Couple reunited at Burnbrae Gardens after 14 months

Frank and Jean Trombley shared an outdoor visit, just in time for Jean’s birthday

Burnbrae Gardens resident Frank Trombley and his wife, Jean, had not seen each other face to face since the COVID-19 pandemic began 14 months ago.

But with outdoor visits permitted once again in Ontario long-term care homes, Lauren Farnham, a life enrichment aide at the Campbellford, Ont. long-term care home, organized a reunion for the couple last week, just in time for Jean’s 89th birthday on May 25.

Lauren received lots of help from the people of Brighton, Ont., where she lives, to make the May 24 reunion extra special for the Trombleys.

With COVID-19 restrictions in place provincewide, non-essential items, which include party decorations, are not available for purchase in stores. Lauren turned to the Facebook community in Brighton to ask for help.

The responses poured in.

One offer of help came from Michelle Hopkins, who runs a health-food store in Brighton called Gran’s Cans and Baked Goods. She donated a gift basket that included jams, jellies and cookies. Other people donated party decorations and even a helium tank to inflate balloons.

Lauren picked up birthday flowers for Frank to give to Jean when she arrived. While they had to observe social-distancing protocols, Frank and Jean sat at a table in the shade on the home’s patio for some time to catch up.

Frank, 93, says he’s lost for words when asked how it felt seeing his wife of 42 years for the first time in 14 months.

“I’ll tell you right now, I’ll never forget this for the rest of my life, and I don’t think my wife will ever forget it either,” Frank tells The OMNIway.

“How do you explain how you feel after having not seen your wife for months? It was just tremendous.”

Lauren says it was touching to be there for the couple’s reunion.

“Jean cried; she was so excited, but they were both speechless,” she says. “They enjoyed their time together. They had a fantastic visit. Frank still can’t stop talking about it.”

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Resident engagement and using fresh ingredients are top of mind for Willows Estate’s new NCM

‘I always take time to hear residents’ needs,’ says Jeffrey Peters

There are two things Jeffrey Peters has kept top of mind since becoming Willows Estate’s nutritional care manager (NCM) in April: engaging residents to ensure meals are of the highest quality and using fresh ingredients to create from-scratch meals that taste great.

Mealtimes are often the most important part of a resident’s day; this is something Jeffrey knows well from his six years of working in long-term care and retirement homes.

And this is why since becoming the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home’s NCM Jeffrey has made a point of spending as much time as he can speaking with residents.

He says he wants to be involved with every aspect of residents’ dining experience to ensure it’s of the highest standard.

“I make sure that my presence is always present – even when I have (other work to do), I go in (the dining room) and ask if there’s anything the residents need; I find out their likes, their dislikes,” he tells The OMNIway.

To ensure quality meals are always being served, Jeffrey says compliments and criticism are equally important.

If a resident does not enjoy a stew, for example, Jeffrey will ask them what it was they didn’t like about the stew. Perhaps it needed more meat or more vegetables. Whatever input the resident can offer will be considered when preparing the stew next time.

“I get those ideas and I put them together and then I create a better and more effective meal for the residents,” he says.

As important as it is to engage residents to keep the standard of meals high, it’s also important to use fresh, quality ingredients, Jeffrey says.

Shortly after becoming NCM, Jeffrey began focusing on creating more from-scratch menu options made with fresh ingredients.

For example, residents enjoy melon, so Jeffrey has been ordering fresh melon. Other items are now being made from scratch, including soups, potato salad and five-bean salad.

When residents’ choice meals are coming up, Jeffrey engages residents to discover what they want – and from fresh fish to lamb to burgers, he and his team will create those meals.

“I always take time to hear residents’ needs,” he says.

This approach has worked well, Jeffrey says.

“So far, everybody has been happy. The No. 1 thing is the residents want to be heard. I respect that, and that’s what I give them.”

– More to come

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Riverview Manor’s ladies have a ‘picture-perfect’ Mother’s Day

Residents have special photos taken and sent to their loved ones for Mother’s Day

The ladies living at Riverview Manor had a “picture-perfect” Mother’s Day this year.

In the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day on May 9, Riverview Manor life enrichment aides (LEAs) were busy taking photos of every lady living at the Peterborough long-term care home.

LEA Adam Wicklum was the photographer and worked with LEAs Brigitte Byette, Rosemary Roseborough and Taylor Ioannou, who organized a beauty parlour for the ladies so they could have their hair done for their photos.

Residents had their photos taken in front of a backdrop of a spring blooming tree mural. The tree changes colour with the seasons, and different props, such as birds, butterflies, frogs and turtles, were added.

There was a vase of large artificial flowers next to residents in their photos, and residents held a large bouquet of similar flowers.

The photos were printed in colour on life enrichment co-ordinator Sherry Baldwin’s printer. Using residents’ photos, Adam made two Mother’s Day collages, one for each side of the home.

The collages were taped up in the dining rooms for two weeks for all the residents and staff to enjoy. When they came down, each resident received their colour printed photo.

The power of attorney of residents who had their photos taken received an e-mail with an attached photo of their loved one just before Mother’s Day.

When Mother’s Day arrived, all the ladies received a Mother’s Day card and a corsage. A large “Happy Mother’s Day” lawn sign was put up at the front of the home. Residents and staff could see the sign from both dining rooms.

LEAs Tina Hutchinson and Marilyn Price organized a special tea and trivia on both sides of the home with fancy tea cups on Mother’s Day. They ate cupcakes and cookies that were made at another program that weekend.

Adam says the photos received lots of positive feedback from residents’ families.

“Sherry read some e-mails to the life enrichment team from different families thanking us for making a beautiful photo of their mother and e-mailing it to them (so they can) cherish it,” he says.

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Springdale resident Lillian de Bassecourt celebrates 101st birthday

Lillian enjoyed phone calls from family, flowers and pizza to mark her special day

Springdale Country Manor resident Lillian de Bassecourt celebrated her 101st birthday at the Peterborough-area long-term care home with a build-your-own pizza luncheon provided to her and other residents on May 21.

Lillian had “a wonderful time” celebrating her special day with residents and staff members, says Sonia Murney, Springdale’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

Aside from the pizza luncheon, which also featured ceasar salad, Canadian maple ice cream and beer for everyone, Lillian received flowers and a window visit from her local family members.

Lillian also received calls from her loved ones living far away, including her grandson, who lives in Australia, and daughter Johanne, who lives in Alberta.

A former ski instructor, Lillian is an active resident at Springdale. Every morning she reads the newspaper, which is a favourite pastime of hers. She is also an avid bingo player and participates in nearly every activity offered. The Springdale fitness program, called Fun and Fit, is another favourite activity of Lillian’s, Sonia says.

Lillian recently moved into a new room at Springdale Country Manor. Sonia says Lillian’s new room provides her with a “beautiful view” of the home’s back courtyard. Lillian enjoys watching birds eat at the feeder and looking at the flowers.

“She can also see the hills and the green farmers’ fields, and she just loves looking at the scenery,” Sonia says.

In fact, Lillian’s daughter Carolyn, who is also her essential caregiver, was recently planting flowers in the courtyard for her mother and other residents to enjoy, Sonia says.

As part of her daily routine, Lillian stops by Sonia’s office to get chocolates and other snacks, Whippets being her favourite.

“And there’s nothing wrong with a little chocolate every day to keep you healthy,” Sonia says.

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Beef tenderloin highlights latest Country Terrace Diners Club

Residents invited to the latest Country Terrace Diners Club meal were served a tasty beef tenderloin that was enjoyed by all.

Prior to the May 7 Diners Club meal, residents invited to the sitting were given the choice between beef tenderloin and seafood. They opted for the tenderloin, which nutritional care manager Alex Achillini prepared along with mashed potatoes and a vegetable dish consisting of potatoes, peppers and zucchini.

Alex also prepared ham-and-cheese empanadas with a dipping sauce for a starter and strawberry shortcake for dessert.

As always, everything was made from scratch.

Because the other nutritional care team members are busy preparing the regular meals for residents, Alex usually prepares the Diners Club meals on his own to dedicate more time to the food.

When the Diners Club meals are ready, staff members help Alex plate the food and serve residents.

The Diners Club is being hosted for small groups of residents in a rotation. Alex creates a menu featuring foods residents enjoy. Residents are served the meals in a way one would expect from a top-notch restaurant.

Due to restrictions in place to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is currently no large-group programming. To ensure all residents can enjoy a Diners Club meal, the program is offered in one area of the home every two weeks, with no more than six residents participating at a time.

Alex says he enjoys preparing the meals residents are served during the Diners Club program as much as residents enjoy eating the special food.

“We can develop a little more creativity on the (Diners Club menu) and on the dishes,” he tells The OMNIway.

“We also put a lot of emphasis on garnishing and sauces – even for the desserts; for (the latest Diners Club meal) I made flowers with buttercream to go with the dessert.”

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Creative quick thinking saves Streamway Villa Cinco de Mayo celebrations

‘It ended up being so much fun’

Streamway Villa’s life enrichment department had scheduled a Cinco de Mayo celebration on May 5 for residents, but when the province announced new safety measures that included restrictions on buying non-essential items from stores, the life enrichment team was suddenly in a bind.

“I realized last minute that we didn’t have any decorations onsite, and then I realized that I couldn’t purchase decorations from the stores,” life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht tells The OMNIway.

Decorations are, of course, a big part of any Cinco de Mayo celebration, so the team had to think quickly to ensure the festivities could go ahead as planned.

Laurie networked with her colleagues at the Cobourg long-term care home and together they came up with ideas.

Administrator Kylie Szczebonski provided some decorations she had brought home from holidays in Mexico, and Laurie bought some Mexican finger foods, tacos, limeaid, a lime pie and tequila for residents to enjoy.

Laurie says everyone had a good time and staff members got everyone into the spirit of the day.

“My team got out some maracas, put on traditional Mexican music, and we celebrated,” she says. “It ended up being so much fun.”

Cinco de Mayo – which translates to “fifth of May” — commemorates the Mexican army’s defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, during the French occupation of Mexico. The holiday is celebrated in many parts of Mexico, particularly the state of Puebla.

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Revamping favourite activities and creating new ones keeps programming fun at Frost Manor

By making some adjustments that follow safety protocols, staff members continue to deliver favourite activities

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Frost Manor life enrichment team has been revamping some of the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home’s residents’ favourite activities to meet safety protocols and keep the good times rolling.

Large-group programming is currently on hold and social distancing is in effect to keep everyone safe, but by making adjustments to favourite activities staff members can still deliver programming residents enjoy while adhering to important protocols.

Life enrichment co-ordinator Lyndsay Burton says some board games have been laminated to ensure they can be easily sanitized. For example, Speed Monopoly, a popular board game with residents, has been safely brought back, as have Family Feud, Blurt and crokinole, Lyndsay says.

“We are trying to think creatively with the programs we offer, so we’re trying to make sure we can adapt everything to social distancing and we’re keeping everything sanitized and cleaned,” she tells The OMNIway.

The Frost Manor life enrichment team has also started a chair-dance program. As part of the program, residents are learning different routines to a variety of songs.

Chair-dancing allows residents to replicate dance movements, which is an effective way to exercise, while in a sitting position.

Lyndsay and life enrichment aide Amy Whitehead have also recently learned how to lead a cardio drumming program which the life enrichment department plans to launch within the coming weeks.

Cardio drumming is an activity where residents will use drumsticks or wooden spoons to strike yoga balls to musical beats for upper-body exercise. The activity features a warm-up session, an energized session and another session to cool down.

“We are hopefully going to have that in effect by June which is really exciting,” Lyndsay says.

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Willows Estate NCM goes the distance to create memorable Mother’s Day

For his first Mother’s Day at the home, Jeffrey Peters and his team prepared a top-notch lunch and dinner for residents

For his first Mother’s Day as Willows Estate’s nutritional care manager (NCM), Jeffrey Peters wanted to make sure residents of the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home were served meals all day that would be huge hits.

“I wanted the food to be extravagant; I wanted the food to stand out,” he tells The OMNIway.

Jeffrey and the nutritional care team at the Willows created special menus for lunch and dinner on Mother’s Day, which was on May 9.

For lunch, residents had the choice of reuben sandwiches, accompanied by a strawberry spinach salad with a citrus vinaigrette dressing, or a classic grilled chicken caesar salad with a homemade dressing topped with croutons and grated Parmesan cheese with garlic bread and an ambrosia salad.

Jeffrey wanted every meal to be of the highest quality possible so all servings were made to order.

While lunch may have been spectacular, dinner, Jeffrey says, was “the big shebang, it was the grand finale.”

For dinner, Jeffrey and the nutritional care team prepared two options. The first was a chicken breast stuffed with spinach, onion, aromatic herbs and cheese which was served with Parisienne potatoes and grilled asparagus.

The second option was roasted vegetables served over tri-coloured pasta in a two-cheese rosé sauce.

Jeffrey and the nutritional care team also prepared herb-garlic roasted shrimp. For dessert, residents were served homemade chocolate brownie cupcakes.

The meals and desserts served at lunch and dinner were made from scratch, Jeffrey says, adding the nutritional care team and other staff members all worked together to ensure residents enjoyed their meals.

“I have really wonderful staff that helped out here,” he says.

Residents’ compliments on the meals came in droves.

“It was overwhelming,” Jeffrey says. “People really appreciated it. They were calling back saying everything was so good.”

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Streamway mothers offer some motherly advice

Mother’s Day activity encouraged residents to share their thoughts and have some fun

Streamway Villa marked Mother’s Day on May 9 with an afternoon tea and an activity that gave the resident moms a chance to share some of their motherly advice.

The resident mothers wrote their advice on a small whiteboard and had their photos taken along with the advice they wanted to share. Some residents wore their favourite hats for the photos.

Some examples of the motherly advice residents had included, “Always say please and thank you”, “Do as I say, not as I do” and “Always be honest”.

Given restrictions in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Mother’s Day could not be the festive occasion it normally is with lots of family and friends visiting residents, but team members at the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home used their creativity to make it a special day.

Life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht says even with social distancing and carefully arranged seating in place there was still a good turnout for Mother’s Day.

“(We) had a lovely afternoon tea with scones, cookies and butter tarts,” she tells The OMNIway.

“Some tulips were picked from the garden and placed on the tables and, of course, we couldn’t forget the fancy hats.”

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Instructor predicts training program’s partnership with Country Haven ‘will only grow’

Anita Plunkett also sees opportunities to strengthen the collaboration

When asked what the future looks like for the partnership the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario’s (CDSBEO’s) personal support worker (PSW) training program has with Almonte Country Haven, Anita Plunkett doesn’t hesitate in her reply.

“I think it will only grow,” Plunkett, an instructor and clinical supervisor with the training program, tells The OMNIway.

In October, Debbie Burke and Rebecca Smith became the first Almonte Country Haven team members to graduate from the partnership program.

In February, four more Almonte Country Haven team members – Tiffany Brydge, Sheila Warren, Rebekah Lafontaine and Tracie Boyd – completed their PSW training.

Three students are enrolled in the program for this semester and people have been signing up for the September intake.

The partnership between the Lanark County long-term care home and the program removes financial barriers for students and secures positions at Country Haven when they graduate – key benefits that make the program attractive for those looking to start a new career, Plunkett says.

The CDSBEO offers a PSW training program at a comparatively low cost. The CDSBEO has partnered with the Canadian Career Academy to cover a portion of students’ tuition through the Canada-Ontario Job Grant.

Students are also permitted to earn money while completing their work placement hours.

As part of the CDSBEO’s partnership with Almonte Country Haven, which began in early 2020, students who are doing their placement at the home also have the remaining portion of their tuition covered through OMNI Health Care’s bursary program and are given a job upon graduation.

Plunkett says she sees possible opportunities to strengthen the collaboration.

With many Ontario long-term care homes receiving redevelopment funding – including Almonte Country Haven, where work is well underway to expand the home from 82 beds to 96 – Plunkett says she hopes there are opportunities ahead to enhance PSW training inside the more spacious homes.

For example, living classrooms, where students engage in interactive learning with their instructors, long-term-care home residents and staff, are becoming popular.

Living classrooms, Plunkett says, would be ideal for everyone involved in the partnership program.

“The home gets to see the students in action, and they can pick who they want as employees, and the students get the advantage of being right in the home to do their training, which is fantastic,” she says.

– This is Part 4 of a four-part story series

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