Christmas in a P.E.I. nursing home: 'They make it feel as if it is our home'

Dec 21, 2016

"Bah Humbug," says Marjorie Gallant with a hearty laugh, recalling a line from her performance as Ebenezer Scrooge at the Beach Grove Home last year.

'We have a lot of people that just take that whole concept and just run with it.'— Andrew MacDougall, P.E.I. director of long-term care

Like many of her fellow residents at the Charlottetown long-term care facility, Gallant said she enjoys the Christmas season, with dozens of activities organized by staff or family members.

Last year, that included acting as Scrooge in the famous play A Christmas Carol.

"We are never a day without, hardly a day without doing something," she said.

Staff at nursing homes across the Island often try to go "above and beyond during this season," said Andrew MacDougall, the provincial director of long-term care.

Staff know that some residents are alone at Christmas, so they organize everything from gift exchanges to a big dinner, he said.

This year at Beach Grove, volunteers came in a few days before Christmas and filled up the boardroom with hot air balloons and wrapped presents.

"Not everyone is blessed to have a vast network of friends or family," MacDougall pointed out. "So extra special care is taken to recognize people who perhaps are struggling this time of the year."Nursing homes across the province often try to go 'above and beyond during this season' says Andrew MacDougall, P.E.I.'s director of long-term care. (Angela Walker/CBC)

But it's not just the seniors that spend Christmas at P.E.I.'s nursing homes — Staff are also required to be there 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It's very noble of the employees to work over the holiday season, MacDougall said, and many come with the right attitude.

"We have a lot of people that just take that whole concept and just run with it," he said.

Family members and volunteers often also gather to celebrate Christmas at the nursing home. Many of them organize parties or outings for the seniors during the holidays, MacDougall noted, such as trips to the curling rink.

Patricia MacMillan, another Beach Grove resident, said her daughter leads a choir that involves regular practices with the residents and a play.

The music makes Christmas that much more special, MacMillan said.

"They make it feel as if it is our home, which it is," she said.

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