Convalescent care infused with joy of cooking

Trillium Villa program focuses on daily activities, interests and rehab

September 18, 2015

The joy of cooking is coming back into Shaheen Ataullah’s life as she prepares to leave Trillium Villa’s Convalescent Care Program for her own home. “People loved my food. That was good,” Ataullah says, describing the highlight of the day recently that she cooked a special lunch for her fellow convalescent care residents.

The mother of two came to the Sarnia long-term care community from hospital following an accident. Like all other convalescent care residents, Ataullah is preparing to return home with the support of the program.

That includes participating not only in activities of daily life, like cooking, but also physical rehabilitation programs, like physiotherapy and exercise. Convalescent care is a short-term program with a maximum stay of 90 days, and residents work towards their own goals.

“It’s a really good feeling to see (residents progress),” says Shannon Barnwell, a member of Trillium Villa’s life enrichment team who works with the convalescent care residents.

She says the program, which can accommodate 10 people at a time, provides a safe transition from hospital to home. Residents reintegrate into daily activities, building their sense of self-confidence and independence which are key to successfully returning home and reducing the risk of injury.

“It’s making a huge difference,” Barnwell says.

As part of her work, Barnwell learns about residents’ interests and goals so they are incorporated into their care plan. For Ataullah, cooking has long been a source of great joy and satisfaction.

“I love cooking. At home I’m cooking for my kids,” she says.

A conversation about recipes during the convalescent care group’s breakfast one day prompted Barnwell to plan a cooking session in the activity room so Ataullah could prepare a favourite and widely popular dish of her Indian culture – butter chicken.

Ataullah did the cooking while a few other convalescent care residents chipped in by preparing some ingredients and setting the table. Lunch, which also included rice and naan bread, was served in the activity room.

“Everybody got to try it and they loved it,” Barnwell says, noting this was the first time that some of the convalescent care residents had tasted butter chicken. “They loved trying something new,” Barnwell says.

The event was such a success that Barnwell hopes to do it again, with soup as the star ingredient.

“Everyone enjoys their own homemade soup recipes. I asked a few (of the residents) about it and they like the idea. They think we should do it.”

Ataullah enjoyed sharing her recipe and passion with the other convalescent care residents, whom she says are “like a small family” as they share their personal stories and get to know one another during their stay at Trillium Villa together.

“It’s a really nice group,” Barnwell says. “We do a lot of things together. … We’re always in the back lounge doing activities together so we have a really close group all the time.”


Shannon Barnwell and Shaheen Ataullah

Shannon Barnwell and Shaheen Ataullah collaborate on a lunch of butter chicken for Trillium Villa’s convalescent care residents