit from Santa and entertainment by Marjorie Mallais, supplemented by verse and poetry reading and singing by the residents themselves.

Also this year, we hosted a Holiday Dinner, served by management, board, and volunteer staff which was a success. Family members were treated to a special family meal with their resident. Visitors were greeted by entertainment provided by Geraldine McIntyre and company. Geraldine, a Resident Attendant at Mount Saint Joseph, is fast becoming a holiday favourite.

Choir members Bob Merritt & Alton MacKenzie wait for the Parade of Lights to pass before carolling.

Of course holiday celebrations are not complete without the special Christmas Mass. This was held on December 21 and celebrated by Father Sam Diotte, followed by a family reception in the lounge.

Everyone works hard to make this special time of year memorable for our residents and families, and events are well attended. Most people recognize that while everyone longs to be home for the holidays, home can be anyplace where you can enjoy good food and good times with families and friends.

It is the belief of staff at the Mount that wellness is not merely the absence of disease, but the ability to live life to the fullest, regardless of one’s age or capabilities. The making of a “home away from home” is the goal of all staff at Mount Saint Joseph Nursing Home as part of their care for residents, as well as families, 365 days a year.

Debbie Walls is the Administrator of Mount Saint Joseph Nursing Home, the largest nursing home in Region 7 that specializes in long-term care.