The Recope program has operated at the Summerland Aquatic and Fitness Centre since 1976. For the past seven months, it has been closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but organizers are now prepared to resume. (Summerland Review file photo)

Summerland’s Recope program prepares to resume

Therapeutic program had been shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic

Summerland’s Recope therapeutic exercise program is reopening at the Summerland Aquatic and Fitness Centre, after seven months of planning and reorganizing.

The program, which serves a largely senior client base, was halted in March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the public health order was issued, staff at Recope have been communicating with Summerland and South Okanagan residents who have relied on the program.

Before the pandemic, more than 70 people were participating in the Monday, Wednesday and Friday fitness sessions. The program has operated for the past 44 years.

READ ALSO: Recope participants swim into health

READ ALSO: Recope program a homegrown success

A range of water-based, land-based and health education programs were being offered, and always in high demand from local residents.

“Pre-COVID, we often had more people than we could comfortably accommodate in the pool at one time. Demand for Recope services keeps growing every year” said Jean Munro, Recope’s executive director and occupational therapist.

“We could not meet that demand even then with our limited resources. Now we need to operate differently with physical distancing and fewer people in each class, so we have more than doubled our pool rental time to run multiple pool sessions. Unfortunately, we can still only accommodate half of our former numbers while at the same time our operational costs have gone up over 35 per cent.”

She added that participants in the program have said it has helped with improved mobility, pain management and new inner confidence.

New protocols for Recope to operate safely include smaller class sizes, pre-booking and pre-payment, cohorts and contact tracing, mask-wearing when not in the pool and use of alternate facilities with more space and better ventilation for land-based therapy sessions.

All of this will cost the charity more to survive as its contract with Interior Health only covers 25 per cent of its new operating expenses.

The remainder needs to be raised through participant fees and fundraising. Recope has received grants from the Summerland Health Care Auxiliary, United Way, Community Foundation of the South Okanagan and local service clubs for many years.

There are also a number of donations made by individuals and participants pay a user fee.

To meet the new COVID-19 budget, revenue will increase by more than 35 per cent, organizers say. Session fees have gone up to help cover increased costs but that could prevent some clients from continuing, since many live on small pensions or low incomes or face other barriers.

“Our team is working hard to develop our model so that we can continue to serve our community safely without adding barriers to participation for those that need us the most,” says Linda Carnegie, Recope’s board chair.

“And we can demonstrate that this is still a way more cost-effective option for recovery and prevention than many alternatives, but we will need the community’s support this fall and winter for sure.”

Those wishing to support Recope are asked to contact executive director Jean Munro at Jean@recope.ca or at 250-494-9006.

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