Mount Newton Centre Society provides daily health services for seniors living on the Saanich Peninsula.  This helps enable them to live in their homes as independently as possible, for as long as is safely possible.

Bridget Shumka is the coordinator of Mount Newton Centre’s Adult Day Program, and the Community Bathing program.

“It’s been a huge part of the Saanich Peninsula community” says Shumka. “We’re celebrating 40-years this year.

“The women that founded the centre, their mission was to provide services to seniors in the Saanich Peninsula that would enable them to stay in their homes for as long as was safely possible.”

Shumka is not only the coordinator of the Day Program, but she is also a registered nurse.

“The founders, forty years ago… they were pretty adamant that a nurse, an RN, runs the program,” Shumka said.

There are 65 clients enrolled in the day program.

“Many of them are being cared for by a spouse” Shumka explains.  “The client might have dementia, so their spouse or caretaker needs respite.  So when we think about our clients attending, we’re also thinking about the spouses as part of our extended family as well.”

Joy Spencer is one of those spouses, and she is grateful for the program.  “It’s a lifeline. This is a safe environment. I know that [my husband] Tom is safe here, that he is being mentally stimulated, which is important.”

Spencer is also grateful that an RN is overseeing the program.

“A lot of the participants here have no doctor,” says Spencer.  “And so, with a registered nurse on site, she can identify some of the unique changes both socially and physically that happen, and report back to their caregiver. And that is a blessing, not only for the participants but also for the caregivers.”

Beth Patterson, who’s husband Vincent attends the Centre, feels equally grateful.

“Vin loves it. At first, he was reluctant, but now, if we don’t go during a day, he’ll say ‘is it club day today?’   It’s good for both of us, because I know where he is.   It gives me a break for four hours a day, and he’s always so happy, and he’s had a good time when I pick him up.”

“This is very rewarding work,” says Shumka.  “This community is so amazingly generous, and so that’s why we are able to do what we do.”

Veronica Cooper