Warmhearted. Determined. Empowering. These three words perfectly describe Kate Gallant, a Therapeutic Recreationist (TR) at St. Joseph’s Villa.
It all started when she was in high school, completing a co-op placement in the TR department at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Her love for the profession was apparent and she later pursued an education in Mohawk College’s Recreation Therapy program. Not a decade later, she’s found herself back in the St. Joseph’s Health System family, caring for the residents of St. Joseph’s Villa.
TR’s play an essential role in the life and well-being of long-term care residents. “My role as a TR is to provide activity-based programs to meet the needs of our residents,” says Kate. “These activities are focused on achieving ‘whole health’ – improving and maintaining the physical, intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual health of our residents.”
This “whole health” approach tailors care to each resident, ensuring their needs and desires in each unique aspect of their lives are met. Much of what the TR team facilitates becomes the highlight of life at St. Joseph’s Villa – from art classes to movie nights to live music and more.
But since its onset, the pandemic has proven to be a challenge in providing these fun, social activities to residents. Protocols and procedures have altered, and with restricted visitor policies, care became focused on keeping residents connected with their loved ones. Whether through video calls, window visits or outdoor visits, facilitating these meaningful moments is crucial.
The TR department never once wavered, however. They found ways to deliver the quality of care and life residents deserve, finding the silver lining in the most challenging times. And their bonds have strengthened because of it. It’s for this reason Kate fell in love with the profession. And she’s done precisely that.
Outside of her work, Kate seeks the same purpose, mothering two beautiful children and her Labradoodle, Winnie. She enjoys a scenic hike by the Grand River, soaking up all the sunshine the spring and summer have to offer. She’s a loyal friend and colleague and is admired by everyone she comes across.
It’s the simple things in life that fill her soul, and it shows in her teary eyes when speaking about it. “The most fulfilling part of what I do is building these relationships with residents – listening to their stories and memories, and getting to know about who they are and what makes them them. The moment when a resident looks in your eyes, and you can see they trust and love you like family, that’s what fills my soul.”