Community connections delivering strong value for OMNI residents during the pandemic

Connections OMNI Health Care’s 18 long-term care homes have with their local communities have always been important, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, these relationships have had an especially crucial role to play enhancing the quality of life for residents.

In recent weeks, we have seen several examples of how homes and their local communities have come together and impacted residents’ lives in meaningful ways.

At Pleasant Meadow Manor, a new connection with the Peterborough-based Canadian Canoe Museum delivered a virtual tour through the Norwood, Ont. long-term care home’s smart TV for residents to enjoy.

During the virtual tour, museum staff explained the different types of canoes on display at the museum. Residents learned about the history of the canoe and how they are made, says Pleasant Meadow Manor life enrichment co-ordinator Kim Williams.

Everyone had lots of questions following the presentation, she adds.

“The residents enjoyed the tour and found it very interesting learning about the different types and ways that canoes were made,” says LEC Kim Williams.

“They had a lot of pertinent questions that the staff were more than happy to answer, and it showed that they really were engaged during the whole tour.”

Rev. Fran Langlois and the parishioners of St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church in Picton have shown support for West Lake Terrace residents throughout the pandemic by keeping in contact with the home and making sure online church services are available for residents who wish to access them, notes West Lake LEC Janie Denard

The Bethany Christian Reformed Church has been another supporter during the pandemic, Janie says.

On Canada Day, church members dropped off individual hand creams for residents that were accompanied by cards. At Easter, they delivered care packages for all the residents.

Meanwhile, a community outreach group at Gateway Church recently donated five iPads to nearby Country Terrace in Komoka, Ont. to help residents connect with family and friends as well as providing entertainment. Residents are also attending virtual church services by watching them on the iPads.

Country Terrace and Gateway Church have a long-standing connection, and the church’s kind gesture will go a long way in keeping residents’ spirits high during the pandemic, says Country Terrace LEC Christie Patterson.

Christie says gestures like this mean a lot to everyone at Country Terrace, as the pandemic is still creating challenges for everyone.

“The staff are still making sacrifices to protect the residents, and it has taken a toll,” she says. “(The church’s kind gesture shows) that people still care. It is truly a blessing.”

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Going above and beyond for residents is the OMNI way

Recent stories highlight the dedication team members have for the residents they serve

Residents are at the centre of everything OMNI Health Care team members do, and going above and beyond the call of duty to enhance the quality of life for residents comes with the territory.

In fact, it’s all part of a day’s work in OMNI homes.

When Jean Trombley, the wife of Burnbrae Gardens resident Frank Trombley, was getting ready to celebrate her 89th birthday in May, Lauren Farnham, a life enrichment aide at the Campbellford, Ont. long-term care home, organized a pandemic-safe reunion for the couple, who had not had a face-to-face visit in 14 months.

Frank, 93, 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,” he said.

“How do you explain how you feel after having not seen your wife for months? It was just tremendous.”

Springdale Country Manor resident Lillian de Bassecourt turned 101 on May 21, and team members at the Peterborough-area long-term care home helped her celebrate with a build-your-own pizza luncheon provided to her and other residents.

Lillian had “a wonderful time” celebrating her special day with residents and staff members, said Sonia Murney, Springdale’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

Aside from the pizza luncheon, which also featured ceasar salad, Canadian maple ice cream and beer for everyone, Lillian received flowers and a window visit from her local family members.

Lillian recently moved into a new room at Springdale Country Manor. Sonia says Lillian’s new room provides her with a “beautiful view” of the home’s back courtyard. Lillian enjoys watching birds eat at the feeder and looking at the flowers.

“She can also see the hills and the green farmers’ fields, and she just loves looking at the scenery,” Sonia said.

Meanwhile, at Pleasant Meadow Manor, team members provided the ladies living at the Norwood, Ont. long-term care home with a day of pampering just before Mother’s Day.

On their own time and at their own expense, care assistant Jamie Cochrane and personal support worker Jeanette Davis organized a spa day for the residents on May 7, the Friday before Mother’s Day.

Kim Williams, the life enrichment co-ordinator at Pleasant Meadow Manor, says Jamie and Jeanette transformed the home’s hairdressing salon into “a lovely, warm, relaxing and welcoming spa room.”

The spa Jamie and Jeanette provided residents included facial treatments to cleanse and exfoliate skin, and manicures to get nails looking their best.

Jamie and Jeanette practised COVID-19 safety measures to keep everyone safe, Kim notes.

“Our ladies loved it,” Kim said.

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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.

Three organizations team up to ask Canadians to help end elder abuse

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was on Tuesday (June 15), and the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (CNPEA), Elder Abuse Prevention Ontario and CanAge are teaming up to ask Canadians to help prevent elder abuse by raising awareness during their 2021 campaign.

The theme of this year’s campaign, entitled “Rights Don’t Get Old”, is focusing on spreading information to help protect and uphold the rights of seniors and prevent elder abuse.

Elder abuse can come in many forms, including physical, emotional and financial, as well as neglect and abandonment.

According to CNPEA, between seven and 10 per cent of older Canadians are the victims of elder abuse. Globally, CNPEA says it’s estimated one in six seniors have experienced elder abuse.

“The basic human rights of older Canadians are challenged and undercut every day and, tragically, this has never been more true than over the last year during the COVID-19 pandemic,” CNPEA says on its website.

To help people and organizations raise awareness of the issues surrounding elder abuse, the campaign organizers have created a social media guide. More information about the 2021 campaign can be found by visiting the CNPEA website.

The hashtag #RightsDoNotGetOld can be followed on social media.

This year marks the 16th annual WEAAD. WEAAD was first marked on June 15, 2006, by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations.

Since then, WEAAD events and activities have been held worldwide to bring attention to the issue of elder abuse. Organizations and communities have been encouraged to host awareness days and lead discussions about the prevention of elder abuse.

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OMNI is grieving with Canadians over recent tragedies

Two incidents making national and international headlines serve as reminders of both a dark part of Canada’s past as well as intolerance that, unfortunately, continues to plague the fringes of our society today.

In late May, it was reported that the separate graves of 215 children – some as young as 3 – were discovered by ground-penetrating radar at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C.

While this discovery sent shockwaves across the country, it also highlighted in bold print the mistreatment the people of Canada’s First Nations faced during the era of the residential school system.

It’s also a reminder that we still have a long way to go on the road to reconciliation.

This past Sunday, members of a Muslim family in London, Ont. were victims of a hit-and-run incident police are describing as a “premeditated” attack motivated by Islamophobia.

Four family members, aged 15 to 74, were killed as a result of this attack. A fifth victim, a 9-year-old boy, is recovering in hospital.

Canadians from coast to coast and representatives from all levels of government in every corner of the country have expressed their sorrow and dismay in the wake of these tragedies.

OMNI Health Care is proud to be a large family made up of residents and staff members living and working in our 18 homes who hail from all walks of life, cultures and faiths.

We value the contributions of people from rich, diverse cultures and backgrounds who make us stronger as an organization and as Canadians.

It goes without saying incidents like these impact us greatly.

These events have shone a light on the terrible consequences of racism in our society, whether systemic in nature or expressed overtly in words, actions or deeds.

But we also need to understand that intolerance and discrimination have always existed in our country, with particular impact on Indigenous Peoples, persons of colour and the Islamic communities.

It is important to speak of the terrible pain experienced then and now by First Nations communities torn apart by the racism and violence of the residential school system, and to express our sorrow and our support to the Islamic community affected directly by the violent act in London.

It is important to acknowledge and to speak out against all forms of racism that exist in our society, in the workplace, in our homes, in our communities and our institutions.

OMNI shares the grief and pain being felt across Canada and by the families and friends of the victims of these tragedies.

Seniors’ Month 2021 theme is Stay Safe, Active and Connected

June is Seniors’ Month in Ontario, and this year’s theme balances the importance of remaining vigilant about safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic with keeping a healthy body and mind.

The theme of this year’s Seniors Month is Stay Safe, Active and Connected.

In a press release, Ontario Seniors and Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho says Seniors’ Month is important because it highlights the contributions to society older Ontarians have made and continue to make.

“It is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the programs and services that are available to meet the immediate needs of seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” Cho says in the May 3 statement.

Cho notes that “great strides” have been made in 2021 to ensure Ontario seniors, including those living in long-term care homes, have been immunized against the highly contagious COVID-19 virus.

Most residents living in OMNI Health Care’s 18 long-term care homes have now received both required doses of the vaccines, and staff vaccinations are also well underway.

Homes are keeping safety precautions at the forefront while remaining mindful about the importance of providing a high quality of life to residents, which marries well with this year’s Seniors’ Month theme.

Indeed, staff members have been working hard to keep the quality of life high for residents by holding activities that adhere to the province’s safety guidelines.

In the press release, Cho asks organizations to share the link to the Seniors’ Month toolkit, which includes Seniors’ Month posters, a fact sheet and information about the Seniors Community Grant program.

What is your long-term care home doing in honour of Seniors’ Month? If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)

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Recommendations for LTC homes outlined in reports reflect positions OMNI and sector have long held

For many years, OMNI Health Care and the Ontario long-term care sector at large have been asking the province to improve funding aimed at resources to better safeguard long-term-care home residents against outbreaks and improving their quality of life as a whole.

Recent reports from the Auditor General of Ontario and the Ontario Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission evaluating the government’s pandemic readiness and response are now saying the same thing.

The COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization in March 2020. Throughout the course of the year, 76 per cent of Ontario’s long-term care homes reported COVID-19 infection in residents and staff members.

Since the pandemic began, Ontario long-term care homes have been working tirelessly to keep the virus at bay and to control outbreaks when they occur.

Despite their efforts, more than 3,900 residents have died after contracting the virus.

Any viral outbreak in a congregated living environment is worrisome, but because long-term care residences are home to many people who are at an advanced age and have existing health conditions, outbreaks are especially dangerous.

The Ontario Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission recognized this in its 322-page report and is calling on the province to take action to better ensure the safety of the province’s long-term-care home residents.

One recommendation the report and the long-term care sector have underscored is the need for the redevelopment of older homes.

Long-term care providers – including OMNI – have long advocated for improved funding to upgrade and rebuild homes to eliminate three- and four-bed wards, a move which would reduce the risk of viral infection.

While governments have worked to rectify this, escalating land and construction costs have hindered progress. The pandemic has raised additional barriers, including the lack of availability of liability insurance coverage for new homes. Bold action on all fronts is required to break this log jam.

The reports also recommend the province focus on increasing staffing levels of front-line workers, something OMNI and the long-term care sector have also been saying for many years.

But in order to attract staff to the sector, the province must be prepared to increase funding to match increased qualification requirements with improved salaries, and to improve staffing levels to meet growing care needs of an aging population.

Infection prevention and control (IPAC) is another area of concern raised in the reports. The long-term care sector has asked the province for funding to support dedicated IPAC staff for every home in the province to ensure practices meet established standards.

The sector is also recommending the province allocate more funding to provide greater IPAC resources within Ontario Health and public health units and to ensure quality and consistency of oversight and practice, avoiding the confusion of conflicting directions experienced by homes through the pandemic.

OMNI had a stored pandemic supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) available from the beginning of the pandemic, and our 18 homes at all times have had access to PPE. However, maintaining supplies was a continuing challenge throughout, and it’s essential government focus on ensuring sufficient supply lines and stocks domestically for this and future outbreaks.

There are numerous other recommendations contained in these reports, and action has already taken place on some fronts.

Significant challenges remain to be addressed, but we are hopeful that these reports, and the public spotlight upon long-term care challenges, will lead to systemic change for the benefit of residents, staff and families.

We know the government is taking these reports seriously and look forward to working together to build a better long-term care system.

Did you know today is World Hand Hygiene Day?

This year’s campaign slogan is ‘Seconds save lives – clean your hands!’

Hand-washing is so crucial to our health and well-being that the World Health Organization (WHO) has dedicated a special day to raise awareness about its importance.

The worldwide SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands campaign was launched in 2009, and since then May 5 has been designated as World Hand Hygiene Day.

While the vital role hand hygiene plays in infection prevention and control is well understood throughout the greater health-care sector, the annual campaign aims to keep its importance top of mind.

Given that we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, proper hand hygiene is more important than ever.

COVID-19, like other viruses, can be transmitted by touching our nose, eyes or mouth after being in contact with an infected surface. Washing hands properly and often kills pathogens that can cause illnesses.

In a statement, the WHO says the goal of the campaign is for health-care providers “to achieve effective hand-hygiene action at the point of care.”

In a long-term care setting, the point of care refers to three elements: the resident, the staff member and the treatment or care being provided to the resident by the staff member involving contact.

The slogan for this year’s campaign is “Seconds save lives – clean your hands!”

“Hand hygiene is one of the most effective actions you can take to reduce the spread of pathogens and prevent infections, including the COVID-19 virus,” the WHO says.

“The WHO global hand-hygiene campaign SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands mobilizes people around the world to increase adherence to hand hygiene in health-care facilities, thus protecting health-care workers and patient from COVID-19 and other pathogens.”

Click here for more information about the SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands 2021 campaign.

Social media hashtags to look out for during this year’s campaign include #safehands, #handhygiene and #infectionprevention.

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Staff members’ creativity keeping quality of life high in OMNI homes

Providing residents living in OMNI Health Care’s 18 long-term care homes with a high quality of life is central to the organization’s mission, and this has been especially important during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Team members working in OMNI homes have been consistently finding creative solutions to keep residents happy during this challenging time, a true testament to their dedication to the residents they serve.

In late March, Frost Manor hosted its annual Tropical Day, which proved to be a big hit with residents and staff members alike.

One of the major highlights of the event was the environmental services team dressing up in seashell-top bikinis, grass skirts and leis and doing a Hawaiian dance through the dining rooms during breakfast, a gesture that received a round of applause from residents and their fellow staff members.

With restrictions in place to keep everyone safe during the pandemic, the team wanted to bring some extra fun and laughter to everyone to keep spirits up, says Frost Manor environmental services and maintenance manager Rick Riel.

“There was much-needed laughter and funny comments,” he says.

Burnbrae Gardens life enrichment aide Shawna Booth has created a multifaceted music program called Music Appreciation that has been successful at engaging residents in an activity that combines music, exercise and reminiscing.

The program, which Shawna hosts once a week, always has a different theme. The program has even attracted residents who often don’t participate in activities.

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.

In mid-February, West Lake Terrace hosted an activity week that was highlighted by team members turning the dining room into a 1950s-style diner.

The menu featured items such as burgers, hot dogs, fries and onion rings, and everything was served in baskets lined with checkered paper. There were ice-cream sundaes for dessert and cherry cola to wash everything down.

For life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard, the 1950s theme day was the pinnacle of a week of fun events that aimed to blow away the winter blues.

“We really wanted to be creative this year to come up with activities that would help both the residents and the staff beat the blahs this year,” she says.

EDITORIAL: Despite pandemic, things are looking up in 2021

Although we have entered the third wave of COVID-19, and despite the challenges we continue to face as health-care providers in the midst of a pandemic, there are many positive things to report in the first quarter of 2021.

The best news for OMNI Health Care so far this year has been the arrival of vaccines to help protect our long-term-care home residents and staff members against the highly contagious COVID-19 virus.

Most residents living in OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes have now received both required doses of the vaccines, and staff vaccinations are also well underway.

Since January, when the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines became available, OMNI homes and local public health units have shown outstanding collaboration to ensure every resident wishing to be immunized received the vaccine.

While vigilance will continue to be required, with the vast majority of OMNI residents now vaccinated we have taken a huge step forward on the path back to normality.

There has also been some great news this year with respect to the redevelopment of OMNI homes.

Most recently, the Ontario government announced that funding has been approved to build a new 192-bed long-term care home in Cobourg to replace Streamway Villa.

Streamway Villa is the latest OMNI long-term care home to receive approval for redevelopment. There are six other homes that have now been approved for redevelopment, and construction is well underway at three of these homes: Almonte Country Haven, Pleasant Meadow Manor and Woodland Villa.

Redevelopment projects to renovate Country Terrace and build a new Riverview Manor in Peterborough will also begin this year, while the first phase of planning for the construction of a new Village Green in Greater Napanee will also begin.

Through all the ups and downs the past year has brought, the people working in our long-term care homes continue to be stalwart supporters of residents.

With changing circumstances throughout the pandemic, residents have had to adapt to the challenges that come with safety restrictions, but they have been supported along the way by staff members who have shown their love and kindness at every turn.

Through the creative programs they design that meet safety requirements, to organizing safe visits with families, to one-to-one time they spend with residents who need someone to talk with, the people working in our homes have, perhaps more than ever, been living OMNI’s mission of bringing hope, purpose and belonging to health care.

While these may be challenging times, there’s a lot to be thankful for.

OMNI joins CaRES Fund to help families of senior living workers financially impacted by COVID-19

Launched in 2020, the CaRES Fund has provided more than $2.3 million to help support 679 Canadian caregivers and their families

OMNI Health Care announced today it has joined a partnership launched last year by four other long-term care providers to offer one-time financial relief to those working in senior living residences across Canada who require assistance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senior Living CaRES Fund was created by long-term care and retirement home providers Chartwell, Revera, Extendicare and Sienna (CaRES) in May 2020 to help people working for any provider of long-term care or retirement homes in Canada whose families have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

Southbridge Care Homes, a Cambridge, Ont.-based provider of long-term care and retirement homes, also joined the partnership today.

Patrick McCarthy, OMNI Health Care’s president and CEO, says OMNI understands the financial impact the pandemic has had on many Canadian families, including the families of people working in the long-term care sector.

OMNI wanted to join the partnership to help support those families and the employees who have dedicated themselves to caring for long-term care and retirement home residents during a challenging and uncertain time, he says.

“The CaRES Fund has supported hundreds of dedicated senior living employees from across the country,” McCarthy says.

“We look forward to joining the founding partners in supporting hundreds more in 2021.”

Applicants are eligible to receive up to $10,000 through the fund. To date, more than $2.3 million has been awarded to 679 people working in Canadian long-term care and retirement homes.

The CaRES Fund offers grants, not loans, so monies awarded do not need to be repaid.

The CaRES Fund will continue offering financial assistance to senior living residence employees facing financial challenges throughout 2021 by reviewing applications every quarter.

Applications for the first-quarter review open today (March 22) and close April 9.

Click here for more information on the CaRES Fund.

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