Forest Hill’s patio is getting lots of good use

Residents have been enjoying safe outdoor activities, entertainment and family visits

With restrictions in place on indoor group programming and visitation due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Forest Hill has been making the most of its patio area to keep safe activities and socialization a part of everyday life at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home.

When possible, life enrichment team members have been hosting programs, limited to 10 or fewer residents, on the patio (social distancing practices are always in place). Activities like trivia have been especially popular outdoors, says life enrichment co-ordinator Craig Forrest.

“We’re definitely trying to take advantage of (the outdoors) as much as we can,” Craig says. “We will also take residents outside on a one-to-one basis to the patio as well.”

There has also been outdoor entertainment at Forest Hill in recent weeks, with musical acts performing from a safe distance and residents seated apart. Because of the smaller audiences when entertainers perform, residents attend performances on a rotating basis.

In fact, Craig says there has been an added benefit to playing shows outside: better acoustics.

“We have always had lots of entertainment here, but it’s almost a different feeling outdoors – it almost sounds like a concert in a way,” he says.

“The residents have really enjoyed the outdoor entertainment because it almost feels like a festival.”

Because this summer has been warmer and sunnier than most, staff members have been stepping up hydration by ensuring residents always have cold drinks when they need them and, of course, providing sunscreen and hats to protect everyone from the rays.

Patio visits between residents and their loved ones have also spiked in recent weeks, Craig says. Forest Hill is offering these visits from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week.

Family members who visit residents at the home’s patio are screened first.

“(Patio) visits have absolutely gone through the roof in popularity,” Craig says.

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Adapting activities, thinking creatively, has helped Forest Hill deliver programming

Life enrichment team has stepped up to the challenge, says LEC

With safety protocols in place to keep residents and staff members safe during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, the life enrichment team at Forest Hill has had to adapt activities and think outside the box in order to continue delivering high-quality programming.

The Kanata, Ont. long-term care home has 156 residents, making it one of the largest OMNI Health Care homes. While having a large resident population means there is more work to do, the life enrichment team has successfully stepped up to the challenge, says Forest Hill life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Craig Forrest.

After the World Health Organization declared the pandemic in March, Forest Hill, like OMNI’s other 17 long-term care homes, began organizing video chats between residents and their loved ones using Skype and FaceTime, which took a lot of planning and time, Craig says.

Now that some restrictions on visitation have been eased, team members’ days largely focus now on planning and overseeing visits inside and outside the home, he adds.

On top of this, some small-group programs, such as bingo and crafts, are running again with social distancing in effect, so staff members are also having to organize a rotation for residents to ensure that anyone wishing to participate gets a chance.

“Overall, we try to be as fair as we can by rotating the residents for programs, and that’s one way everyone has had to adapt,” Craig tells The OMNIway.

“We also have to adapt what was once a large program into a small program with social distancing.”

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Forest Hill ‘gatekeeper’ keeps everyone safe while bringing positivity to work

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