Healthy Living in the North

No chimneys, no problem: be Santa for PG’s long-term care residents

The Christmas tree in the Prince George London Drugs store is decorated with tags containing seniors' gift wishes.

The tree at London Drugs in Prince George, where you can get a tag for Thanks to the London Drugs Stocking Stuffers for Seniors program, Santa doesn’t need chimneys to find residents at Northern Health’s (NH) long-term care facilities in Prince George!

The program lets seniors from Gateway Complex Care, Rainbow Lodge, Jubilee Lodge, and Parkside Care provide a wish list, which goes on tags that are put on a Christmas tree at London Drugs. Community members can visit the store, grab a tag, buy the items on the wish list, and return them to London Drugs before December 14 for delivery on Christmas morning.

“Needs are addressed in long-term care,” says Louise Parkes, Recreational Therapist at Jubilee Lodge and Parkside Care. “It’s the ‘wants’ that get missed. This creates a more personal connection. For instance, we have a resident who loves writing notes to staff or whoever she wants to acknowledge. In past years, she would use plain paper; now, she’ll receive special stationary or blank cards.”

London Drugs in Prince George reached out to Northern Health to start the program at Gateway Complex Care a couple years ago, and it has continued to grow since – this is the first year that four facilities will take part. As it’s expanded, so to has the impact on residents and staff, especially on Christmas morning when the stockings are delivered.

“Everybody talks about it, everyone wants to participate,” says Lynn AuCoin, Recreational Therapist at Gateway Complex Care and Rainbow Lodge. “It’s also a great time to remember Christmases gone by. Staff are so excited; they love hearing the stories of their residents.”

London Drugs does a lot of sorting and organizing on their end, then NH staff set up their own version of Santa’s workshop, where they review the list (checking it twice), ensure there’s a gift for everyone, and organize the gifts for Santa’s elves to deliver on Christmas morning.

Louise says that on Christmas morning, each resident gets the chance to feel like a kid again: the centre of attention, opening their gift in front of their long-term-care family.

“We take time with each individual as they open their stocking and we present it to them, looking at each gift with them. It’s undivided attention. They feel special in that moment. It shows that people in the community really do care.”

You can pick up a Stocking Stuffer tag from London Drugs in Prince George today! Remember, they must be returned to the store by December 14, 2019.

Thanks for making Christmas morning special for our seniors in long-term care!

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.

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