On the hunt for a fun intergenerational experience

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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)axiomnews.ca.

Dementia expert highlights impact of language on people

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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)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.

VIDEO: Antipsychotic medication: the exception, not the rule

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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

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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)axiomnews.ca.

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

Volunteer attests to the difference donating time makes

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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)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.

Pleasant Meadow Manor gives kudos to volunteers

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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.”
 
If you have feedback on this article or a story idea to share, please e-mail Natalie@axiomnews.ca or call the newsroom at 800-294-0051.

Journalist gives tips on how LTC homes should react to crisis

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From adverse events come opportunities to generate positive stories

Friday, April 4, 2014 — Deron Hamel

TORONTO – Opportunities often stem from a crisis and this is true for the long-term care sector, says André Picard. In fact, the Globe and Mail health reporter and columnist says long-term care homes and operators can use a crisis to promote the positive things they’re doing to bolster public confidence in the sector.

Picard was one of four panelists sharing thoughts on building public confidence in the long-term care sector as part of an April 1 session at the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA)/Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA) 2014 Together We Care convention and trade show.

Generally speaking, the media will latch on to a story and keep “poking away” at it, Picard says. He cites the Jan. 23 fire at the Résidence du Havre in L’Isle-Verte, Que., which claimed more than 30 lives, as an example. The oldest area of the building was not equipped with sprinklers and the media has thrown the spotlight on the need for mandatory sprinkler systems in all long-term care and retirement homes.

In Ontario, privately owned long-term care homes are mandated to be equipped with sprinkler systems in the next five years, while public homes have until 2025. Still, many long-term care homes have installed sprinkler systems. Picard says in the wake of the L’Isle-Verte incident, long-term care providers who have sprinklers could have contacted media and invited reporters to their buildings to showcase their fire-safety systems.

“There was a great opportunity there to tell the story of (how) ‘our home has had sprinklers for 35 years and here’s why,’ ” Picard says.

Another incident that drew a lot of negative media attention was the beating death of a 72-year-old resident at a Scarborough long-term care home by another resident in March 2013.

In this case, Picard says long-term care providers could have invited reporters to their homes to explain the staff training programs they have to prevent resident aggression. Homes should also encourage reporters to talk with family members to hear about their positive experiences.

“Those are stories that people want to hear, because when (reporters) do these (negative) stories they’re depressing and you do want to tell the other side of them,” he says. “The biggest opportunity is to feed off the news.”

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.

Keep reading the OMNIway for more stories about this panel discussion.

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)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.

Panel emphasizes value of strong community relations in LTC

Panelists are seen here discussing the issue of public confidence in long-term care during the OLTCA/ORCA Together We Care convention and trade show.

Panelists are seen here discussing the issue of public confidence in long-term care during the OLTCA/ORCA Together We Care convention and trade show.

These healthy relationships are crucial for public confidence

Thursday, April 3, 2014 — Deron Hamel

TORONTO – A panel of media and communications experts underscored the importance of long-term-care home providers having robust relationships with news organizations, the public and residents’ families, during the Ontario Long Term Care Association/Ontario Retirement Communities Association 2014 Together We Care convention and trade show.

Speaking during an April 1 segment, the panel, which was moderated by author and journalist Steve Paikin, emphasized that having healthy relationships with these parties is especially important for long-term care homes in the wake of an adverse event.

Strong, healthy relationships with communities and local media can have a positive impact on public confidence if an adverse event happens in a long-term care home, the panel agreed.

“I would bring people in whenever you can. Have community events. It provides discipline,” said Toronto-based communications and stakeholder relations expert Robert Waite. “If you’re doing that constantly, you’re going to be paying a lot of attention to the little things from the perspective of families, relatives and even the media.”

Health-care consultant Tom Closson agreed, adding that by inviting journalists into a long-term care home to show them how it operates demonstrates transparency and provides the media with a context of understanding the issues homes, staff members and residents face.

“If you help (the media) do their job, they’ll help you do your job,” Closson said.

Globe and Mail health reporter and columnist André Picard has engaged with long-term care homes as a journalist and a family member. Picard, whose parents both lived in long-term care homes, said his experience as a family member was positive. Speaking as a journalist, Picard said by showcasing the quality care they deliver, homes can build a strong reputation and trust with communities and media.

“If you take care of every single one of your clients, you don’t have to worry about your reputation; it’s going to be solid,” he said. “And if something does go wrong, it’s not going to be a big deal, because the context will be there (and) people will know your values are good, your business is good, and it won’t be a big issue.”

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.

Keep reading the OMNIway for more stories about this panel discussion.

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)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.

Willows Estate residents host Easter

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Seniors baking, attending church luncheon to mark holiday

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 — Natalie Hamilton

Willows Estate residents will be keeping family close this Easter by inviting them home.

The Aurora long-term care home is hosting an Easter Sunday tea.

In the coming weeks, residents and life enrichment staff will be going out of their way to make the holiday an occasion to remember.

“Most of our residents aren’t able to go out to their families’ homes,” says life enrichment co-ordinator Teddy Mazzuca.

“This is their home so it’s just like them inviting family members over.”

Life enrichment staff and residents, as part of the home’s ongoing baking program, will make Easter-themed sweets the day before the event and serve their desserts to loved ones. “It’s a nice afternoon,” Mazzuca says, noting she anticipates a good turnout from residents and families alike.

In addition to baking for the luncheon, residents will be getting their hands sticky by making hot cross buns to enjoy on Good Friday.

To mark the religious aspect of Easter, a group of eight to 10 residents are heading to the Anglican church in Aurora for a service and luncheon April 9.

Since members of the church visit the home on a monthly basis, residents have become acquainted and developed friendships with people from the congregation, Mazzuca notes. “We always get invited to the Easter service and luncheon at the church.”

If you have feedback on this article or a story idea to share, please e-mail Natalie@axiomnews.ca or call the newsroom at 800-294-0051.

Administrator emphasizes nothing is above, below or beyond in LTC

‘That’s why we’re here — we’re here to support’

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 — Deron Hamel

During the last Garden Terrace staff Christmas dinner, a personal support worker’s (PSW’s) pager went off, but when he excused himself to go tend to the resident needing his assistance, administrator Carolyn Della Foresta and another manager insisted they go instead.

This type of camaraderie is essential when you’re working in a long-term care home, says Della Foresta. In short, when you’re working in long-term care no job is too big or too small when it comes to caring for residents and when you’re a manager you need to be willing to step in and help those working on the floor, the administrator adds.

The culture of helping others and always being supportive of staff members is embedded in the DNA at the Ottawa-area long-term care home and at other OMNI Health Care homes.

“That’s why we’re here — we’re here to support,” Della Foresta tells the OMNIway. “We can’t lose sight of the support we need to offer (all staff members).”

In another recent example of this type of support, Della Foresta and assistant director of care Christine Schyf stepped in when a resident was in crisis. A doctor had requested the resident’s rings be removed from her fingers for a medical reason but the resident, who is affected by cognitive impairment, couldn’t comprehend this.

Della Foresta and Schyf stayed with the resident and helped the doctor remove the rings, which the resident had worn for years. Della Foresta and Schyf used supportive measures to redirect the resident’s attention.

“Afterwards, the resident’s daughter came up to us and said, ‘You guys went way above what we expected,’ ” Della Foresta says.

The next day Garden Terrace had a strategic planning meeting. During the meeting, Della Foresta wrote three words on a board: Above. Below. Beyond. These words refer to parameters, and no job should be above, below or beyond anyone working in a long-term care home, the administrator says.

“We have to do everything we can within our power to make this the best home possible and make sure we’re providing the best care,” she 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)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.