Stettler PALS program is back up and running. (Unsplash)

Stettler PALS program is back up and running. (Unsplash)

PALS program returns to Stettler

A dormant program for seniors operated by Alberta Health Services (AHS) has been resurrected.

After closing in March of 2020 when the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Stettler’s Pursing Active Living Support (PALS) program operated by Stettler Home Care was brought back into operation in January of 2023.

“AHS did a review about reopening the program,” said Simon Sia, the program manager.

“We felt we should be restarting the program.”

The PALS program is a family respite program that seniors can attend focusing on mental and physical activities as well as socialization. According to Sia, while the program is held in a group setting, the activities are individualized for each client.

Activities during the program could include learning skills, making crafts, playing games, music therapy or exercising; all depending on what the client needs.

“Some may want to mobilize more,” said Sia.

If there are several people in a given group that have the same goal, the entire group may do more walking activities or range-of-motion exercises.

According to Sia, everything is guided according to each client’s individual care plan.

“It’s all really centred on what the group would like to do,” said Sia.

The PALS program operates out of a facility in the Stettler Health Unit at the Stettler Hospital and Care Centre on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays with two program times. The morning program runs from 9-11:30 a.m. and the afternoon program runs from 1:30-3:45 p.m. Clients are welcome to register for each session at a cost of $6 each.

When the program was re-launched in January, the utilization of the program was around 30 per cent. Through promotion and word-of-mouth, Sia says the hope is to keep growing the program and get it up to 80 per cent utilization by the end of the year.

Each session, morning and afternoon, has a maximum capacity of 10 clients.

AHS funds the staffing for the program, however, none of those funds can be used for craft supplies or material items.

“We try and raise (those funds) on our own,” said Sia.

The $6 fee helps offset those costs, as do donations of materials from the community.

According to Sia, the program is available to all seniors but there are some eligibility requirements which are discussed during the program intake process.

Clients are required to find their own transportation to the onsite program; however, one change coming out of the pandemic is instead of bringing the program back onsite five days a week, two days a week are being dedicated to providing in-home respite care.

“A lot of clients have gotten used to being in the home a little more,” said Sia, noting that taking the program to them helps them be more engaged.

According to Sia, PALS is a continuous program, where clients can enter and exit it at any time; it also operates on a first-come, first-served, basis.

“We’re going to see a lot more yet, make sure to connect with us sooner rather than later,” said Sia.

For more information on the program, call 403-742-4461.

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