Reflections from an ADP visit

Group of women enjoying a sing-a-long

By Ronda Jalbert, Senior Digital Specialist – Marketing

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the Enhanced Adult Day Program (ADP) in Nova Scotia to capture photos for VON recruitment and program promotion materials. Similar to the ADPs in Ontario, this location serves people with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other advanced cognitive impairments. 

Before this visit, I didn’t truly understand what VON’s Community Support Services offered to our clients or their caregivers. It was a surprisingly emotional experience, and I felt various highs and lows throughout my short visit. 

The staff in the kitchen, those serving clients as well as the Program Coordinator, Monique Natividad, proudly showed me what they do in a typical afternoon. I saw staff engage a group of older adults who would otherwise be lonely or relying on a caregiver for support.
(Photo: Monique Natividad, Program Coordinator (right), plays piano in a client sing-a-long at ADP.)

It was clear that these clients (and staff) enjoy their time together eating, exercising, doing crafts, playing games or singing. I watched as staff ensured each client was included, cared for them through bouts of confusion, and helped those who needed assistance with feeding or toileting.

As I was leaving, I met a family caregiver who was picking up his loved one. He spoke to me fondly of the program and the staff, and it was easy to see how exhausted he was from the burden of caregiving—and how grateful he was for the break VON gave him that afternoon so he could run errands and have a bit of time to himself.

When I left, I sat in the parking lot for a few moments to gather my thoughts. My heart was full. Why had it taken me five years at VON to visit a centre like this? Seeing the impact our work has on our clients first-hand was an invaluable opportunity for me. 

I encourage VON staff who are interested in experiencing our programs in person to explore that possibility with your manager. Or if you have been lucky enough to have experienced a site or program visit, I encourage you to think back to your experience as a heartwarming reminder of the important work we all do here. Many of us often talk about VON’s heart, and how we “bleed blue,” but to see it is to really feel it. 

Throughout my time in Nova Scotia, I met so many like-minded colleagues, including client service associates, nurses, back-office support staff and members of the leadership team. We shared a collective sense of humour, work ethic and passion for our cause. This experience was inspiring, uplifting and reignited my spark for the work we do to make people’s lives better.  Thank you to all of you.