Kentwood Park honoured with community-service award

Kentwood Park residents pose for a photo with a community-service award the home recently received.

Kentwood Park residents pose for a photo with a community-service award the home recently received.

Honour comes as a surprise to the team

Monday, May 5, 2014 — Deron Hamel

When Kentwood Park life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Lisa Mills received a phone call from Community Living Prince Edward recently, inviting her and six residents to a breakfast, she thought it would be a great opportunity for an outing.

What she didn’t realize is that she and the residents at the Picton long-term care home were invited to the breakfast to receive a community-service award from Community Living Prince Edward, an organization advocating for the rights of people with developmental disabilities.

Mills, life enrichment aide Shannon McKinley and the residents accepted the invitation. They showed up for the breakfast, enjoyed their meal, and were “surprised” when they were called to the podium to accept an award, says Mills.

“We were sitting there thinking, ‘why are we here,’ and then boom, they call us up for an award,” the LEC tells the OMNIway, adding Kentwood Park was the only long-term care home to receive an honour that day.

“Receiving the award was an honour for our home and residents. Residents were very happy and surprised to receive this award.”

For several years, Kentwood Park has collaborated with Community Living. Through this collaboration, people accessing supports from Community Living Prince Edward visit the home one day each week to spend time socializing with residents, participating in activities with them and helping staff members with small jobs, like folding laundry.

Mills says this collaboration brings value to residents and the people accessing Community Living Prince Edward’s services, because they benefit from the socialization and friendships made.

Kentwood Park also invites people from Community Living Prince Edward to many of the home’s events, such as barbecues.

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Volunteers front and centre in April


OMNI homes toast those who donate their time to help others

Friday, May 2, 2014 — Deron Hamel

Canada recently celebrated National Volunteer Week, and OMNI Health Care long-term care homes were once again in full form for the annual seven days of recognition of those who selflessly give their time to help others.

OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes took time during this week to say thank you to these important team members who enrich residents’ lives and help staff members increase their resident focus.

On April 8, Pleasant Meadow Manor hosted a luncheon to honour the Norwood long-term care home’s 25 volunteers.

Life enrichment co-ordinator Chris Garden says the home’s residents enjoy many benefits from the volunteers. Volunteers run Bible studies, help residents with bingo, do one-on-one programming and pitch in with special events ranging from outings to the home’s bazaar.

“They can be there for the residents when the staff can’t be,” Garden says, noting residents outnumber employees.

On April 10, Frost Manor also hosted a celebratory luncheon to recognize the Lindsay long-term care home’s approximately 40 volunteers who were served their meals by staff members.

Nutritional care manager Neil MacDonald was in charge of preparing the luncheon meal. MacDonald says this has been one of the main highlights for him since he started his position in February.

“It is quite a special event as it is our chance to thank these wonderful people for all that they do for our home and residents,” he says. “Volunteers are such an important part of our team here at Frost Manor, and it is difficult to express the amount of appreciation we have for them and the care and support they provide to our residents.”

MacDonald, who has also worked at Riverview Manor, has seen the difference that volunteers make in residents’ lives and for staff members. They’re a great help, for example, at special dining events such as luncheons and teas, and the connections they make with residents yield social, emotional and other benefits.

“It’s incredible, because I notice when I go and talk with a resident even for just five minutes in a day, how important it is to the resident and how much it makes them happy,” he says.

So why do people choose to volunteer at OMNI homes?

For Anne Russell, donating her time is a way to give back. Anne’s husband Graeme was a resident at Garden Terrace, and it was during this time she began volunteering. After Graeme passed away in 2011, she continued volunteering because she saw the dedication staff members have to residents and wanted to do her part to help the team at the Ottawa-area home.

“I felt I wanted to give back and there was no other place I’d rather be,” Anne says. “I know everybody, and everybody was so good to me and my husband, so I naturally want to give back to Garden Terrace.”

April 6-12 was National Volunteer Week. The week is dedicated to recognizing Canada’s 13.3 million volunteers for their dedication to their communities.

– with files from Natalie Hamilton and Lisa Bailey

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Hope, purpose, belonging and KFC

Outings help change public perception of long-term care: LEC

Thursday, May 1, 2014 — Natalie Hamilton

Rachel Corkery fondly recalls an outing where memories and conversations were shared over a bucket of KFC.

On this occasion, she was in the company of Maplewood residents in the tranquil setting of Presqu’ile Provincial Park.

The 49-bed Brighton long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) says when the residents get together in a community environment it’s no different than when she hangs out with her 30-something group of pals.

Outings, while enjoyable for residents and staff alike, also play an important role in demystifying existing perceptions about long-term care, the LEC says.

“I don’t know if people’s perceptions of long-term care and nursing homes are that of the old-style or the news is putting a bad spin on long-term care, but they see that we still enjoy the same quality of life in long-term care that somebody would who’s not living in long-term care.

“We still like to go out for drives. We still like to go out to restaurants with our friends. We still like to take a drive on a nice afternoon through the park and watch the waterfowl.

“All of these things kind of epitomize quality of life. Things don’t diminish when you move to long-term care.”

Corkery suspects some people perceive quality of life changes when seniors move into long-term care and outings help illustrate that isn’t the case.

The LEC recalls when she first started at Maplewood and she and the residents were enjoying a day and a picnic lunch at Presqu’ile in Brighton. After lunch, a few residents wanted to go for a walk along the lakefront. A fellow picnicker approached them and started a conversation. After learning about Corkery and the seniors, the park patron handed the LEC $20 so she could purchase an extra treat for the residents.

When asked why she thinks Maplewood receives such a gracious welcome in the community, Corkery says “I think it’s because (people) can see themselves (in long-term care) some day. The fact we’re still going out for a drive or going to a restaurant is an ordinary thing — things you and I take for granted — but it does make a difference.”

“I think once people see what it is that we do besides that (nursing) aspect, I think that changes people’s perceptions. They want to help. They think ‘wow, you’ve just enhanced that person’s quality of life.’ I think that’s why we have such a great reception.”

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Brighton home thanks community for hearty hospitality

Seniors receive royal treatment from local residents, employees

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 — Natalie Hamilton

From the Bingo players who keep an eye on residents’ cards to the restaurant servers who deliver a buffet-destined dessert directly to their table, the men and women of Maplewood are pampered “like royalty” by the long-term care home’s surrounding communities.

The hospitality can’t be beat, says Maplewood life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Rachel Corkery.

Corkery is expressing her gratitude for the reception residents and staff receive from the small towns nearby the 49-bed long-term care home in Brighton.

Maplewood just finished up its two-week turn with one of the OMNI vans.

“I started thinking about all of the trips and all of the experiences we’ve had with the OMNI van and how well we’re treated…anywhere we go in the local community,” Corkery tells The OMNIway. “I do my best to bring attention to the great community we are part of and myself and the residents always show our appreciation, but sometimes it just needs to go farther than that. It really needs to be said.”

For example, Corkery is giving a big shout-out to the staff at a restaurant in a small community about 15 minutes east of the home.

“At what is now our favorite restaurant, Pizza Hut  in Trenton, once again, we received the royal treatment. The staff are so personable and they now recognize us when we pull up,” Corkery says.

“We never feel rushed and it has now become tradition for them to bring us a platter of the cinnamon bun dessert directly to our table. Every time we go, we get treated more and more like royalty.”

It’s not one particular waitress alone, the entire team of servers makes the group feel special, she notes.

Maplewood also enjoyed a warm reception recently from the local Lions Club. Volunteers helped and catered to residents, Corkery says, adding, “when we left at intermission, the Bingo caller made a special announcement thanking us for coming out and inviting us back again.”

Fellow club patrons also kept track of residents’ Bingo cards after they left and requested the phone number of the long-term care home. “Though no one won, we did get a call from someone to let us know so that we weren’t left guessing,” the LEC notes.

“I shouldn’t be surprised when we are treated like this. When I first started at Maplewood, while on an outing to Presqu’ile Provincial Park, we were approached by another park guest and given $20 to be used for a treat for the group we had out.”

Residents took in a recent drive through Presqu’ile to observe how the waterfowl and park survived the winter. A Maplewood volunteer, whose family member previously lived at the home, and her friends chip in to purchase a season’s pass to the park for residents.

Corkery suspects the outings, while enjoyable for residents and staff alike, also help make the home’s fundraising efforts “the huge success they are.” All of the donations to the home and the proceeds from silent auctions support resident outings — a decision made by Maplewood residents’ council – “so that all residents have an opportunity to go out with no extra costs.”

Discover how outings are helping change the community’s perception of long-term care in an upcoming OMNIway story.

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On the hunt for a fun intergenerational experience


Pleasant Meadow Manor hosts 10th annual Easter celebration

Friday, April 25, 2014 — Lisa Bailey

Residents, staff members and their families found more than sweet treats at Pleasant Meadow Manor on Easter weekend.

There was also fun and fellowship for the Norwood long-term care home’s extended family, as they enjoyed the 10th annual Easter egg hunt.

“Easter is one of those occasions that is family time,” life enrichment co-ordinator Chris Garden says.

Balancing the deep and serious meaning of Easter with something light and appealing like the egg hunt engages all generations.

“It’s nice to have something where the kids are getting involved and excited and the adults are watching them have fun,” Garden says. “It just brings everybody together as one big family because after the hunt everybody gathers in different areas of the home and has their visit.

“So even if residents can’t get out to their families’ homes for Easter dinner, they’re still part of an Easter celebration,” Garden says.

Before the hunt, held on the sunny Saturday morning of April 19, residents helped staff members place treats inside plastic eggs that were then hidden around the grounds of Pleasant Meadow Manor, also with the help of residents.

Using the plastic eggs makes it easy for residents to participate, and reusing the eggs year after year is cost-conscious and environmentally-friendly, Garden says.

She initiated the Easter egg hunt so staff and their families could engage in an activity at the home and come together with residents for an intergenerational experience.

Approximately 30 youngsters, including residents’ and staff members’ grandchildren and great-grandchildren, participated in this year’s hunt.

“The residents just love watching the kids run amok,” Garden says. “They laugh because it takes so long to hide the eggs and it only takes maybe 10 minutes for them to be all scooped up.”

Garden, who brought her son and baby grandson to the event, says it’s also a chance for residents to see staff members outside of their caregiving role, as members of a family. “We talk about our kids and grandkids with residents all the time so it’s nice for them to be able to put faces to the kids,” Garden says.

“It makes it feel like even more of an extended family.”

Also present at the Easter egg hunt was the Easter Bunny, who had his photo taken with many people.

Seeing him, along with other longstanding Easter symbols, was also particularly special for residents with cognitive challenges. Garden saw them light up, indicative perhaps of a memory or something familiar. “It’s great to see that recognition,” Garden says.

Now that it’s become a much-anticipated tradition, the Pleasant Meadow Manor Easter egg hunt is likely to continue. Garden notes it continued even when she went to Maplewood, another OMNI home, for two years.

“Staff made sure it kept going,” she says, expressing gratitude for their effort and pledging to keep it going

If you have a story to share or feedback on this article, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 25, or e-mail lisa(at)

Dementia expert highlights impact of language on people


Dr. Sherry Dupuis sheds light on how people with dementia react to certain words

Thursday, April 24, 2014 — Deron Hamel

TORONTO – The language we use when referring to people with dementia directly impacts how the disease and those living with it are perceived. Therefore, we need to think carefully about the words we use.

This was dementia expert Dr. Sherry Dupuis’ message to caregivers attending a panel discussion on quality at the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA)/Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA) 2014 Together We Care convention and trade show.

Dupuis, an Alzheimer’s disease and dementia expert at the University of Waterloo, underscored that many people living with cognitive impairment are aware of negative language surrounding their condition – and hearing such language can have a detrimental impact.

Words like disruptive, screamer, wanderer, non-compliant and aggressive cast a light on the disease and not the person affected by it, Dupuis told the audience at the April 1 session. In short, Dupuis says that when these types of words are used to describe people living with dementia, their humanity is taken away. The picture we’re left with is not of a person but of a body to be managed.

“Persons with dementia are very much aware of the implications of this approach on their lives,” Dupuis explained. “The consequences (of using negative language) are profound and harmful in many ways.”

Through her research, Dupuis has heard first-hand from people living with dementia about the frustration they have surrounding language that negatively labels people.

“As one person with dementia said, ‘(People) think I can’t do anything. Until they get used to me (and see) what I can still do, many try to take over. (Caregivers) also give me meaningless activities, like tip over all the pens and pencils on the table, mix them up, and then ask me to sort them. That made me really angry. ‘ “

So what can be done to change the perception of people living with dementia? Dupuis says it all comes down to making simple adjustments to the words people use.

For instance, “hoarding” can become “collecting.” “Wandering” can be “exploring.”  Being “disruptive” can be changed to “communicating.”

“Words, gestures and actions have meaning,” Dupuis says.

The annual OLTCA/ORCA Together We Care convention and trade show, which ran March 31 to April 2, is Canada’s largest gathering of long-term care and retirement home professionals.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)
If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)

VIDEO: Antipsychotic medication: the exception, not the rule


Thursday, April 17, 2014 — Deron Hamel

Riverview Manor has firm policy surrounding the administration of antipsychotic medication to residents affected by dementia. These medications are used sparingly and only as a last resort when other non-medical interventions have not helped calm a person who is exhibiting aggressive behaviour.

In fact, only 12.28 per cent of residents are on antipsychotic medications at the Peterborough long-term care home. This is well below the provincial average of 31.5 per cent.

A recent article in the Toronto Star accuses Ontario long-term care homes of “drugging helpless seniors at an alarming rate with powerful antipsychotic drugs.” Not only is this not the case at Riverview Manor, but stories like this are detrimental to the entire long-term care sector. Riverview Manor staff members explain in this video.

Reducing unneeded antipsychotic usage a shared goal: McCarthy


Recent media coverage isn’t telling the whole story, says OMNI CEO

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 — Deron Hamel

OMNI Health Care is involved with several initiatives to reduce the administration of antipsychotic medication in its 18 long-term care homes, says president and CEO Patrick McCarthy.

Recent media coverage of antipsychotic medication administration in long-term care homes is fair, he says, but notes reporters had the opportunity to delve deeper into their subject rather than scratching its surface.

McCarthy cites a front-page story in the April 15 Toronto Star that refers to Ontario long-term care homes “drugging helpless seniors.” McCarthy says this is hyperbole, but credits the Star for spotlighting an issue that deserves attention across the health-care spectrum, in hospitals, psychiatric settings, the community and long-term care homes.

The Star article, entitled “Use of Antipsychotics Soaring at Ontario Nursing Homes,” referenced Woodland Villa as having 65 per cent of its residents on antipsychotic medications without citing the source. The number of residents prescribed these medications currently is, in fact, 42 per cent. This is still above the 2012 provincial average of 31.5 per cent, but OMNI is working to continue to reduce the number of residents on psychotropic medications at all its homes through programs such as OMNI flagship programs Quality Matters and Supportive Measures as well as the province’s Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) initiative.

Other OMNI long-term care homes are significantly below the provincial average for psychotropic medication administration, McCarthy notes. For example, Garden Terrace has a rate of 18.9 per cent of residents on antipsychotic medications without a corresponding diagnosis. The number is 21.3 per cent at West Lake Terrace.  Residents may be admitted on antipsychotic drugs from hospital or other settings, and time is needed to carefully assess alternative medication or non-medication interventions that maintain safety.

In fact, Riverview Manor in Peterborough is an example of an OMNI home with a quality plan to reduce PRN (pro re nata, or medications prescribed as needed) antipsychotics.

“(OMNI homes) are working to reduce the (administration) of PRNs where non-pharmaceutical interventions are effective, as well as working with physicians and psychiatric outreach teams to reduce regular administration of the prescription pharmaceuticals,” McCarthy tells the OMNIway.

“The pharmaceuticals are often low dosages, and are assessed for effectiveness and reviewed with the prescribing physicians on a regular basis.”

The article points to the issue but doesn’t mention what OMNI and other long-term care operators are doing to curb antipsychotic medication administration.

“We are taking action on a daily basis, including benchmarking against the use of antipsychotics, and developing robust plans in conjunction with the doctors who do the prescribing so that we can manage the use of antipsychotics,” McCarthy says.  Residents and families are informed and consent obtained,  and resident care plans are reviewed on a regular basis, involving residents and families.

Behavioural Supports Ontario

BSO, a $40-million provincial initiative to enhance quality of life for seniors affected by dementia and other conditions that cause agitation, has been successful at several OMNI homes with embedded staffing.

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 (pharmaceuticals given on an as-needed basis, which includes antipsychotics) medication administration dropped 34.4 per cent.

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

The Star article paraphrased McCarthy saying he attributed “a nurse shortage” to contributing to “an over-reliance on drugs to handle elderly patients with dementia.”

McCarthy says he never mentioned “a nurse shortage” but rather told the Star there are more effective ways of allocating resources to address aggressive behaviours in long-term care homes.

Investing provincially in BSO staffing embedded in homes, and providing front-line staff with BSO training is one such way, he says.

“We have found that we have had positive results where we have had embedded staff from Behavioural Supports Ontario, in terms of the administration of antipsychotics and a better way for allocating funding across the system that better recognizes the issue of behaviours,” McCarthy says.

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

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

Volunteer attests to the difference donating time makes

Garden Terrace

Although her mother is no longer a Garden Terrace resident, Donna Getz continues to give her time

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 — Deron Hamel

Donna Getz began volunteering at Garden Terrace when her mother was a resident at the Ottawa-area long-term care home. When her mother passed away in 2010, she continued to donate her time to residents because of the difference she says volunteering makes.

And Getz is not alone; there’s a group of other family members of former residents who has continued to volunteer.

Initially, Getz and the other volunteers began coming to Garden Terrace on Saturdays. Together, the family members would create activities such as crafts or reading programs for residents. What all the family members noticed, she says, is how happy this made residents.

What’s more, volunteering made the family members feel good, Getz says.

“You’re making them feel good and they in turn make you feel good,” she says tells the OMNIway, adding volunteers learn a lot from the residents in the process. “It’s almost like a history lesson in some ways, but it’s something very special. Some people don’t have anyone, and it’s good to let them know that someone cares.”

Another perk to volunteering at Garden Terrace is that the home has always been supportive of volunteers, empowering them to create their own programming, Getz says.

“They’ve always been very open for us to go in to do what we wanted to do with the people,” she says.

Getz says if she was approached by someone interested in volunteering in a long-term care home, her suggestion would be to pay a visit to Garden Terrace.

“I would invite them to come and join us for an evening just to see what we do and what a difference it makes in their lives and ours,” she says.

April 6-12 is National Volunteer Week. The week is dedicated to recognizing Canada’s 13.3 million volunteers for their dedication to their communities. Click here for more information.

Keep reading the OMNIway for more stories about Garden Terrace volunteers as well as volunteers from across the organization.

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

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

Pleasant Meadow Manor gives kudos to volunteers


Home hosts luncheon as part of National Volunteer Week

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 — Natalie Hamilton

From sharing the joy of music to maintaining long-standing friendships, volunteers are an integral part of the fabric at Pleasant Meadow Manor.

The 61-bed Norwood long-term care home is grateful for its crew of 25 volunteers and is hosting an April 8 luncheon in honour of the men and women who give generously.

Resident Jerry Farrow, president of the home’s residents’ council, will speak at the event.
“I will welcome them and thank them for volunteering,” Farrow tells the OMNIway.

“It’s very good of them to volunteer their time.”
April 6-12 is National Volunteer Week. The week is set aside to “recognize, celebrate and thank Canada’s 13.3 million volunteers.”

At Pleasant Meadow Manor, residents enjoy numerous benefits from having volunteers in the home, says life enrichment co-ordinator Chris Garden. Volunteers run bible studies, help residents with Bingo, visit one-on-one and pitch in with special events ranging from outings to the home’s bazaar.

“They can be there for the residents when the staff can’t be,” Garden says, noting residents outnumber employees.

She says the home appreciates having extra hands helping with activities and people with different skill-sets present. For instance, one volunteer plays the piano for residents.

“We have other volunteers who have known the residents for a really long time. It’s a small community and this is their way of staying connected to friends who are now residents and vice versa.”

During the luncheon, resident Jack Pryne, a former official volunteer at the home who still pitches in, is being celebrated with the rest of the volunteers.

Garden is weaving a meeting into the luncheon and taking the opportunity to update the volunteer handbook that is part of the new life enrichment manual from home office.

The home will treat volunteers to lasagna, Caesar salad, garlic bread, fruit and cake.

“It’s nice to recognize them and say thank you,” Garden says. “We do appreciate them and recognize they’re doing this out of the goodness of their hearts.”
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