Did you know today is World Alzheimer’s Day?

The campaign’s organizing associations offer ideas to help people and workplaces raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, a campaign that takes place across the globe every year to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia as well as to share information on how to help people affected by cognitive impairment.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, and World Alzheimer’s Day is the focal point of the campaign, which is organized by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), an association of organizations across the world that work to raise awareness of the chronic neurodegenerative disease and to reduce its stigma.

The Alzheimer Society of Canada estimates that 597,300 Canadians were living with dementia in 2020. By 2030, the organization expects that number to grow to nearly one million.

As with Alzheimer’s Month, the theme for Alzheimer’s Day 2022 is Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s, which is the continuation of the 2021 theme.

Due to “recent developments and potential breakthroughs, in both dementia treatment and support,” there will also be a significant focus on examining the importance of post-diagnostic support for people living with Alzheimer’s, ADI says.

On its website, UK-based organization Inclusive Employers says individuals and workplaces can get involved with World Alzheimer’s Day by hosting fundraising events, promoting awareness through social media, learning more about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and revisiting workplace policies.

ADI notes that people and workplaces can host events virtually.

“Since COVID-19, many associations, including ADI members, host events and activities virtually,” ADI says on its website. “These activities include webinars, remote memory walks and more.”

ADI says people and organizations looking to use social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness can use the hashtags #KnowDementia and #KnowAlzheimers for this year’s campaign.

You can learn more about World Alzheimer’s Day and Alzheimer’s month by visiting the ADI website.

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Alzheimer’s Month 2022 continues to stress importance of diagnosis and early detection

The Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s campaign will also focus on post-diagnostic support

Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) is continuing to stress the importance of early diagnosis and helping people understand the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia during the 2022 World Alzheimer’s Month campaign with an added focus on post-diagnostic support.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month. ADI, a federation of Alzheimer’s associations across the globe, is working to raise awareness of the prevalence of the chronic neurodegenerative disease as well as trying to reduce its stigma.

The Alzheimer Society of Canada estimates that 597,300 Canadians were living with dementia in 2020. By 2030, the organization expects that number to grow to nearly one million.

The 2022 Alzheimer’s Month campaign is again called Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s, but due to “recent developments and potential breakthroughs, in both dementia treatment and support,” there will also be a significant focus on examining the importance of post-diagnostic support for people with Alzheimer’s, ADI has stated.

“The 2022 campaign is intended to follow on from the 2021 campaign, which focused on the journey of receiving an Alzheimer’s disease or dementia diagnosis, as well as the warning signs of dementia, the continued effect of COVID-19 on the global dementia community and more,” ADI says on its website.

“By continuing to raise global awareness and knowledge, people, families, communities and governments are better armed with information and advice to prepare, adapt and support those who are most affected.”

To help raise awareness, ADI is asking people and organizations to get involved with this year’s campaign.

ADI is offering campaign resources and materials on its website to help people and organizations spread the word about World Alzheimer’s Month 2022.

ADI says one way to raise awareness is through social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. The hashtags for this year’s campaign are #KnowDementia and #KnowAlzheimers.

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OMNI residents enjoying the flavours of summer

One of the highlights of summer is enjoying foods that are connected to the season, and OMNI Health Care seniors’ homes have been helping residents sample some of the best sweet and savoury selections that July and August offer.

Residents of Streamway Villa, along with family members and staff, made their way to the Northumberland Ribfest and Music Festival for the first time since 2019 to enjoy the barbecued fare for which the event is famous.

After tucking into barbecued ribs, chicken and pulled pork during their Aug. 12 visit, the residents even held their own contest to choose a winner in each food category.

“The day went really well; there was beautiful weather and we stayed for a couple of hours, the time just flew by,” said Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Laurie Kracht.

Strawberries, as everyone knows, are a huge summertime favourite treat. The Almonte Country Haven team organized a strawberry social for residents July 20. Angel food cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream was the star of the show.

Country Haven LEC Naomi Redner said the strawberries served at the event were locally grown, adding most of the home’s 57 residents attended the event.

“Our strawberry social was enjoyed by all,” she said, adding the event brought back fond memories for many.

“Residents (were served) such a familiar dessert that they would have made during the berry season when at home over the years. The whole dining room smelled like strawberries. It was a happy afternoon.”

There was also a tasty walk down memory lane for the residents of Country Terrace in July when they were treated to a trip to Mackie’s restaurant in Port Stanley.

Located on the shores of Lake Erie, Mackie’s has been a fixture in southwestern Ontario for 111 years. Enjoying the hamburgers, hot dogs, fish and chips, and Mackie’s famous homemade beverage, Orangeade, brought back memories of many summers for residents.

After lunch, residents had ice cream and then got to take a walk along the beach. The Port Stanley beach is wheelchair accessible which allowed all residents to participate.

“The residents loved it; it was such a beautiful day,” said LEC Lora Blackett. “It was nice and sunny, and they were able to eat outside and look at the water and watch the kids playing on the beach.”

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OMNI social worker recalls how helping a resident self-advocate changed their home experience

‘The experience of self-advocating really did wonders for the resident’

During the five months she has been a social worker at five OMNI Health Care long-term care homes, Alicia Niewiatowska has provided many interventions that have helped enhance residents’ home experience, but there’s one that stands out in her mind.

A resident at one of the homes Alicia works with was struggling with mental-health issues exacerbated by isolation during the pandemic. As a result, the resident began experiencing agitation that led to behaviours.

Front-line staff members were working hard to help the resident, but they were struggling to provide the needed supports.

Alicia was brought in to meet with the resident and provide interventions, one of which was helping the resident voice concerns they had, and empower the resident to take some control over their situation.

Alicia encouraged the resident to write a letter to the home’s administrator to explain their concerns. Alicia also supported the resident when they met with the administrator to get their perspective known.

“The experience of self-advocating really did wonders for the resident,” Alicia tells The OMNIway.

“The intervention of being able to speak up, to be heard, to be autonomous, and to have that agency over their own experience and their own residency in the home, that, in and of itself, really eliminated 80 per cent of (the issues) the resident was having.”

OMNI began rolling out a social worker program in many of its seniors’ homes earlier this year. Alicia says this initiative is not only innovative and fills a needed gap by addressing residents’ psycho-social needs, it is also alleviating pressure on front-line staff members who would otherwise be called to help.

Alicia says staff members approached her to say that after this intervention, the resident’s quality of life – and outlook – improved. The resident didn’t need medical intervention, they needed a psycho-social intervention, and that’s where an in-house social worker can help, she adds.

“That was a great success,” she says.

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Social workers add another layer to OMNI’s quality commitment

By addressing residents’ non-medical needs, social workers are also helping ease workloads for front-line staff

OMNI Health Care strives to provide the residents of its seniors homes with the best quality of life possible, and the in-house social worker program the organization created this year is one more example of that commitment, says Alicia Niewiatowska.

Alicia, a social worker who has been working with the residents of five OMNI homes – Kentwood Park, Rosebridge Manor, Village Green, West Lake Terrace and Woodland Villa – since March, says that in addition to the daily care residents require, many also have psycho-social issues that need to be addressed.

This is where social workers can help.

“If our residents are to receive a quality of care that addresses and meets all of their needs, then a social worker does play an integral part (of their home experience),” Alicia tells The OMNIway.

“Anything that the front-line staff may not have time for now, we (social workers) can start putting in the time to go the extra mile, to get resources in place.”

Alicia says that could mean anything from advocating for residents to co-ordinating transportation to connecting with a local library to provide residents with large-print books.

“When residents ask me what I do, I tell them, nothing medical, but I deal with anything that’s not medical,” she says.

“Anything that citizens out in the community enjoy but the residents maybe can’t, we want to try to fill in those gaps – especially after the isolation (some felt) during the pandemic.”

OMNI began rolling out a social worker program in many of its seniors homes earlier this year. Alicia says this initiative is not only innovative and fills a needed gap by addressing residents’ psycho-social needs, it’s also alleviating pressure on front-line staff members who would otherwise be called in to help.

With the nursing shortage that exists across the long-term care sector, Alicia says she thinks there will be an increasing demand for social workers in seniors homes.

“A lot of the front-line staff I’ve seen at OMNI go above and beyond; they are really amazing with the care that they provide, but given the staffing shortages, it just makes sense to try to support the staff that’s already on the floor with some additional hands,” she says.

– This is Part 3 of a four-part story series.

Click here to read Part 1

Click here to read Part 2

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Pandemic has highlighted the need for psycho-social support in LTC: social worker

‘Social work provides a more holistic approach to the resident care’

There’s a crucial need for long-term-care home residents to be able to access psycho-social support, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made this clear, says OMNI Health Care social worker Alicia Niewiatowska.

When the pandemic began in March 2020, long-term-care home residents across Canada faced isolation as homes went into lockdown to prevent the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus.

As a result, residents could not visit their loved ones face to face for several months, which had a detrimental impact on many, says Alicia, who has serves the residents of five OMNI homes, Kentwood Park, Rosebridge Manor, Village Green, West Lake Terrace and Woodland Villa.

As such, homes everywhere began to see an increased need for in-house psycho-social support for residents. OMNI, Alicia says, rose to the challenge this year by hiring social workers to serve the residents of their homes.

So, what does a day in the life of a long-term-care home social worker look like?

“It looks different every day,” Alicia tells The OMNIway, adding the variety of tasks that come with her role is her favourite part of the job.

Much of her day may be spent building rapport with residents and their loved ones. She also consults with staff members, especially Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) team members who work with residents experiencing agitation or exhibiting behaviours, to get updates on residents and to provide them with emotional support.

Alicia also spends a good deal of time engaging with a wide range of community partners that run the gamut from geriatric psychiatry professionals to public libraries.

“It’s a mixed bag, for sure,” she says of her job.

What sets social workers apart from other long-term-care home team members is that social workers do not use the medical model of treatment, Alicia says.

“We provide an alternate perspective, that is, at times, very much in contrast to the medical model,” she says.

“Social work provides a more holistic approach to the resident care.”

– This is Part 2 of a four-part story series about the role of social work in OMNI Health Care homes. Click here to read Part 1.

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In-house social workers add a new dynamic to OMNI homes

By providing social work services to residents, OMNI is staying ahead of the curve among LTC providers, says Alicia Niewiatowska

Social worker Alicia Niewiatowska says she has a unique but clearly defined role to play in the lives of residents living at the five OMNI Health Care long-term care homes she serves – and that’s to “enhance their quality of life from a psycho-social perspective, because the medical one is well covered.”

Alicia is one of the social workers who have joined the OMNI team this year to add a new dynamic to the organization and take the high level of care OMNI prides itself on up another notch.

Since March, she has served the residents of Kentwood Park, Rosebridge Manor, Village Green, West Lake Terrace and Woodland Villa as an in-house advocate when they need someone to talk with or if they require mental-health support.

Alicia says the role OMNI has created for social workers is unique.

“Social workers (in long-term care homes) are usually relegated to the admissions process or doing community liaison work with other agencies, but (OMNI’s) program is really looking to be much more in-depth and focused on psycho-social needs,” she tells The OMNIway.

Alicia is also at the ready to help family members navigate the system when needed as well as to connect residents with valuable services they may want outside the home, such as library programs.

Alicia worked in the long-term care sector before joining the OMNI team, and she brings a wealth of experience working with residents and family members to her role.

One of the aspects of her job Alicia says she likes best is that she’s a “mobile social worker,” serving many residents at different homes, which broadens the positive impact she can make.

OMNI has rolled out a social worker program across many of its seniors homes this year, and Alicia is crediting the organization for positioning itself ahead of the curve by recognizing the need for social work in the seniors home sector and understanding the important part social workers can play enhancing quality of life for long-term-care home residents.

Ontario long-term care homes are not mandated to have social workers on staff. The addition of social workers to the organization shows OMNI’s commitment to residents, Alicia says.

“OMNI is going ahead and doing what they think is best for residents, which I wholeheartedly agree with,” she says.

– This is Part 1 of a four-part story series about the role of social workers in OMNI Health Care homes.

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Editorial: Team members continue to champion the balance of safety and quality of life

For the first summer in two years, the residents of OMNI Health Care seniors homes are enjoying many of the activities and events they were attending before the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

Since provincial pandemic restrictions began to ease earlier this year, we have been hearing how residents have once again been joyfully participating in mainstays of life at OMNI homes, such as barbecues, outings and live entertainment.

With the arrival of warmer weather, of course, there have also been more opportunities for residents to enjoy outdoor activities and to spend time outside with family and friends.

Indeed, this has been wonderful to see, and we have been sharing many stories in The OMNIway this summer that have centred on how residents are experiencing a huge uptick in their quality of life.

So far this summer, we have seen how residents have gone on trips to beaches, attended cookouts on home patios and enjoyed lots of live entertainment, just to name a few things.

Even though restrictions have eased, we have not lost sight of the fact that we are still in a pandemic. COVID-19 remains a serious issue for the greater health-care sector and keeping everyone safe from the virus is top priority.

What has truly shone through is the importance of balance – and how the team members working in our seniors homes have managed to strike that important balance between maintaining safety and providing a high quality of life for the residents they serve.

The people working in OMNI seniors homes work hard to support residents so they can enjoy life to its fullest and ensure OMNI is the seniors home provider of choice.

While the pandemic has posed challenges for everyone in the seniors living sector, it has also shown how resilient and resourceful OMNI team members are and how they come together to persevere during the most trying times.

A huge thank-you is due to all OMNI team members for the value they deliver every day.

A casino, a henna tattoo parlour and a ’50s-style diner are among the quality programming themes residents have recently enjoyed

What do a casino, a 1950s-style diner and a henna tattoo parlour have in common? They’re all creative themes OMNI Health Care life enrichment teams have recently developed to deliver meaningful programming to residents.

Life enrichment teams across the organization work diligently every day to offer programming residents enjoy and help enhance their quality of life. Oftentimes, this means thinking outside the box.

At Frost Manor, team members tapped into residents’ love of games of chance to create a casino theme that ran for an entire month. To make the event authentic, the talented life enrichment team made a slot machine by loading a tablet with gaming apps and encasing it in a cardboard cover that resembled a one-armed bandit.

Team members came up with several other games, including casino pong; a poker game called “take-a-chance”; and dart poker, a game that saw residents use Nerf guns to try to hit cards to make a hand.

Team members also made a photo booth for residents that was covered with images of playing cards and dice.

Life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Amy Whitehead says the Frost Casino, as it was called, proved to be an excellent engagement tool.

“This gave a little extra incentive for the residents to come to programming,” she said.

At Garden Terrace, residents were introduced to henna tattoos with a program that not only explained the history of this traditional South Asian body art, but also gave residents a chance to get their own henna designs.

About 12 residents participated in the program. Because some people have a reaction to henna ink, life enrichment aide Neelam Luthara made a different version that everyone could use.

Neelam, who is from a South Asian background, shared the history of henna tattoos as well as interesting facts about the designs.

At Pleasant Meadow Manor, the life enrichment and nutritional care teams worked together to create a memorable 1950s-style diner that proved popular with residents.

LEC Kim Williams asked nutritional care manager Judy Schell if she and her team could make onion rings for residents on June 22 to celebrate National Onion Ring Day.

Judy liked the idea but suggested they do more than just make onion rings. She envisioned making onion rings as well as hamburgers, chicken burgers, french fries and root beer floats to create a 1950s-style diner atmosphere that would bring back fond memories for residents.

When the day came, team members served residents wearing special hand-painted hairnets, and the burgers, onion rings and fries were served in handmade containers that were delivered on a tray, diner-style.

It was immediately evident this was going over well with residents, Kim said.

“You could hear a pin drop in all the dining rooms as residents thoroughly enjoyed and devoured their chosen meal,” she said.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Frost Manor resident Martha Roy sits in a photo booth that was made for the casino-themed month the home recently hosted.

International health organizations encouraging focus on self-care

Self-Care Month is running from June 24 to July 24

Anyone who has been on a commercial airplane is familiar with flight attendants at the start of the trip explaining what to do in the event of a pressure change: oxygen masks will drop and you need to put yours on before helping others.

This analogy is also true when it comes to caring for others: to care for others well, people need to be caring for themselves and taking care of their own health needs.

June 24 marked the start of International Self-Care Month. The awareness month will end July 24, which marks Self-Care Day, a date chosen as a symbolic reminder that self-care can be practised “24-seven”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) launched Self-Care Month in 2019 to promote the importance of self-care in order to encourage people to stay healthy and alleviate pressure on health-care systems across the globe.

This is true now more than ever, given that factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic have placed added strain on health systems, the WHO says on its website.

The WHO is suggesting ways people can get involved with Self-Care Month and Self-Care Day. These include using social media, watching for local Self-Care Month events, and taking time to ponder ways to improve self-care.

The International Self-Care Federation (ISF) lists seven “pillars” of self-care it has developed as part of the organization’s self-care framework. Each of these points can be focused on in order to maximize self-care.

These are:

– Knowledge and health literacy
– Mental well-being, self-awareness and agency
– Physical activity
– Healthy eating
– Risk avoidance
– Good hygiene
– Rational and responsible use of products (medicines) and services

So, what exactly is “self-care”?

“Self-care is about empowering people to be active agents in their own healthcare,” the WHO states on its website. “As well as being the right thing to do, with more and more pressure on health systems there is a great need.”

The Switzerland-based Global Self-Care Federation describes self-care as “a lifelong habit and culture.”

“(Self-care) is the practice of individuals looking after their own health based on the knowledge and information available to them,” the organization says.

“It is a decision-making process that empowers individuals to look after their own health efficiently and conveniently, in collaboration with health and social care professionals as needed.”

You can click on these links to learn more about Self-Care Month and Self-Care Day:

https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2022/06/24/default-calendar/self-care-month

https://isfglobal.org/international-self-care-day/

https://selfcare.ca/self-care-day/

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