Fraser Health’s South Asian Mobile Day Program for Older Adults provides easily accessible and culturally sensitive programming in Abbotsford’s older adult South Asian community.

Photo L-R: Bobbi Binning, recreation therapist, Paramjit Rai, activity worker, Bal Sidhu, licenced practical nurse

“The program helps support clients who are experiencing social isolation and life changes in their health and well-being,” says Bobbi Binning, recreation therapist, Abbotsford Day Program for Older Adults.

Studies show that people who attend day programs are likely to live at home longer. The program also provides caregiver respite, to allow a break from caregiver duties, which helps reduce caregiver burnout and stress.

Bobbi helped launch the program along with the team and says that the results speak for themselves.

“We have been able to see an immediate positive impact on clients’ behaviours. They mention how excited they are to come every week and spend time with their peers.”

Providing culturally-appropriate care

Bobbi and the team work in partnership with Archway Community Services at the South Fraser Way Temple and Emmanuel Mennonite Church in West Abbotsford. She explains that having safe spaces that participants recognize in their community has created a great foundation for the program.

“Our programming is culturally specific and takes into account the cultural matters that occur within the South Asian community. We translate all activities and the entire program is in Punjabi. We have implemented prayer time right into our activity schedule at the temple site for those who want to participate. Both sites provide culturally appropriate food and snacks.”

Enhancing client well-being

All program staff have a common goal of enhancing client well-being.

“The program provides opportunities for clients who may be socially isolated or at risk for deterioration – physically, cognitively, socially or emotionally – and have care needs that require assistance to participate in therapeutic recreation,” explains Bobbi.

Participants have access to a wide variety of therapeutic recreation activities to experience with their peers, including brain games, table top games, care fit, mobility and breathing exercises, and active games.

Clients express that they are happy to actively use their body and brain during the program.

“They tell us that their life is very routine at home. When they come to the day program they are always excited to learn and try new activities and games that are physically and mentally engaging,” she says.

With the addition of a bus donated by the Fraser Valley Foundation, the program has been able to take participants on the road to dip their toes in new waters.

“Some of our participants have never seen the ocean – so for one of our outings we spent the day at Crescent Beach. It was heartwarming to see the excitement on their faces when they put their feet in the ocean for the first time,” says Bobbi.

Just the beginning

Day Program Manager Shannon Ediger states that, “Day programs for older adults are an important part of caring for seniors in our communities. The programs help individuals stay active and socially engaged and as a result, many are able to live at home longer.”

The South Asian Mobile Day Program for Older Adults in Abbotsford was developed as part of Fraser Health’s efforts to increase programming diversity and meet an increasing need for culturally supportive programs.

“The learnings and successes from these programs will help guide the future of day programs for populations who have been underserviced or who have limited access to their community,” says Shannon.

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