From snowmen to Christmas presents, how communities have supported OMNI homes recently

Local communities show residents compassion and kindness

OMNI Health Care long-term care homes have experienced an abundance of community support in recent weeks, a testament to the compassion communities have for homes and their residents as well as the willingness to help keep spirits high during the ongoing pandemic.

After a Facebook video callout was made to local children and parents on Feb. 2 to bring some winter cheer to Village Green, residents of the Greater Napanee long-term care home looked out their windows to see an array of snowmen and snow sculptures children and their parents had made for their enjoyment.

The response was far greater than life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Ulana Orrick had expected when she made the callout.

“I was hoping we might get one or two kids out, (but) I was completely wowed by our community,” she said, adding that by late afternoon the Facebook post had about 4,000 views and more than 100 shares.

Designs the children came up with included traditional snowmen, a bear cub climbing a tree, a cat and a heart-shaped snow sculpture that was painted red. Each one impressed the Village Green residents and staff.

“We have had families and even a daycare showing up. … Our residents are having a great time watching the kids playing and having snowball fights.”

At Streamway Villa in Cobourg, residents were recently on the receiving end of a massive greeting card project established by Mississauga-based charity Sending Sunshine.

The organization sent stacks of greeting cards – many handmade – that offered positive messages to help keep spirits high.

“(The cards) had lots of good wishes for residents,” says Streamway LEC Laurie Kracht. “We had lots of extra cards that we were able to hand out to staff as well.”

Meanwhile, at Forest Hill, the annual Angel Tree was once again a huge success, thanks to the local community, says LEC Craig Forrest.

Every year, the Ottawa-area home puts up the Angel Tree in the home. The Angel Tree is a Christmas tree that is covered with numbered tags representing every resident.

Family members, staff members and visitors are invited to take one of the numbered tags to buy presents for the resident each number on the tag corresponds with. The tags are always numbered for privacy and also include a list of gift ideas for residents.

Craig says the 100-plus tags on the tree were all gone within three days. As with past years, parishioners from nearby Trinity Presbyterian Church strongly supported the Angel Tree project, Craig says, adding church members took 80 tags.

“The life enrichment staff were able to deliver each resident a gift on Christmas Day and would spend some time with them helping open their gift and reminiscing about Christmases past,” he says.

Garden Terrace residents forget about the cold during Beach Day

Life enrichment team creates a tropical-themed celebration to bring sunshine to residents

Although the thermometer was hovering around the -9 C mark on Feb. 23, it was a sunny, warm day inside Garden Terrace when the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home hosted a beach party day for residents.

In the midst of a cold-weather streak, Garden Terrace residents and staff members were in need of some tropical sun, so the life enrichment team offered an afternoon party filled with tropical music, refreshments and activities.

The event was organized by life enrichment aide (LEA) Sheila Ross. Garden Terrace life enrichment co-ordinator Rachael King is encouraging LEAs to embrace their strengths and interests to create activities for residents, and Sheila stepped forward to organize a beach party.

Life enrichment team members decorated the Garden Terrace cafe with a tropical beach theme, including a tiki bar sign, and attendees were provided with leis.

Residents and team members were encouraged to dress in their favourite warm-weather gear as they watched each other sing karaoke while sipping on non-alcoholic piña coladas.

Rachael says Sheila’s idea for a beach party proved to be just what everyone needed, adding the event garnered lots of interest from residents who were eager to escape the cold for some fun in the sun.

“The residents were really excited and some of them even came down early,” she tells The OMNIway.

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Forest Hill LE team applauded for maximizing resident engagement, helping others during pandemic

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the life enrichment team at Forest Hill has worked hard to maximize resident engagement in programming as well as stepping in to help other departments.

Craig Forrest, the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator, says the life enrichment team has especially concentrated on increasing one-to-one programming for residents during the past 23 months since the pandemic was declared.

Additionally, with programming limited to residents on one floor at a time, more residents have been attending activities.

Oftentimes, residents would not leave their home area to attend a program, but if the programming was held in their area they will attend, Craig says.

The result of this effort has been an increased number of residents participating in programming.

“Our activity participation has actually gone up during the pandemic, and it’s mainly due to that fact,” Craig tells The OMNIway.

Planning and carrying out large-group programming consumes a fair amount of time for team members, so not having large-group programming is allowing staff to concentrate on one-to-one time, he adds.

Additionally, life enrichment team members have been able to help their colleagues in other departments, especially environmental services, Craig says.

Throughout the pandemic, sanitizing high-touch areas, such as handrails, light switches, telephones and door handles, has been highly increased.

On top of the extra attention the environmental services team members are paying to disinfecting these areas, the life enrichment team has pitched in to bolster these infection control measures, Craig says.

“The (environmental services) staff is doing their job, but they have such a heavy workload and with (life enrichment staff) helping them when they can, it makes a difference,” he says.

“Wherever they’re needed they will go to help out.”

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New state-of-the-art kitchen opens at Pleasant Meadow

Residents and team members say the new kitchen and equipment is enhancing food service

Pleasant Meadow Manor has become the first OMNI Health Care long-term care home undergoing redevelopment to have a new kitchen opened.

After a year working in trailers adjacent to the Norwood, Ont. long-term care home during the redevelopment project, nutritional care team members are “loving” the new state-of-the-art kitchen and its amenities, says nutritional care manager Judy Schell.

Judy says the new, roomy kitchen is allowing team members to be better organized and provides “lots more room” for everyone to move around. She adds that the new counters, tables and equipment are making work more efficient for team members.

Among the new equipment are two top-of-the-line “smart ovens” which Judy says are streamlining food preparation, which in turn is enhancing food service for residents.

The ovens, which were created by manufacturer Rational, are computerized and can roast, bake, grill or poach food perfectly, and this has been a huge plus for team members.

“They are loving it,” Judy tells The OMNIway. “Everything is so much quicker.”

Most importantly, the residents are noticing the difference the new ovens are making.

As a testament to the excellent job the ovens do, Judy says residents were recently treated to a roast beef dinner. The meat had been slow-roasted overnight and was a huge hit with everyone, Judy says.

“One of the residents commented that it was the best roast beef she had ever tasted,” Judy says.

The $25-million redevelopment and expansion project at Pleasant Meadow Manor has been underway since November 2020. The project is adding 34,000 square feet and 35 beds to the home.

The project is expected to be completed by December.

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Strong teamwork is ensuring seamless meal service to Country Terrace residents during renovations

NCM commends team members for adapting well to changes

While there are many changes going on at Country Terrace due to ongoing renovations at the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home, one thing that has remained constant is seamless meal service, which is important to residents.

Alex Achillini, the nutritional care manager (NCM) at Country Terrace, says his team’s goal is to work within the challenges that arise to ensure the high-quality food service residents expect is not impacted by the renovations.

“We want to make sure the food service is in a timely manner and that the food is (served) at the right temperature – and there are a lot of factors that have to be looked after,” he tells The OMNIway.

Construction is underway at Country Terrace to add 50,518 square feet and eight beds to the home. The $32-million redevelopment project is expected to be completed by June 2024.

Team members’ job routines have been changing – due to both having to work around challenges related to the renovations as well as to ensure all pandemic protocols are being followed – so Alex is working closely with the nutritional care team to maintain communication and keep everything organized.

“This is also important because the staff feels that you are there for them and they have direction,” he says.

Alex also says the nutritional care team has excelled at supporting one another. If the team is short-staffed, co-workers have made themselves available on their days off, he says.

Alex also commends the nutritional care team as well as all departments at Country Terrace for adapting well to changing circumstances and for keeping quality of life high for residents throughout the changes.

“They have been very good – the whole home has been good – at adapting to the changes,” he says.

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RSAs commended for their contribution to Forest Hill during the pandemic

Residents are getting more one-to-one time and staff members have a more manageable workload, thanks to the resident support aide program

Craig Forrest, the life enrichment co-ordinator at Forest Hill, is commending the positive difference resident support aides (RSAs) have made to both residents and staff members at the Ottawa-area long-term care home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

RSAs are working at many Ontario long-term care homes. RSAs are helping with a variety of tasks at Forest Hill, including spending one-to-one time with residents, putting away laundry, clearing tables after meals and assisting life enrichment departments with programming.

Through the work they do, RSAs are ensuring more social time is spent individually with residents. Staff members are benefiting from having their workloads lightened by the RSAs, and this allows them to concentrate more on resident care.

Through a partnership with The Ottawa Hospital, the RSAs at Forest Hill are recruited and trained. RSAs at Forest Hill are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and meet all the requirements needed for their work.

The Ontario government launched the RSA program in November 2020 to alleviate the burden caused by staffing shortages in the province’s long-term care homes that were made more challenging by the pandemic.

Craig says the Forest Hill RSAs, who have been at the home almost since the program began, have been benefiting everyone.

“This has been a great program for Forest Hill,” Craig tells The OMNIway. “They (the RSAs) are very helpful to us and very beneficial to the residents.”

There are five floors at Forest Hill and the RSAs working at the home are assigned to individual floors, which helps them build a rapport with residents.

Craig says the increased one-to-one time for residents has been the most beneficial aspect of the RSA program, adding that last summer the RSAs spent lots of outdoor time with residents on the patio if staff members or their families weren’t available.

“It has been a really good program,” he says.

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PHOTO CAPTION:  Pictured above, Forest Hill resident support aide Aiden Rollin spends time with resident Shirley Parker.

Country Terrace residents treated to an array of decadent Valentine’s desserts

‘When the carts came back, there was nothing, everything was cleared – they absolutely loved everything’

With continued restrictions in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Country Terrace residents were in need of a special occasion to keep spirits high, and the nutritional care team at the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home certainly came through for them on Valentine’s Day by serving up an array of high-end desserts.

Nutritional care manager Alex Achillini and his team prepared many desserts for residents, including chocolate and strawberry cheesecakes, parfaits, heart-shaped cookies and strawberries dipped in melted chocolate.

The desserts were then put on two serving carts that were decorated with Valentine’s Day motifs. One cart was brought to residents at one end of the home and the second cart was brought to residents at the other end.

The ladies of Country Terrace were also presented with red roses for the occasion.

During previous years, Country Terrace has organized a special dinner for Valentine’s Day. However, with the current renovation project to add 50,518 square feet to the home as well as pandemic protocols in place, spacing is a challenge, so the nutritional care team decided to focus on desserts that could be brought to residents instead.

Residents were pleased with both the high quality of the desserts and their presentation, Alex says.

“The residents really, really enjoyed it,” he tells The OMNIway. “Sweets are always popular with the residents, and they usually don’t see that kind of presentation on a cart, so they were impressed with that.”

The fact both carts were empty when they were returned to the kitchen was a testament to how much residents enjoyed the desserts, Alex says.

“When the carts came back, there was nothing, everything was cleared – they absolutely loved everything,” he says.

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LEC emphasizes the importance of Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Month

‘During the pandemic, we have come to realize how important recreation therapy is in the world of life enrichment, and we at Streamway Villa wanted to acknowledge this skill set’

As Laurie Kracht will tell you, she is “passionate” about her career in life enrichment.

And since the COVID-19 pandemic began 23 months ago, life enrichment teams in long-term care homes have been at the forefront when it comes to maintaining a high quality of life for residents, says Laurie, the life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) at Streamway Villa in Cobourg.

This is why she is raising awareness of February being Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Month in Canada.

“Utilizing recreation therapy in long-term care is very important as it ensures residents live a full life through enhancing and engaging the five domains (of wellness): spiritual, cognitive, emotional, physical and social,” Laurie tells The OMNIway.

“This is done through assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation. During the pandemic, we have come to realize how important recreation therapy is in the world of life enrichment, and we at Streamway Villa wanted to acknowledge this skill set.”

Laurie underscores the important role life enrichment teams have played in the lives of long-term-care home residents since the pandemic began, noting the pandemic has meant life enrichment teams have had to change the way they do their work and also add new duties to their daily routine.

“We have not only continued to program in a different capacity than we were used to, but we have also been handling all the family visits and relationships,” Laurie says.

“With this being Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Month, I believe we need to reflect on how important the LECs and LEAs (have been) during the pandemic.”

Therapeutic Recreation Ontario, the organization that leads the awareness campaign in Ontario every February, explains the importance of therapeutic recreation on its website.

“The purpose of Recreation Therapy is to enable all individuals to achieve quality of life and optimal health through meaningful experiences in recreation and leisure,” the website states.

“We believe in the inherent capacities of individuals for personal growth, happiness and freedom.”

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Banners celebrate Streamway Villa’s resilience during the pandemic

Team member Michelle Harrison and her husband made a series of colourful support signs that now adorn the fence at the home

If you’re walking by Streamway Villa these days, you’ll notice some colourful banners attached to the fence showing support for the people living and working at the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home.

This act of kindness comes courtesy of Streamway Villa team member Michelle Harrison and her husband, Richard.

Michelle and Richard recently spent a few days making the banners, which are embossed with the OMNI Health Care logo and contain supportive messages like, “You’re appreciated more than you know!”, “Streamway Strong” and “Hope, Purpose and Belonging.”

Michelle says the inspiration behind making the banners was simple: she wanted to keep morale high amongst residents and team members who have stuck together throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I feel that the residents and staff here deserve (something to recognize them),” Michelle tells The OMNIway.

The gesture has been well-received by everyone, she adds.

“People are saying that it was nice to be recognized, and the residents all liked it, and when the residents are happy, everybody is happy,” Michelle says.

Canada is now in its fifth wave of COVID-19 since the pandemic began 23 months ago, but Michelle says the camaraderie remains strong at Streamway Villa.

Michelle also commends the home and company culture for the strong unity at Streamway Villa.

“OMNI is a really good company to work for, and Streamway is a great home,” she says.

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LEC commends team members for their hard work and resident focus

Rachael King applauds Garden Terrace life enrichment team for stepping in to help others during a recent outbreak

Garden Terrace life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Rachael King is commending and thanking life enrichment team members for stepping up to help their colleagues in other departments when they could and ensuring that residents’ quality of life remained high during a recent outbreak at the home.

Rachael says several life enrichment team members who have their personal support worker (PSW) certification stepped in to help PSWs when they were short-staffed to provide resident care as well as to assist residents with feeding at mealtimes and other duties during the outbreak, which ended last week.

All the while, they continued to provide meaningful one-to-one time with residents to ensure received the important social and activity time they needed.

“Everyone has banded together and taken on different roles; they have worked together as a team to make it happen because at the end of the day they know that they are here for the residents,” Rachael tells The OMNIway.

“They have all been so helpful during this time.”

Rachael notes that some team members worked overtime, just to make sure residents’ and their co-workers’ needs were met.

What has been most impressive to Rachael, she notes, is how staff members keep their focus on residents and each other, no matter the obstacles they face.

“It means a lot because (of) work overload and fatigue; it’s easy to get overwhelmed, and it’s not just (the life enrichment team), it’s everyone stepping up (from other departments), it really solidifies the team mentality, not only for the staff but for the residents too because this is their home,” she says.

“Admirable” is the word Rachael uses to describe the initiative team members have shown to help each other out.

“People (were) willing to take the leap and give it their all, and that’s really what they’ve done,” she says.

“I really want to say thank you to them (because) I appreciate them, and I am appreciative of their support.”

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