Easter Bunny visits Kentwood Park

LEA Darlene VanVlack made Easter morning special for residents

Sometimes the smallest gestures have the greatest impact, and that was certainly the case at Kentwood Park on Easter morning when residents of the Picton, Ont. long-term care home had a special visitor.

Life enrichment aide (LEA) Darlene VanVlack put on a rabbit costume and played the part of the Easter Bunny for residents. She went around the home visiting each of the residents to wish them a happy Easter and to spend some one-to-one time with them.

Of course, since it was Easter, there were lots of chocolates for everyone, and the Easter Bunny made sure every resident had their share of sweets, says Kentwood Park life enrichment co-ordinator Lisa Mills.

With restrictions in place to keep residents safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, large-group programming is currently on hold, so one-to-one time between residents and staff has a lot of value.

Getting a visit from the Easter Bunny proved to be a big hit with residents and ensured they had a happy Easter, Lisa says.

“Residents spoke of this for days, and (were talking about) how pleased they were to receive the gifts she handed out,” she tells The OMNIway.

“So to speak, it was a hopping good time had by all.”

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Students’ act of kindness made for a special Valentine’s Day at Kentwood Park

Kindergarten classes from local schools made greetings for the home’s residents

When Kentwood Park residents sat down for lunch on Feb. 14 they found special surprises waiting for them.

Kindergarten students from the Picton area had made Valentine’s Day cards for each of the home’s residents, and this act of kindness made their day, says Kentwood Park life enrichment co-ordinator Lisa Mills.

The inspiration for sending Valentine’s Day cards to residents was simple: students and schools wanted the residents to know they were thinking of them during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lisa says.

“This was such a thoughtful gesture and was very much appreciated by all,” she tells The OMNIway.

Before Valentine’s Day, Lisa received a phone call from the Prince Edward County Lions Club to see if kindergarten classes at schools in the region could make cards for residents.

Naturally, Lisa agreed, so the students at the participating schools got to work making the cards, which the Lions Club sent to the home.

Residents were overjoyed to see the cards, which included greetings the children had written, waiting for them at lunchtime on Valentine’s Day, Lisa says.

“(The residents) were quite excited to get these cards, and (they) loved the little saying which (the students) wrote themselves in the cards,” she says, adding residents gave something back to the students for their thoughtfulness as well.

“Residents have made several comments about the cards, and so pictures were taken to give to classrooms with a big thank you,” Lisa says.

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Autumn-themed craft helps keep spirits high at Kentwood Park

Residents recently created colourful tree paintings which are now on display for all to enjoy

Kentwood Park life enrichment aide (LEA) Brandy Courtney recently created a safe, autumn-themed craft to help support residents of the Picton, Ont. long-term care home during the COVID-19 pandemic and to celebrate the changing of seasons.

Residents were provided with a paper template drawing of a tree with leafless branches. The goal of the activity was for residents to paint fall leaf colours – yellow, orange, red and brown – on the trees.

A small group of residents was provided with paint and a special tool to dab colours on the trees: broccoli.

Dabbing pieces of the vegetable into the paint to stamp on the tree branches created a realistic pattern of vibrant autumn colours, Brandy says.

“Making these colourful fall trees with the residents and using a healthy snack to do it, well, you can’t get any better than that,” she tells The OMNIway.

Brandy explains her inspiration for creating the activity for residents.

“I saw this craft online and automatically thought of my residents at Kentwood Park, and how much fun this would be to do together,” she says.

The trees have been placed on Kentwood Park’s large activity board for all residents and staff members to enjoy, Brandy says.

Brandy adds that activities like this are important to residents during the pandemic.

“It’s important to do the very best we can to keep all residents’ spirits high during this difficult time,” she says. “The residents and I had a blast making these trees, and we look forward to other pandemic-friendly crafts that I will come up with next.”

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Self-directed art program at Kentwood Park also has therapeutic benefits

A self-directed art program at Kentwood Park has proven to be an ideal program for residents to be creative, expressive and to have a fulfilling activity in a safe environment.

Many of the Picton, Ont. long-term care home’s residents participate in the program, which encourages them to paint or draw whatever comes to mind.

The program has been especially popular since the global COVID-19 pandemic began in March because it’s an activity residents can do independently in their rooms.

Residents are set up with everything they need to be creative: paper, paint, brushes, pens and pencils, explains life enrichment co-ordinator and environmental services manager Lisa Mills.

“Whatever they make is a big surprise for us in the end,” she tells The OMNIway. “We never know what they’re going to paint.”

One of the key benefits of this program is that the paintings or drawings residents create can be a window into how they’re feeling, Lisa says.

“It’s an expressive thing for them; whatever their emotion is for the day is what you will see (in their art),” she says. “If they’re happy, it will be a happy picture, if they’re not happy that will come through.”

Lisa says if a resident paints a picture that’s sad in nature, staff members will talk with the resident about how they’re feeling, so there’s a strong therapeutic value to the program, she says.

“It’s a very emotional program for them,” she says.

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YouTube proving to be a valuable source for resident entertainment at Kentwood Park

With restrictions in place on large-group indoor programming, including live entertainment, in Ontario long-term care homes due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Kentwood Park life enrichment team has been turning to YouTube for help.

The OMNIway recently told you about how the Picton, Ont. long-term care home was accessing YouTube to continue its drumming circle program.

Lisa Mills, Kentwood Park’s life enrichment co-ordinator, says the online video-sharing platform is also being accessed for entertainment purposes.

Some entertainers in the region are offering livestreamed performances for a small fee which Kentwood is accessing. There’s even a calendar that outlines which entertainers will be performing at what time.

“We open it up (on a computer) and it’s right there,” Lisa tells The OMNIway.

“We have just started doing this, and the residents are really enjoying it.”

Since the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization in March, Kentwood Park and other long-term care homes have been restricted from having large-group indoor programming, and regular entertainers have not been able to perform indoors.

Like with other long-term care homes, Kentwood Park residents have been missing their usual entertainment, but being to access performances from entertainers they know via the Internet has been a game-changer, Lisa says.

“It’s still different, but it’s better than what it was before,” she says.

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Kentwood Park team among essential workers honoured by Shriners

Members of the local temple toured the region with a float to thank health-care workers and others for their efforts during the pandemic

Members of the local Shriners temple showed up at Kentwood Park this summer to show their support for everyone working at the Picton, Ont. long-term care home.

Members of the Belleville and District Shrine Club travelled around some of eastern Ontario’s counties in a motor home and float this summer to pay tribute to essential workers for their efforts during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

“It gives these people a little break from their busy work days and they really seem to appreciate it,” Shriner spokesman Clarence Stevenson told the Belleville Intelligencer in June.

“We’re really lucky to have them taking care of the community and this is our way to show them that we appreciate what they do.”

Long-term care homes, hospitals and OPP detachments were among the stops the Shriners made. When the Shriners pulled up to each stop there was music playing from their float.

Lisa Mills, the life enrichment co-ordinator and environmental services manager at Kentwood Park, says that while the pandemic has presented challenges for all of us, having a group like the Shriners stop by to thank workers and send their best wishes makes a difference.

The Shriners’ visit was well-received by everyone at Kentwood Park, Lisa adds.

“That made everyone feel good; it was really nice of them to do that,” she tells The OMNIway.

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Recent barbecue brings a welcome change at Kentwood Park

‘It was just a fabulous day all the way around’

Kentwood Park residents were treated to a backyard barbecue at the Picton, Ont. long-term care home in August, their first group event since March, and they couldn’t have been happier with the day, says Lisa Mills.

Lisa, Kentwood Park’s life enrichment co-ordinator and environmental services manager, says the outdoor event, which included entertainment from a husband-and-wife duo who performed outside the gates in the yard, attracted 39 of Kentwood Park’s 45 residents.

This included some residents who normally don’t attend programming, so this large number attests to the value the barbecue delivered, she adds.

“It was ecstatic for them because they hadn’t done anything like that in so long; they really enjoyed it,” Lisa says of the barbecue.

“Just getting outside to see something outside of the home was important for them.”

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, indoor large-group programming and entertainment have been on hold at Ontario long-term care homes since March, so residents have been missing social gatherings.

While indoor visits with family members with safety protocols in effect have been permitted by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care since June, some residents don’t have families, so for these residents the barbecue was especially meaningful, Lisa says.

“It was an eye-opening for them all,” she says. “It was just a fabulous day all the way around.”

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Kentwood Park residents are turning to YouTube for much-loved drumming circle program

The program, which is normally led at the home by Ruth Dwight, is a resident favourite

For two years, Ruth Dwight has led a much-loved drumming circle program at Kentwood Park, but since she cannot enter the long-term care homes she works with because of restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ruth is bringing the program to the Prince Edward County Public Library’s YouTube channel.

Long-term-care home residents – or anyone else interested in learning drumming techniques – can now follow Ruth while watching from their computer.

As part of the program Ruth leads at Kentwood Park and other long-term care homes in Prince Edward County, residents have a chance to experiment with a variety of percussion instruments, from hand-held drums to bongos.

But since she cannot visit Kentwood Park at the moment, Ruth has crafted drums out of coffee cans for residents to use. She’s also made drumsticks by adding sponge balls to the ends of wooden dowels.

Ruth has also taken plastic hollow Easter eggs and filled them with popcorn kernels to fashion an instrument that creates a sound similar to maracas.

Residents have been following Ruth’s videos since August and drumming along to her rhythms. They’ve been watching Ruth on Kentwood Park’s large TV and through an iPad outdoors when the weather has permitted.

Since the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization in March, Kentwood Park and other long-term care homes have been restricted from having large-group indoor programming, and regular entertainers have not been able to perform indoors.

The videos of Ruth leading drumming programs are filling a much-needed gap for Kentwood Park residents, says Lisa Mills, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

“She’s just amazing; the residents just love this, I mean, if you want to talk about being engaged, this has been a really big thing,” Lisa says.

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Family and community support for Kentwood Park team continues to flourish

Staff members have received cards and gifts that have helped keep morale high during a challenging time

Since the global COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March, the Kentwood Park team has received unwavering support from the families of the Picton, Ont. long-term care home’s residents as well as the local community. Read more

Family visits, outdoor time have been key to keeping residents’ spirits high at Kentwood Park

Kentwood Park

‘We want every single resident to be happy’

Given the restrictions in place in the long-term care sector since the global COVID-19 pandemic began in March, homes have concentrated on finding ways to keep residents’ spirits high while maintaining important safety protocols. Read more