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Inclusive care program hosts free lunch event

Loving Hands Partners in Care will host a '50s Sock Hop luncheon June 21. Photo Submitted/For Rocky View Publishing

After identifying gaps in resources, Heather Doyle set out to provide inclusive programs and events for seniors’ and adults with disabilities.

“I opened Loving Hands because my own mom had dementia and she lived with me and there weren't a lot of services here in Airdrie,” she said.

As part of that drive for inclusion, Loving Hands Partners in Care will host a ‘50s Sock Hop and luncheon June 21 at the Lutheran Church of the Master from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event is free to attend and will include lunch, door prizes, a performance from a magician and live music from the John Beer Boys.

Doyle said the focus of Loving Hands and events like the Sock Hop is to positively impact the mental well-being of those in care.

“Mental illness and disabilities played a huge role in my world,” she said of her experience caring for her mother.

According to Doyle, her mother – who had been institutionalized for most of Doyle’s childhood – had become “a very frail, emotional, broken senior,” after years of care in a nursing home.

She said she made the decision in 2015 to move her mother to live with her own family.

A year after her mother came to live with Doyle's family, “The transformation, simply with inclusion, caring, validation, interaction and love, has transformed a broken woman into a pretty cool senior,” Doyle wrote on her website.

This, Doyle said, propelled her to create Loving Hands.

“I know we have another centre here in Airdrie, but it was just open sometimes. It wasn't open Monday to Friday,” she said.

The day program – which runs Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lutheran Church of the Master – currently combines both seniors and adults with disabilities. However, Doyle said the growth of Loving Hands means it will soon develop separate programs for both demographics.

“We have a lot of seniors and, although it's great when they interact [with adults with disabilities], some of our activities are sometimes a bit too much for seniors because we have young guys and girls in here. They get a little bit active,” she said.

Loving Hands programming includes music therapy, art therapy, field trips and more. Recently, Doyle purchased a 20-person bus to help transport her clients to various activities in the community.

“One day, we'll go through the community and we'll do some Airdrie exploration. That might mean going to different restaurants and trying different foods,” she said.

Doyle is also planning to have her clients paint rocks throughout the city to see if people in the community can find them. As well, staff will take pictures and organize a scavenger hunt to help clients determine the locations. Doyle said the activities all include some aspects of interaction and community.

The ‘50s Sock Hop luncheon is free to attend, but Doyle asks those interested to RSVP, as spots are limited. To learn more or to RSVP, call 403-430-0280 or 403-809-6868.

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