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Elders make co-ordinator's job fulfilling

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Mar 12/04) - Colette Sampson doesn't have to think very long when asked what the favourite part her job as a recreational therapist is.

"Definitely working with the elders," she said. "Seeing them laugh and have fun and hearing their stories -- it doesn't seem like work."

In January, Sampson and her colleague Jane McCarney started the Elder Day Program at the regional hospital.

The program, designed to keep elders active and provide a social venue for a segment of the population that often lives alone, has thus far been a success.

"Once a month we have a planning day with the participants," said Sampson.

That's how she keeps the program reflecting the needs and wants of the elders.

"It is good because then we can offer something that they want," she said.

Sampson says that the old time dances, Lighthouse Choir sing-a-longs, traditional crafts and armchair yoga have been the most popular activities among the elders.

"Also, I think they enjoy the social aspect," she said. "We're situated beside long-term care so those residents participate as well as those who come in from Tuk or Aklavik for treatment. Old friends can get a chance to catch up."

Sampson's day usually begins with light administrative work before she warms the coffee pot up at 10:15 a.m. to prepare for when Moses Gordon brings the first handy van filled with elders.

For those living in town who want to attend, the hospital provides transportation.

Last Monday, the day began with the ladies doing some traditional crafts. Elijah Allen and Gary Nutak preferred to play some cribbage in the TV room.

After lunch, the program shifts gears and elders enjoy a wide variety of activities from bowling to sing-a-longs to listening to guest speakers.

For Catherine Mitchell, 80, the day program is a great reason for her to get out.

"Colette's really nice and we just get served all the time," she said. "I'm not used to that."

For Sampson, it is some of the most rewarding work she's ever done.

"It's a very enjoyable job and very fulfilling."