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Springdale residents’ council replaces presidency with ‘executive team’

From left to right, Springdale Country Manor residents Juanita Blake, Elizabeth Burton and Noreen Chandler have found a new way to empower all members of the home’s residents’ council.

Move aimed at making council meetings more democratic

Springdale Country Manor’s residents’ council is taking a new approach to make the group more democratic.

Rather than having a president, the group has decided to make the entire council an “executive team.” Their reasoning is simple: residents want everyone to feel equally involved in decision making.

Elizabeth Burton, a past president of Springdale’s residents’ council, says she prefers the team approach to running the council.

Elizabeth says when the group has a president, residents might feel obligated to go along with the president’s ideas. However, when it’s a group-led approach, people feel more comfortable expressing their thoughts.

Meetings, she says, are more interactive these days.

“Everybody is satisfied this way, and you don’t this feeling of ‘she’s the boss’ during meetings,” Elizabeth tells The OMNIway. “And I think that’s the way it should be.”

Life enrichment co-ordinator Candice Stewart has acted as the primary assistant during residents’ council meetings. One of the things she has worked to instil in the group is the importance of residents being self-advocates.

“I see them becoming more independent and taking on council meetings for themselves, with staff members being there only as assistants,” Candice says.

A group-led approach to residents’ council, she says, is a good way to promote self-advocacy.

“If residents want something, they have to say something. If they see something that doesn’t seem right, they have to say something,” she says. This is their home first, so educating residents that this is their home first has been a big thing.”

Planning resident outings are an important function of residents’ council meetings. Council member Juanita Blake says it’s important everyone on the council feels comfortable providing ideas and advocating for the activities they would like.

“Spring is coming, and we want to get out of the home when the weather starts getting nice and find places to go, so planning outings is important (to council members),” Juanita says.

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.com.

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

Streamway Villa residents pay it forward

Residents’ council member Barb LeBlanc (centre) visits   with the life enrichment team’s Christina Verleysen (left) and Lynette Sandercock.

Residents’ council member Barb LeBlanc (centre) visits
with the life enrichment team’s Christina Verleysen (left) and Lynette Sandercock.

Council helping people near and far

January 29, 2014 — Lisa Bailey

Streamway Villa residents understand what it is to give back, and act on it.

At their first meeting of 2014, members of the residents’ council were ecstatic to learn that council’s $300 donation to the Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts in the Philippines was matched by OMNI Health Care and the federal government.

The council also discussed the Christmas gifts they purchased for two local children in need through the Northumberland Mall Giving Tree program. The idea came from council vice-president Barb LeBlanc in consultation with other residents.

Supporting the Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts was sparked by an e-mail from OMNI president and CEO Patrick McCarthy.

Giving to both of these initiatives was made possible through the annual Christmas bazaar held at the Cobourg long-term care home as well as other fundraising activities benefitting the residents’ council fund.

“2013 was the first year that we’ve ever donated money back into the community,” life enrichment co-ordinator Christina Verleysen says, noting it’s because the community “gives so much to us.”

Family and community members support the bazaar as well as the yard sales, social teas and annual carnival. Many donations are also made by families when their loved ones pass away.

This support is a reflection of the closeness that envelops the small home and community as well as the desire to make a difference.

“Being such a small home in such a close-knit community, we’re very fortunate that we have the relationship of a big family rather than a long-term care home,” Verleysen says. “I have 59 grandparents here and it doesn’t matter whether they came yesterday or when I first started, they are grandparents to me. And that’s how a lot of our staff members perceive our residents as well so the care is above and beyond.

“We’re very fortunate that we’re able to give to community when we can and still have money to do what we need to do here,” she says.

This includes activities and outings that enhance residents’ quality of life. For instance, residents’ council has decided this summer’s trip will be to a Toronto aquarium and they’re looking for an educational program featuring exotic animals to make a return visit to Streamway Villa.

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.

Residents’ council helps to make Streamway Villa home

Streamway Villa residents' council president Barb LeBlanc (left) says the home is "like a family."

Streamway Villa residents’ council vice-president Barb LeBlanc (left) says the home is “like a family.”

Summer outing in the works

Monday, January 20, 2014 — Lisa Bailey

To be heard and respected is important to Barb LeBlanc who, as a long-time member of Streamway Villa’s residents’ council, has helped to enrich the lives of residents at the Cobourg long-term care home.

“At one meeting, we asked why not have bacon and eggs for supper instead of breakfast,” she says, citing an example of one change that’s come about. “People do that (at home), so now they do that (here). Actually we’re having bacon and eggs tonight for supper, so even little things like that they’ll go out of their way to do for us.”

LeBlanc, who is the council’s vice-president, will go around and talk to other residents, taking notes from their conversations and bringing their ideas, concerns or questions to the table. She says she enjoys the interaction and appreciates the opportunity and forum to express opinions freely.

“This is a great home,” LeBlanc says. “We’re like a family, we know everybody, and because we live here, we’re allowed to voice our opinion.”

Council discussions can touch on any area of the home; the respective managers receive notes from the meeting and have 10 days to respond to questions or concerns, and their responses are posted publicly in the home.

The process is part of new ministry standards, which life enrichment co-ordinator Christina Verleysen says is a positive change. “It’s so they know we’re trying to make a difference,” she says.

Residents’ council also discusses future events, and at their first monthly meeting of 2014, Streamway Villa’s council decided to visit Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada in Toronto for this summer’s group outing.

“It’s definitely a highlight for 2014,” Verleysen says, noting the idea of the aquarium visit piqued strong interest because it is a new attraction that no one at the home has seen.

This is the second year that Streamway Villa has planned a summer group outing; last June, 19 residents accompanied by six staff volunteers attended a Toronto Blue Jays’ home game. It was a refreshing change of pace for residents as well as staff members, who were singing and enjoying one another’s company, Verleysen says.

“It was the best day,” she says, adding the staff volunteers’ teamwork was amazing, and the residents’ renewed spirits bumped up their social interaction and participation in the home’s activities following the trip.

The annual summer outing was inspired by Streamway Villa’s make-a-wish program, which LeBlanc brought to residents’ council after seeing the positive impact made by granting a resident’s last wish to attend a Toronto Blue Jays’ game.

“We started a wish box and we found that so many people wanted the same wish, we thought we would make this bigger and combine a lot of residents’ wishes in one day,” Verleysen says.

All of these collaborative efforts serve to enhance residents’ quality of life, which is the best possible result.

“We’re here to make a difference,” Verleysen says.

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.