Laundry aide handles residents’ clothes with TLC

Debbie Meiklejohn earns Burnbrae’s ‘Everyday Hero’ award

ORILLIA, Ont. – Whether they need a pair of delicate stockings laundered or just want to say hello, residents often poke their heads into the doorway of environmental services to see Debbie Meiklejohn. Read more

Diabetes program earns OMNI innovation award

Program enhancing quality of life for long-term care residents

A comprehensive diabetes program launched by OMNI Health Care in 2013 to enhance quality diabetes care for nursing-home residents across Ontario has earned recognition from the Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA).

OMNI was awarded the Innovation of the Year award for the program during the OLTCA’s June 5 Quality Innovation Forum in Toronto.

At the centre of the program is a group of evidence-based order sets addressing several aspects of diabetes care, including nursing assessment, dietary and foot care, and sick-day management. The assessments can be used when residents enter long-term care homes as part of the admissions process.

Diabetes is a serious issue in long-term care, and its impact on quality of life is profound: fluctuating blood sugar brought on by diabetes can cause falls and the disease also poses challenges for wound care. Diabetes can also lead to cardiovascular disease and stroke.

By having better control of diabetes, residents can avoid hospital visits, which in turn improves quality of life while helping reduce the burden on the acute-care system.

The protocols developed are also designed to save time.

For example, a hypoglycemic event can take more than two hours to correct. If a hypoglycemic event happens when there’s a staff shortage, it compounds the stress level and can prolong treatment. But with the protocols, team members can quickly assess the situation and resolve it in a timely manner.

In the case of a hypoglycemic event, this can have tremendous impact on the person. Research indicates elderly people often have heart attacks or strokes within eight weeks of a hypoglycemic event due to its impact on the body.

By responding quickly or even eliminating the risk, there’s a large-scale trickle-down effect, says Shawn Riel, OMNI’s chief operating officer.

“The more events that we can eliminate, the better quality of life residents will have, and the lower health-care costs will be,” she says.

OMNI received a grant from Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd. and Eli Lilly (Canada) Inc. in February 2013 to help make the strategy possible.

Assessments were done in each of OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes in areas including hypoglycemic events, numbers of residents with diabetes, and the time required to resolve issues related to diabetes.

A collaborative effort between registered staff members and community partners, including hospitals, clinicians and dietitians, made the order set a reality.

Medications were also assessed to find the pharmaceuticals that work best with the over-65 population. Every quarter a review is conducted to determine the success of interdisciplinary interventions on residents.

As part of the program, new protocols and strategies, including medications, were initially piloted at two OMNI homes, Riverview Manor in Peterborough and Pleasant Meadow Manor in Norwood. The program was then rolled out to OMNI’s other 16 long-term care homes.

One of the initiative’s greatest successes is that long-term care homes from outside the OMNI family are starting their own comprehensive diabetes programs focused on replicating OMNI’s successes, explains Riel.

“We’re hoping to help as many residents who live with diabetes in long-term care as possible to get more thorough assessments and receive better interventions to help them live a quality life,” Riel says.

OMNI president and CEO Patrick McCarthy emphasizes the efforts that went into developing this program.

“There were hundreds and hundreds of hours of work, reaching out to engage the physicians locally and to work with registered staff and administration at the homes to make sure that we got it right and to listen to any constructive feedback that we were able to get,” he says.

“We were able to get the documentation of statistics to help support the need for change and to really make it work from that perspective.”

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

Administrator has ‘changed Streamway Villa around significantly’

Kylie Szczebonski receives Inspired Leader award

In the three years since Kylie Szczebonski joined the Streamway Villa team, the Cobourg long-term care home’s administrator has shown top-notch leadership qualities that have made her the ideal recipient for this year’s Inspired Leader award, says Christina Verleysen.

Verleysen, Streamway Villa’s life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC), says Szczebonski has “changed Streamway Villa around significantly” through several policies and procedures she has spearheaded or helped bring to the home.

At the top of this list is her involvement with implementing Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) at Streamway Villa.

BSO is a $40-million provincial initiative to help enhance quality of life for seniors affected by dementia and other conditions that cause agitation. The funding, which is provided to long-term care homes through the province’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks, is largely put towards staff education.

Since Streamway Villa began its involvement with BSO in 2012, the home has seen a significant decrease in aggressive behaviours from residents affected by cognitive impairment, Verleysen points out.

In fact, during a one-month period in 2012, the home saw a 50 per cent reduction in responsive behaviours, including aggression, wandering, physical resistance and agitation.

“BSO was a huge thing,” Verleysen tells The OMNIway. “She (Szczebonski) went to head office and she helped with implementing of BSO. Our behaviours have decreased significantly since BSO was implemented.”

In addition to the policies she’s helped implement at Streamway Villa, Szczebonski has shown strong leadership by way of example, Verleysen says.

“She always has an open-door policy and she’s a very hard worker,” the LEC says. “She’s a very strong leader in that if you are unsure of anything you can go to her and she usually has the answer.”

Szczebonski and team members from 16 other OMNI Health Care long-term care homes were presented with Inspired Leader awards May 7 during the second annual Awards and Recognition Night at Fern Resort. The presentation was part of OMNI’s annual managers’ forum.

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)

Fun, laughter and beautiful weather mark OMNI golf tourney

FRASERVILLE, Ont. – Participants in OMNI Health Care’s 21st annual golf tournament couldn’t have asked for better late-spring weather. The day was also full of fun, laughter and networking opportunities for everyone.

Held June 6 at Baxter Creek Golf Club in Fraserville, Ont., the nine-hole, best-ball tournament attracted OMNI team members and the organization’s corporate partners.

A post-golfing luncheon included a prize draw and a 50-50 draw to raise money for OMNI’s Hope Fund, which provides financial assistance to any OMNI team member facing a personal crisis.

This was marketing consultant Chris Brockington’s fifth time golfing in OMNI’s tournament. He says he keeps coming back to the event for the people and the fun, but also because it’s the perfect way to cap off a week.

“I like that it’s always on a Friday and it’s nine holes — it’s a fun day of golfing and you get to leave at a decent time,” he says. “It’s a phenomenal event.”

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

‘Inspired Leader’ transforms residents’ breakfasts, dietary department

Burnbrae Gardens ‘proud’ to have Adam Brand on its team

ORILLIA, Ont. – From frying eggs residents rave about to motivating employees by example, Burnbrae Gardens is grateful to have Adam Brand on staff. Read more

Home’s salmon dish exemplifies LTC kitchens’ modern face

Garden Terrace culinary creation shows the high quality residents expect

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 — Deron Hamel

Garden Terrace nutritional care manager Dawn Cameron points to a salmon dish recently served to residents for dinner as an example of the fine cuisine prepared in the kitchen at the Ottawa-area long-term care home.

Cook Isioma Okolie plated the salmon with a Dijon mustard and orange glaze and an orange slice for garnish. The result was a dish that could have been served in a high-end restaurant.

Garden Terrace cook Isioma Okolie’s Dijon mustard-orange glazed salmon

Garden Terrace cook Isioma Okolie’s Dijon mustard-orange glazed salmon

“He layers all his food, so it’s not side-by-side; it’s got height,” Cameron explains, adding residents liked the presentation and enjoyed the meal. “It was really colourful.”

It’s this type of high-quality, from-scratch cooking that’s the modern face of long-term-care home cooking, she adds.

Cameron underscores the importance of food to people living in a long-term care home. For many residents, food is the one thing in their lives they have full control over — and they expect their dining experiences to be high quality.

“If the food isn’t appetizing, they’re not going to eat, which leads to other health problems,” Cameron explains. “So, it’s important to give the residents the food they want to eat while following the standards we need to follow and making the food appetizing for them.”

While long-term care chefs and cooks need to follow ministry standards when preparing meals, there are still opportunities for creativity, says Cameron, who began her career in hotel and restaurant management. She chose a career in long-term care because she enjoys working with seniors.

On a recent episode of Top Chef Canada, judges disparagingly remarked to two contestants who were being eliminated from the cooking reality show that their culinary creations resembled “nursing-home food.”

Chris Weber, OMNI Health Care’s operations manager of nutrition and food services, wants to show the world just what “nursing-home food” really is and how chefs and cooks working in the long-term care sector can produce top-quality dishes as good as anyone.

Using the hashtag #NursingHomeFood on social-media networks Twitter and Facebook, Weber and The OMNIway are collaborating in the coming weeks to showcase some of the top-notch food being prepared at OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes.

Cameron says she would like food experts to look at the kinds of foods being served outside the restaurant industry so they can see that there high standards throughout the food-service industry.

“I think they need to broaden their horizons to see what is going on in our field,” she says.

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)

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

Sylvia Sanders named Pleasant Meadow’s Inspired Leader

‘She is the glue that holds our home together,’ says colleague who nominated her

If there’s one thing Pleasant Meadow Manor office manager Sylvia Sanders does well it’s keeping everything at the Norwood long-term care home running like a proverbial well-oiled machine.

It’s for this reason that Susan Towns, Pleasant Meadow Manor’s clinical care/RAI co-ordinator, nominated Sanders for the home’s Inspired Leader award.

“She is the glue that holds our home together,” Towns says of Sanders.

In her nomination to OMNI Health Care home office, Towns cited Sanders’ key strengths. Her organizational skills, Towns says, are top-notch and, in her role as office manager, she ensures the home is staffed in all areas, and also offers “insightful discussion” in situations where different points of view are needed.

“She can handle any situation that arises, staying calm, cool and collected at all times, and I can’t imagine the home without her,” Towns says.

Another important strength Sanders brings to the table is her strong ability to communicate, Towns says.

“She’s a great communicator — she has a way of communicating with people that makes them understand things from a different point of view,” she says.

OMNI Health Care’s Inspired Leader award is presented to staff members from each of OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes. The accolade recognizes people who demonstrate outstanding leadership and dedication to their work. This year’s Inspired Leader awards were presented at OMNI’s managers’ forum at Fern Resort in Orillia in early May.

Sanders is the only office manager to receive an Inspired Leader award this year. Towns says the leadership role office managers play in a long-term care home is largely behind the scenes, so their work might sometimes go unnoticed.

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)

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

Prom season comes to Maplewood

Brooke Parker makes her grandfather’s day

It’s that time of the year when high-school students are having their proms. For East Northumberland Secondary School student Brooke Parker, it was important her grandfather, George, got to see her dressed up for her big day, so she stopped by Maplewood en route to her prom on May 23.

George is a Maplewood resident, and the Brighton long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Rachel Corkery says Brooke showing up for a visit made her grandfather’s day. Brooke’s grandmother, Jackie, was also at the home that day.

“Brooke was so beautiful, and it meant a lot to George and Jackie,” Corkery says of Brooke’s visit.

This, Corkery adds, is an example of the great things that happen all the time at Maplewood. She adds that George and Jackie’s family, like many others at Maplewood, make sure their loved ones living at the home are included in special moments like this.

There’s a humorous postscript to this story, Corkery says. East Northumberland Secondary School’s prom parade always passes by Maplewood, so residents and staff members braved the wet, rainy day by wearing plastic garbage bags to keep dry when the students went by at 4:30 p.m.

“But this year they passed by at four o’clock,” the LEC chuckles.

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