Frost Manor LEAs’ creativity delivers a memorable Thanksgiving to residents

‘Thanksgiving was really a team event, and the LEAs did a great job’

Amy Whitehead is commending Frost Manor life enrichment aides (LEAs) for tapping into their creativity to help deliver a fun and engaging Thanksgiving to the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home’s residents.

Amy, Frost Manor’s life enrichment co-ordinator, says LEAs Sarah Thayer, Taylor Davies and Amanda Pendrith each brought their own talents to the table in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving weekend to create activities and programs that helped make the holiday memorable.

For instance, Sarah made a turkey out of construction paper and attached it to a wall where each month the life enrichment team creates a mural as part of a theme.

On Thanksgiving Day, Taylor encouraged residents to write something they are thankful for on the turkey’s feathers.

“The whole feathered area of the turkey now has all the things residents could think of that they are thankful for written on them, and some of them were really cute,” Amy tells The OMNIway.

“Some of them said bingo, and lots of them were about being here, having great food, and having great staff.”

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, Amanda led an activity where residents made centrepieces. Each table had a centrepiece that was made by residents waiting for them when they sat down to enjoy their Thanksgiving dinner.

“Thanksgiving was really a team event, and the LEAs did a great job,” Amy says.

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Fun and laughter with a splash

Water-slide day returns to Frost Manor

A tried and proven, fun-filled event that is a favourite with residents returned to Frost Manor this summer, once again creating a big splash.

On Aug. 19, team members at the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home set up a water slide next to the parking lot, and residents and staff members took turns zooming across the 50-foot slide in rubber tubes.

Residents sat in a plastic tube with straps attached at the sides and team members pulled them down the slide with the straps.

Frost Manor last hosted a water-slide day in summer 2019, and residents were happy to see it return, says Amy Whitehead, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

Amy says the water-slide day was the perfect way to keep everyone cool during the August heatwave. Team members also set up a hydration station to provide everyone with cold drinks.

Amy notes this year’s slide was “new and improved.”

“It was a 50-foot slide with inflatable bumpers,” she tells The OMNIway. “The day was a lot of fun. The residents had lots of laughs watching people go down the slide. We made an afternoon of it and everyone had a great time.”

Since the water slide day went over so well with everyone, Amy says residents can look forward to having their own water park again next year.

“We will do it again next summer; it’s definitely worth it,” she says.

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Safari month takes Frost Manor residents on an in-house jungle trip

Decorations and activities have been centred on a safari theme for August

Anyone walking through Frost Manor this month will find themselves surrounded by an array of animals normally only seen in a jungle habitat.

That’s because August is “safari month” at the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home, and the animals on-site, which include a monkey, a giraffe, a tiger and an elephant, are among the creative decorations designed by the life enrichment team that are included in a mural on a wall in the activity room.

“We had safari month and it was a lot of fun,” Amy Whitehead, Frost Manor’s life enrichment co-ordinator, tells The OMNIway.

“We made our large dining room, small dining room and our lounge all look like a safari. … The residents really loved it. It has been a lot of fun this month.”

In addition to the mural, life enrichment aide Sarah Thayer, who is a skilled balloon artist, made animal balloons as well as a large safari Jeep that was put in the lounge.

Throughout August, games with jungle animal and safari themes have been prominent, Amy says.

“We had safari bingo, we had ‘feed the crocodile’, we had Hungry Hungry Hippos and ‘rhino ring toss’,” she says.

Every month the life enrichment team creates a theme to engage residents.

Amy explains how team members are inspired to create themes.

“We will have one idea in our head and take that and roll with it and make it into something much bigger than we had thought, which is wonderful,” she says.

Amy adds that some new Frost Manor team members got to experience the fun culture the home provides during safari month.

“We have had some new staff here, and when they saw everything that we’ve done, they thought it was awesome,” she says.

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Chair-dancing helped bring much-needed musical programming to Frost Manor during the pandemic

Aside from meeting musical needs, the program is also a great way to exercise

Exercise and fun – when you can bring these elements together in an activity for long-term-care home residents, you’re sure to have a successful program.

And that’s just what happened when the life enrichment team at Frost Manor created a chair-dancing program for residents of the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home that was enjoyable for residents and met the standards in place to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program involves life enrichment co-ordinator Amy Whitehead choreographing a routine and residents moving in their chairs to the rhythm of the music.

Before the pandemic began in March 2020, Frost Manor was hosting up to three live performances from musical entertainers per week. With safety restrictions in place, live entertainment has been on hold at Frost Manor and other long-term care homes across Ontario. The life enrichment team designed the chair-dancing program to help meet residents’ musical needs, Amy says.

Residents have been enjoying the chair-dancing program, which led to the creation of a drumming program The OMNIway profiled in a July 19 story.

But more than anything, it’s about having fun, Amy says.

“I always stress to them that it’s not about getting the moves perfectly right, it’s just bopping along to the music and having fun,” Amy tells The OMNIway.

“The biggest thing about all of these programs is just to have fun and get in that free-spirited mode. They are very much feel-good programs. …

“There was so much fun just laughing and moving and getting that music component back.”

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Frost Manor LEC discusses her promotion and what she’s looking forward to in her new role

Amy Whitehead says valuing internal promotion sends a positive message to staff

Amy Whitehead joined the Frost Manor life enrichment team in February 2019, and a little over two years later, in May 2021, she became the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC).

The fact she was able to move into a management position at the home so quickly attests to the value OMNI Health Care and Frost Manor place on promoting team members from within, Amy says.

Amy says this is important on two levels.

On one hand, valuing internal promotion sends a positive message to staff members seeking to advance their careers that there is a path for them to do so, Amy says.

But it’s also important for the residents, she adds.

“I also think it’s very important for the residents because … we have such a great rapport with the residents, and it makes the transition for them so much easier to have that familiar face,” Amy tells The OMNIway.

Amy, who has a degree in health sciences with a focus on kinesiology, says she applied to become a life enrichment aide at Frost Manor two and a half years ago because she was interested in a job focused on providing activities for seniors.

While she has now moved into a management position, she says she still enjoys working one-on-one with residents and working shifts on the floor.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” she says.

As a life enrichment aide, Amy worked with Lyndsay Burton, who was then the home’s LEC. Lyndsay did a great job creating and organizing programs residents love, Amy says.

Looking ahead, Amy says what she’s looking forward to most is building upon the programs Lyndsay developed.

“We have a very high engagement for (those programs) here, and being able to keep that up for residents is something I am really looking forward to,” she says.

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PHOTO CAPTION: In this August 2019 file photo, Amy Whitehead (right), who is now Frost Manor’s LEC, “holds her breath” along with then-LEC Lyndsay Burton while celebrating the “under the sea” theme at the home for that month.

Frost Manor turns to frosty treats to keep residents hydrated

Team members are providing milkshakes, slushies and other drinks to keep everyone’s fluid intake high during warm days of summer

Things have become rather “frosty” at Frost Manor after team members at the Lindsay long-term care home came up with an idea that is encouraging everyone to stay well hydrated during the warm days of summer – and residents are loving it.

Every month the life enrichment team creates a theme to engage residents. For July, the team chose “old-fashioned frosty treats” as the theme. The team even adorned a wall of the activity room with a mural of an ice-cream cart with these words to celebrate the theme.

Due to the warm weather, extra attention is always placed on keeping residents hydrated in summer, and adding special beverages to the drink cart is the perfect way to keep residents’ fluid intake high, Amy Whitehead, Frost Manor’s life enrichment co-ordinator, tells The OMNIway.

“With all these really hot days, we started doing a happy hour where we would pick a fun treat – like a slushie or a milkshake or something cold – and we’d go around and offer one to all the residents and staff,” she says.

The aim is to keep hydration levels high amongst residents and it’s working well, Amy says.

Plus, this has been an opportunity for team members to get creative with drinks and treats, and the residents are loving it, she adds.

“It’s always fun to try something different, so the residents will look forward to having something new each time,” Amy says.

“I like to call it ‘happy hour’ because it’s a fun way of saying, ‘let’s get some extra hydration.’ ”

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Frost Manor residents ‘drumming up’ some fun in new program

DROM program combines music, exercise and meditation

Frost Manor residents have been “drumming up” some fun and exercise in recent months.

In March, Amy Whitehead, who was then a life enrichment aide, participated in an online training session with then-life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Lyndsay Burton to learn about the DROM program and bring it back to the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home’s residents.

The name DROM is derived from merging drumming techniques with the meditation chant called the “om”.

Each session starts with a focus on breathing to relax everyone and get participants ready. The second segment is the “energized portion” where multiple songs for the drumming session are performed by residents beating drumsticks on stability balls to the beat of songs Amy, who is now the Frost Manor LEC, plays for them. The final segment, the “calming portion”, focuses on positive affirmation and meditation.

Amy says the program, which is held in small groups to adhere to protocols in place to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been a big hit with residents.

“Everyone goes away feeling good and can carry on with their day on a positive note,” she tells The OMNIway.

Amy teaches residents different drumming patterns and techniques, and residents beat their drumsticks on the stability balls to the rhythm of songs.

“For one song, I got them to use their drumsticks (to the rhythm of) a song that had a trumpet session in it,” Amy says. “You can really get creative with all the different ways that you can drum.”

The timing of the program has been important, Amy says.

Before the pandemic was declared in March 2020, Frost Manor was hosting up to three live performances from local entertainers every week. Due to provincial restrictions, the home has not been able to have indoor entertainment since the pandemic began.

However, the music component of the DROM program is helping meet residents’ musical needs, Amy says.

“We really wanted to get something that we could do for them that would incorporate music because they’re really missing that,” she says.

“It was really great to be able to bring back some type of musical program for them, as well as an exercise program to get everyone moving. Everybody can laugh and have fun and, of course, this really amps up the positivity as well.”

The program is being held once every two weeks. Currently, Amy hosts the program, but two life enrichment aides have expressed interest in being trained to lead the activity. Once they are trained, Amy says she hopes to offer the program more often.

Given the DROM program’s success, Amy says she would recommend it to other long-term care homes.

“If you love music and you’re a fun and positive person, I absolutely recommend it to everybody.”

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Internal promotion shows OMNI’s commitment to team members: administrator

Neil MacDonald is one of four Frost Manor managers to be promoted from within the organization

Neil MacDonald says one of the great things about working for OMNI Health Care is that the organization values its employees and demonstrates commitment to staff members by promoting people from within.

This is something he’s experienced first-hand.

After spending much of his career working at OMNI homes as a dietary aide, cook and nutritional care manager, Neil became the administrator at Frost Manor in Lindsay on April 8.

Promoting employees from within the organization and investing in its people are hallmarks of the commitment OMNI has for the people working in its 18 long-term care homes, Neil says.

“I think it’s critical,” Neil says of internal promotion. “First of all, as employees of the company, it’s something that really helps provide you with a positive outlook in your career; to know that you could go from a dietary aide or a PSW (personal support worker) up to a top position within a home or within the company.”

Neil notes that several members of the Frost Manor management team have been promoted from within.

Brittney Sharpe, before becoming Frost Manor’s director of care, was a volunteer, PSW and a nurse at the home.

Sarah Wokral started at Frost Manor as a registered practical nurse and then became RAI co-ordinator.

Amy Whitehead, who started at Frost Manor as a life enrichment aide, recently became life enrichment co-ordinator.

“Four members of our management team were promotions from within, and that’s great for employees and for retention, but also for the quality of care that we can provide because we are groomed into the OMNIway and the quality of care that we strive to provide,” Neil says.

“We have that extra time spent learning (the OMNI) values and practising those values, and then being put into a position to lead people towards those values, I think is very advantageous for the care that we provide.”

– Part 3 of a three-part story

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OMNI support, training and networking helped prepare Frost administrator for new position

Neil MacDonald also says his previous experience as the Riverview NCM has been an asset

Neil MacDonald says support from OMNI Health Care, the training he’s been provided and the networking opportunities he’s received as an OMNI team member have helped prepare him for the administrator position at Frost Manor.

Neil became administrator at the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home April 8. Prior to becoming administrator, Neil worked as a dietary aide/cook at Frost Manor and served as the nutritional care manager at Riverview Manor in Peterborough.

Along his career path, Neil says OMNI has been supportive on many levels. He has also taken advantage of the educational opportunities the organization offers.

As an attendee of OMNI’s Quality Forums, Neil says he’s learned a great deal from the variety of sessions offered and from the networking opportunities that are part of the events.

“(OMNI has) supported me through many steps of education in preparation to become administrator in the home, they have really supported me along each step of the way,” Neil tells The OMNIway.

“Furthermore, having the ongoing networking and education at the OMNI manager forums and having those sessions and meeting other administrators in the homes was very advantageous and has helped build a lot of skills and knowledge.”

Neil says he has also worked closely with the OMNI home office team and “learned so much” as he transitioned into his new role.

“They are so easy to communicate with (and) they are always just a phone call or an e-mail away to show their support and guidance,” he says of the home office team.

Having spent several years working in OMNI homes has also helped Neil acclimatize to his new role, he says.

Neil says he’s worked with “very good administrators in several different homes” and garnered a wealth of knowledge by observing their leadership skills.

His time as NCM has also provided the skills needed to build a strong team and work with others towards the ultimate goal of creating a high-quality living experience for residents.

“As far as (being an NCM), I was part of a successful team working to achieve a common goal, and I think translating that skill set to this one has been really beneficial,” he says.

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From cook to administrator, Neil MacDonald discusses his OMNI career path

Neil, who recently became Frost Manor’s administrator, says he was looking at managerial roles from his earliest days with OMNI

Several years ago, when he was working as a cook and dietary aide at Riverview Manor, Neil MacDonald was thinking about a career path that would lead him to become a long-term-care home administrator.

On April 8, after stints working at Riverview Manor, Frost Manor, Springdale Country Manor and Willows Estate, Neil became the administrator at Frost Manor in Lindsay.

“I (knew that) at some point I would want to pursue an advancement towards (the administrator position) – I didn’t know I would become an administrator, but I did strive towards it,” he tells The OMNIway.

Neil started his career with OMNI Health Care as a cook and dietary aide at Riverview Manor. He completed culinary school and accepted a position as Frost Manor’s nutritional care manager in 2014.

Neil later became NCM at Riverview Manor in Peterborough. After a short time away from OMNI, Neil came back to help at Willows Estate during an outbreak early in 2021.

During his time with OMNI, Neil has also worked short placements when needed at Springdale Country Manor and Pleasant Meadow Manor.

Two months into the administrator position, Neil says he’s enjoying the job and there’s a lot of familiarity for him at Frost Manor.

He notes that he and nutritional care manager Zach Jarvis went to culinary school together, and he has worked with several other Frost Manor team members over the years.

“It’s really great to step into a role and be familiar with the team you work with,” he says.

“I really enjoy the teamwork and the camaraderie, and I guess my favourite part (of being administrator) is understanding how the management team and the staff at Frost Manor really work together towards the common goal of providing the best quality of resident care that we can provide and being a part of that – this has been the most rewarding part so far.”

Looking ahead, Neil says he wants to see everyone working at Frost Manor continue to grow as a team and achieve the best possible quality of care for residents.

“That’s really what I want to be successful at and what I look forward to each day – that camaraderie and teamwork towards always improving ourselves, which in turn ultimately provides better quality of care for our residents,” he says.

– This is Part 1 of a three-part story

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