How a special name badge means ‘inclusion’ to a Country Terrace care aide

Jennifer Hamblin says a Christmas-themed badge administrator Karen Dann made for her also helped her get a COVID vaccination

Country Terrace care aide Jennifer Hamblin says the Christmas-themed name badge administrator Karen Dann made for her in December not only made her feel part of a team it also helped ensure she received her COVID-19 vaccination recently.

Jennifer, who joined the Country Terrace team Oct. 1, says wearing an ID badge has always been important in her work life and that she was “elated” when she was handed her name tag and card shortly after being hired.

“It was a personal touch that meant a big deal,” she tells The OMNIway. “Back in 2012, I retired from a career in security. The hardest part was handing over the identity badge. It was as if I handed over a part of myself, never to return.”

A few weeks ago, Jennifer’s badge went through the laundry when she forgot to remove it from a gown. The housekeeping staff found it and returned it to her.

Shortly after, her badge fell out of its plastic sleeve while she was making beds and she was not able to find it, so she had to get a new one.

There was one other name tag Jennifer had: the Christmas-themed badge Karen made for her.

In early December, The OMNIway published a story about how Karen made Christmas-themed name badges for everyone working at the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home.

The badges have team members’ first names embossed on a Christmas-themed design. Jennifer’s name tag is a red Santa stocking. Jennifer says receiving her Christmas badge brought her a feeling of inclusion at Country Terrace.

“I realized a lot of work and love went into the preparation of the badge; I even laminated mine with protective clear film,” she says.

“After years of experience and three degrees, what I have learned is what matters the most for me (in a workplace) is that I am included. I felt so blessed to be a part of a wonderful team, despite the challenging circumstances (of the pandemic).”

On Jan. 10, Jennifer went to the vaccination clinic in London, Ont. to be immunized against COVID-19. Since people working in health-care settings are a top priority for the vaccine, she was asked for a work ID.

“I proudly displayed my Christmas badge because that is all I had,” Jennifer says. “I forgot my real ID at home. Luckily for me, the police officer at the door chuckled, and the staff person at registration reassured me that everything would be fine.”

Jennifer showed them a copy of her police reference check she submitted when she was hired at Country Terrace. With her vaccination form and information already completed, she was ushered forward.

“Nevertheless, I wondered what would I have done without my Christmas badge,” Jennifer says.

Having experience teaching, Jennifer says she often finds herself looking for moral lessons to be learned from a given situation.

“In losing my title badge, gaining a Christmas badge (and) forgetting my real ID at home, I pondered what the next lesson in life would be for me,” she says.

“In the meantime, I enjoyed the moment of how a Christmas badge made me feel better about myself and helped me to get ushered through the vaccination process.”

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Willows team honours co-worker with surprise bridal shower

‘In these trying times, people still finding ways to cheer one another is nothing short of great and graceful to witness’

In mid-December, Willows Estate nutritional care manager Davina Mesquito was getting ready to be married in the new year, and team members at the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home wanted to make sure she had a memorable bridal shower as she opened a new chapter in her life.

Davina and her fiancé planned their wedding under strict safety conditions due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, explains Willows Estate life enrichment aide Azaria Kanda.

As a result of these precautions, Davina’s friends and colleagues at the Willows would not be able to attend.

Given that her colleagues at the Willows could not be with Davina on her special day, the Willows Estate team wanted to make sure she had a special celebration at the home, Azaria says.

Nutritional care aide Danita DelaCruz organized a surprise bridal shower for Davina at the Willows on Dec. 15. She baked a special cake for Davina and arranged to keep her preoccupied before the event started so she would be surprised.

Azaria explains how things unfolded next.

“Davina was pranked to believe she was needed out back for a food delivery from one of the food delivery trucks, only to be surprised with a decorated car outside with congratulatory ribbons, a wedding veil (and) cake,” he tells The OMNIway.

Azaria says Davina was indeed surprised by the party, which was held with everyone following safety guidelines.

Stories like this, he adds, demonstrate the positive impact that comes from people supporting one another during the pandemic.

“In these trying times, people still finding ways to cheer one another is nothing short of great and graceful to witness,” he says.

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West Lake team hosts a ‘deer hunt’ for residents with great success

‘We haven’t had this much fun and laughter in our home since this pandemic started’

The West Lake Terrace team recently hosted a “deer hunt” that brought residents and staff members together for an engaging activity that resulted in lots of fun and laughter for all.

Team members gathered the Christmas trees that were set up around West Lake Terrace during the holidays and brought them to the dining room to create a makeshift forest.

Donning reindeer hats, team members began milling about through “the woods” as residents patiently sat looking through the sights of the Nerf guns they’d been given.

When a “deer” came into view, residents pulled their triggers, sending a volley of Nerf darts at them. Residents then tagged their “deer”.

Life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard says she and other team members at the Prince Edward County long-term care home were inspired to create the activity after reading an article about a home on Manitoulin Island that organized a similar activity with great success.

With the holiday season over and restrictions in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Janie says this activity was exactly what residents and staff members needed to fend off the winter blues.

“We haven’t had this much fun and laughter in our home since this pandemic started,” Janie tells The OMNIway, adding that even residents who often don’t participate in activities joined in on the fun.

“This was just what residents and staff needed; it was an eruption of laughter for a good 20 minutes. Some of the residents were asking when we could do this again.”

To accommodate the residents’ wishes, the life enrichment team is planning to host another similar activity in the near future, Janie says.

“We’re going to have the residents shoot at tin cans and have more games with the Nerf guns,” she says.

“This was a great activity and it was much needed for everybody in the home.”

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OMNI home redevelopment projects move forward in 2020

A major success for OMNI Health Care in 2020 was the move forward on three redevelopment projects, the announcement of a new home redevelopment project for Village Green and additional funding to expand the redevelopment project for the new Riverview Manor.

Construction has now started on the expansion of three OMNI long-term are homes: Pleasant Meadow Manor, Almonte Country Haven and Woodland Villa.

Once completed, these will all be Class A homes and will feature a wide range of modern amenities, such as wider hallways, more home-like dining and lounge spaces, and privacy for residents will be improved by having only one- and two-bed rooms.

During a Nov. 16 groundbreaking ceremony at Pleasant Meadow Manor, Sandra Tucker, the Norwood long-term care home’s administrator, said residents are especially looking forward to having more space, once the project, which will expand Pleasant Meadow by 34,000 square feet, is completed.

“They’re looking forward to the new rooms and having no more than two to a room,” she said.

Meanwhile, the province announced in November that funding has been approved to build a new Village Green in Greater Napanee that will have 128 beds, 62 more than the home currently has.

While there is no confirmation on when construction on the new Village Green will start or be completed, administrator Linda Pierce said a tentative site for the home is being considered on the west side of Lennox and Addington County Road 41.

Pierce said the new Class A Village Green, once completed, will enhance quality of life for residents and staff members.

“From bathing to dining experiences, everything will be enhanced,” she said. “Everything, in my opinion, will be more favourable to resident care and to the quality of life of the resident and the quality of life of the worker.”

Pierce added that the redeveloped Village Green will be a community asset because the additional 62 beds will help minimize waiting times for people in the region requiring long-term care.

There has also been good news for Riverview Manor.

The province announced in November that funding has been approved to add 32 beds to the 36 new beds that were promised in December 2018 for the rebuilt Peterborough long-term care home.

Riverview Manor’s current location on Water Street has 124 beds. Construction on the new Riverview Manor, which will be nearby on Langton Street in Peterborough’s north end, will likely start in 2021 and will take about two years to build.

During a virtual press conference on Nov. 20, Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith said the additional 32 beds Riverview Manor will receive will improve access for people in the region who require long-term care.

“Our seniors deserve quality care in the communities they live in,” he said.

“This is why (this) announcement of more new beds is so important. We are working to reduce wait times and meet the needs of our aging population now and in the future.”

An appearance from ‘Scuba Steve’ made everyone’s day at Pleasant Meadow

‘With just a little masking tape and some construction paper, I’m telling you, we can have lots of fun’

Pleasant Meadow Manor registered nurse Shelly Vandenberg and life enrichment co-ordinator Kim Williams recently tapped into two of OMNI Health Care’s core values — creativity and fun and laughter – to help keep the winter blues away.

Inspired by a pair of safety goggles she was wearing, Shelly decided to dress up like Scuba Steve, a character and toy from the 1999 Adam Sandler comedy film Big Daddy.

Once Kim heard about Shelly’s idea, she fashioned a pair of swim fins out of yellow construction paper for Shelly to wear on her feet. A homemade snorkel completed the outfit.

The residents responded exactly the way Shelly had hoped: they all had a good laugh, Kim says.

“Some of the residents wanted to splash water on her because she had scuba gear on, and another resident tried to encourage her to get into the bathtub,” she tells The OMNIway.

Kim says one of the funnier moments came when Shelly tried walking with her new swim fins. She found she had to make the same “flip-floppy” motions with her feet as if they were an authentic pair of fins.

With Christmas over and Ontario under a provincewide shutdown to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Shelly’s idea brought some much-needed humour to everyone at the Norwood long-term care home, Kim says.

And the best part, she says, is how easy this was to accomplish.

“With just a little masking tape and some construction paper, I’m telling you, we can have lots of fun.”

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‘Dancing Avon Lady’ spreads Christmas cheer at the Willows

Jessica Yik dropped off gift bags made possible by donations and paintings from local children in December

Christmas is the time for giving, and residents and staff members at Willows Estate are grateful for the generosity of local Avon sales representative Jessica Yik and others in the community who helped spread holiday cheer at the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home in December.

In the days leading up to Christmas, Jessica, who calls herself the Dancing Avon Lady, turned to schools and the community in York Region to put together gift bags for area long-term care home residents.

With the help of donations, gift bags were put together and handed out. The gift bags contained items such as deodorant, lip balm and hand lotion.

There were enough gift bags for each Willows Estate resident as well as for staff members, says the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator Teddy Mazzuca.

Jessica also took her generous campaign to schools in the region and tasked students to create paintings for long-term-care home residents.

Jessica collected the students’ work and presented the art and the gift bags to Willows Estate just before Christmas.

“They are really nice paintings that we have hung on a wall here,” Teddy tells The OMNIway.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which began last March, has been challenging for residents and staff members at long-term care homes.

As a result of safety precautions in place, many long-term-care home residents have not been able to visit with their loved ones.

However, the kind gestures shown by the Dancing Avon Lady and the community during the holiday season helped brighten everyone’s day at the Willows, Teddy says.    

“This is the Christmas spirit.”

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Care aides bring emotional assistance and friendliness to Willows residents

‘Care aides have been an immense relief for primary caregivers in the home, but they’ve gone above and beyond to be also of assistance to residents directly,’ says LEA

While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone, resident care aides, who were hired to help the Willows Estate team in 2020, have been having a positive impact on residents and staff, says Azaria Kanda.

Azaria, a life enrichment aide (LEA) at the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home, says the care aides at the Willows have done a lot to help during a difficult time.

Care aides have been hired by many Ontario long-term care homes since the pandemic began in March to help with tasks to reduce the workload on staff members.

But they have also been a strong value-add to residents, Azaria says.

“Care aides have been an immense relief for primary caregivers in the home, but they’ve gone above and beyond to be also of assistance to residents directly,” he tells The OMNIway.

Azaria says that aside from the help they have provided team members, care aides have taken it upon themselves to engage in social activities with residents.

Care aides, he notes, have helped with garden visits, one-on-one visits, card games, music therapy and small group chats with the residents.

Most importantly, residents have provided the Willows Estate team with lots of feedback that has been “overwhelmingly positive and appreciative” about the benefits care aides have offered, Azaria says.

“The residents speak highly of the care aides to me and are very grateful to have them come in the home,” Azaria says.

“Even though this is temporary in the duration of the pandemic, their presence is welcome by all.”

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Maplewood residents treated to in-home Christmas parade

The event went over so well, plans are in the works to host another parade next holiday season

Life enrichment aide Rosanne Blackburn and her colleagues at Maplewood are known for coming up with creative ideas to enhance the quality of life for residents at the Brighton, Ont. long-term care home, and just before Christmas they organized another engaging event that put smiles on lots of faces: an in-home Santa Claus parade.

On Dec. 23, Rosanne and the life enrichment team decorated an antique crib to look like a sleigh. Inside the sleigh was a Santa Claus figure with lights along with snowmen and wrapped gift boxes.

One resident, dressed in a Santa Claus outfit, walked behind the sleigh, while another resident, dressed as Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, led the procession in a motorized scooter that was fitted with Christmas lights.

The parade went down a hallway and into the dining room, just before lunch was served. Traditional Christmas band music was played as the parade made its way through the home. There were seven participants in the parade.

Rosanne says the sight of the Santa Claus parade drew lots of cheers from residents as they watched the procession.

“All the residents enjoyed the parade as they waved with smiles,” Rosanne tells The OMNIway, adding the parade was planned for lunchtime to ensure most residents could watch.

Rosanne says the parade went over so well with residents she plans to make the event a Christmas tradition at Maplewood.

“This was our first Christmas parade, and it was such a success that we will continue it next year,” she says.

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Local initiative brings Christmas presents to Streamway Villa residents

For the fourth straight Christmas, the Stuff a Stocking for a Senior project partnered with Cobourg LTC homes. When funds fell short this year, a local florist stepped in to help

For the fourth straight year, the Stuff a Stocking for a Senior project helped ensure all residents of Streamway Villa woke up on Christmas morning to find presents to unwrap.

The Stuff a Stocking for a Senior project was launched by friends Vicky Davis of Cobourg and Lynn Stewart of Orangeville in 2017.

The project normally sends stockings stuffed with presents to long-term care homes, retirement homes and Community Living Ontario residences to bring Christmas cheer.

However, this year homes in the Cobourg area received money to purchase gifts for people.

Vicky, who oversees the project in Cobourg, had a goal of raising $7,000 this past Christmas season to buy presents for homes in the area, but by mid-December, she had only raised $2,000.

Then a Cobourg florist, Quinn’s Blooms & Greenery, donated $4,000 to the Stuff a Stocking for a Senior project, which was a huge boost for the project, explains Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht.

Vicky was then able to go to all the long-term care and retirement homes in the area and share the donations so staff members could buy presents for residents.

Using money that was donated through the Stuff a Stocking for a Senior project, as well as funds provided by OMNI Health Care, Streamway life enrichment staff went shopping for presents to give each of the 50 residents living at Streamway Villa.

In 2018, Vicky told The OMNIway she was inspired to start the program while visiting her mother, who was living at a long-term care home. She says she noticed some residents were not getting family visits and saw an opportunity to make a difference.

She then contacted Lynn, who had many years’ experience organizing a Christmas hamper and stocking-stuffing program for Orangeville seniors, to suggest working together to extend the stocking-stuffing program to Cobourg.

Laurie says the gifts she and her colleagues bought for residents were all personalized.

“We looked at each resident, we looked at their needs, and we went and bought them each individual presents and we then wrapped them,” she says.

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Front-line team surprises Burnbrae managers with Christmas gifts

‘It really hit home that we have a great team here’

When a personal support worker (PSW) approached April Faux on Dec. 21 to request a team huddle, the Burnbrae Gardens administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator wasn’t surprised – after all, the number of daily huddles has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

But when April and her fellow managers at the Campbellford, Ont. long-term care home arrived at the huddle, they were greeted by front-line team members bearing Christmas gifts they had pooled their money together to buy.

Each of the five managers received a Christmas plant as well as a personalized Christmas card and a Tim Hortons gift card.

The gift packages were presented on behalf of all Burnbrae Gardens residents and staff members.

“It was just really nice because the managers are not always recognized like this, and the fact that they did this without us knowing and on their own accord (to thank us for) being supportive over the year during (the pandemic) was so kind,” April tells The OMNIway.

“They thanked us for our support during such a difficult year, which was really nice.”

April says the kind gesture from Burnbrae Gardens staff members solidified the environment of camaraderie and teamwork that is central to the home’s culture.

“It really hit home that we have a great team here, and yes, (managers) always appreciate them, but we receive it back as well.”

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