Celebrating the team members at the heart of the Program for Active Living
By Kristian Partington
When Naveen Kelangath studied physiotherapy as a young man in India, he never pictured working with the oldest generations of society. It never occurred to him because the concept of long-term care homes for Indian seniors didn’t really exist at the time.
That changed when he moved to Canada and settled in Guelph 15 years ago, accepting a job as a physiotherapist’s assistant at The Village of Riverside Glen. Five years later he moved to the Village of Humber Heights when it opened in Etobicoke, and he loves the work just as much today as he did when it first began. He wouldn’t change a thing, he says, for he loves the diverse group of people he supports as they strive to improve their own life quality through active living.
Naveen is among a small army of physiotherapists, exercise therapists and kinesiologists who are the core of the Program for Active Living, which is a central feature of each Schlegel Village. While most people will mark today as the first day of school for children across Canada, Sept. 8 is also World Physical Therapy Day – an occasion to recognize the important contributions of this group of professionals who work within the villages every day to promote an active and healthy lifestyle among the residents who live within.
These are the people who inspire residents – many of whom experience notable physical limitations – to work towards goals of enhanced flexibility, strength, agility and independence. They are the regular faces in the gym off Main Street who in many ways offer emotional support to residents on top of the opportunity for physical growth, especially after a traumatic experience such as a fracture, fall or surgery.
“Our treatments are ongoing,” Naveen explains. “A lot of time it takes months and treatments are 20-minutes, a half-hour or 45-minutes sometimes. We sit down with the residents and we listen to their problems and issues, so it’s almost a feeling of taking care of them, not only physically but kind of emotionally as well.”
“Any kind of injury is a physical and emotional trauma and it needs not only physical treatment but emotional support.”
Naveen notes, for example, that if a resident has suffered a serious fall, the risk of another fall occurring in the future is greatly increased, simply because of the fear now associated with the possibility.
A good physiotherapist will restore a sense of confidence while helping a person recover from the impact of an injury, and Naveen says the greatest reward is the pride he sees in people’s faces when they’re able to reach their goals.
And this is why he still loves the work as much today as he did when he began working at Riverside Glen 15 years ago. “These are some of the most vulnerable people who worked so hard to make this country so beautiful to me, and I feel like these are the people I should be serving.”