Great staff teamwork allows for a fun-filled day in Victoria
The morning of June 11 was sunny and warm at Victory House. After waiting for good weather for several weeks, staff kicked in to high gear at 9 a.m. to make a day trip to Victoria happen for 11 Victory House residents.
The van needed to leave for the ferry terminal by 10 a.m. so it was going to be very tight, recalls Munir Velji, manager of mental health services. “The kitchen said, ‘Absolutely!’ And they put together sandwiches and soup and all sorts of stuff within a very short time frame,” said Munir. “Usually we give them a few days’ notice but this time it was more like half-an-hour’s notice.”
Gary Cruz, a mental health worker at Victory, was not scheduled to work that day but came in “within minutes” to attend the trip. As a former Victorian, he acted as tour guide for the group.
Some of the residents had started asking to go to Victoria early in 2012. Staff had never taken residents so far from home as the logistics of bringing a group with mental health challenges on a ferry carries risk, but the trip was planned. “We have a couple of people in particular who had never been on a ferry and really wanted to do that,” Munir said. A great ferry fare was negotiated and activity funds were set aside.
The group saw Victoria’s Inner Harbour, drove through some of the city’s pretty neighbourhoods and had a guided tour of BC’s Parliament Buildings. “That was really neat for some of the residents who are quite interested in politics and Parliament,” said Munir, adding they had many questions for their guide.
Proving the adage that it’s the journey more than the destination, the trip’s highlight for residents was the ferry ride. On the passenger decks, they played cards, enjoyed the scenery and even sang songs.
The group was back at Victory House by 8 p.m., tired after a full day. “There were no problems at all. It went very smoothly,” Munir said, adding the trip to the provincial capital may become an annual Victory House excursion.