Posted: December 22, 2016

The holidays are a wonderful time of year to spend with your loved ones, drinking, eating and being merry.

But some people aren’t always able to spend the holidays in their home if they need to receive care.

Thankfully, mental health and recreational therapist staff at GRH’s Freeport Campus help to bring holiday cheer and a good holiday meal to their patients to make the season special.

For the past roughly 20 years, staff have hosted a full traditional Christmas meal for their rehabilitation, complex care and palliative, restoration, and neurobehavioural and geriatric assessment units. It’s not limited only to the patients either – families and staff from each unit are also invited to join.

Not only does the volunteer association donate funds to help with the cost of food, staff members on each unit also sign up to bring in food to support the event. The recreation therapy staff purchase all items required using the donated funding to purchase everything from turkeys and hams to cutlery and plates to ensure a successful event.

They host four dinners over the month of December, one at a time for each unit. They hold these dinners during the lunch meal, and musical entertainment is coordinated for each event.

It takes a lot of people to make such a large meal for such a large group of people happen. Everyone plays an important part.

  • The nursing staff puts turkey in the ovens during the night shift the day before the meal so that when recreational therapy staff arrives the morning of, it is ready to go, and that patients can wake up to the delicious smell of turkey.
  • Occupational therapists arrange potato peeling sessions with patients the day prior so that the potatoes are ready to cook the morning of the event.
  • Then a mix of volunteers and recreational therapy staff start cooking, preparing and coordinating the meal and event to ensure it’s ready for lunchtime at noon.
  • Staff on the respective unit will assist with supporting patients to the meal, held in the dining rooms in each unit.
  • All unit staff and volunteers assist in serving patients and families during the Christmas meal.
  • Environmental Services staff members also play a role by helping out with set-up and take-down of the dining room.

And to bring even more holiday cheer, unit staff is always sure to decorate each unit in time for the events. The horticulture therapy group at Freeport prepares natural evergreen centerpieces for each table in the dining room to be used during each Christmas dinner.

This event is only possible because of the many staff and volunteers that support and work behind the scenes to bring this event together.

This is one great example of how staff at GRH continues to advance exceptional care.

Happy holidays!