Program cuts time, money in long-term care

A resident who recently moved into Almonte Country Haven arrived with a serious ulcer, one that threatened to deteriorate and cause major mobility, pain and medical complications.

Thanks to quick, efficient service by the physiotherapist, the resident was fitted with a custom wheelchair with devices that allowed him to be mobile enough that the ulcer was able to heal.

That’s the kind of example registered physiotherapist Gary Rahan gives when he talks about the service physiotherapists in long-term care settings can provide.

“That’s one example; there are hundreds,” he says.

The assistive devices program covers seniors in long-term care for wheelchairs, walkers, backrests and custom cushions, and it licenses occupational and physiotherapists to provide the service.

The process starts when the nursing staff identifies a need. Then the physiotherapist calls together the resident or the power of attorney, and a vendor chosen by the resident. A 30- to 60-minute assessment for needs and fitting is done, and the vendor fills the order.

The next step is for crucial usage information to be assessed. As the resident uses the device, minor adjustments are made on site, or the vendor does reassessment. Only once the device is suited perfectly to the resident is funding approval sought from the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.

Approval can take between four and 12 weeks, and 75 per cent of the device is covered by the government. The rest falls to private insurance for the few residents who have it, or to the resident’s own pocket. With costs for a wheelchair at up to $5,500, the payment can be significant, and often limiting.

“At least that is the only cost the resident might incur,” Rahan says, adding it is important to remember that seniors are often struggling financially.

In the past, when Community Care Access Centres provided the service for the assistive devices program, Rahan says many residents suffered long wait times and opted for an assessment by a private physiotherapist, at an additional cost of up to $400.

Again, the cost can be limiting for many residents, and the alternative — waiting — can be physically painful and ultimately medically threatening.

“An ulcer can develop within days. By the time the seating options are ready, the ulcer could have become much worse,” Rahan says.

“The way the system is now, residents are not waiting that long,” Rahan says.

“This is our way of giving back to the residents, adding this value to our service,” he adds.

The resident at Almonte Country Haven, like many, arrived with no wheelchair or walker following a hospital stay.  Within the first week, the resident had a loaner chair.

“We prevented a lot of grief for that resident,” Rahan says.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at  800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail jeanne(at)


Riverview goes rural

Farm animals engage 50 residents

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — The chatter wasn’t just from the clucking hens, or the baaing goat; it was as much from the residents of Riverview Manor who welcomed a mobile petting zoo complete with a lamb, goat, chickens, bunnies, a rooster or two and baby chicks.

As resident after resident touched and chatted to a bin full of baby chicks, another group of residents had a chance to get up-close and personal with the white duck that made its way around the group Aug. 15.


It was all part of a mobile farm afternoon organized for the Peterborough home by acting life enrichment co-ordinator Joanne Brown through Critter Visits, a local group that travels with its petting zoo to various celebrations.

“This event surpasses what I expected,” Brown says. “The residents are so obviously enjoying this.”

That was clear, not just from the smiles, but also from the number of residents who attended the event. As well, the chatter amongst them, or between them and the animals, was telltale.

One resident stunned many staff by her participation in the event. She was so involved in the petting zoo that she requested a chair so she could sit with the animals.

“The background is that some residents are slow to take part in group activities,” Brown says. “Not here, not today. It’s a whole different story, and it’s really nice to hear the other staff mention it.”

One staff member brought her two young children, so there were animal lovers of all ages in the garden.

That amused one resident specifically who said, “it’s so nice to see the children here too.”

Brown says while many residents have  a farming background, not all do.

“It’s entertainment for the residents. They love to just watch the  animals interact with one another, and they like to touch and feel them too,” she says.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at  800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail jeanne(at)

Physio restores dreams of ‘walking in the park’

No shortage of success stories in long-term care

For one Forest Hill resident, physiotherapy was a key element in breaking the sentence of forever having to use wheelchair.

For another, it offered the chance to return to activity after a knee replacement.

Still another faced giving up garden walks with her sister, until exercise and strategic physio services strengthened her body, and also her confidence, in walking.

These are just a few of the stories from Forest Hill in Kanata.

“We have lots of them,” says registered physiotherapist Andy Natarajan.

One of the most dramatic though is a woman who broke her hip. Following the surgery, it was evident to most that she would be using a wheelchair for the rest of her life. But some strategically designed exercises and careful monitoring of goals got her back on her feet. Now she is independent with a walker.

“Nobody expected that, not even family,” Natarajan says.

Another very active resident found herself in a predicament when she needed a knee replacement.

“All of a sudden she couldn’t go out, and that was really important to her,” Natarajan says, adding that exercise and, again, careful monitoring of goals, helped her regain her independence.

“She says now that it got her back her independence,” he says.

There are other stories, like the patient who likes to walk in the garden with her sister. Both have Huntington ’s disease, and spending the garden time together is important for many reasons. Unfortunately, for a time, one of the sisters had such difficulty with balance that she couldn’t walk without assistance. Now, though, through strengthening and balancing exercise, the sisters are again, walking together in the garden.

“Patients in long-term care have a major problem,” Natarajan says. “When we get old, we become deconditioned, our balance goes off, and we are at risk of falls. Everyone is different. So individualized treatment plans for each resident that are focussed and goal-oriented are crucial.”

This is one in a series of physiotherapy-related stories from our homes. If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at  800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail jeanne(at)

Community celebrated at Maplewood’s annual BBQ

Nice weather helps, too

July 19, 2013 — Jeanne Pengelly

If it weren’t for community sponsorship, the Maplewood barbecue just wouldn’t be the event it is.

Elvis provided the entertainment at Maplewood's annual barbecue. Photo Courtesy of OmniWay news.

Elvis provided the entertainment at Maplewood’s annual barbecue. Photo Courtesy of OmniWay news.

The event this year drew 66 guests, 49 residents and about 20 staff members.

For Tina King, who works at the barbecue every year, it’s a perfect opportunity to get involved with the residents, their families, other staff, and even members of the community.

“Every year, Tina tries to get everyone up dancing,” says life enrichment co-ordinator Rachel Corkery.

The barbecue is the largest event of the year for Maplewood. They hear feedback from residents, family and neighbours of the home for months afterward.

“If not for the community sponsorship, we would not be able to afford everything that goes into (the event). For instance the tent we get is given to us at a very low cost; otherwise I don’t know what we would do as tents this size normally cost about $1,000 to $1,500 to rent.

Donations from Sysco Foods, Mike and Lori’s No Frills and Downey Pharmacy help make the meal possible by keeping costs low, she says.

“Leading up to the BBQ the following year, we all remember the good times and memories of the years gone by,” Corkery says.

“We worry in the weeks before the event, we will have enough food? Will it be a success?  And it always is.”

Elvis, played by Matt Cage, is always in attendance at the barbecue, and a huge hit with the residents and their families.

This year, Mother Nature was also in attendance.

“I really think Mother Nature has a crush on Matt Cage, because as long as he shows up, she shows up with her best dress on,” Corkery says.

“At the end of the day all we are doing is having a big old family BBQ out on the back yard.”

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail jeanne(at)

Patient-centred care key at OMNI Health Care

Inspired Leaders at 17 Omni Health Care centers. Photo Courtesy of OmniWay.

Inspired Leaders at 17 Omni Health Care centers. Photo Courtesy of OmniWay.

Inspired Leaders identify keys to success

July 21, 2013 — Jeanne Pengelly

It doesn’t matter which of OMNI Health Care’s 17 homes you go to, or which of the Inspired Leaders you speak with, the message is the same: Being recognized for outstanding contributions to patient care is certainly a key to employee satisfaction.

This year, OMNI’s senior management team chose to let each home choose its own “inspired leader.” The choices were made by peers and colleagues, and the winners were celebrated at the managers’ retreat at FERN Resort in Orillia this spring.

Without exception, each of the winners has divulged what they consider the secret to their success, and to their satisfaction with their position at their own home.

April Faux, for example, at Burnbrae Gardens in Campbellford, starts her day saying hello to colleagues and stopping to chat with them. She does the same thing when the afternoon shift starts.

Faux is always ready to assist her peers when necessary, another quality that seems to rise to the surface in OMNI Health Care homes.

“Anywhere that I can help, I will jump in if I can, and they really appreciate that,” she says.

A theme clearly evident in the stories Inspired Leaders tell is that the culture of OMNI Health Care encourages individuality, innovation and respect.

“People need to know that their opinion is valid,” Faux says, “and getting people’s opinions and suggestions is (important.)”

Brian Lafantaisie, for example, is a cook at Forest Hill in Kanata. His job tends to be a lot of the same thing, repeated again and again — exactly the thing that leads him to seek solutions to minor and major inconveniences in the process of preparing residents’ food. Not only are his solutions appreciated, tested, and embedded in procedure, but his colleagues and his boss encourage him to find those answers that make things easier and more efficient for everyone.

Kentwood Park nutritional services manager Catherine Reid was first drawn to the home by the mission and values that put communication and patients first. Now she says Kentwood Park is a workplace unlike any other she’s experienced.

“When you come in here you feel like you’re at home,” says Reid, pointing to the culture of respect that clearly puts residents first.

Even at the small 66-bed home in Selby, Ont., the atmosphere is one of respect and love. Environmental services and office manager Jane Hughes speaks of the “family atmosphere,” something OMNI Health Care managers try to put front and centre.

If there is a way to bottle the formula these employees utilize on a daily basis, it would encompass a system of care that incorporates outgoing personalities seeking to create a safe, comfortable home for each resident. It’s a method of care that includes respecting colleagues and residents, encouraging opinion and suggestion and embracing change with a smile.

One resident at a time – recipe for care

In this video you will see life from the patient’s perspective.

Fern 2013 Streamway from The OMNIway on Vimeo.

Celebration of Life

Celebration of Life from The OMNIway on Vimeo.

Marilyn Colton speaks of life in Almonte

In the video we watch staff and residents participate in a celebration of life.

Taking time with time

Simple solutions make short work of bigger problems

Small problems gain critical mass if one does not present a rapid, workable solution.

Meeting Needs

Dealing with difficult situations and behaviour

In this video we hear about alternatives in behavioural assessment.

Fern 2013 Riverview from The OMNIway on Vimeo.

Cook has a recipe for success

Cup of positivity, few ounces of imagination = solutions galore

For someone who is most concerned with the preparation and presentation of food, Brian Lafantaisie has a remarkable knack of shaping far more than that.

He is a cook at OMNI Health Care’s Forest Hill in Kanata; Brian is also the Inspired Leader for that residence, and that’s because of the way he takes small inconveniences and turns them into great possibilities.

For example, simply preparing a week’s worth of washed and cut celery rather than cutting and cleaning it for each meal has saved time not just for the cooks, but for others.

His most recent foray into innovative solutions has to do with the way purees are served; instead of taking the time to individually wrap each small bowl, Lafantaisie suggested the bowls be taken to the residents’ units in steam trays, and served directly from there. It saves time in the kitchen, and again for the servers, whose job it was to unwrap each container for the resident.

They are small things, Lafantaisie says, but he’s known for the one to come up with the solution.

“I was honoured. I really was. I said, ‘You think I’m a leader, really?’ For me, I thought I was just doing my job because of the amount of experience I have, I was just passing it along to the next person. To win the award, I was like ‘Wow’,” he says.

Having been at Forest Hill since it opened 12 years ago, Lafantaisie says the job can be mundane at times. His favourite task is when he’s asked to create a buffet or a special event for the residents, such as the one a few weeks ago when a family member requested a function to show appreciation for the staff.

“That’s what gets my creative juices flowing,” he says, adding that he used to love catering.
In fact, the humble cook from Forest Hill’s kitchen once helped cater a party — including teaks to order — on Victoria Island in Ottawa for 5,000 people.  It showed him what was possible when you are organized and imaginative.

So what keeps a chef like that interested in a job where every Monday the meal includes pudding, and every Tuesday it’s roast beef? Moreover, what makes him so invested in his job that his colleagues would choose him as their Inspired Leader?

Lafantaisie says he thinks it’s his attitude.

“It is challenging at times because it’s monotonous. It’s always the same,” he says. “I guess it’s how you approach your job. Some people think, ‘Ugh,  I have to go to work again, ugh,’ but I try to challenge myself to do my job a different way, and I try to instil that in the other cooks.”

“I like to find new, easier, more efficient ways to do things. It took me 12 years to figure out the puree solution, but I figured it out,” he laughs.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail jeanne(at)