Burnbrae residents get home ready for Canada Day decorating contest

Residents are ‘very excited’ and hopeful the home will be in the winner’s circle

Canada Day isn’t for another six days, but Burnbrae Gardens is already decked out to celebrate the country’s 154th birthday on July 1.

That’s because the Campbellford long-term care home has entered the Trent Hills Canada Day Decorating Contest, a decorating challenge for homes and businesses in the region organized by the Trent Hills Chamber of Commerce.

Life enrichment aide Lauren Farnham organized the decorations at Burnbrae Gardens and got lots of help from residents Jean Bradshaw, Florence Casselman, Helen Earl, Diane Partridge, Karen Phillips, Jim Pollock, Tom Robbins and Marie Shearer.

Together, they decorated the front of the home with Canadian flags and a wide array of other red and white decorations with Canadian motifs.

When the decorating was done, Lauren snapped a picture of the front of the home (see photo above) and submitted it to the chamber of commerce to be entered in the contest.

According to contest rules, participants must have their decorations up by June 26 at noon and they must remain on display until July 4.

Burnbrae Gardens, along with other participating homes and businesses, will be part of a driving route for sightseers.

This is the first year Burnbrae Gardens has participated in the contest.

“They are doing (the contest) this way because of COVID precautions; it allows people to keep their distance from their cars, but they still get to see all the decorations,” Lauren says.

The contest winners will be announced July 2, and residents are hopeful Burnbrae Gardens will be in the winner’s circle, Lauren says.

“The residents are very excited,” she says. “They loved putting up the decorations, and I keep hearing compliments about the decorations from inside and outside the home.”

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Longtime resident Frank Trombley sings Burnbrae Gardens’ praises

Frank, who has lived at Burnbrae Gardens for 13 years, says staff members work hard to make residents feel at home

Frank Trombley has called Burnbrae Gardens home for 13 years and is a vocal advocate of the Campbellford, Ont. long-term care home.

If you ask Frank what he likes best about life at Burnbrae Gardens, he’ll tell you it’s the activities residents are offered.

From current events programs to music programs to Saturday-night movies, there’s no shortage of things going on at Burnbrae Gardens to keep him and other residents busy, Frank says.

“During the week, there is something going on pretty near every day,” he says. “It’s a nice place to live.”

Frank says staff members work hard to make Burnbrae Gardens a “home.”

“The staff members are wonderful, and (there is) a lot of freedom. We can do all our hobbies.”

And Frank has lots of hobbies.

Frank, 93, is always busy doing something. He’s particularly fond of building models. Some of Frank’s projects, such as a log cabin model he made in 2017, have been put on display at the home.

Frank’s room, as he puts it, “is a little helter-skelter,” with his walls full of pictures and his desk covered with projects he’s working on, including a model boat he’s currently building, so he’s always keeping busy.

Frank recently had an outdoor visit with his wife, Jean to celebrate her 89th birthday. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it was the first time the couple had seen each other face to face in 14 months.

Shortly after their visit, Frank spoke with The OMNIway about the experience. He said he was lost for words when asked how it felt seeing his wife of 42 years for the first time in more than a year.

“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.”

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Photo caption: Burnbrae Gardens resident Frank Trombley and his wife, Jean, sit outside the Campbellford long-term care home on May 24.

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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Residents honour Burnbrae staff during Nursing Week

Kind, supportive messages from residents fill an entire wall at the home

In recognition of National Nursing Week, a wall at Burnbrae Gardens has been covered with kind notes and thoughtful messages from residents in support of everyone working at the Campbellford long-term care home.

The notes, which are written on colourful rectangular paper designed to resemble doctor’s prescription pads and laminated, share residents’ feelings about the people who provide their care every day.

The kind messages fill an entire wall in the hallway leading to the dining room, a corridor that sees lots of traffic every day.

“Oh my, where do I start? All the staff is just absolutely incredible,” says one note.

“They (staff) make me feel safe and take care of everyone here. They all do amazing at their jobs,” says another.

“Everybody makes me feel so loved,” says another note.

National Nursing Week is May 10 to 16. Burnbrae Gardens celebrates Nursing Week every year by honouring all staff members working in every department.

April Faux, Burnbrae Gardens’ administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator, says Nursing Week is especially meaningful this year, given the hard work team members have put forth during the past 14 months to keep residents and each other safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Normally we just hand out a few treats (during Nursing Week), but we really want the staff to know that they are appreciated by the residents that they take care of,” April tells The OMNIway.

“We intend to leave the messages up longer than a week because a lot of work went into this; we will probably leave it up for a few weeks, just to make sure everyone has a chance to read the comments.”

April says staff members will be receiving snacks on each shift and there will be a raffle for various prizes during Nursing Week.

Held the week of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12 every year since 1965, National Nursing Week aims to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions nurses make to our health-care system.

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Let’s dance: Burnbrae music program gets residents moving

The Music Appreciation program is providing residents with exercise, reminiscing and lots of fun and laughter

Since Burnbrae Gardens started a multifaceted music program six months ago, residents of the Campbellford, Ont. long-term care home have been benefiting from the joys music brings as well as from more exercise, increased happiness and lots of reminiscing.

The Music Appreciation program is the brainchild of life enrichment aide Shawna Booth, who started the program in September to provide residents with activities they enjoy while adhering to safety protocols in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Music brings a lot of joy into people’s lives, and I was thinking this was something that was lacking because of (the pandemic), so that was the main inspiration,” Shawna says.

The program, which Shawna hosts every Thursday, varies from week to week. Each week there’s a different musical theme, from golden oldies to country classics to jazz.

Residents gather in small, physically distanced groups while music is played. Often, Shawna leads residents in exercises they can do standing or sitting.

“Sometimes we do activities where residents can dance in their chair for exercise where there are movements to go along with the songs, (and) sometimes we will play songs that will get residents reminiscing,” Shawna says, adding residents recently enjoyed reminiscing about songs they remembered hearing at weddings and other events.

Shawna says she has also played relaxing music while leading residents in chair yoga exercises.

A major benefit Shawna says she has seen from the Music Appreciation program is increased participation. While some residents are not interested in games or bingo, virtually everyone loves music.

As a result, several residents who normally don’t participate in programs are attending this activity every week, she says.

But perhaps the greatest benefit Shawna is seeing from residents is an elevated mood accompanied by lots of laughter.

“That’s always good because laughter is the best medicine, and of course reminiscing is helpful with memory and cognition, and we do a lot of reminiscing,” she says.

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Pandemic prompts Burnbrae life enrichment team to invent new programming

A Mardi Gras activity and a music program are among the life enrichment team’s creations since safety restrictions have been in place

Necessity, as the old saying goes, is the mother of invention, and since the global COVID-19 pandemic began a year ago, Burnbrae Gardens life enrichment team members have had to tap into their creativity to develop meaningful programs for residents to enjoy.

And April Faux, the Campbellford, Ont. long-term care home’s administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator, says the life enrichment staff has answered the challenge by coming up with fun programs for residents that enhance their quality of life while adhering to protocols to keep everyone safe during the pandemic.

In February, life enrichment aide (LEA) and physiotherapy assistant Lauren Farnham organized a Mardi Gras party – something the home had never done before – complete with music and props such as Mardi Gras beads and refreshments.

The event sparked a lot of interest from residents, April says, adding Lauren was able to run the program for all residents who wanted to join the fun by having small groups take turns participating at different intervals.

For residents who stayed in their rooms, the LEAs would bring them a treat, such as a non-alcoholic margarita, to ensure they were still included in the activity.

“Residents loved the Mardi Gras program,” April says.

Another LEA, Shawna Booth, started a music program in September called Music Appreciation.

As part of this program, Shawna plays different types of music and encourages residents to dance and exercise. Each time the program runs there will be a different theme of music for residents to enjoy. The music is based on residents’ musical interests.

Like the Mardi Gras program, the music program is only done with small groups of residents.

“We have had to reach outside the box because we used to have so much live entertainment, but we can’t have that right now, so we’re having to be a bit more creative, which is good for everyone and it’s (providing) new programs for the residents,” April says.

– More to come

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Burnbrae DOC makes special buttons for residents after second Moderna vaccination

Helen Sadio made the buttons on her own time to acknowledge residents for doing their part to help end the pandemic

After Burnbrae Gardens residents received their second round of the Moderna vaccine on March 2 to help protect them from the COVID-19 virus, they each had a surprise waiting for them, courtesy of director of care (DOC) Helen Sadio.

Residents were handed special buttons Helen had made on her own time to acknowledge them for receiving the vaccine and doing their part to help end the pandemic.

Helen made the buttons in a variety of bright colours, and each button was embossed with a phrase such as, “For me, for you, for all. #COVIDVaccinated” and “I took the shot, 2021”, to recognize residents for receiving the vaccine.

Helen took the Friday before residents were vaccinated off work and spent the next three days making the buttons, a gesture home administrator April Faux says demonstrates Helen’s strong commitment to residents.

“I really want to recognize Helen because she went over and above, and the residents got a kick out of (the buttons),” she tells The OMNIway.

“She took her own time and used her own money to make the buttons. … And (the buttons) brought lots of smiles to residents’ faces.”

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Front-line team surprises Burnbrae managers with Christmas gifts

‘It really hit home that we have a great team here’

When a personal support worker (PSW) approached April Faux on Dec. 21 to request a team huddle, the Burnbrae Gardens administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator wasn’t surprised – after all, the number of daily huddles has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

But when April and her fellow managers at the Campbellford, Ont. long-term care home arrived at the huddle, they were greeted by front-line team members bearing Christmas gifts they had pooled their money together to buy.

Each of the five managers received a Christmas plant as well as a personalized Christmas card and a Tim Hortons gift card.

The gift packages were presented on behalf of all Burnbrae Gardens residents and staff members.

“It was just really nice because the managers are not always recognized like this, and the fact that they did this without us knowing and on their own accord (to thank us for) being supportive over the year during (the pandemic) was so kind,” April tells The OMNIway.

“They thanked us for our support during such a difficult year, which was really nice.”

April says the kind gesture from Burnbrae Gardens staff members solidified the environment of camaraderie and teamwork that is central to the home’s culture.

“It really hit home that we have a great team here, and yes, (managers) always appreciate them, but we receive it back as well.”

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When life hands you snow, make snowmen

Burnbrae Gardens team members use their breaks to make snowmen for residents to enjoy

Sometimes it’s little things that can bring the most joy and make the most difference to people, and a group of Burnbrae Gardens staff members proved this when they used their break time to build snowmen for residents to look at through their windows.

Following the overnight snowfall on Dec. 9, there was lots of the white stuff to make perfect snowmen, so two of the Campbellford, Ont. long-term care home’s personal support workers and an environmental services team member used one of their breaks to build two snowmen in the backyard.

“They took their break and used the opportunity to go out and make those cute snowmen for the residents, all on their own accord,” Burnbrae Gardens administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator April Faux tells The OMNIway.

“The residents are getting a little chuckle out of it, and (the staff members) did it all on their own time, and it was a way to brighten up the residents’ day.”

To ensure more residents can have their own snowmen to look at, April says the team members have additional plans.

“Their intent is to go out while the snow is still easy to pack and put a few more snowmen out front after work,” she says.

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Helen Sadio becomes Burnbrae Gardens’ new DOC

‘This is a chance to make a bit of a difference’

Helen Sadio started working at Burnbrae Gardens six years ago; today, she’s the Campbellford long-term care home’s new director of care (DOC).

Helen is taking over as DOC after Laurie Gibson retired from the position Nov. 10.

She started as DOC the week before Laurie retired, and while much of Helen’s work so far has been transitioning to her new position, she says she’s looking forward to taking on new challenges and responsibilities.

“This is a chance to make a bit of a difference,” she tells The OMNIway. “I’ve always tried to keep an upbeat attitude and get everybody laughing and smiling, so I will continue to do that while trying to make everyday life a little bit more exciting for everyone involved.”

Helen began working at Burnbrae Gardens in 2014 after moving to Canada from the UK, where she worked as a registered nurse for the National Health Service (NHS).

Helen initially worked as a personal support worker at Burnbrae Gardens while she waited for her RN qualifications from the UK to be certified by the College of Nurses of Ontario. She began working as an RN at Burnbrae in 2015.

Although she has only recently become Burnbrae Gardens’ DOC, Helen says she has a good feeling about things to come, adding her familiarity with residents and staff members has made the transition seamless.

“I’ve got a really positive vibe about it,” she says. “I’m familiar with all the residents and staff and how Burnbrae works, so I’ve got a good head start.”

As part of the company’s culture, OMNI Health Care long-term care homes often promote their staff members to management positions, rather than hiring from outside.

This, Helen says, demonstrates commitment to team members and shows that OMNI “values the staff.”

Helen has had lots of well-wishes and kind words from her colleagues since becoming DOC, but she has also been touched by the amount of support from residents she’s received.

“I have had a few other visitors to the door to say congratulations and that has been from the residents, and that’s been really cool,” she says.

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