Increased LHIN engagement would strengthen communication lines

OLTCA encourages homes to play leading role in LHIN engagement

November 27, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

OMNI Health Care president and CEO Patrick McCarthy says he hopes to see increased engagement between the organization’s 17 long-term care homes and the five Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) they’re within.

Members of a panel discussion discuss the role the long-term care sector can play engaging with the 14 LHINs.

Members of a panel discussion discuss the role the long-term care sector can play engaging with the 14 LHINs.

This, he says, would create stronger communication lines as well as build upon successes already being seen by OMNI homes that are strongly engaged with their LHINs.

For instance, Rosebridge Manor in Jasper is involved with many of the South East LHIN’s mental health initiatives. Through its engagement with the LHIN, the home can listen to the mental health issues that come forward. Some of these issues have even made their way to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

McCarthy’s comments were made Nov. 25 in an interview during the Ontario Long Term Care Association’s (OLTCA’s) Fall Symposium, an annual educational event that features keynote speakers, panel discussions and networking.

“It’s a two-way communication,” he said of home-LHIN engagement, following a panel discussion on the issue. “We can help (the LHINs) with resources at the home level (and) they can help us by informing us as to what the issues are on the ground that have a system-wide impact.”

When it comes to long-term care homes engaging with LHINs, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, given the breadth of different needs and resources homes have, McCarthy notes.

For example, OMNI has several homes in the Champlain LHIN. But the two OMNI homes in Ottawa, Forest Hill and Garden Terrace, have different needs and available resources than Woodland Villa, which is located in Long Sault, just outside of Cornwall.

Even the physical structure of homes comes into play. For example, if an OMNI home wants to participate in a program that deals with mental health, does it have the capacity and staffing levels to do it?

OLTCA CEO Candace Chartier also emphasizes the importance of an individual approach to LHIN engagement.

“(The homes) know the residents they’re looking after and they know the community they’re in and they know the issues that they’re facing,” she said.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or email deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

BSO an example of LHIN engagement success: McCarthy

Responsive behaviours reduced when resources applied

December 3, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

MARKHAM – OMNI Health Care president and CEO Patrick McCarthy says the province’s Behavioural Supports Ontario initiative is an example of the positive things that come from long-term care homes engaging with the 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs).

McCarthy’s comments were made Nov. 25 in an interview during the Ontario Long Term Care Association’s (OLTCA’s) Fall Symposium, an annual educational event that features keynote speakers, panel discussions and networking.

BSO is a $40-million provincial initiative to help enhance quality of life for seniors affected by dementia and other conditions that cause agitation. Funding is provided to long-term care homes through the LHINs.

Much of the funding is put towards staff education — and by giving staff members the educational resources, they have been able to enhance quality of life for residents affected by Alzheimer’s and related dementia, McCarthy says.

“There has been a reduction in behaviours, but also a reduction in the use of medications as interventions,” McCarthy tells the OMNIway.

“We followed some residents who had PRNs (pro re nata medications — pharmaceuticals given on an as-needed basis) for antipsychotics and their use fell off dramatically because we were intervening, not with drugs, but with Montessori techniques, being a big one.”

All 17 of OMNI’s long-term care homes are involved at some level. In the Central East LHIN, Riverview Manor and Streamway Villa have been lead homes in educating other long-term care homes, both within in the LHIN and within the OMNI family.

Results from engagement with BSO have been impressive.

In its first year of involvement with BSO in 2012, Riverview Manor saw a 35.5 per cent decline in responsive agitation, while the rate of PRN medication administration dropped 34.4 per cent.

Likewise, Streamway Villa reported a large reduction in incidents of responsive behaviours, such as aggression, wandering, physical resistance and agitation, after team members began applying their BSO learnings.

From a corporate perspective, a major benefit from being involved with BSO, and thereby the LHINs, has been that best practices garnered through educational sessions have been brought into OMNI’s policies, McCarthy notes.

“We’ve been able to take their knowledge and learnings and we’ve been able to incorporate it into our Supportive Measures program,” he says.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or email deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Study claims singing show tunes may stave off dementia symptoms

“Popular songs help enhance cognition, quality of life for people with dementia, research shows”

November 14, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

Musical activities are always popular in long-term care homes, and new research is suggesting that singing — particularly show tunes — can stave off the impact of dementia.

“The message is: don't give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging.”

“The message is: don’t give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging.”

The results of the study conducted by U.S. researchers indicates that residents who are encouraged to sing show tunes, such as Somewhere Over the Rainbow and When You Wish Upon a Star, demonstrate improved cognition and enhanced quality of life.

During a four-month period, the scientists studied nine people affected by dementia who regularly sing show tunes at their eastern U.S. long-term care home. The residents are involved with a choir designed by the researchers. The residents were led in a 50-minute chorus of a variety of show tunes three times per week.

The original choir consisted of 18 residents. The nine residents who did not participate in singing during the course of the study observed those who did. Results between the two groups of residents were compared.

The study indicates that singing show tunes is particularly beneficial to residents with moderate to severe dementia.

Scans on residents involved with the study showed enhanced activity in various regions of the brain; a factor scientists believe is the result of singing songs from The Wizard of Oz , The Sound of Music, Oklahoma and Pinocchio.

Neuroscientist Dr. Jane Flinn of George Mason University in Virginia is one of the researchers involved with the study. Based on the study’s results, Flinn recommends long-term care homes consider encouraging residents with cognitive impairment to sing show tunes.

“Even when people are in the fairly advanced stages of dementia, when it is so advanced they are in a secure ward, singing sessions were still helpful,” Flinn told Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

“The message is: don’t give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging.”

Click here for more information on the study.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or email deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Garden Terrace caregivers star in information video

YouTube video explores caregivers’ work

November 11, 2013 — Deron Hamel

Two Garden Terrace front-line staff members have helped create a YouTube video providing insight into experiences if working with people who have a cognitive impairment.

Personal support workers (PSWs) Ashley Astle and Dieune Simplice worked as actors in Caregivers, a video made by Interplay Creative Media on behalf of You and Me for Memories, an Ottawa-area grassroots group raising money for Alzheimer’s disease research.

The video was screened during You and Me for Memories fifth annual An Evening to Remember gala Oct. 26. The gala raises money to further the research of Dr. Richard Bergeron, a neuroscience specialist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

Astle provided English dialogue, while Simplice spoke French in the video. Actors Kent Goranson and Penelope Goranson portrayed long-term care residents affected by dementia.

The six-minute video delves into what front-line caregivers do in their work with residents who are living with a cognitive impairment; issues such as feeding and bathing are explored, and Astle and Simplice demonstrate how to hold a conversation with people affected by dementia.

“I take each day as it comes and I don’t have any plans when I’m working on an Alzheimer’s unit because when you come into work things tend to change,” Astle says.

In the video, Astle explains why she chose her career path and what her work means to her.

“When I go home at the end of the day I feel good about myself and I know that I’m in this because I’m passionate, caring and I understand how (dementia) affects (residents) every day,” she says

Click here to watch the video.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or email deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Rosebridge Manor nearing 100% flu vaccination rate for residents, staff

The organization is offering its homes draws for $25 Loblaws gift certificates. Every staff member who gets the flu shot will have their name placed in the draw.

November 7, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

Since launching its flu-shot campaign Oct. 25, the Rosebridge Manor team has administered the vaccination to nearly all of the Jasper long-term care home’s staff members and 78 residents.

A flu shot could prevent the subsequent treatment and complications. Creative Commons RGB Stock

A flu shot could prevent the subsequent treatment and complications. Creative Commons RGB Stock

Director of care Connie-Gail Crowder says a significant number of staff members have also received the vaccine. In fact, Rosebridge Manor has hosted in-house clinics, complete with cookies and juice offered to those who get vaccinated, to increase the number. At the time of this writing, about 92 per cent of staff members have had the shot.

OMNI Health Care is also encouraging staff members to get vaccinated. The organization is offering its homes draws for $25 gift Loblaws certificates. Every staff member who gets the flu shot will have their name placed in the draw.

Rosebridge Manor is also hoping to win a contest organized by the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, which is encouraging health-care providers in its catchment area by giving a Keurig coffee machine to the long-term care home, hospital or community health centre with the highest percentage of vaccinated staff members.

Education has also played an important part in achieving high numbers of resident and staff vaccinations, Crowder says. This has primarily been done by setting up information posters the health unit has provided.

Added benefit to flu shot

There may be an added benefit to the flu vaccination for those affected by heart disease, which is common amongst long-term care residents.

In a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers discovered that the flu shot in people who have recently had a heart attack reduces risk of a serious cardiac event by 55 per cent after being vaccinated.

Do you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway? If so, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have any feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

RPN underscores importance of flu shot

Country Terrace sees 90% vaccination rate

November 5, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

While getting the flu shot is an option for long-term care home residents, there are many benefits to getting vaccinated this time of year, says Country Terrace registered practical nurse (RPN) and infection control lead Brenna Slota.

For starters, the vaccination reduces the chance of a person contracting the flu, which in turn reduces the odds of an outbreak in a long-term care home. The vaccine is also proven to boost the human immune system, says Slota.

Getting the vaccination is especially important for residents 65 and older

Getting the vaccination is especially important for residents 65 and older. Creative Commons photo.

Even if you get the flu after having the vaccination, the symptoms will not be as severe because the body has developed a defence from the antibodies in the vaccine, she notes.

This also reduces the risk of pneumonia and hospitalization, the RPN adds.

Once again, OMNI Health Care and its long-term care homes are encouraging residents and staff members to get vaccinated this flu season. As the vaccination campaign is coming to an end at Country Terrace, the Komoka long-term care has had a 90 per cent vaccination success rate, Slota says, adding there are some people — both residents and staff members — who had the flu shot for the first time.

Slota takes time to engage residents and family members about the importance of flu vaccination in keeping people safe at the home. There is also an infection-control awareness week at the home every October and Slota uses this time to educate staff members about the flu shot.

Getting the vaccination is especially important for residents 65 and older, she adds.

There may be an added benefit to the flu vaccination for those affected by heart disease, which is common amongst long-term care residents.

In a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers discovered that the flu shot in people who have recently had a heart attack reduces risk of a serious cardiac event by 55 per cent after being vaccinated.

Do you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway? If so, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have any feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

How could the right-to-die issue impact long-term care?

Rona Ambrose and Provinces seeking solutions. Photo courtesy of RonaAmbrose.com.

Rona Ambrose and Provinces seeking solutions. Photo courtesy of RonaAmbrose.com.

Government interest could spark possibility of future change in laws

October 8, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

There’s been much talk recently among provincial health ministers about people’s right to die with dignity. While this conversation isn’t new, it has been getting a lot more attention, due to Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose sitting down last week with her provincial counterparts to discuss the issue.

While Ambrose reaffirmed that the government has no plans to change the Criminal Code to accommodate assisted suicide for people who are terminally ill, it cannot be ignored that the federal government’s willingness to hear input about the matter is signalling the possibility that the tide could one day turn.

Increased discussion within government was triggered by a law proposed in Quebec’s National Assembly that would allow doctors to help terminally-ill patients, under specific circumstances, end their lives if they chose.

But how could this impact the long-term care sector?

Clearly, there’s a balance to be struck. Promoting quality of life is a cornerstone of long-term care providers’ values and culture. Moreover, long-term care homes are committed to upholding people’s dignity. But what about the dignity of a person who is terminally ill, and how can dignity be upheld if a person is not allowed to die the way they choose?

There’s no simple, one-size-fits-all answer here. But the right-to-die question is something the sector needs to ponder, since any given long-term care home has many people living with terminal illnesses, from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease to neurological illnesses.

Something else to consider is the fact that long-term care homes are today seeing an increased number of residents with serious complex-care issues uncommon to long-term care in years past — homes are now admitting residents with terminal illnesses such as Huntington’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

These are illnesses that have considerable impact on a person’s dignity and quality of life. In countries that allow physician-assisted death under certain circumstances, such as Switzerland, the patients often have these illnesses.

Naturally, the right-to-die issue raises controversy; after all, doctors are legally and morally tasked with prolonging people’s lives, not helping end lives. The question to be asked is this: is the current system helping or hindering patients if prolonging a terminally-ill person’s life against their will is decreasing their life quality? As caregivers in long-term care homes, how could allowing physicians to assist people in the dying process affect you?

If you would like to comment on this issue, please e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca, or call 800-294-0051, ext. 23.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Cold and flu season is here

‘It only takes 20-30 seconds of your time to clean your hands’

October 31, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

With the arrival of cold and flu season comes the reminder of how important proper hand hygiene is in the effort to keep residents and staff members safe in long-term care homes.

Twenty to thirsty seconds of handwashing? Priceless. Thanks to healthandlifestyle.ca for the photo.

Twenty to thirsty seconds of handwashing? Priceless. Thanks to healthandlifestyle.ca for the photo

Long-term care home residents can be particularly vulnerable to infections. While homes are equipped with many hand-sanitizers and staff members do their best to keep their hands clean, it’s worthwhile, especially this time of year, to remind people about proper hand-washing techniques.

While environmental services departments work tirelessly to keep tables, doorknobs, handrails and other commonly-touched areas of long-term care homes clean, the most important defence is keeping hands bacteria free.

The Health Canada website explains proper hand-washing techniques:

– Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand cleansers are useful when soap and water are not available. In most cases antibacterial soap is not necessary for safe, effective hand hygiene.
– Remove any hand or arm jewellery you may be wearing and wet your hands with warm water. Add regular soap and rub your hands together, ensuring you have lathered all surfaces for at least 15 seconds — approximately the length of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday.”
– Wash the front and back of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under your nails.
– Rinse your hands well under warm running water, using a rubbing motion.
– Wipe and dry your hands gently with a paper towel or a clean towel. Drying them vigorously can damage the skin.
– Turn off the tap using the paper towel so that you do not re-contaminate your hands. When using a public bathroom, use the same paper towel to open the door when you leave.
– If skin dryness is a problem, use a moisturizing lotion.

Oct. 21-25 was International Infection Control Week. The week, which has been recognized since 1988, is aimed at raising the awareness of ways to prevent infections in health-care environments.

“Cleaning your hands is an ordinary procedure and does not take a lot of time and effort,” the Community and Hospital Infection Control Association of Canada says in a statement.

“You can use soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub. It only takes 20-30 seconds of your time to clean your hands.”

Just Clean Your Hands, a Public Health Ontario initiative has education and training information for long-term care homes looking for ways to maximize hand-hygiene practices. Click here for the website.

What is your home doing to promote hand hygiene? If you have a story you would like to share, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

OMNI LEA wins prestigious caregiver award

‘At the end of each day I feel like it’s my life that has been enriched by the residents,’ says Kellie Bennett

October 29, 2013 — Deron Hamel

It may be Kellie Bennett’s job to enrich people’s lives but she says it’s her life that’s made better through her work with Garden Terrace residents.

Garden Terrace LEA Kellie Bennett (centre) is seen here after winning the 2013 Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award.

Garden Terrace LEA Kellie Bennett (centre) is seen here after winning the 2013 Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award.

A life enrichment aide (LEA) at Garden Terrace, Bennett was honoured on Saturday (Oct. 26) with the 2013 Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award. It was presented in Ottawa during the You and Me for Memories Evening to Remember Gala.

“At the end of each day I feel like it’s my life that has been enriched by the residents,” she tells the OMNIway. “This means the world to me; I’m very honoured.”

The Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award is given out annually at gala to front-line caregivers in the Ottawa region who have shown outstanding performance in caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.

While she says she’s “honoured” to have won the award, Bennett notes the impact has yet to sink in. As happy as she is to have won the award, Bennett says she’s even more proud that the selection committee chose a life enrichment worker, adding LEAs play a major role in the lives of long-term care residents who have dementia.

Bennett was nominated for the accolade by administrator Carolyn Della Foresta. Like Bennett, Della Foresta comes from a life enrichment background and knows first-hand the difference LEAs make in residents’ lives.

Della Foresta nominated Bennett because of the LEA’s personalized approach to working with residents affected by cognitive impairment. The administrator saw that when Bennett worked with residents they would often enjoy an activity they didn’t think they wanted to do, simply because of Bennett’s kind, caring approach.

“With Kellie, nothing is done for show — every decision that is made in her day is about what is good for the residents,” says Della Foresta.

You and Me for Memories is a grassroots group raising money for Alzheimer’s disease research. It was started in 2008 by families of Garden Terrace residents.

This year saw three front-line workers from OMNI Health Care long-term care homes. They were Bennett, Garden Terrace personal support worker Birru Firew and Almonte Country Haven LEA Jessica Lynch.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Ont. doctor underscores importance of end-of-life care plan

Summary explaining futility of aggressive treatment in some cases would help people make informed decisions

October 28, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

The chair of the Ontario Medical Association’s section on general internal medicine is suggesting health-care stakeholders develop a written summary of end-of-life goals and information explaining the futility of aggressive treatquality-endoflife-care_630x440ment in some cases to enhance palliative-care practices.

In the commentary section of the Toronto Star on Oct. 24, Dr. Charles S. Shaver offers an interesting solution to a challenge found in the health-care system: that a group of doctors, nurses, ethicists and spiritual leaders could convene to draft a summary that would help physicians talk with families to help them make better end-of-life care decisions when their loved ones have no chance of survival.

Once completed, the information could be translated into several languages and sent to Canadian hospitals from coast to coast.

The issue of family members insisting on resuscitating their loved ones who have no chance of survival is often rooted in cultural and religious differences, Shaver points out.

In other cases, Shaver writes, a person’s son or daughter who lives far away from their parent has feelings of guilt and will insist that doctors use aggressive treatment to prevent their mother or father from dying.

However, having information available explaining how aggressive treatments to individuals who are dying can often be detrimental could help ease these situations when they arise, Shaver proposes.

“A physician dealing with a difficult situation — especially when the patient is of a different ethnic background — could speak to family members, hand out this document for them to discuss among themselves, and then meet again to make a more reasoned end-of-life decision,” he writes.

Shaver adds: “Communication would be further enhanced if the physician could enlist the help of a physician, nurse, pharmacist, etc. who was of the same cultural group as the patient, and could meet with family members and answer any questions in their own language.”

In his commentary, Shaver proposes that the Canadian Medical Association could scrutinize the process to prevent the information as being perceived as a tool to save money in provincial health budgets.

Obviously, this is an issue the long-term care sector has a stake in. If you would like to comment on this issue, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Click here to read Shaver’s full commentary.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.