Alzheimer Society launches new fundraising and awareness campaign

The Alzheimer Society has rebranded its annual Coffee Break fundraiser and awareness campaign by launching the Social with a Purpose initiative this year, a move the charity says can help people and organizations create socially-distanced events while raising funds to help improve the lives of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.

From singalongs to paint nights to making butter tarts, the Alzheimer Society offers a variety of ideas people and organizations can learn about in order to have their own Social with a Purpose event – and these event ideas can be hosted virtually using video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Skype to keep everyone safe during the pandemic.

“Social with a Purpose is a do-it-yourself fundraiser that promotes the importance of socializing, staying in touch, and building strong, positive relationships with your friends, family, and community,” the Alzheimer Society says on its website.

“As social distancing and physical isolation became a part of our daily routines, we began to understand the overwhelming feelings of loss and loneliness being separated from the community can bring us – feelings that people living with dementia experience in their normal, day-to-day lives.”

OMNI Health Care long-term care homes have been past participants in the Coffee Break campaign, and homes throughout the organization can contact their local Alzheimer Society branch for more information about hosting a Social with a Purpose event this September and October.

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

September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

Click here to learn more about the Social with a Purpose campaign as well as to read about how you can host your own safe fundraiser.

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.

Province needs to address LTC staffing issues to better face second COVID wave

The need for more staff ‘is a big issue that’s affecting health-care providers across the country, and it’s seriously affecting long-term care homes,’ says OMNI CEO Patrick McCarthy

With health experts predicting a second wave of COVID-19 spread to begin within the coming months, the Ontario government needs to address staffing issues in the long-term care sector to help homes better prevent and manage infection, says OMNI Health Care president and CEO Patrick McCarthy.

Given that long-term-care home residents are among the most vulnerable population groups, it’s crucial that additional funding be earmarked to address staffing levels of front-line workers and provide staff training, both of which will be key to preparing for the second infection wave, he adds.

“(Staffing) is a big issue that’s affecting health-care providers across the country, and it’s seriously affecting long-term care homes,” McCarthy says in an interview with The OMNIway.

While long-term-care home staff members have worked tirelessly to keep residents safe from the highly contagious virus, the first wave of COVID-19 impacted homes across Ontario and Canada.

Long-term care homes having access to more front-line staff members will improve residents’ safety, McCarthy says.

All long-term care homes in Ontario receive funding specifically earmarked to provide nursing, personal care, programs and support services with no element of profit or surplus retained from the provision of those health services. As a result, funding for additional care staff needs to come from the province.

Private long-term care providers across Ontario have asked the Ford government to increase the supply of personal support workers (PSWs) by supporting innovative training programs, including on-the-job training and remote training.

McCarthy adds that the COVID-19 pandemic affects long-term-care home staff members beyond their work inside the homes.

For example, there may be instances where people cannot come to work due to outbreaks in the community or in schools, and there needs to be staffing levels to in place to ensure there’s always a ready supply of front-line care workers.

“It’s all a package that affects the availability of staff and the homes’ ability to staff during the pandemic,” he says.

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.

Safe reading and discussion groups restart at Willows Estate

Residents enjoy discussing current events, and having this program back has been important to them, says LEA

Willows Estate life enrichment aide (LEA) Azaria Kanda has restarted a long-popular reading and discussion group for the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home’s residents with social-distancing in place.

Azaria says reading and keeping up to date with current issues and events is a favourite activity for residents, and it’s a passion he shares with them.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, there were regular group reading and discussion groups for residents. However, because group programming was suspended in Ontario long-term care homes for three months after the pandemic began, the groups were not able to meet.

With restrictions easing, Azaria has been hosting two smaller reading-discussion groups on both floors at the Willows, with social distancing in effect.

During the discussions, residents talk about subjects ranging from politics to sports. But stories about current events residents read in newspapers are the favourite, Azaria says.

“The residents are very aware and they really stay on top of the headlines – and I think it’s one thing for them to hear or read about (news) and it’s another thing for them to expand on that (with discussions) to give their point of view and to talk amongst one another,” he says.

Indeed, there has been a lot to talk about in 2020. Aside from the pandemic, there has been increased awareness about racial injustice and mounting concern about the state of the economy.

“Those three topics have really been at the forefront,” Azaria says.

During the week ending Sept. 12, the groups talked about the pandemic. Last week they discussed racial injustices. This week they are scheduled to talk about the economic situation.

“A lot of the residents were born in the 1920s or 1930s, so they’ve lived through many decades, and there’s always a common thread to find because each generation has had its (struggles), whether that be war or political turmoil,” Azaria says.

“So, it’s really interesting to talk about that common thread, to talk about what’s happening now, and a lot of the residents don’t find it that surprising to be going through this because they’ve gone through major cultural shifting moments before.”

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.

LEC reflects on putting together a strong team amid pandemic

‘It has been an interesting roller coaster, but we seem to make it work’

Taking on a new managerial role in a long-term care home usually means taking on new challenges, and taking on a managerial role during a pandemic can multiply those challenges.

Fortunately, Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Laurie Kracht says she has a dedicated life enrichment team at the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home and that has helped the process run smoothly.

Laurie started working part-time at Streamway Villa in January and became the home’s LEC in July.

Aside from the usual training for her and her team, there were new rules and protocols in place due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“Getting everything together was difficult during that time, but we made it work,” Laurie tells The OMNIway.

“When I first started (as LEC), I needed to put together a team, so … having everyone fit together as a team was really amazing.”

Three life enrichment aides – Taylor Stacey, Devyn Sheppard and Kiana Gammage – were recent hires and students. While Kiana gave up her position to dedicate herself to her studies when the school year began, Taylor and Devyn have stayed on to work weekends.

Full-time life enrichment aide Lynette Sandercock has recently returned to Streamway Villa after taking a temporary leave.

What made things work was strong consistency through training, Laurie says. Having that consistency is important for a life enrichment team to thrive, she adds.

“You create consistency through training, you have processes and procedures in place for training and getting people on board – but during COVID-19 it’s all over the board and every day is a new day, but we did it as a team and I’m very pleased that I am keeping (Devyn and Taylor),” Laurie says.

“It has been an interesting roller coaster, but we seem to make it work, and I think we’ve kept the positivity and that was my goal.”

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.

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.

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.

Resident fortune teller gives Frost Manor carnival an added boost of fun and laughter

Heather Marshall was a ‘natural’ at playing the part during the home’s carnival-themed month, say staff

One of the key factors that made Frost Manor’s carnival-themed month in August so successful was the high degree of resident involvement, and resident Heather Marshall filling in as a fortune teller was a memorable part of the event, says Frost Manor life enrichment co-ordinator Lyndsay Burton.

The idea to have a fortune teller during the carnival came from residents’ council president Diane Hickman who was initially going to play the part.

However, Diane couldn’t be the fortune teller on the designated day, so Heather, who serves as the council’s treasurer, filled in and did a stellar job, Lyndsay says.

Working with life enrichment aide Amy Whitehead, Heather read Tarot cards and looked into a crystal ball to tell residents and staff members what the future had in store for them.

“Amy said that Heather was a ‘natural’ in the role and really embraced the spirit of fun and laughter to put on a fun resident-led program for her fellow residents,” Lyndsay tells The OMNIway.

“Amy noted there was lots of laughs and intrigue, as some of the fortunes told were hilariously accurate. We were so happy that Heather took on the role and had so much fun doing it.”

In February, Heather was crowned Miss Frost Manor during a pageant the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home hosted.

Lyndsay says Heather has done a great job fulfilling her duties as the home’s pageant queen.

“She really truly embraces the spirit of leadership and friendship that embodies the role as Miss Frost Manor,” Lyndsay says.

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.

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.”

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.

Forest Hill’s patio is getting lots of good use

Residents have been enjoying safe outdoor activities, entertainment and family visits

With restrictions in place on indoor group programming and visitation due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Forest Hill has been making the most of its patio area to keep safe activities and socialization a part of everyday life at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home.

When possible, life enrichment team members have been hosting programs, limited to 10 or fewer residents, on the patio (social distancing practices are always in place). Activities like trivia have been especially popular outdoors, says life enrichment co-ordinator Craig Forrest.

“We’re definitely trying to take advantage of (the outdoors) as much as we can,” Craig says. “We will also take residents outside on a one-to-one basis to the patio as well.”

There has also been outdoor entertainment at Forest Hill in recent weeks, with musical acts performing from a safe distance and residents seated apart. Because of the smaller audiences when entertainers perform, residents attend performances on a rotating basis.

In fact, Craig says there has been an added benefit to playing shows outside: better acoustics.

“We have always had lots of entertainment here, but it’s almost a different feeling outdoors – it almost sounds like a concert in a way,” he says.

“The residents have really enjoyed the outdoor entertainment because it almost feels like a festival.”

Because this summer has been warmer and sunnier than most, staff members have been stepping up hydration by ensuring residents always have cold drinks when they need them and, of course, providing sunscreen and hats to protect everyone from the rays.

Patio visits between residents and their loved ones have also spiked in recent weeks, Craig says. Forest Hill is offering these visits from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week.

Family members who visit residents at the home’s patio are screened first.

“(Patio) visits have absolutely gone through the roof in popularity,” Craig says.

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.

New Facebook page is keeping Streamway Villa family members engaged

Life enrichment team members update the private page regularly with photos and videos of residents enjoying life at the Cobourg LTC home

Streamway Villa is using Facebook to keep residents’ family members updated regularly on the activities and programs their loved ones are participating in at the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home.

Knowing residents’ families are interested in the activities their loved ones participate in, life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht and life enrichment aide Chelsea Tinney created the page, which they administer and is only seen by residents’ families and powers of attorney, to fill this need.

Laurie and Chelsea upload photos and videos of socially-distanced activities and of the residents themselves to keep families up to date during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Family engagement on the Facebook page has been strong, Laurie says, adding family members often provide content to share.

“Families have started sending us pictures through Facebook Messenger, and we started posting those, and we’re getting e-mails left, right and centre (from family members) saying they love the page,” she tells The OMNIway.

“I’ve had comments from family members saying (the Facebook page) makes them feel like they’re there and they know what’s going on.”

Aside from being a conduit for family members to see what’s going on at Streamway Villa, the Facebook page is also a way for them to engage with each other, Laurie says.

“It’s turning out amazing,” she says.

“(The Facebook page) keeps the family members involved in the home, and we tell them about upcoming events and things like that, and if they have anything they want to post they can do so on the Facebook page.”

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.

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.

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.