There were accusations of cheating. Followed by laughter. Shouts of victory. Yells of losses. More laughter.
It was game night hubbub that was welcome to the ears of Ian Scott, Director of Medicine Hat’s newly opened Salvation Army Community Resource Centre (CRC). It came about at the hands of the city’s College of Nursing.
Ian explains that he received a call from a nursing instructor at the college who was interested in any learning opportunities for her first-year students at the CRC. Many of the people involved with the programs at the CRC are also frequent visitors to clinics and emergency rooms, but nurses only see one side of them. The class had been at the CRC serving a hot meal, but this time they were proposing a games night.
Ten nursing students showed up after the meal in late November. Each one took a seat at a table. “Most of these people are stressed just trying to get through the day,” says Ian. “The nurses wanted this to be no-stress, to be able to play and to talk.” For many of the 40 people who took part the normal hilarity of game night is an unusual experience, as for the next two hours they played card games like UNO, and board games.
Ian recalls that two of the participants had come to blows recently. “But on this night, they were partners, laughing and playing together. It showed the students a different side of them than they saw before. It helped them understand that these are people too. They have bad days, and they have good days. They shouldn’t be judged by one incident on a bad day.”
For those who attended, there was a draw for dessert, Tim Horton gift cards, and a goodie bag.
“It’s good for these people to be seen in a day-to-day setting when they are not in distress or in triage,” says Ian. “Their instructor was the one who mentioned the empathy that develops goes a long way toward the nurses seeing others as people, and not just patients."
He adds simply: “And it was fun, a lot of fun.”