Birru Firew an employee ‘you’d love to clone’

The Garden Terrace management team gathers for a photo prior to an awards ceremony at Fern Resort in Orillia.

The Garden Terrace management team gathers for a photo prior to an awards ceremony at Fern Resort in Orillia.

‘Genuine’ PSW Garden Terrace’s Everyday Hero

Monday, July 14, 2014 — Natalie Hamilton

ORILLIA, Ont. – Through his “authentic” and “genuine” ways, Birru Firew brings a sense of peace to the residents of Garden Terrace.

The personal support worker’s (PSW) gifts were on display recently when Firew was named Garden Terrace’s Everyday Hero.

OMNI Health Care managers heard about the contributions of the full-time, fifth-floor PSW during the May 7 second annual Awards and Recognition Night at Fern Resort.

“He’s the kind of PSW you’d love to clone,” said Annik Donzil, Garden Terrace director of care. “He daily demonstrates a kindheartedness that just can’t be put on — it’s truly who he is.”

Firew’s gestures are not grandiose, glamorous or of high profile. “They are authentic and genuine,” Donzil said.

“Even though the majority of our residents may suffer from dementia, they can still be perceptive and understand things. I believe that our residents see in Birru what each of us would so desperately long for if we were in their shoes. I believe they see comfort and for that he won the award.”

The 160-bed Kanata long-term care home also recognized another employee, clinical care co-ordinator and RAI co-ordinator Vanessa Labrecque, by honouring her with the Inspired Leader award. Click here to read her story .

OMNI acknowledged several staff members from its 18 long-term care homes during the awards ceremony.

Following the presentations, managers were entertained by singing impressionist Matt Gauthier and tried their hand at crown and anchor, blackjack, poker and roulette for a chance to win prizes.

The gala evening featured a Viva Las Vegas theme and staff members embraced the opportunity to dress in creative and colourful costumes reflecting all-things Vegas.

Read more about OMNI’s inspired leaders and everyday heroes in upcoming stories.

If you have feedback on this article or a story idea to share, please e-mail natalie(at)axiomnews.com or call the newsroom at 800-294-0051.

CCC’s work ethic ‘second to none’

Garden Terrace's Vanessa Labrecque accepts the Kanata home's Inspired Leader award.

Garden Terrace’s Vanessa Labrecque accepts the Kanata home’s Inspired Leader award.


Garden Terrace recognizes Vanessa Labrecque as its Inspired Leader

Friday, July 11, 2014 — Natalie Hamilton

ORILLIA, Ont. – While bedside nursing was her calling, Vanessa Labrecque’s work ethic and leadership traits propelled her career in a slightly different direction.

OMNI Health Care managers heard about the contributions of Garden Terrace’s clinical care co-ordinator and RAI co-ordinator during the May 7 second annual Awards and Recognition Night at Fern Resort.

The 160-bed Kanata long-term care named Labrecque as its Inspired Leader.

“Vanessa is a true leader who motivates, inspires, challenges and equips those around her,” said Garden Terrace administrator Carolyn Della Foresta.

“She isn’t afraid to get her hands right into the dirt and work alongside others because in doing so she’s very aware that she demonstrates that everyone’s role is important – that everyone’s contribution is vital to the effective operation of our home.”

Labrecque is a “tremendous” support to those around her, she’s eager and she’s willing. The CCC and RAI co-ordinator is constantly improving her knowledge base and bringing her wisdom back to the home to share with others, Della Foresta noted.

“Vanessa is that leader who not only has the intelligence and the drive to get the job done but she also has the true desire. Her work ethic is second to none and her passion for doing right by each of our residents is commendable,” the administrator said.

“I feel fortunate to call Vanessa a member of the Garden Terrace team as well as my friend.”

The CCC and RAI co-ordinator graciously accepted the Inspired Leader title.

“I honestly have to say this is really a shock, I really didn’t see that coming,” Labrecque said.

Labrecque became a registered practical nurse in 2005. In 2007 she began working at Garden Terrace and later covered a maternity leave for the CCC position. By 2008 she was the permanent CCC and RAI co-ordinator.

“The reason I stand here today is because the management team at the home believed in me, and especially Carolyn believed in me, so that means a lot to me to be recognized.”

OMNI honoured staff members from its 18 long-term care homes during the awards ceremony.

Following the presentations, managers were entertained by singing impressionist Matt Gauthier and tried their hand at crown and anchor, blackjack, poker and roulette for a chance to win prizes.

The gala evening featured a Viva Las Vegas theme and staff members embraced the opportunity to dress in creative and colourful costumes reflecting all-things Vegas.

Read more about OMNI’s inspired leaders and everyday heroes in upcoming stories.

If you have feedback on this article or a story idea to share, please e-mail natalie(at)axiomnews.com or call the newsroom at 800-294-0051.

Garden Terrace cook has scored a winner with unique take on Salisbury steak

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Residents are loving Isioma Okolie’s new version of an old classic

Friday, July 4, 2014 — Deron Hamel

When most people think of Salisbury steak, a plain ground-beef patty topped with gravy likely comes to mind. But if you think you’ll find something like this on Garden Terrace’s dinner menu, think again.

Isioma Okolie, the Kanata long-term care home’s head cook, has used his culinary ingenuity to create a version of this old-time favourite that resembles a dish found in a high-end restaurant. His version of Salisbury steak is a serving of quality ground beef topped with a few roasted potatoes and steamed cauliflower resting in au jus.

His idea behind the dish is simple: present residents with the type of food they enjoy and present it in a way that maximizes appearance. Most long-term care home residents, he notes, have a different palate than younger generations. Chinese food or curries are not what they’re used to; meat-and-potatoes fare is usually their preference.

But a meat-and-potatoes dish doesn’t have to mean boring, as Okolie is proving. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care provides homes with dietary criteria for residents. Nutritional care managers will create menus, but those working in the kitchens are encouraged to use their creativity to try to make the food taste its best, Okolie notes.

He says presentation is of utmost importance when serving food to long-term care residents. Not only does it need to look appetizing, the portion size needs to be right.

“One thing the residents tell me is that they get very intimidated by seeing large portions of food, but if you make it a more reasonably sized portion people know they can finish it and enjoy it,” he says. “I try to make it the best of both worlds; I follow the guidelines but also make the food so they can enjoy it.”

Okolie’s version of Salisbury steak has been a favourite with residents; a bit of a surprise, he says, because many residents aren’t fans of ground beef. What’s made a difference is the way the food is presented, he adds.

“You eat with your eyes first.”

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Home’s salmon dish exemplifies LTC kitchens’ modern face

Garden Terrace culinary creation shows the high quality residents expect

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 — Deron Hamel

Garden Terrace nutritional care manager Dawn Cameron points to a salmon dish recently served to residents for dinner as an example of the fine cuisine prepared in the kitchen at the Ottawa-area long-term care home.

Cook Isioma Okolie plated the salmon with a Dijon mustard and orange glaze and an orange slice for garnish. The result was a dish that could have been served in a high-end restaurant.

Garden Terrace cook Isioma Okolie’s Dijon mustard-orange glazed salmon

Garden Terrace cook Isioma Okolie’s Dijon mustard-orange glazed salmon

“He layers all his food, so it’s not side-by-side; it’s got height,” Cameron explains, adding residents liked the presentation and enjoyed the meal. “It was really colourful.”

It’s this type of high-quality, from-scratch cooking that’s the modern face of long-term-care home cooking, she adds.

Cameron underscores the importance of food to people living in a long-term care home. For many residents, food is the one thing in their lives they have full control over — and they expect their dining experiences to be high quality.

“If the food isn’t appetizing, they’re not going to eat, which leads to other health problems,” Cameron explains. “So, it’s important to give the residents the food they want to eat while following the standards we need to follow and making the food appetizing for them.”

While long-term care chefs and cooks need to follow ministry standards when preparing meals, there are still opportunities for creativity, says Cameron, who began her career in hotel and restaurant management. She chose a career in long-term care because she enjoys working with seniors.

On a recent episode of Top Chef Canada, judges disparagingly remarked to two contestants who were being eliminated from the cooking reality show that their culinary creations resembled “nursing-home food.”

Chris Weber, OMNI Health Care’s operations manager of nutrition and food services, wants to show the world just what “nursing-home food” really is and how chefs and cooks working in the long-term care sector can produce top-quality dishes as good as anyone.

Using the hashtag #NursingHomeFood on social-media networks Twitter and Facebook, Weber and The OMNIway are collaborating in the coming weeks to showcase some of the top-notch food being prepared at OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes.

Cameron says she would like food experts to look at the kinds of foods being served outside the restaurant industry so they can see that there high standards throughout the food-service industry.

“I think they need to broaden their horizons to see what is going on in our field,” she says.

Do you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway? If so, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have any feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Christine Schyf ‘an outstanding individual’

Garden Terrace's Christine Schyf, left, accepts the Elisabeth Hinton Memorial Award from administrator Carolyn Della Foresta.

Garden Terrace’s Christine Schyf, left, accepts the Elisabeth Hinton Memorial Award from administrator Carolyn Della Foresta.

Home recognizes nurse with Elisabeth Hinton award

Monday, May 26, 2014 — Natalie Hamilton

ORILLIA, Ont. – While at a bowling party with her children, Carolyn Della Foresta met a woman she was determined would work at Garden Terrace.

The nurse, Christine Schyf, made quite an impression on Della Foresta, administrator of the Kanata long-term care home, during their brief conversation.

“I told her we had a vacant acting director of care (DOC) position and that she would be absolutely perfect for it,” said Della Foresta.  I did my best to woo her.

“She has proven to be an incredibly capable nurse and an outstanding individual.”

Schyf is this year’s recipient of the Elisabeth Hinton Memorial Award. The Elisabeth Hinton Memorial Award is presented to a registered nurse or registered practical nurse who demonstrates excellence in nursing and exhibits kindness and caring in everything he or she does. Elisabeth Hinton was the DOC at Garden Terrace for five years.

Schyf, like Hinton, is the “the true embodiment of what a nurse should be,” Della Foresta said.

“Her calm and reassuring approach with our residents, our staff and our family members has eased their minds. Christine can step into any situation and assist as a mediator as her approach, personality and capable nature ease tension and restore people’s faith during difficult times,” Della Foresta continued.

From passing medications to assisting with a dressing change, Schyf accepts a variety of tasks without hesitation. She has earned the respect of the nursing staff at Garden Terrace, the administrator noted.

“I feel so blessed to work with her and feel that each resident under her care and each staff member under her guidance can also consider themselves blessed and fortunate.”

Della Foresta presented the honour to Schyf May 7 during OMNI Health Care’s Annual Managers’ Forum at Fern Resort.

“I feel very honoured tonight to have this award and I’m proud to be part of the OMNI team,” Schyf said.

OMNI also recognized two staff members from 17 long-term care homes during the second annual Awards and Recognition Night with Everyday Hero and Inspired Leader awards.

Following the award presentations, managers took in entertainment by Matt Gauthier, a singing impressionist, and played crown and anchor, blackjack, poker and roulette for a chance to win prizes.

Forest Hill life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Craig Forrest emceed the affair that featured a Viva Las Vegas theme. Staff joined the fun by dressing up in an array of colourful and creative costumes varying from playing cards to pink flamingos.

If you have feedback on this article or a story idea to share, please e-mail Natalie(at)axiomnews.ca or call Axiom News at 705-741-4421.

There’s no place like Garden Terrace for volunteer Anne Russell

‘Everyone is so compassionate there’

Anne Russell began volunteering at Garden Terrace about four years ago, when her husband Graeme was a resident at the Ottawa-area long-term care home. Although her husband passed away in spring 2011, Anne has continued to spend her spare time helping the home’s residents and staff members.

The reason Anne has chosen to remain a Garden Terrace volunteer is simple: she experienced the top-notch quality of life and care residents receive when Graeme was living there, and she continues to see the dedication staff members have to the residents and families they serve.

“I felt I wanted to give back and there was no other place I’d rather be,” Anne tells the OMNIway. “I know everybody, and everybody was so good to me and my husband, so I naturally want to give back to Garden Terrace.”

Adding to this, Anne says the atmosphere at Garden Terrace creates an outstanding volunteering experience. It’s staff members, who are supportive of volunteers, that make the greatest difference, Anne says.

“They are one of a kind, I’ll say that,” Anne says. “They treat you like you’re family. … And they have such compassion for the people.”

Through her volunteering Anne participates in several activities with residents — everything from helping people during meals to accompanying residents on outings. She adds there isn’t one aspect of her volunteering that she enjoys more than others.

“I just enjoy helping the residents because they’re super people,” she says.

Asked if there is anything people considering a volunteering opportunity at Garden Terrace should expect to find, Anne says it’s a high level of compassion.

“Everyone is so compassionate there; you just do not see that all the time in other homes,” she says. “I’ve visited people in other homes and you don’t get the same atmosphere. You walk into Garden Terrace and you have that homey atmosphere.”

April 6-12 was National Volunteer Week. The week is dedicated to recognizing Canada’s 13.3 million volunteers for their dedication to their communities. Click here for more information.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Volunteer attests to the difference donating time makes

Garden Terrace

Although her mother is no longer a Garden Terrace resident, Donna Getz continues to give her time

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 — Deron Hamel

Donna Getz began volunteering at Garden Terrace when her mother was a resident at the Ottawa-area long-term care home. When her mother passed away in 2010, she continued to donate her time to residents because of the difference she says volunteering makes.

And Getz is not alone; there’s a group of other family members of former residents who has continued to volunteer.

Initially, Getz and the other volunteers began coming to Garden Terrace on Saturdays. Together, the family members would create activities such as crafts or reading programs for residents. What all the family members noticed, she says, is how happy this made residents.

What’s more, volunteering made the family members feel good, Getz says.

“You’re making them feel good and they in turn make you feel good,” she says tells the OMNIway, adding volunteers learn a lot from the residents in the process. “It’s almost like a history lesson in some ways, but it’s something very special. Some people don’t have anyone, and it’s good to let them know that someone cares.”

Another perk to volunteering at Garden Terrace is that the home has always been supportive of volunteers, empowering them to create their own programming, Getz says.

“They’ve always been very open for us to go in to do what we wanted to do with the people,” she says.

Getz says if she was approached by someone interested in volunteering in a long-term care home, her suggestion would be to pay a visit to Garden Terrace.

“I would invite them to come and join us for an evening just to see what we do and what a difference it makes in their lives and ours,” she says.

April 6-12 is National Volunteer Week. The week is dedicated to recognizing Canada’s 13.3 million volunteers for their dedication to their communities. Click here for more information.

Keep reading the OMNIway for more stories about Garden Terrace volunteers as well as volunteers from across the organization.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Administrator emphasizes nothing is above, below or beyond in LTC

‘That’s why we’re here — we’re here to support’

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 — Deron Hamel

During the last Garden Terrace staff Christmas dinner, a personal support worker’s (PSW’s) pager went off, but when he excused himself to go tend to the resident needing his assistance, administrator Carolyn Della Foresta and another manager insisted they go instead.

This type of camaraderie is essential when you’re working in a long-term care home, says Della Foresta. In short, when you’re working in long-term care no job is too big or too small when it comes to caring for residents and when you’re a manager you need to be willing to step in and help those working on the floor, the administrator adds.

The culture of helping others and always being supportive of staff members is embedded in the DNA at the Ottawa-area long-term care home and at other OMNI Health Care homes.

“That’s why we’re here — we’re here to support,” Della Foresta tells the OMNIway. “We can’t lose sight of the support we need to offer (all staff members).”

In another recent example of this type of support, Della Foresta and assistant director of care Christine Schyf stepped in when a resident was in crisis. A doctor had requested the resident’s rings be removed from her fingers for a medical reason but the resident, who is affected by cognitive impairment, couldn’t comprehend this.

Della Foresta and Schyf stayed with the resident and helped the doctor remove the rings, which the resident had worn for years. Della Foresta and Schyf used supportive measures to redirect the resident’s attention.

“Afterwards, the resident’s daughter came up to us and said, ‘You guys went way above what we expected,’ ” Della Foresta says.

The next day Garden Terrace had a strategic planning meeting. During the meeting, Della Foresta wrote three words on a board: Above. Below. Beyond. These words refer to parameters, and no job should be above, below or beyond anyone working in a long-term care home, the administrator says.

“We have to do everything we can within our power to make this the best home possible and make sure we’re providing the best care,” she says.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Helping others is the OMNIway

Streamway Villa’s annual Christmas bazaar is an important event at the Cobourg long-term care home. Proceeds from this year’s event will go towards relief in the Philippines as well as to providing presents for two children in need through the Northumberland Mall’s Giving Tree.

Spirit of giving shining through at homes

December 2, 2013 — Deron Hamel and Jennifer Neutel 

OMNI Health Care long-term care homes have a long record of proving their commitment to residents and local communities, but when a large-scale crisis occurs the team members can also be counted on helping people who live far away.

This is evident with the relief efforts that have been coming from OMNI homes in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated parts of the Philippines Nov. 8. The typhoon claimed about 4,000 lives and displaced about four million people.

OMNI’s two homes in Kanata, Forest Hill and Garden Terrace, have several staff members who are from the Philippines and, as a show of support, their co-workers wanted to help them with fundraising initiatives.

Shortly after the typhoon, Forest Hill personal support worker Jocelyn Geraghty was speaking on the phone with her mother who lives in the Philippines. Geraghty wanted to know what people in Canada could do to help. Since many people in the Philippines earn their living fishing, her mother suggested people raise money to buy boats so they could once again work. Many fishing boats were destroyed in the disaster.

Geraghty’s colleague, registered nurse Laarni Casiple, is also from the Philippines. Both staff members say even small donations will go a long way in helping people, adding that fishing boats typically cost about C$100 in the Philippines.

“We thought that, amongst us here (at Forest Hill), maybe we can help one family, because at the moment there is so much of an influx of support coming from all over the world to help the victims,” Casiple says. “The recovery is a long process. If we could help one family get a fishing boat, it would help them start.”

To help raise money for the relief effort, Forest Hill hosted a pancake breakfast on two shifts Nov. 19.

Like Forest Hill, Garden Terrace has also been raising money for the relief efforts. Following the typhoon, staff members at Garden Terrace rallied around one staff member whose family had lost their home in the storm.

The team immediately began a fundraising initiative.

Administrator Carolyn Della Foresta says the support the staff member has received has been heart-warming.

“The staff have been so kind and concerned about one another — it has really further brought to light the community we have amongst our staff members,” she says.

Streamway Villa’s annual Christmas bazaar is an important event at the Cobourg long-term care home. Proceeds from this year’s event will go towards relief in the Philippines as well as to providing presents for two children in need through the Northumberland Mall’s Giving Tree.

The initiative began when the home’s residents’ council vice-president came to life enrichment co-ordinator Christina Verleysen’s office, noting she had spoken with other residents and they all agreed these causes were what they wanted the bazaar proceeds to be spent on.

“It’s definitely going to be one busy Christmas, however, it’s going to be probably the best bazaar yet because of what we are putting the funds towards,” Verleysen says.

OMNI has also teamed up with the homes to raise money for relief efforts in the Philippines. The organization is matching donations raised at the homes. The Government of Canada is doubling every individual donation, so every dollar donated will be turned into $4.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Garden Terrace staff, OMNI come together for typhoon relief

Administrator commends resulting team effort

November 20, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

Garden Terrace and OMNI Health Care have come together to support relief efforts in the Philippines in the wake of the typhoon that claimed the lives of approximately 4,000 people and displaced as many as four million others.

“The staff have been so kind and concerned about one another — it has really further brought to light the community we have amongst our staff members,”

“The staff have been so kind and concerned about one another — it has really further brought to light the community we have amongst our staff members,”

Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines Nov. 8. Garden Terrace has many staff members who are from the Philippines. Following the disaster, administrator Carolyn Della Foresta approached each team member from the Philippines to inquire about their families.

Fortunately, no team members lost family members to the typhoon, however, one personal support worker’s family lost their home.

Following the storm, one good thing did happen — staff members came together to support each other, Della Foresta says.

“The staff have been so kind and concerned about one another — it has really further brought to light the community we have amongst our staff members,” she tells the OMNIway.

To support people in the Philippines, the Kanata long-term care home has been raising money since Nov. 12 for the relief effort. At the time of this writing, $423 has been raised. OMNI has agreed to match donations dollar for dollar and the Government of Canada is doubling every individual donation. In other words, every dollar donated to Garden Terrace will be turned into $4.

If you would like to donate to the relief effort, you can do so by calling Garden Terrace at 613-254-9702, ext. 224.

OMNI has also teamed up with Forest Hill to raise money for relief efforts in the Philippines. Like with Garden Terrace, OMNI is matching donations raised at that home. In tomorrow’s OMNIway we’ll hear two Forest Hill staff members from the Philippines share their thoughts on events in their home country as well as about the support they’re seeing from their colleagues and OMNI.

Do you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway? If so, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have any feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.