Willow Square residents hearing a new groove

The headphones eliminate background noise, making it easier for residents to hear music, activity instructions and more.

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Residents at Willow Square Continuing Care Centre are hearing great things on their new wireless headphones, thanks to a generous donation from the Northern Lights Health Foundation.

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Since January, facility residents have been enjoying 15 sets of Sound Off headphones in several programs. The Health Foundation donated $3,200 to buy them.

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“The use of this equipment has increased program accessibility for long term care residents,” says Tiffany Butler, a recreation therapist at Willow Square. “We’ve seen lots of positive engagement from residents during activities when the headphones have been used. We’re grateful and thankful to the foundation for funding this equipment.”

The comfortable, noise-cancelling headphones eliminate background noise and improve sound clarity, making it easier for residents — including those who use hearing aids — to hear music, activity instructions and more.

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“This equipment allows for more unique and inclusive opportunities for residents to participate in activities that offer social connection and improved well-being,” says Vanessa McNevin, executive director, Northern Lights Health Foundation.

“We’re pleased to see the positive impact this equipment is having with residents at Willow Square. We look forward to continuing to support initiatives that enhance healthcare, quality of life and well-being for our residents and patients in the region.”

willow square
Therapy assistant Hailey Kanak, left and resident Elspeth Colliar show off their new Sound Off headphones at Willow Square Continuing Care Centre. Photo supplied by AHS

Resident Elspeth Colliar says the headphones are “nice and relaxing” for listening to music in her room. Her neighbour, Annie Mercredi, describes them as “awesome — thank you so much”.

“I’ve witnessed residents staying engaged longer with audio-based content — and they’re absorbing and enjoying the content played,” says Hailey Kanak, a therapy assistant. “This is (better than) before when residents would listen to a Bluetooth speaker on a table in the common area.”

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Residents use the headphones in a variety of spaces, including group settings and their individual rooms.

Butler adds: “The equipment offers flexibility and inclusiveness for resident participation. It reduces barriers for younger residents who may not feel they fit in with older residents, for those who may not be as socially engaged, or for some who may be bed-bound.

“In using these headphones, we’ve also found that residents no longer need as much assistance from staff during our programs because they can clearly hear and understand instructions with no distractions.”

The headphones have come in handy for programs such as Bingo, a ‘silent’ disco and a new program called Ragbag. Residents also enjoy listening to past episodes of CBC’s Vinyl Cafe.

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During Ragbag, residents spend between 30 minutes to an hour to listen to a curated list of podcasts or clips based on their interests.

“Ragbag is quite popular. Residents can listen to news, word of the day, jokes and short meditations. It’s great because we can modify the content to their interest,” says Butler.

Butler and her Willow Square colleagues are currently exploring other opportunities — music performances, meditation and exercise/movement classes — to make more use of the headphones.

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