We invited Maria Da Costa from Maple Villa Long-Term Care Centre to share the Resident's Wishing Tree Program with us.
*All photos posted with consent.
How did the resident's wishing tree program come to be?
It was developed by a team member in our Life Enrichment Department, Lindsay Shahin. She was inspired by the residents who shared their stories about their life and the things that they still wished to do.
What is the selection process for the program?
The selection process is very simple. Every 3 months, one wish from the tree is selected and announced to the residents. These wishes are sealed in envelopes to maintain anonymity.
How many residents have received wishes?
To date, 6 of our residents have been selected, and 5 wishes have been fulfilled.
Are there any specific stories you would like to share with us?
Yes, I can discuss all five of our wish stories.
Second, one of our resident's wish was to drive in a Ford Mustang convertible one last time. We honoured her wish and drove down to the waterfront and watched the boats. We had a wonderful time with the wind in our hair and lots of laughter.
Another resident's wish was to have a girl's day dancing in a bar and enjoying drinks and appetizers with friends. This summer, we were able to attend an outdoor bar and enjoy some music from a steel drum band. She enjoyed a pina colada with friends and ate her favourite onion rings on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
The next wish from another resident, wished to go back to his days at the firehall where he was a volunteer firefighter for more than 25 years! To make this dream a reality, the Burlington fire department picked him up in a firetruck with two more to follow.
He dressed in his original firefighting uniform. At the firehall, they provided him with a beautiful lunch and he was honoured for his 25 years of excellent service with a pin.
Another resident's wish was to go to visit the ship he was stationed at the HMCS (Her Majesty Canadian Ship-Haida) where he was a Naval Officer assigned to the weapons systems. He received a tour of the ship and sat at a desk and sent out a message using the morse code machine.
In your opinion, what impact does the resident's wishing tree program have on residents at Maple Villa?
The impact of this program is one of PURE JOY! Such simple things have created such a large impact on their lives. The wishing tree program offers residents living with cognitive impairments an opportunity to be celebrated and encouraged. The program honours who they are and residents can reflect and celebrate with their families and peers.
What is a small way other long-term care homes could implement a wish program with little funding?
One opportunity to implement a similar program to this is by facilitating virtual wishes. For example, if someone wants to go on a specific trip, reach out to travel agencies to donate posters. You can also decorate and bake/cook food from that specific country to make residents feel like they're on a real vacation. Bringing together staff, volunteers, and families can also contribute to greater success. Additionally, if there are a few residents with similar wishes, you can host a fundraiser to and apply these funds to make their wish come true.
Is there anything else you would like to share about the program?
I would just like to express my gratitude for Lindsay for suggesting this program. I am very proud of her and all that she has done for our residents. Through this program, I have realized that it is not about the size of the wish, but rather honouring the resident and validating their dreams.
This program would not be possible without our residents and our staff members!