CEO excited about working with OMNI team to pave the path ahead

‘I see a bright future for OMNI,’ says Raheem Hirji

OMNI Health Care president and CEO Raheem Hirji says he’s excited about working with team members from across the organization to pave the path for the future.

And it’s a future full of possibilities and growth, Raheem says, adding what will remain firmly in place is the people-focused culture and cohesive environment the organization has always valued.

Raheem, who became OMNI Health Care’s president and CEO on May 9, says the capital redevelopment projects several OMNI homes are undergoing, as well as potential new opportunities for redevelopment, will be a big part of the organization in the foreseeable future. There may also be opportunities to expand into new avenues, such as retirement living, further down the road, he adds.

But future growth is dependent upon the continued development of people, and in the short term, that’s where Raheem wants to set OMNI’s sights.

“I see a bright future for OMNI,” Raheem tells The OMNIway. “I think there’s a ton of opportunities, and the paramount thing to that is growth and being able to develop the people, and also, while you’re growing, keeping that core culture and close-knit community feel that we have.”

Raheem says the most important part of what he calls his “first 100 days” will be getting to know the people working throughout the organization and learning more about OMNI’s key strengths and assets.

“I’m really excited to be joining and learning from the team, and the approach is going to be learning from the experts who have done this for a number of years and being able to be a team, so I am super excited,” he says.

Learning as much as he can about the OMNI of today will help Raheem and other team leaders chart the course to create the OMNI of tomorrow, he says.

“The way I look at it, the biggest asset OMNI has is not the real estate and it’s not the homes, the biggest asset is really the people, and I cannot emphasize that enough,” Raheem says.

“The people are what gives me hope. I know there’s a number of people who have been (at OMNI) for a long, long time and have really steered the direction of OMNI, and it’s really the people that contribute to this business and contribute meaningful moments that allow our residents to call this home. That’s what gives me the most optimism about the future.”

– This is Part 2 of a two-part story

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CNA urges Canadians to support Nursing Week

‘The pandemic brought to light the courage and commitment that nurses work under every day and showed the important role that nurses play in the community’

This week is National Nursing Week in Canada, and the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), the organization promoting this annual seven-day event, is offering some ideas to help long-term care homes, hospitals and other health-care providers acknowledge their nurses and personal support workers (PSWs) who are dedicated to caring for others.

To celebrate front-line team members, CNA says people and organizations can post stories and photos highlighting the work nurses and PSWs do. Hashtags, including #WeAnswerTheCall, #NationalNursingWeek and #Nurses2022, can be used with posts.

The theme of this year’s Nursing Week is #WeAnswerTheCall.

“The theme this year is #WeAnswerTheCall and was developed by CNA to showcase the many roles that nurses play in a patient’s health-care journey,” CNA states on its website.

While front-line staff members have always been the backbone of the greater health-care sector, the CNA underscores the impact caregivers have had since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

“The pandemic brought to light the courage and commitment that nurses work under every day and showed the important role that nurses play in the community,” the organization says.

In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saluted front-line caregivers for their commitment to others.

“To all nurses across Canada, I express my heartfelt gratitude for your hard work and devotion,” he said. “You can take pride in knowing that you are helping to build a better Canada every day.”

National Nursing Week 2022 is May 9-15. The week is set aside to acknowledge nurses for their work. Health-care organizations across Canada dedicate the week every year to acknowledging nursing teams.

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 Canada’s health-care system.

Click here to learn more about Nursing Week.

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OMNI is about people. And that’s the way Raheem Hirji likes it

The organization’s new president and CEO says he’s looking forward to working with the OMNI team and building upon the ‘great work’ already accomplished

As he starts the next chapter in an already rich career in the long-term care and retirement living sectors, Raheem Hirji, OMNI Health Care’s new president and CEO, says what’s exciting him most is the opportunity he will have to get to know and work with the people who comprise the organization.

Long-term care is a people-based business, and people are OMNI’s greatest asset. This is a sentiment Raheem, who previously held executive positions at Sienna Senior Living (formerly Leisureworld) and, most recently, at Seasons Retirement Communities, where he served as chief financial officer, cannot underscore enough.

“I’m really excited about meeting the people,” Raheem, who starts his position today, tells The OMNIway.

“I’ve been in the industry now for a number of years, and (I know that) OMNI has had a phenomenal reputation and culture centred around quality and care, and that’s really a testament to the people who contribute to that, day in and day out.

“As I gear up and get ready to start, I’m most excited about meeting people because this is a people business at the end of the day, and that’s what makes this business move forward.”

By working with people from across the organization, Raheem says he sees many opportunities on the horizon to build upon the “great work” OMNI’s leadership team has accomplished over the years and take OMNI’s reputation, both as a long-term care provider of choice and employer of choice, to the next level.

Topping the list of exciting times ahead Raheem sees is the completion of redevelopment projects at several OMNI homes – including the rebuilding of four homes – that will enhance the living experience for residents and the working experience for staff.

Patrick McCarthy, OMNI’s previous president and CEO, has stepped down from the position as he prepares for retirement, but he is continuing with OMNI in an advisory role for a period of time not yet determined. Raheem commends Patrick and the rest of the leadership team for laying the groundwork that’s making future opportunities possible.

“I think we’re at an exciting time in the company’s evolution, so that’s what really stands out,” Raheem says. “There’s a ton of opportunity to build on the great work that Pat and the leadership team have already done so much of, and obviously the organization is well in hand, so I’m just excited about building upon that.”

– This is Part 1 of a two-part story

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March Madness recipe challenge winds down to the Battle of the Beef

Voters will choose between Asian beef steak and steak salad

And then there were two.

As we enter the fourth round and final week of voting in the first annual OMNI Health Care March Madness recipe challenge, it’s down to the Battle of the Beef.

Voters are now tasked to choose whether the Asian beef steak or steak salad will take first place and give the meal’s creator both bragging rights and a $100 gift card.

The OMNIway is keeping the identity of each meal’s creator secret until after the contest is finished on May 6.

You can click here to vote in the finals of the bracket contest.

OMNI launched the March Madness recipe challenge in March in recognition of Nutrition Month in Canada.

The idea behind the contest was hatched by Chris Weber, OMNI’s operations manager of nutrition and food service, to encourage nutritional care managers and cooks to showcase their most-loved recipes and to highlight the high-quality meals served in OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes.

Throughout March, nutritional care managers and cooks prepared their favourite meals, plated them and took photos that were sent to head office. The photos were accompanied by the name of each meal and its recipe.

Sixteen recipes were entered.

After the contest is finished, The OMNIway will highlight each meal and its creator in a series of stories that will run throughout the coming months.

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March Madness recipe challenge now down to four contenders

Asian beef, Mediterranean omelette, chicken shawarma sandwich and steak salad are the meals advancing to the semi-finals

The quarter-final votes are in and counted, and there are four meals advancing to the next round of voting in OMNI Health Care’s first annual March Madness recipe challenge.

The meals advancing to the semifinal round are:

– Asian beef

– Mediterranean omelette

– Chicken shawarma sandwich

– Steak salad

You can click here to vote for your favourite meals in Round 3 of the bracket contest.

OMNI launched the first annual March Madness recipe challenge in March in recognition of Nutrition Month in Canada.

The idea behind the contest was hatched by Chris Weber, OMNI’s operations manager of nutrition and food service, to encourage nutritional care managers and cooks to showcase their most-loved recipes and to highlight the high-quality meals served in OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes.

Throughout March, nutritional care managers and cooks prepared their favourite meals, plated them and took photos that were sent to head office. The photos were accompanied by the name of each meal and its recipe.

Each week, throughout the contest’s duration, The OMNIway will announce the winners from the previous week’s match-ups in a story on this site.

The semifinals will end the week of April 29, and the final week of voting will end May 6 to decide the winning recipe.

If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

If you have feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

Dietary team members share their passion for making residents happy through meal service

Cooks and dietary aides profiled recently share a passion for their work and a love for serving residents

In honour of Nutrition Month, The OMNIway profiled several cooks and dietary aides working in nutritional care departments at OMNI Health Care long-term care homes throughout March.

Common threads among everyone we spoke with were a passion for their work and a love for serving residents.

Streamway Villa cook Litsa Christodoulou said every shift she works at the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home is a chance to make a difference in residents’ lives.

It can be something as simple as plating meals colourfully or making a happy face out of bacon and eggs, she says.

“I know it might sound a little bit kooky, but they love it; they will think that is the greatest thing,” Litsa tells The OMNIway.

Litsa has been doing “kooky” things like this for residents for seven years, and she says there’s no other job she can imagine doing.

“The thing I love about working in long-term care is the residents,” she says. “Putting a smile on residents’ faces – there is nothing more rewarding than that.”

Like cooks, dietary aides at OMNI homes also have a passion for making a difference in residents’ lives.

Roseann Evans has been a dietary aide at Willows Estate in Aurora for a year. Before that, she honed her hospitality skills working as a supervisor on cruise ships for 17 years.

Making the shift from working on cruise ships to working in a long-term care home has come with rewards, Roseann says, noting working at the Willows has given her the opportunity to ensure residents receive high-quality meal service.

And there’s also that personal touch that comes with working in a long-term care home.

“It’s a rewarding job, especially when you see the smiles on the residents’ faces and they call you by your name, that’s the thing for me,” Roseann says.

At Country Terrace in Komoka, Georgina Pantazopoulos works both as a cook and a dietary aide. She says having these dual roles lets her create the meals that make residents happy as well as the opportunity to see the smiles on residents’ faces when she is serving them as a dietary aide.

Aside from being able to make a difference to residents each day, Georgina also commends her colleagues at Country Terrace for making it an ideal workplace.

“Everyone is so upbeat and caring, and that’s really nice – and that really makes a difference,” she says.

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Eight meals advance to second round of voting in March Madness recipe challenge

First round of voting between 16 meals was tight

Results from the first week of voting in OMNI Health Care’s first annual March Madness recipe challenge are in, and from the 16 entries submitted by nutritional care team members, eight meals have advanced to the second round.

During the first week of voting in the culinary battle royal, there were close calls across the board, but in the end, voters chose the victors who are moving on to Round 2.

You can click here to vote for your favourite meals in Round 2 of the bracket contest.

The meals that advanced to the next round of voting are:

– Asian beef

– Turkey club sandwich

– Mediterranean omelet

– Greek kabob

– Beef patty with mushroom sauce

– Chicken shawarma sandwich

– Tenderloin steak

– Steak salad

OMNI launched the first annual March Madness recipe challenge in March in recognition of Nutrition Month in Canada.

The idea behind the contest was hatched by Chris Weber, OMNI’s operations manager of nutrition and food service, to encourage nutritional care managers and cooks to showcase their most-loved recipes and to highlight the high-quality meals served in OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes.

Throughout March, nutritional care managers and cooks prepared their favourite meals, plated them and took photos that were sent to head office. The photos were accompanied by the name of each meal and its recipe.

Each Tuesday throughout the contest’s duration, The OMNIway will announce the winners from the previous week’s match-ups in a story on this site.

If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

If you have feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

Voting begins for OMNI’s first annual March Madness recipe contest

Nutritional care team members have submitted their favourite recipes for the challenge. Now you get to vote for your favourite OMNI meals

Nutritional care team members from across OMNI Health Care have submitted favourite recipes they create for residents in the long-term care homes where they work, and now you can vote for the recipes you like best based on two criteria: plate presentation and appeal.

You can click on this link to vote.

Last Month, OMNI launched the first annual March Madness recipe challenge in recognition of March being Nutrition Month in Canada. The idea behind the contest was hatched by Chris Weber, OMNI’s operations manager of nutrition and food service, to encourage team members to showcase their most-loved recipes and to highlight the high-quality meals served in OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes.

Throughout March, nutritional care managers and cooks prepared their favourite meals, plated them and took photos that were sent to head office. The photos were accompanied by the name of each meal and its recipe.

In total, 16 entries were submitted.

Each submission has been uploaded to a third-party website where voters can choose between pairs of meals in a bracket contest similar to sports playoffs.

There will be four rounds of voting.

The first voting round, which will end Friday, April 22, will see eight entries advance to the quarter-final match-ups the week ending April 29. The semi-finals will end the week of May 6, and the final week of voting will end May 13 to decide the winning recipe.

Each Tuesday throughout the contest’s duration, The OMNIway will announce the winners from the previous week’s match-ups in a story on this site.

The contest winner will receive a $100 gift card.

If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

If you have feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

Teamwork shines brightly at OMNI homes

Vigorous collaboration among staff members has maintained high-quality resident care throughout challenging times

Strong teamwork – it’s a theme we’ve seen highlighted in OMNIway stories in the first quarter of 2022, and vigorous collaboration among staff members is a cornerstone of ensuring quality care is delivered to the residents of OMNI Health Care long-term care homes.

At Garden Terrace in Kanata, Ont., life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Rachael King said team members working in her department stepped up and helped their colleagues wherever they could during an outbreak at the start of the year.

She notes that several life enrichment team members who have their personal support worker (PSW) certification stepped in to help PSWs when they were short-staffed to provide resident care as well as to assist residents with feeding at mealtimes and other duties during the outbreak, which ended in early February.

All the while, they continued to provide meaningful one-to-one time with residents to ensure they received the important social and activity time they needed.

“Everyone has banded together and taken on different roles; they have worked together as a team to make it happen because, at the end of the day, they know that they are here for the residents,” Rachael said.

At nearby Forest Hill, LEC Craig Forrest applauded life enrichment staff for helping the home’s environmental services team strengthen infection prevention protocols.

Throughout the pandemic, sanitizing high-touch areas, such as handrails, light switches, telephones and door handles, has been highly increased, he noted.

On top of the extra attention the environmental services team members are paying to disinfecting these areas, the life enrichment team has pitched in to bolster these infection control measures, Craig said.

“The (environmental services) staff is doing their job, but they have such a heavy workload and with (life enrichment staff) helping them when they can, it makes a difference,” he said.

“Wherever they’re needed, they will go to help out.”

Strong teamwork has also been ensuring seamless meal service at Country Terrace, as the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home goes through a redevelopment project to add 50,518 square feet and eight beds to the home.

Alex Achillini, the Country Terrace nutritional care manager (NCM), said his team’s goal is to work within the challenges that arise to ensure the high-quality food service residents expect is not impacted by the renovations.

“We want to make sure the food service is in a timely manner and that the food is (served) at the right temperature – and there are a lot of factors that have to be looked after,” he said.

Alex also commends the nutritional care team as well as all departments at Country Terrace for adapting well to changing circumstances and for keeping the quality of life high for residents throughout the changes.

“They have been very good – the whole home has been good – at adapting to the changes,” he said.

Did you know today is World Parkinson’s Day?

Today (April 11) marks World Parkinson’s Day, named in honour of Dr. James Parkinson, the British surgeon who, in 1817, first described the symptoms of the neurological condition we today call Parkinson’s disease, and who was born on this day in 1755.

Parkinson’s disease is a condition affecting more than 100,000 Canadians, according to Parkinson Canada, a national nonprofit organization advocating for people living with Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson Canada estimates that as many as 30 Canadians per day will be diagnosed with the condition in the coming years.

Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder caused by a deficit of dopamine-producing neurons in regions of the brain controlling movement, is also a condition affecting many people living in long-term care homes.

“It is one of the fastest-growing neurological diseases in the world, and Canada has one of the highest prevalence rates compared to other countries,” Parkinson Canada states.

Each World Parkinson’s Day and throughout April, which is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, Parkinson Canada steps up its advocacy to bring attention to the condition and its impact on people through awareness events, social media campaigns and fundraising.

“World Parkinson’s Day increases awareness of Parkinson’s and is intended to spur new research and treatment initiatives,” a backgrounder on the Parkinson Canada website states.

“Parkinson Canada works to educate the public, particularly during the month of April, Parkinson Awareness Month, by hosting fundraising and awareness events and reaching out to Canadians with Parkinson’s and the general public in communities across Canada.”

People and organizations, including long-term care homes, can help raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease through social media or by visiting the Parkinson Canada website for more information.

On social media, the hashtags #ParkinsonAwarenessMonth and #PartnersInParkinsons can be followed for more information.

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