Liz Dolan introduced Mary Jane MacPhail, Director of the VON Adult Day Away
Program. Mary Jane described Support for Families Facing Dementia in the Stratford area.

With support from program co-ordinator Mary Jane MacPhail, at right, guests Elizabeth and Bob Dolan unveil a plaque at the dedication of the refurbished and expanded space for the VON Adult Day Program at Spruce Lodge on Wednesday. (SCOTT WISHART/The Beacon Herald)

The Adult Day Away Program began 27 years ago and currently has sites in Listowel, St. Mary’s and Stratford. Stratford has two programs: Spruce Lodge for those with dementia or other cognitive impairment, and Romeo Court to provide assistance with personal care and socialization for other seniors. Provincial funding comes from the southwest Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). Attendees pay $10/day (with adjustment for financial need). Centres are open for 6 hours, three days a week, and typically have one leisure/recreational therapist and two or three personal support workers (PSWs) on staff, as well as volunteers. Services vary depending on need.  Spruce Lodge activities include music therapy, pet therapy, dancing, walking, balance exercises, making happy faces, dress-up, baking and various crafts. Attendees get assistance with medications, foot care, hair care, manicures and bathing. There are informative presentations, often led by volunteers, many with associated activities such as woodworking and flower arranging. People with dementia are able to learn new skills that suit their level of competency. Daily exercise classes include group games such as sponge hockey and parachute ball. Many enjoy playing simple card games. All participants are happy to be able to do things they and their caregivers thought were no longer possible. Overnight respite, for two clients, is available Monday and Tuesday, every other week. This gives caregivers a break and helps clients, who have not previously been without their spouse, transition to long-term care.
Volunteers are critical for the success of these programs. They help come up with new ideas and projects to keep clients active. All ages are welcomed. One very successful program involves Grade 6 students from Avon School. Most importantly, volunteers understand that people with dementia need stimulation to help them function at the highest possible level, and they assist caregivers to find activities that can be managed at home. Volunteers can also participate in the “special steps” matching program to provide home visits outside of daycare hours or for those who cannot attend. There is an immediate need for someone to transport noon meals from Greenwood Court to Romeo Court. The Adult Day Away Program accommodates 15 clients; six are currently wait-listed. As for placement in long-term care, admission requires referral through Community Care Access (CCAC). For more information email Mary Jane at, call 519-271-7991 or go to,.
Charlotte Gillett thanked Ms. MacPhail for her informative talk and for the valuable service the program provides in the community.