Village Green residents remake famous scene from the musical Easter Parade

The classic musical film Easter Parade served as the inspiration for a fun program at Village Green that saw residents dress up in their favourite outfits and have their photos taken over the Easter weekend.

On April 2 (Good Friday), residents watched Easter Parade, a 1948 musical about a dancing team that stars Judy Garland and Fred Astaire.

On Easter Sunday, the Greater Napanee long-term care home’s residents had the opportunity to attend their own Easter parade and recreate a famous scene from the film where Garland and Astaire walk arm in arm.

The part of Fred Astaire was played by Chris, one of Village Green’s life enrichment aides, who was also dressed up for the role.

With protocols in place to keep everyone safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing was in effect and team members all wore face masks.

Village Green’s large dining room, which provides lots of open space, was used as the parade route for residents to walk through.

While some residents participated in the photoshoot, others chose to watch from the sidelines and provide encouragement.

“Residents could choose to watch and cheer or to strut their stuff and show off a bonnet of their own making,” says Village Green life enrichment co-ordinator Ulana Orrick.

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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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Local community and staff help create a happy Easter at Maplewood

‘It was a team effort on Easter Sunday’

Maplewood residents had a happy and memorable Easter, thanks to the generosity of the local community and the creativity of staff members at the Brighton, Ont. long-term care home.

People from the community donated Easter gift baskets to Maplewood, and staff members delivered these to each of the home’s residents.

Maplewood life enrichment aide Rosanne Blackburn, who is well known at the home for coming up with creative ideas for engaging residents and staff, dressed up as the Easter Bunny.

Before lunch was served on Easter Sunday, Rosanne and all of the Maplewood staff members did the chicken dance for residents. As an added touch, they wore chicken T-shirts and chicken headbands that were made by nutritional care staff members Jackie and Linda.

Residents were also served a special Easter breakfast of fried eggs and bacon that was plated to look like bunnies, with the eggs for the face and bacon strips for the ears.

Rosanne is commending everyone working at Maplewood for pulling together to make Easter special for residents.

“It was a team effort on Easter Sunday,” she tells The OMNIway. “It was a fun day full of laughs.”

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Country Haven PSW says the pandemic cemented her career path

‘I felt that being a PSW was literally my passion,’ says Tiffany Brydge

Tiffany Brydge had been working as a care assistant worker at Almonte Country Haven for two months when a COVID-19 outbreak was declared March 29, 2020, at the Lanark County long-term care home.

When the outbreak began, Tiffany says she knew that becoming a personal support worker (PSW) was her calling.

She had already signed up for the September intake of a PSW training program offered through the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) and supported by the Canadian Career Academy (CCA), but seeing the difference front-line workers made to residents during this challenging time cemented her decision.

“I felt that being a PSW was literally my passion, and I felt that I had finally found my passion when I came to work (at Almonte Country Haven) when we were going through the outbreak,” Tiffany tells The OMNIway.

Tiffany was on Facebook 14 months ago when she saw an ad from the Canadian Career Academy (CCA) about an opportunity to enrol in a PSW training program through the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO).

The training program is offered to students at a comparatively low cost. The CCA covers a portion of the program’s tuition fees and allows students to earn money while doing their work placements.

For prospective students like Tiffany who were already working at Almonte Country Haven or who wanted to do a placement at the home, OMNI Health Care covers the remainder of the tuition costs through its bursary program.

“I haven’t looked back since,” says Tiffany, who worked in the retail sector for 22 years before deciding on a career as a PSW.

Almonte Country Haven administrator Carolyn Della Foresta says Tiffany has “shone” as PSW at the home.

Carolyn remembers the day during the outbreak when Tiffany told her she was convinced she made the right decision to become a PSW.

“She said, ‘I’ve found my purpose in life. I’ve now found my passion and my purpose and it’s to work as a PSW and to help these residents,’ ” Carolyn says.

Carolyn adds that Tiffany is resident-focused, and whenever she has a spare moment, she will find something to do with residents, such as accompanying them outside to fill the bird feeders.

Tiffany, who graduated from the PSW training program in February, commends the course as an excellent resource for people considering a rewarding career as a PSW.

“I absolutely loved it and I’m so happy that I came across this opportunity,” she says.

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Photo caption: Four Almonte Country Haven team members recently graduated from a PSW training program the home is involved with through a partnership with the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario. Pictured left to right, Tiffany Brydge, Sheila Warren, Rebekah Lafontaine and Tracie Boyd.

Forest Hill resident and Grade 8 student connect through their love of reading

Retired teacher Barbara Brownhill and student Ethan Fletcher have been enjoying books together over Zoom calls

Forest Hill resident Barbara Brownhill has been having video conferencing sessions with a local student that provides a forum for the two to share their love of reading.

For the past two months, Barbara will sit at a desk, open a tablet the Ottawa-area long-term care home’s staff members provide and join Grade 8 student Ethan Fletcher for Zoom calls on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Craig Forrest, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator, says he received an e-mail from Ethan in early February. The student explained he wanted to have Zoom calls with a resident who enjoyed literature, and Craig immediately thought of Barbara.

The two are a perfect fit for this one-to-one intergenerational program, Craig says. Ethan is a student who enjoys reading, and Barbara, who also enjoys books, is a retired teacher.

“He’s really good with Barbara,” he says of Ethan, adding the student is currently reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to Barbara.

When new characters are introduced in the book, Ethan will stop and explain who they are, and he and Barbara will chat about how they fit into the plot.

Forest Hill, like OMNI Health Care’s other long-term care homes, has been working to build stronger community connections in recent years.

The connection between Barbara and Ethan is an example of a “win-win” success that intergenerational programming can bring, Craig says.

“For Ethan, he’s helping Barbara, and Barbara gets to go back to being in a teacher role where she helps him with his reading, so it’s a big success,” he says.

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PHOTO CUTLINE:    Forest Hill resident Barbara Brownhill is seen here having a Zoom call with Grade 8 student Ethan Fletcher. The two have been enjoying books together through conferencing calls since February.

Frost Manor residents get their own vending machine

Not only is the machine providing residents with easy access to drinks and snacks, it’s being used as an infection-control tool

After a staff vending machine at Frost Manor was slated for removal, residents of the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home decided to buy the machine so they would have easy access to soft drinks, chocolate bars and other snacks.

The vending machine was moved from the staff room to a common area of the home. The machine has been christened “Frosty Vending”, with the words embossed on the side.

Lyndsay Burton, Frost Manor’s life enrichment co-ordinator, says proceeds from the vending machine will be added to funds raised by sales from the home’s tuck cart, a mobile cart selling drinks and snacks.

“(The vending machine) has become a great extension of the tuck cart and is a win-win situation (because) residents are now able to access treats and goodies at all hours, and staff are able to purchase from the vending machine, further supporting the residents’ tuck cart fund,” she tells The OMNIway.

The tuck cart fund has been used in the past to buy special items, such as the home’s campfire pit, as well as to help pay for entertainment before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

But Lyndsay notes the vending machine has been valuable in another way.

Since the vending machine sees lots of traffic, team members are using it as a tool to help teach residents about the importance of washing their hands before and after buying drinks and snacks.

“Residents have really responded well to the infection-control practices in the home and are encouraging others to hand-wash as well,” Lyndsay says.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Frost Manor resident Sylvia Trumbull poses with “Frost Vending”, the vending machine the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home’s residents’ council recently acquired.

Almonte PSW grad found training program so rewarding she recommended it to her husband

Rebekah Lafontaine graduated from the CDSBEO’s PSW program in February. Her husband is enrolled for the September intake

Rebekah Lafontaine has found her role as a personal support worker (PSW) at Almonte Country Haven so enriching she has recommended the training program she recently graduated from to her husband, who is now signed up for the September intake.

Rebekah began working as a care aide at the Lanark County long-term care home shortly after a three-month outbreak of the COVID-19 virus ended in late June of last year.

She already had a friend who was working as a care aide at Country Haven who recommended Rebekah apply for the position.

“My heart just broke and I wanted to help,” Rebekah tells The OMNIway.

She found her work as a care aide so rewarding she enrolled in a PSW training program the home is involved with through the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO).

But inspiration was also coming to Rebekah from another source: her grandmother.

“My grandmother had worked in long-term care for many years, and I had always looked up to her, so I gave it a try and I fell in love with it,” Rebekah says.

Rebekah, who graduated from the program in February, recommended her husband, Shawn, apply for a position as a care aide and consider taking the PSW program as well.

Shawn found he enjoyed working at Almonte Country Haven as much as Rebekah and he will be starting his PSW training in September.

“I told my husband about how happy I was and how happy I think it would make him, and it turns out I was right,” Rebekah says.

The PSW training program, which is supported by the Canadian Career Academy (CCA), is offered to students at a comparatively low cost. The CCA covers a portion of the program’s tuition fees and allows students to earn money while doing their work placements.

Students who are doing their placement at Almonte Country Haven have the remainder of their tuition paid for through OMNI Health Care’s bursary fund, and they have a PSW position waiting for them once they complete training.

Rebekah says she has not looked back on her decision, adding she enjoys coming to work every day because of the difference PSWs make in residents’ lives.

“There is so much to learn and grow,” she adds.

Almonte Country Haven administrator Carolyn Della Foresta says Rebekah is “one of the most gentle spirits I have ever met in my life” and is well suited for her work.

“She wants to excel and she takes every opportunity to learn,” Carolyn says. “She is so passionate about her work.”

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Country Terrace residents enjoying high-end meals through Diners Club program

Residents are still talking about the latest meal

Country Terrace residents have been enjoying an array of high-end meals the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home’s nutritional care team has been preparing as part of the Diners Club program.

The Diners Club is being hosted every two weeks for small groups of residents in a rotation. Country Terrace nutritional care manager Alex Achillini creates a menu of foods residents love and team members serve the meals in a way one would expect from a top-notch restaurant.

Due to restrictions in place to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is currently no large-group programming. To ensure all residents can enjoy a Diners Club meal, the program is offered in one area of the home every two weeks, with no more than six residents participating at a time.

Recent Diners Club meals residents have enjoyed include beef tenderloin and chicken wings with ribs, and everything is prepared from scratch.

“The residents are still talking about it,” Alex says. “They enjoyed it very much.”

Anyone working in a long-term care home will tell you that high-quality meal service is a top priority for residents. Meals not only provide nourishment, there are also social and cultural elements tied to food that make mealtimes so valued.

“And when you do something special for meals and it is for a small group, the people also feel special,” Alex says. “Everybody else will also be served a special meal, but that feeling of being special is something the residents enjoy.”

During Diners Club meals, residents are offered beer and wine in addition to the usual beverage choices of juice, tea and coffee, Alex notes.

Diners Club meals are also served with Country Terrace’s best silverware and plates.

There will be a rotation of the Diners Club this week, and the nutritional care team will be preparing a seafood night. Alex gave a sneak peek of his plans.

“I’m going to make homemade pasta with lobster, shrimp and salmon,” he says.

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Community kindness: Local couple donates A/C units and fans to Country Haven, but the home ended up with much more

‘This is a story of one raindrop falling but having an incredible ripple effect’

Paul and Lee Brennae were at home in Almonte, Ont. last year watching a TV news story about how many older long-term care homes in the province do not have air conditioning, and this gave the couple an idea.

One of those homes without air conditioning was Almonte Country Haven, which had also been affected by a three-month COVID-19 outbreak, and the couple decided right then to help.

Knowing the hot, humid days of summer were just around the corner, the Brennaes decided to buy two air-conditioning units and two large fans for Almonte Country Haven to help keep residents cool and comfortable when temperatures began to rise.

Paul contacted Almonte Country Haven administrator Carolyn Della Foresta to let her know of the couple’s intentions.

Carolyn thanked the Brennaes for their kind offer, and Paul went ahead and ordered the air-conditioning units and fans through the Lowe’s Canada website.

But when the items arrived there was only one fan, so Paul made some phone calls letting Lowe’s know they were one fan short on their delivery.

Eventually, Paul talked with a representative from Lowe’s executive customer service department who said the fan was misplaced, which explained the delay, so to make up for the error Lowe’s offered to ship an extra fan at no cost.

In the end, Almonte Country Haven received two air-conditioning units and three fans, and Carolyn and the residents were grateful to the Brennaes and Lowe’s for their kind gestures.

“Paul and Lee reached out in this incredibly kind and tangible way, and these air conditioners and fans are just amazing,” Carolyn tells The OMNIway.

“What was so amazing to me is that this couple in the community had no personal connection with the home, (but) they knew about what we were going through (with the outbreak) and they were touched by our story and they wanted to reach out with an act of kindness.”

But the story doesn’t end here.

When Lowe’s learned from Paul the items were for Almonte Country Haven, the company wanted to do something extra for residents.

“They said they really liked what we were doing, so we were contacted by the company president’s executive assistant who said (Lowe’s) wanted to do more, so they asked what else (Almonte Country Haven) needed,” Paul says.

Paul let Carolyn know about Lowe’s offer, and Carolyn asked members of the home’s residents’ council what they would like from the company catalogue.

Looking ahead to the summer of 2021, the residents said new outdoor furniture to replace the older furniture would be great for outdoor visits and summer picnics.

In October, Carolyn was invited by Lowe’s to send an e-mail outlining residents’ request, which she did, along with an accompanying thank-you letter.

She relayed residents’ request for new outdoor furniture, and Lowe’s responded by sending a $2,000 gift card.

The Almonte Country Haven team will be using the card soon to buy residents their new outdoor furniture.

Looking back, Paul notes how the chain of events leading up to Almonte Country Haven receiving an extra fan and then a $2,000 Lowe’s gift card was unexpected.

“Initially, I just wanted to know where the fan was,” he chuckles.

Carolyn says she’s touched by the kindness and generosity the Brennae’s and Lowe’s have shown for Almonte Country Haven residents.

“This is a story of one raindrop falling but having an incredible ripple effect,” she says.

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Mobile unit is a one-stop activity shop for Springdale residents

Touch2Play system has been ‘worth it’s weight in gold,’ says LEC

A mobile activity unit Springdale Country Manor acquired three months ago has gone a long way to help provide residents of the Peterborough County long-term care home with meaningful activities during a time when large-group programming is not available, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The home purchased the Touch2Play game and activity system in December, and since then it has proven to be “worth its weight in gold” for the hours of entertainment and one-to-one programming it brings residents, says Sonia Murney, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC).

The Touch2Play unit is on a cart and brought to residents in their rooms when they wish to use it. The system includes more than 70 games and puzzles for residents to enjoy, including word searches, connect-the-dots activities, memory activities, crosswords, chess, bowling and garden-building activities.

But the tried and proven favourite activities the unit offers are casino games, Sonia says.

“It doesn’t cost them to play but they want their money when they’re done,” Sonia chuckles. “I’ve seen residents win $200,000 or $300,000 and they think I’m going to cash them out.”

If a game or activity requires two participants, a life enrichment staff member will join in for a one-to-one activity, Sonia notes.

Residents have been eager to use the Touch2Play unit, Sonia says, adding that residents will often book times to use the system, which is carefully sanitized before and after each appointment.

Residents have also adapted quickly to the technology, Sonia adds.

“Once you show them how to do it, they can figure it out and they’re good to go,” she says.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Springdale Country Manor resident Shirley Sweeting is pictured here playing a casino game on the home’s Touch2Play. Shirley’s “big win” on the game was $350,497.