Above photo: Members of the FMO team -- including Jeff Smith (back row, second from the right) and Cheryl Friesner (bottom row, first right) pose with one of the carnival games.
Five a.m. on a Saturday is a time when most staff from Vancouver Coastal Health's Facilities Maintenance & Operations (FMO) team should still be in bed. Instead, more than 20 volunteers from the team have been sacrificing sleep for a special cause – building carnival games for seniors living in Banfield Pavilion, a long-term residential care facility located near Vancouver General Hospital.
“Everyone's getting behind this carnival, and there's huge enthusiasm for it," says Jeff Smith, an FMO lead carpenter helping to spearhead the event. “Hopefully it will be a real success, and bring a lot of joy to residents."
Banfield Pavilion is currently home to 154 people of varying physical abilities living in long-term residential care. Working in partnership with Resident Services Manager Robert O'Neill and his staff, the FMO team has built and organized a carnival exclusively for residents and their families. The event will be held in mid-August.
But how did a group of dedicated staff end up building carnival games during their free time for residents?
“It began with a simple question: How could we as a department, strengthen our connection within our VCH community and give back more?" explains Cheryl Friesner, process improvement manager, FMO.
The team decided to focus their attention towards creating something fun and interactive for one of the more vulnerable groups at VCH, and the idea of a carnival was formed. FMO staff took the idea to their manager Ian Tait, senior director in Business Initiatives and Support Services and lead for Vancouver Acute FMO, who immediately supported their carnival dream.
“I thought it would be great if we could do something special for our residents," says Ian. “I told the team to go for it, and to use their imaginations – and they've done an incredible job of it!"
A talented FMO team comprised of carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians, maintenance workers, and other trades have donated volunteer time to build 12 different games for the event. Some staff members have even recruited their kids to help out.
“We have a bean bag toss, a shooting gallery with a nerf gun, a mini golf course, a duck pond, spin the wheel, and more," says Jeff, noting the games have been designed to allow residents of different physical abilities to play. “The people who work here are enormously talented."
The carnival excitement has spread beyond FMO and Banfield Pavilion: dozens of volunteers will be helping out the day of the event, including members from the Rotary Club of Vancouver Mountainview, who have also donated $1,500 to the carnival.
What's a carnival without carnival-themed foods? Sodexo, the company contracted to prepare residents' meals, is also pitching in to ensure festive foods are accessible for everyone. With many residents unable to eat solids, the corn on the cob, potato salad, BBQ drumsticks, candied apples, orange sorbet and mini doughnuts will be offered in pureed form as well.
With just a few weeks left before the big day, Jeff says his dream is for the carnival to one day travel to all residential care sites across VCH.
“The people I work with are amazing: this is such a fun thing and it's all pure love," he says. “Thank you for giving us a chance to use our imagination!"