The smiles said it all: Valley View Villa has opened its outdoor visiting area and families are enjoying all that it offers.
On Thursday morning, Gwen Langille-MacKinnon of Pictou was able to visit Ruth Sutherland in the brightly decorated and screened gazebo in the front yard at the villa. Staff delivered juice and fresh blueberry scones as the two spent time together — six feet apart as recommended by the province — in the fresh air.
Langille-MacKinnon has been Sutherland’s care giver for the past five years and since said Sutherland moved to Valley View a few months it’s been difficult to interact.
“Once the building was shut down to visitors, due to COVID-19, we started the window visits, where the family could be on one side of the glass and their loved one on the other, but after a while you could tell the residents were missing being able to have an actual conversation, not through the glass with a telephone in their hand,” said Lisa White, director of Recreation at the villa.
Langille-MacKinnon said, “Since the quarantine we’ve had some lobby visits inside, behind the glass. She was on the phone and I was in the lobby on the phone. But this is the first visit outside since the quarantine.”
“I like being outside having a visit,” Sutherland smiled.
“Once we got word that outside visits could be permitted as long as you followed the guidelines, we couldn’t have been more excited, but we wanted a space where the residents and their loved ones felt comfortable, where they could relax and just be together enjoying the conversation and company,” White said.
“When you first walk into the gazebo there is a hand painted sign that reads “Let’s Reconnect” and when you come in for your visit, the family is offered a refreshment and a little sweet treat. We all know when these residents would have company over to their house there would likely always be a treat offered. In my mind, this outside living space would create a familiar environment as their space inside the building, their home. At the Villa, we are resident-focused and strive to put the resident first, we always want to give them the best quality of life.”
She added, “There is nothing better than seeing them smile, because when you see them smile you know you are doing something right.”
While MacKinnon-Langille and Sutherland were not able to hug hello, they were able to sit, enjoy each other’s company and chat about the days they spent “road running.”
Gwen Langille-MacKinnon, left, chats with Ruth Sutherland in the gazebo at Valley View Villa which opened last Thursday. (Jardine photo)