By Sue Tiffin
It’s not Halloween night without a stop at Hyland Crest in Minden for a visit between costumed little ones and grinning residents of the long-term care home, but that annual tradition was one of many missed in 2020 during the first year of the pandemic.
This year, Lindsay Lester, life enrichment program manager for Haliburton Highlands Health Services, is determined to find a way to connect the community once again – and fill treat bags.
“Hyland Crest has been known for years as the place that gives out the large chocolate bars, so I want that to come back,” said Lester, who noted that she’s already ordered the supplies needed. “When we’re out, we’re out, but we have a backup of chips.”
Lester, fellow staff, and Hyland Crest residents are inviting the public to make Hyland Crest a stop on their trick-or-treat schedule again, though residents and visitors will be kept separate, waving to each other through a video display set-up.
“Some of the family members just felt more comfortable that they weren’t in close proximity, as much as it breaks their heart to do because they want that interaction, but it’s just not totally safe yet with them being the most vulnerable population,” said Lester.
Families are invited to come to the main entrance of Hyland Crest at 6 McPherson Street in Minden on Oct. 31, where they’ll be greeted by staff with a laptop and camera – kids can wave, strike a pose or do a dance and residents will be taking it all in from one of the two gathering spaces inside the facility.
“I just want the public to know to come here that night, and the residents will be overjoyed to see them, even though it’s through [technology,] it’ll still mean a lot to them, because they miss them very much – the residents miss the children,” said Lester.
Typically, elementary students walk over from Archie Stouffer Elementary School throughout the school year to visit with residents and engage in different activities and programs, but those meet-ups are still on hold.
“It’s definitely a void that needs to be filled as soon as we’re able to,” said Lester.
On Halloween night, a spirited visit through a screen will allow for a safe and entertaining connection.
“We’re just going to pack the place, with staff on each floor giving the residents popcorn, so the smell of popcorn is in the air and it will be like entertainment for them, being able to see the kids in front of them on the big screen,” said Lester.
Residents also enjoyed a haunted house this week, and are planning for “tons of sweets” at a Halloween party on Oct. 29.