Is coconut oil the answer to the Alzheimer’s question?


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A study is looking into the possibility of preventing, controlling cognitive impairment

October 15, 2013 — Deron Hamel

Coconut oil is the latest natural remedy researchers are giving serious consideration to in effort to prevent and control Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

While there’s yet to be published clinical evidence attributing coconut oil to preventing or treating Alzheimer’s disease, a five-year U.S. study examining the substance’s effects on 65 people with mild to moderate cognitive impairment is expected to be released next year.

There is also anecdotal evidence supporting coconut oil’s positive effect on people with cognitive impairment, including the husband of Dr. Mary Newport, the researcher leading the study.

Newport, a doctor who heads a neonatology ward in Tampa, Florida, began including four teaspoons of coconut oil into her husband’s diet each day.

Then she began noticing improvements in her husband’s condition.

“Before the coconut oil, he could not tie his shoes,” Newport said in an interview with CTV News, adding her husband also had gait issues.

“That improved. He walked normally and he was able to start running again. He was able to start reading again, his conversation improved dramatically and then over several months we saw improvements in his memory.”

Newport says before she started giving her husband coconut oil he was not responding to his medications.

Some experts believe the key to using coconut oil as a treatment for cognitive impairment might be molecules called ketones. Ketones are produced when fat is turned into energy.

An estimated 500,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. Cognitive impairment also affects the majority of long-term care home residents.

While the Alzheimer Society of Canada underscores that there is yet to be conclusive evidence pointing to the impact of coconut oil on people with cognitive impairment, studies like this are important to finding a cure.

“(T)he interest in coconut oil reinforces the value we place on research,” the society’s website says. “It’s our best hope of finding effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and improving the quality of life and care for those affected.”

If you would like to comment on this issue, please e-mail deron(at), or call 800-294-0051, ext. 23.

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BSO continues to demonstrate value

A glimpse at what’s working well

October 11, 2013 — Deron Hamel

The Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) program, the provincial initiative to help enhance quality of life for seniors affected by dementia and other conditions that cause agitation, is proving to be one of the most fruitful interventions the sector has seen recently.

OMNI Health Care homes have certainly seen the benefit of this program, which is funded to long-term care homes through Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks. Funding is largely put towards staff education.

There has been $55 million in provincial funding provided for BSO during the past two fiscal years.

In a Sept. 16 OMNIway article, registered practical nurse Allison Fairweather, Country Terrace’s BSO lead, commended the program for helping the Komoka long-term care home reduce its rate of responsive behaviours by half since the home began using methods derived from training made possible through the funding.

The home’s care team also sees the program’s value.

“They have to see it to believe it, but once they do, they’re hooked,” she says, adding it is rewarding to see her colleagues climb on board the BSO ship. “I find what helps the most is having someone show you exactly how it is done,” she adds.

This is just the latest BSO success story at OMNI; other OMNI homes have also seen benefits from the program.

In 2012, Riverview Manor in Peterborough reported a 35.5 per cent decrease in responsive behaviours, with a 34.4 per cent decline in PRN medication administration since it launched the program.

Pharmaceuticals considered PRN medications include psychotropic and anti-anxiety medications as well as sedatives.

At Forest Hill in Kanata, intentional decisions to reduce the use of restraints to keep residents safe resulted not only in fewer falls, but also in reduced agitation and anxiety. If this emotion starts to creep up again, they may have to look into increasing the anxiety medication or look into other natural alternatives like the best CBD oils on offer, as these are said to help ease anxiety and many other ailments. However, for some people who decide to use this instead, they might not know which one may be best for them to take. It can be confusing with so many options out there to choose from, luckily there is help in the form of a Lazarus review here and another CBD company there, etc. There are many that people can read up on.

At Streamway Villa in Cobourg, use of Montessori activities with residents who have dementia helped reduce as-needed use of psychotropic drugs from 63 per month to one.

The OMNIway will continue to share success stories from the BSO initiative.

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

– With files from Jeanne Pengelly

New management team for Burnbrae Gardens

Staff, resident changes require strong, skilled team that ‘clicks’

October 10, 2013 — Jeanne Pengelly

There are some new faces blooming at Burnbrae Gardens.

The 43-bed home in Campbellford has had not just a change of administration within the last year, but also has a new director of care (DOC), nutritional services manager(NSM) and a new RAI co-ordinator.

For Kristen Farrell, the new DOC, that’s a significant change in leadership.

“The residents and staff members have to roll with each new change,” she says. “For a small home, that is tough.”

But with all the changes complete — the hiring of Adam Brand as nutrition services manager is the most recent addition — Farrell feels Burnbrae is well poised.

“The team has to click, especially in a small home like this. And I think it does,” she says.

Farrell’s adventure into long-term care was really the last cog in the wheel, she adds.

“It was another adventure in the spectrum of health care,” she says, adding that she had worked and an RN at Kingston General Hospital’s cardiothoracic floor for six years and then moved to community-based nursing at a retirement home in Belleville. In May, she started at Burnbrae Gardens.

“I see this as a very under-appreciated sector of the health care spectrum,” she says. The adventure for her was to try to mobilize appropriate resources to service the residents.

But within the sector, there’s an even bigger challenge and that is to look after the population those with mental health issues.

“It is a big crack in our system,” she says.

The hope comes from training and support being pushed out at the provincial level to help better equip caregivers with knowledge and skills to help these residents.

“I think the province is a bit overwhelmed,” Farrell says. “I don’t think they thought the need was as great as it was.”

Echoing a common sentiment of those who work in long-term care, Farrell says, “It is what it is. Education will be crucial.”

“The look of a home can shift within a year. Some of the older residents move on, and the younger ones become more dependent. Each home is really not about its walls or its location; it’s the whole of its population, staff and residents, always shifting.

The one thing that has struck Farrell at Burnbrae Gardens is that “everybody loves their job.”

“They love what they do,” she says. “That’s really inspiring.

“All of us have to remember we’re providing care to these people, but one day we will be these people.”

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail deron(at)

Community spirit shines at OMNI

Corporate and home sponsored events illustrate organization’s dedication to people

October 3, 2013 — Deron Hamel

OMNI Health Care has long placed high value on communities and relationship-building and during the past few weeks this theme played out in many ways at several of the organization’s long-term care homes.

On Sept. 26, OMNI sponsored a blood-donor clinic on behalf of the Peterborough Northumberland Canadian Blood Services. Fifty-six people turned up to donate blood. OMNI’s effort was applauded by Theresa Foley, a sales representative for Magic 96.7, the event’s media sponsor.

“The reason OMNI Health Care is interested in sponsoring blood donor clinics is to be a service to the community,” says Foley.

“These blood donor clinics give OMNI a chance to present and flag their name in the community as a sponsor of the community — a company that cares.”

Given the large percentage of OMNI residents who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, the organization has a history of supporting fundraising and awareness campaigns to help the Alzheimer Society of Canada and its branches.

Sept. 21 was World Alzheimer’s Day and once again some of OMNI’s 17 long-term care homes hosted Coffee Break, an annual Alzheimer’s disease awareness day and fundraiser.

A notable success was at the 68-bed Springdale Country Manor. The home’s Coffee Break sold coffee, doughnuts and pastries to residents, staff and visitors, raising $107.

“I think that’s incredible given our home’s size,” says life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Candice Stewart.

Pleasant Meadow Manor recently raised $1,662 for the Norwood long-term care home’s residents’ council during a community car show it hosted Sept. 18.

Twenty-three classic and antique cars were on display at the home, and money was raised through a 50-50 draw, silent auction and barbecue.

LEC Chris Garden commends staff member Tiffany Martell for creating the idea, which she says was successful at bringing the community together.

“Tiffany did an awesome job,” Garden says. “The night was great; it was a huge success . . . and there was a great teamwork approach to make it happen.”

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

– With files from Jeanne Pengelly

Ontario court supports gov’t in physio changes

The Ontario court Aug. 21 denied an application by the Designated Physiotherapy Clinics Association to stall the government’s plan to implement funding changes that will affect

Deb Matthews

Deb Matthews

physiotherapy in long-term care.

The clinics had launched an aggressive campaign to engage the provincial Liberals in more discussion before the changes took effect. On July 26, a judge ruled in favour of the clinics, suggesting that their application warranted a review by a three-judge panel. But the panel’s review chose to back the government, which has now stated it will move forward with the funding changes.

It could mean a reduction in physiotherapy services in long-term care and retirement homes; however OMNI Health Care president and CEO Patrick McCarthy says the company is continuing to work closely with its physiotherapy providers to ensure minimal impact on residents of OMNI homes.

Ontario court to rule on government’s physio plan

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel will hear whether there is reason to hold off on implementing changes to physiotherapy services for seniors in Ontario. 

In April, the government announced it would redirect some of its funding to alternate sources so that more seniors in the community would receive care. Since then, there has been aggressive campaigning on behalf of those offering services in long-term care and retirement facilities. They say the process the government used to alter and announce the funding was flawed, even by its own rules.

In July, a single-judge hearing offered physiotherapists another month before a final decision by this week’s three-judge panel will be rendered.

Stay tuned to this site for the latest news.