OMNI receives final approvals to begin Woodland Villa redevelopment project

Renovations to expand the home from 111 to 128 beds will begin shortly

OMNI Health Care has taken initial steps towards beginning its redevelopment project to add 17 long-term care beds to Woodland Villa by carrying out preparatory work in anticipation of receiving the final approvals.

The project, which will increase the size of the Cornwall-area long-term care home from 111 beds to 128, is expected to begin shortly and be completed by December 2022, the original target date set when the project’s funding was approved by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in May 2018.

Several permits and approvals – both at the provincial and municipal level – must be obtained before long-term-care home redevelopment projects can move forward.

Construction was scheduled to start last spring at Woodland Villa; however, the global pandemic caused a setback because plans had to be created to ensure safety measures meeting Ontario’s COVID-19 precautions for workers were in place.

Once completed, the redeveloped Woodland Villa will have four spacious neighbourhoods where residents will live. There will also be wider hallways, more home-like dining and lounge spaces, and privacy for residents will be improved by replacing three- and four-bed wards with one- and two-bed rooms. The new design will also surround two courtyards, and there will be a large common area in the centre.

OMNI Health Care president and CEO Patrick McCarthy says the organization is pleased the redevelopment project is ready to begin.

“We are really happy to be underway and we are looking forward to the new Woodland Villa meeting the new design standards,” he says.

Woodland Villa is one of four OMNI long-term care homes to receive approval for redevelopment funding from the ministry.

Pleasant Meadow Manor has been approved for a redevelopment project to include 35 new beds, Almonte Country Haven will be awarded 17 beds and Country Terrace will be awarded eight new beds.

OMNI has also received ministry approval to build a new 160-bed Riverview Manor in Peterborough’s north end.

Final approvals for the Pleasant Meadow Manor and Almonte Country Haven redevelopment projects are expected to be received in the coming weeks, McCarthy says.

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The fair must go on

After the Norwood Fall Fair was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, the Pleasant Meadow team created their own version of the resident-favourite annual event

Since the Norwood Fall Fair has been cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Pleasant Meadow Manor hosted its own version of the annual 152-year-old event on Oct. 13.

Participating in the Norwood Fall Fair has become an important part of the culture at Pleasant Meadow Manor for residents over the years, so the life enrichment team wanted to keep up the tradition, explains Kim Williams, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

“Back in April, when the news that the Norwood fair had been cancelled, I presented the life enrichment team with the idea of holding our own fair day; we decided this would be a fun idea,” she tells The OMNIway.

The Norwood Fall Fair – which started in 1868 and had not been cancelled since the Second World War – features a midway, rides, vendors, and baking and crafts contests.

Every September, the residents start making crafts and baking pies, cookies and pastries for the fair. Virtually every year residents come away with prizes for their crafts and baking entries.

For Pleasant Meadow Manor’s version of the fall fair, the life enrichment team set up the activity room with fun games, including a “milk-the-cow” contest and bobbing for doughnuts.

“This created a lot of laughter from both the residents and staff members,” Kim says, adding the walls were decorated with some animals that would be found at the fair.

There were baking contests for both residents and staff members. Staff member Jeanette Davis won first place in all categories and was named Pleasant Meadow Manor’s Baker of the Year.

Staff served lemonade and baked goods made by the residents for treats, and there was even a candy floss machine.

“The residents said it really smelt like a fair,” Kim says.

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Frost Manor residents make special tree, enjoy turkey dinner to mark Thanksgiving

While it has been a challenging year, residents are still thankful for the important things

Although the global COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone for the past seven months, Frost Manor residents still feel blessed for many things and took time before the Thanksgiving holiday to reflect on what makes them most grateful.

The result was a paper “Thanksgiving tree” they made as a craft. Each of the leaves contains residents’ thankful thoughts.

“Some of the things they were thankful for were friends, family and thankful for the loving staff – it’s all about the people who are important to them,” Frost Manor life enrichment co-ordinator Lyndsay Burton tells The OMNIway.

Of course, no Thanksgiving would be complete without a traditional meal, so on Monday the nutritional care department served up a roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings, including mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

As with all mealtimes since the pandemic began, residents were served Thanksgiving dinner in two seatings for safety. There are also Plexiglas dividers between residents so they can still share meals while adhering to social distancing requirements.

There was also a special Thanksgiving-style bingo where team members gave away treats as prizes. Residents played to win chocolate bars, potato chips, Cheezies, word search books or plastic jewelry.

“It was a different Thanksgiving this year, but the residents still enjoyed it,” Lyndsay says.

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Willows Estate card group thrilled to playing kings in the corner again

After seven months, the group ‘wasted no time’ in starting up again, says LEA

Recently, for the first time since the global COVID-19 pandemic began, a group of dedicated resident card players at Willows Estate were given the green light to resume playing their favourite game, kings in the corner.

“The group hasn’t been able to play together in so long, given the circumstances surrounding the pandemic,” Willows Estate life enrichment aide (LEA) Azaria Kanda tells The OMNIway.

“When our director of care, Allan (Nixon), gave the thumbs-up to gather small groups back to enjoy card night, they wasted no time signing up to join in for a fun playtime.”

Azaria says playing cards has many benefits for residents of the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home.

“Beyond being a fun pastime, it is also a time for this group particularly to catch up on various happenings in their lives, family, friends, and of course, a little dose of gossip,” Azaria says with a chuckle.

The group recently welcomed a new member into the fold, resident Anthony Smallman. While Anthony had not played kings in the corner before, the residents who are more seasoned in its rules have been taking time to teach him, and his progress is coming along, Azaria says.

“The group, which is predominantly ladies, has been instrumental in not only teaching Anthony the game but also patiently allowing him to learn it, Azaria says.

“He now plays it like a pro and looks forward to playing with the bunch.”

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Pandemic has highlighted the need for LTC home redevelopment, says OMNI CEO

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted more than ever the need for more spacious, modern long-term care homes in Ontario, says OMNI Health Care president and CEO Patrick McCarthy.

OMNI and other Ontario long-term care providers have been advocating for a program to redevelop older long-term care homes for more than a decade.

While there have been strides to make this happen, limited funding, increasing land and construction costs, lengthy approval processes and other factors continue to present barriers to operators seeking to rebuild and renovate long-term care homes in communities across Ontario, McCarthy says.

“Steps have been taken to address that situation, but we need this work to continue; we need to remove the barriers that are holding back the redevelopment of homes to provide safer, more comfortable space for residents,” McCarthy says.

In 2018, the Ontario government announced a plan to redevelop older long-term care homes and to develop 15,000 additional long-term care beds in the province.

The initial bed awards included upgrades and expansion to four OMNI homes – Country Terrace, Pleasant Meadow Manor, Woodland Villa and Almonte Country Haven – as well as a rebuild for a new 160-bed Riverview Manor in Peterborough.

Construction is expected to begin for three of these homes in the very near future.

Once these homes are redeveloped, they will be organized into smaller resident home areas, providing more space and amenities and quieter, more home-like dining and lounge spaces.

These new and redeveloped homes will also see the elimination of three- and four-bed wards, which will not only deliver residents more privacy, but also greater safety in the event of outbreaks.

Due to the pandemic, Ontario long-term care homes are not currently admitting new residents to three- or four-bed wards, a move which McCarthy says OMNI supports.

Funding to support this policy to the end of the year has been an important factor in maintaining stability and staff retention.  However, it is important that the policy be extended beyond the end of the year to maintain that stability, he adds.

“This policy provides for greater space amongst the residents and reduces the risk of transmission,” McCarthy says.

“It has been shown that there is a correlation between outbreaks that occurred during the first round of COVID and the age of homes, so it’s important for the government to ensure the policy and related funding is maintained.”

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Short-stay visits have had a positive impact on Frost Manor residents: LEC

Since restrictions have eased, many residents have enjoyed time outside the home with their families

Being able to do something as simple as spending an hour in a local park with family members has made a world of difference to Frost Manor residents, says life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Lyndsay Burton.

Lyndsay says many Frost Manor residents have taken advantage of short-stay visits with their families since the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care eased restrictions in August.

“So far, short-stay visits are going very well,” Lyndsay tells The OMNIway. “They have been so great for the residents (and) for their mental health.”

A press release issued by the ministry on Aug. 28 states that residents may now leave their long-term care home “for day trips or overnight absences.”

Overnight absences are permitted at the discretion of each long-term care home and are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, the ministry’s statement says.

During these short-stay visits, residents and family members wear face masks and practise social distancing.

When the global COVID-19 pandemic began in March, the Frost Manor team organized video calls between residents and their family members. As restrictions on visits eased in phases over summer, residents met outdoors with their loved ones and eventually inside the Lindsay long-term care home once in-house visits resumed.

Being able to leave the home with their loved ones for short periods of time has meant a lot to residents, Lyndsay says.

“They’ve been able to go and look at the fall colours, they’ve been able to go for a drive-thru meal,” she says. “A lot of the residents and their families have been using our beautiful park spaces to go and sit and visit with each other.”

Some families have been creative in coming up with ways to safely meet with residents, Lyndsay notes.

“They’ve been doing a lot of tailgate parties in the parking lot, so families will come with camp chairs and coffee and we’ll bundle the residents up and assist them out to the parking lot,” Lyndsay says.

“They’ve been inventive in the ways they get to visit with each other,” she says.

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If you can’t bring residents to a tea social, then bring a tea social to residents

Willows Estate LEA Azaria Kanda has an idea to modify a resident-favourite program during the pandemic

Being creative and thinking outside the box are valuable assets to people working in long-term-care home life enrichment departments, and during these challenging times, those attributes are especially valuable.

Willows Estate life enrichment aide (LEA) Azaria Kanda has a long track record of delivering creative programs to the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home’s residents, and one idea he’s planning to implement is to host mobile tea socials for residents.

Azaria says tea socials are popular with Willows Estate residents, but large-group programming is currently on hold due to restrictions in place to keep everyone safe during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

Before the pandemic was declared in March, Willows Estate residents were having regular tea socials on Sundays in the dining room.

Since safety restrictions do not allow the tea socials to continue as large-group programs, Azaria’s plan is to stock a cart with tea, coffee and snacks and go room to room to offer residents the refreshments they would normally have at a tea social.

“When confronted with something like a pandemic or any other kind of limitation, you have to up your game and find new ways to do activities for the residents, the things they like,” Azaria tells The OMNIway.

“I thought about doing a tea social on wheels, so (I can) bring it up to them in a safe manner. It’s a small modification, but it’s delivering a program the residents enjoy.”

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Self-directed art program at Kentwood Park also has therapeutic benefits

A self-directed art program at Kentwood Park has proven to be an ideal program for residents to be creative, expressive and to have a fulfilling activity in a safe environment.

Many of the Picton, Ont. long-term care home’s residents participate in the program, which encourages them to paint or draw whatever comes to mind.

The program has been especially popular since the global COVID-19 pandemic began in March because it’s an activity residents can do independently in their rooms.

Residents are set up with everything they need to be creative: paper, paint, brushes, pens and pencils, explains life enrichment co-ordinator and environmental services manager Lisa Mills.

“Whatever they make is a big surprise for us in the end,” she tells The OMNIway. “We never know what they’re going to paint.”

One of the key benefits of this program is that the paintings or drawings residents create can be a window into how they’re feeling, Lisa says.

“It’s an expressive thing for them; whatever their emotion is for the day is what you will see (in their art),” she says. “If they’re happy, it will be a happy picture, if they’re not happy that will come through.”

Lisa says if a resident paints a picture that’s sad in nature, staff members will talk with the resident about how they’re feeling, so there’s a strong therapeutic value to the program, she says.

“It’s a very emotional program for them,” she says.

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Pandemic has strengthened OMNI’s, LTC sector’s knowledge about curbing viral spread

Still, more government resources are needed for LTC homes to stay ahead of the curve, says OMNI CEO Patrick McCarthy

Although OMNI Health Care and the long-term care sector at large had a wealth of knowledge about infection, prevention and control best practices before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the level of understanding of how to keep residents and staff members safe from the highly contagious virus has greatly increased during the past six months, says Patrick McCarthy.

McCarthy, OMNI’s president and CEO, says when the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March, long-term care homes followed the methodology and safety protocols outlined by Public Health Ontario surrounding the isolation of symptomatic residents and staff.

Public Health Units, initially hampered by a shortage of testing swabs, would only test up to three symptomatic residents in a home before declaring an outbreak. Testing was otherwise not available to determine whether others had been infected.

Public Health officials and government now have a better understanding of the risk of infection amongst otherwise asymptomatic residents and staff, and the need to broaden testing.

According to WHO data, about 80 per cent of people infected with the COVID-19 virus either have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.

“That really emphasizes the absolute need for frequent testing and the continued availability of testing,” McCarthy says, adding while there’s more availability of testing today, concerns remain about the capacity of Public Health to provide contact tracing as well as lengthy delays in receiving test results which are essential to containing the spread.

In addition to testing, McCarthy indicates there is a continuous need for homes to have the resources to train, monitor and audit staff practices to ensure infection protection and control protocols are followed at all times because of the potential that can exist for even a momentary lapse in protocol.

Staffing levels in long-term care homes, however, remain an issue.

The Ontario Long Term Care Association (OLTCA), McCarthy notes, is advocating for increased funding and innovative approaches to attracting and training staff to ensure resident care is maintained while also strengthening capacity for infection, prevention and control practices.

“We need action from the government to address that systemic issue,  it’s vitally important to addressing the pandemic,” he says.

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Village Green residents were missing Tim Hortons, so staff built a Tim Hortons at Village Green

The creative life enrichment team built a Tim’s drive-thru in the home’s garden. Residents loved it

Challenging times often call for creative measures, and Village Green life enrichment team members really came through for residents when they heard how much people living at the Greater Napanee long-term care home were missing outings to Tim Hortons.

Before short-stay visits for Ontario long-term-care home residents were reinstated in late August by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, residents expressed to life enrichment co-ordinator Ulana Orrick that they were missing trips to Tim Hortons.

Many residents had not had Tim Hortons coffee and doughnuts since the global COVID-19 pandemic began in March.

So on Oct. 6, the life enrichment team set up a Tim Hortons drive-thru in the Village Green garden. Life enrichment aide Jess Boot, a new team member, designed a Tim Hortons storefront facade that was placed on the front of the gazebo.

The Tim Hortons store on Centre St. in Napanee donated coffee, doughnuts and Tim Hortons staff shirts for the life enrichment team to wear.

The nursing team then assisted residents outside to the garden where they queued on the walking path as they would at a Tim Hortons drive-thru.

The residents loved it, Ulana says.

“We had music playing and lots of fun was had,” she tells The OMNIway. “At one point one of the residents exclaimed, ‘you can tell this is a real Tim Hortons because the lineup is so long!’ ”

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