KITCHENER -- A recreational therapist at Grand River Hospital's Freeport Campus has found a way to help patients smile and find joy during the pandemic.

Richard de Carufel had a stroke last August, which left him unable to walk and speak.

A special Zoom call with his recreational therapist, Melissa Tennant, helped spark his recovery.

"During that hour, I played albums for hum," Paula Boivin said. "He would choose the album and I would play it for him and then we would dance."

De Carufel was staying at Freeport Campus and Tennant set up the Zoom call to help patients connect with their loved ones and what brings them joy.

"What's meaningful to them, what is something that they truly love to do," Tennant said.

"Contribute positively so that patient experience for a lot of different patients in what has been a very challenging time," said Brenda Henderson, collaborative practice manager at Freeport Campus.

Henderson said Tennant has played an integral role in helping patients feel stronger together.

"She has this really infectious smile," she said. "She brings a ray of sunshine into their day."

"It was amazing," Boivin said. "I always say that Melissa was an angel setting this up, she know how much this meant to Rick. Just to see Rick's enjoyment when he heard the music, other nurses would come in at the time and they would watch Rick and they would be in tears because they saw how much it meant to him."

With Tennant's help, de Carufel is walking again, and on his way to speaking and singing.