Bob Town sits in the dining room with his wife May, enjoying lunch and her companionship. It’s a routine the couple has shared thousands of times since their marriage in 1947, and one Bob is thankful can continue even though they no longer live together.May moved into one of Misericordia Health Centre’s interim care units in February after a medical condition put her in hospital and then made her unable to go back to their home. She was transferred to the interim care unit while she awaits placement in a personal care home of her choice. “I don’t have to worry about her because she’s looked after here,” says Town, who visits his wife daily. “It makes a world of difference to me.” Misericordia’s interim care program is the only one of its kind in a Winnipeg health facility. “There are interim beds in personal care homes, but we’re the only one that has three units of interim care so that makes us unique,” says Patty Johnson, director of the interim care program. Interim care is beneficial to residents and their families as it helps them adjust to the long-term care living – what life will be like in a personal care home. Misericordia’s units – one for women only and two co-ed – are always at a capacity of 150 residents. There are semi-private and a few private rooms. Even though residents are only in the units anywhere from a few weeks to a year or 18 months, the goal at Misericordia is to use a team approach to create a home-like environment. The rooms are personalized with plants, family photos, colourful blankets on beds and special accessories such as favourite lamps on bedside tables. Although residents are in transition, the units provide a daily routine that tries to foster a sense of community. “That includes getting up, getting dressed in their regular clothes, being involved in activities and programs, having opportunity for spiritual care — to go to mass, to go to religious services of their choice,” social work manager Jane Van Dam says. Residents eat their meals in dining rooms. “They’re not isolated in their rooms, they’re out with the community on the unit socializing while they’re eating, which is a more normal activity,” says Eileen Coates, one of the unit’s resident care managers. “The units also have lounges with a television, where they can watch TV together or sit in a quiet room together and visit. There are lots of opportunities to be social and no one is isolated.” Unlike a hospital, there are no set visiting hours because the units are considered the residents’ home. Some of the visitors are of a four-legged variety. One man often brings in the family dog to visit his wife. “If you like to sleep in, we will accommodate that by listening to what you value,” Coates says. “If you like to get up at 10 in the morning and have coffee and a muffin, we will certainly do that and no one will be knocking at your door to get you up at seven o’ clock.” There’s also a hair salon for residents. One lady who’s just come out of the salon smiles as she finishes up a piece of chocolate the hair dresser is sharing with her clients that day. “I had a good time there,” she says as she rides the elevator back up to her unit. “I think it’s a wonderful place.” Recreational programs and special events are popular with residents. They can take part in bingo, table bowling, egg decorating, exercise classes, arts and crafts and even have a manicure. When the weather is nice, they play bocce ball outside or attend barbecues. There are dances in the auditorium with live music, turkey dinners for residents and their family at Christmas and a petting zoo makes regular visits. “Every time you say, ‘Oh (the dinners are) so much work,’ and then you see their faces and the joy it brings to them and their families, there’s no question you’re going to do it again next year,” Johnson says. Residents and their families can also attend regular resident council meetings to discuss any concerns they have or make suggestions about their care. Family members are able to join a caregivers support group. Being within a health centre also gives residents easy access to allied health providers such as occupational and physio therapists, a dietitian and Misericordia’s urgent care centre. For more information about interim care, please visit www.misericordia.mb.ca.