CEO excited about working with OMNI team to pave the path ahead

‘I see a bright future for OMNI,’ says Raheem Hirji

OMNI Health Care president and CEO Raheem Hirji says he’s excited about working with team members from across the organization to pave the path for the future.

And it’s a future full of possibilities and growth, Raheem says, adding what will remain firmly in place is the people-focused culture and cohesive environment the organization has always valued.

Raheem, who became OMNI Health Care’s president and CEO on May 9, says the capital redevelopment projects several OMNI homes are undergoing, as well as potential new opportunities for redevelopment, will be a big part of the organization in the foreseeable future. There may also be opportunities to expand into new avenues, such as retirement living, further down the road, he adds.

But future growth is dependent upon the continued development of people, and in the short term, that’s where Raheem wants to set OMNI’s sights.

“I see a bright future for OMNI,” Raheem tells The OMNIway. “I think there’s a ton of opportunities, and the paramount thing to that is growth and being able to develop the people, and also, while you’re growing, keeping that core culture and close-knit community feel that we have.”

Raheem says the most important part of what he calls his “first 100 days” will be getting to know the people working throughout the organization and learning more about OMNI’s key strengths and assets.

“I’m really excited to be joining and learning from the team, and the approach is going to be learning from the experts who have done this for a number of years and being able to be a team, so I am super excited,” he says.

Learning as much as he can about the OMNI of today will help Raheem and other team leaders chart the course to create the OMNI of tomorrow, he says.

“The way I look at it, the biggest asset OMNI has is not the real estate and it’s not the homes, the biggest asset is really the people, and I cannot emphasize that enough,” Raheem says.

“The people are what gives me hope. I know there’s a number of people who have been (at OMNI) for a long, long time and have really steered the direction of OMNI, and it’s really the people that contribute to this business and contribute meaningful moments that allow our residents to call this home. That’s what gives me the most optimism about the future.”

– This is Part 2 of a two-part story

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CNA urges Canadians to support Nursing Week

‘The pandemic brought to light the courage and commitment that nurses work under every day and showed the important role that nurses play in the community’

This week is National Nursing Week in Canada, and the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), the organization promoting this annual seven-day event, is offering some ideas to help long-term care homes, hospitals and other health-care providers acknowledge their nurses and personal support workers (PSWs) who are dedicated to caring for others.

To celebrate front-line team members, CNA says people and organizations can post stories and photos highlighting the work nurses and PSWs do. Hashtags, including #WeAnswerTheCall, #NationalNursingWeek and #Nurses2022, can be used with posts.

The theme of this year’s Nursing Week is #WeAnswerTheCall.

“The theme this year is #WeAnswerTheCall and was developed by CNA to showcase the many roles that nurses play in a patient’s health-care journey,” CNA states on its website.

While front-line staff members have always been the backbone of the greater health-care sector, the CNA underscores the impact caregivers have had since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

“The pandemic brought to light the courage and commitment that nurses work under every day and showed the important role that nurses play in the community,” the organization says.

In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saluted front-line caregivers for their commitment to others.

“To all nurses across Canada, I express my heartfelt gratitude for your hard work and devotion,” he said. “You can take pride in knowing that you are helping to build a better Canada every day.”

National Nursing Week 2022 is May 9-15. The week is set aside to acknowledge nurses for their work. Health-care organizations across Canada dedicate the week every year to acknowledging nursing teams.

Held the week of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12 every year since 1965, National Nursing Week aims to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions nurses make to Canada’s health-care system.

Click here to learn more about Nursing Week.

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A taste of Mexico comes to Frost Manor

Residents and team members celebrate Cinco de Mayo with activities, food and drink

It was fiesta time at Frost Manor on May 5 when the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home’s residents and team members celebrated the famed Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo.

The event was marked by Mexican-themed food, games and beverages.

In the morning, residents played a “fiesta shopping game”, which was similar to a grocery-item version of bingo residents play, according to life enrichment co-ordinator Amy Whitehead.

For lunch, the nutritional care team prepared a Mexican-style meal that included chicken quesadillas with avocado, salsa and sour cream. This was accompanied by a taco salad, which Amy says was “a very popular choice.”

In the afternoon, life enrichment aides went around Frost Manor delivering mocktail sangrias to residents.

Cinco de Mayo – which translates to “fifth of May” – honours the Mexican army’s defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, during the French occupation of Mexico.

Throughout the event, residents and team members had their photos taken to capture the fun everyone was having, Amy notes.

“It’s very hard to tell with masks on, but I promise everyone is smiling,” she says.

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Flower arranging and harpist performance mark Garden Terrace pre-Mother’s Day celebration

Residents enjoy first Mother’s Day event with full programming in two years

The residents of Garden Terrace were treated to pre-Mother’s Day activities and entertainment on May 6 to mark the first time the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home has celebrated the occasion with larger programming since the pandemic began in 2020.

In the morning, the life enrichment team helped residents with a craft for Mother’s Day. Residents were provided small watering cans that they were able to fill with flower arrangements to keep as Mother’s Day gifts or to give to a loved one or friend.

“The residents really liked it – there were lots of smiles on their faces,” life enrichment co-ordinator Rachael King tells The OMNIway. “It was really nice for them.”

Due to restrictions in place to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the past two Mother’s Days have been quiet occasions. But since restrictions have eased, residents were able to do more programming this year.

The positive impact this is having is evident in the photos taken during the floral arrangement activity, where “everyone looks happy,” Rachael notes.

In the afternoon, residents were treated to a performance from a harpist which was enjoyed by all.

Residents were also given Mother’s Day cards and a flower, courtesy of Garden Terrace team members. Residents were also treated to a special meal when Mother’s Day arrived May 8.

Rachael says the Mother’s Day programming meant a lot to the residents.

“It has been different these past two Mother’s Days, but it’s nice to be able to celebrate (the mothers) because they deserve it,” she says.

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Country Terrace moms receive aromatherapy bracelets

LEC creates unique accessories for Mother’s Day

The ladies of Country Terrace were treated to a special Mother’s Day gift when they received specially made aromatherapy bracelets courtesy of Lora Blackett, the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC).

Aromatherapy bracelets are beaded bracelets covered with a scent. Lora used lavender for the bracelets she made residents. Bracelets, she notes, were a unique way to combine a gift for Mother’s Day, which was May 8, with aromatherapy.

In addition to the bracelets, the Country Terrace mothers also received Mother’s Day cards and nutritional care manager Alex Achillini made special cupcakes for everyone to celebrate the occasion.

Lora got the idea to make the bracelets from administrator Christie Patterson, who formerly served as the home’s LEC. Christie had made aromatherapy bracelets for residents one Mother’s Day and they had been a big hit with residents.

Lora explains how the bracelets work.

“They are made from little beads that soak up essential oils and you just dab the beads with the oil,” she tells The OMNIway, adding, “lavender is a very calming scent,” which is why she chose it.

Lora notes that Mother’s Day is one of the most popular days of the year at Country Terrace. Lora, who became the Country Terrace LEC last October, says she wanted to make her first Mother’s Day at the home extra special.

Going with a tried and proven handmade gift felt like the perfect way to do so, she says.

“Mother’s Day is (so popular) here that it can sometimes be busier than Christmas,” Lora says. “Since the residents loved the bracelets when Christie made them, I thought it was a good idea to do it again.”

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OMNI is about people. And that’s the way Raheem Hirji likes it

The organization’s new president and CEO says he’s looking forward to working with the OMNI team and building upon the ‘great work’ already accomplished

As he starts the next chapter in an already rich career in the long-term care and retirement living sectors, Raheem Hirji, OMNI Health Care’s new president and CEO, says what’s exciting him most is the opportunity he will have to get to know and work with the people who comprise the organization.

Long-term care is a people-based business, and people are OMNI’s greatest asset. This is a sentiment Raheem, who previously held executive positions at Sienna Senior Living (formerly Leisureworld) and, most recently, at Seasons Retirement Communities, where he served as chief financial officer, cannot underscore enough.

“I’m really excited about meeting the people,” Raheem, who starts his position today, tells The OMNIway.

“I’ve been in the industry now for a number of years, and (I know that) OMNI has had a phenomenal reputation and culture centred around quality and care, and that’s really a testament to the people who contribute to that, day in and day out.

“As I gear up and get ready to start, I’m most excited about meeting people because this is a people business at the end of the day, and that’s what makes this business move forward.”

By working with people from across the organization, Raheem says he sees many opportunities on the horizon to build upon the “great work” OMNI’s leadership team has accomplished over the years and take OMNI’s reputation, both as a long-term care provider of choice and employer of choice, to the next level.

Topping the list of exciting times ahead Raheem sees is the completion of redevelopment projects at several OMNI homes – including the rebuilding of four homes – that will enhance the living experience for residents and the working experience for staff.

Patrick McCarthy, OMNI’s previous president and CEO, has stepped down from the position as he prepares for retirement, but he is continuing with OMNI in an advisory role for a period of time not yet determined. Raheem commends Patrick and the rest of the leadership team for laying the groundwork that’s making future opportunities possible.

“I think we’re at an exciting time in the company’s evolution, so that’s what really stands out,” Raheem says. “There’s a ton of opportunity to build on the great work that Pat and the leadership team have already done so much of, and obviously the organization is well in hand, so I’m just excited about building upon that.”

– This is Part 1 of a two-part story

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Volunteer reflects on the positive outcome of her first meeting with Garden Terrace residents

Makeup artist Roxane Vezina hosted a spa day to help residents look and feel their best

Roxane Vezina has a talent for making people look and feel their best, and it’s a gift she wanted to bring to others.

So, in March, the professional makeup artist completed her first volunteer shift at Garden Terrace, where she helped residents choose and apply makeup to help them feel like they were getting ready for a night out on the town.

Roxane explains how she became a volunteer at the Ottawa-area long-term care home.

“I was looking for volunteering opportunities, but especially doing makeup and helping people feel better about themselves,” she tells The OMNIway.

“I found there were no opportunities in Ottawa to do that. So I contacted (Garden Terrace) and asked about providing services to them in a volunteering capacity.”

On her first volunteering day in March, shortly after pandemic restrictions relaxed, Roxane organized a spa day for residents. She provided a large makeup kit for residents to choose the colours and shades of makeup they wanted for their eyes, cheeks and lips.

She also provided skincare services and did residents’ nails.

Roxane says what made her most happy about her first volunteering shift was that she was able to provide residents with a service they had not had in a long time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was able to give (the residents) a bit of a transformation and helped make them feel more beautiful, more feminine and offered them something they perhaps haven’t had in a very long time,” she says.

Roxane also says she saw the difference her work made.

“The residents were very grateful for the opportunity, and I thought that was so sweet,” she says. “I think the best part of this process for the residents was really just to feel their best.”

After their makeup and nails were done, the residents were reflecting on their fond memories of getting dressed up to go out for the evening, and this had a positive impact on Roxane, she says.

“That made me feel great because they talked about what they were doing and what they would have done when they were all dolled up,” she says.

April 24-30 was National Volunteer Week. The week is marked by events nationwide that celebrate volunteers and all they do to enrich the lives of others. This year marks the 81st National Volunteer Week.

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Earth Day presentation generates lots of interest at Garden Terrace

Residents were keen to learn about the importance of sustainability and had many questions for presenter Sarah Vierra

Garden Terrace residents learned about the importance of sustainability as well as about the extinction of species and the impact this has on the environment during an Earth Day presentation at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home.

The April 22 presentation was delivered by life enrichment aide Sarah Vierra who also explained that while humans are the main source of environmental damage, humans are also working towards solutions to increase sustainability and prevent further environmental harm.

“We looked at videos that talked about how in the past certain species were very prominent, that all the rainforests were still there, but deforestation happened and pushed them out,” explains Garden Terrace life enrichment co-ordinator Rachael King.

“As a result, today’s world has changed, and that was interesting for the residents to learn about.”

Recognized every April 22 since 1970, Earth Day is honoured worldwide to raise awareness of environmental issues and support environmental protection.

Some of the residents come from a generation where there was far less concern over the state of the global environment, but the presentation Sarah created sparked lots of interest, Rachael says.

“A lot of them were curious about different animals and where they originated,” she says. “One resident was asking about different types of frogs and what their colours mean, so they were pretty interested in everything.”

Rachael is commending Sarah for organizing the engaging presentation that piqued lots of interest from residents.

“It was well received by the residents; Sarah did a very good job,” she says.

Given the success of the Earth Day presentation and other learning programs residents have had, Rachael says the Garden Terrace life enrichment team will continue delivering educational sessions to residents throughout the year.

“We are going to do more educational programs like this to help inform residents about things going on in the world and things going on in the community,” she says.

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PSW visits Country Terrace on his day off to bring residents Easter cheer

Trevor Blackmore is being praised for his commitment to residents

Country Terrace personal support worker (PSW) Trevor Blackmore is being praised for coming to work on his day off to bring some Easter cheer – and chocolates – to residents.

On Easter Sunday, Trevor turned up at the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home to visit residents and deliver Easter sweets to them, a gesture life enrichment co-ordinator Lora Blackett says demonstrates Trevor’s commitment to residents and the passion he has for his work.

Lora says Trevor told her he dresses up as the Easter bunny for community functions every year, and he approached her with the idea to come to Country Terrace on Easter Sunday in costume with plenty of treats to hand out.

Trevor is a fairly new team member at Country Terrace and he wanted to share his Easter spirit with residents, Lora says.

“He went around and handed out chocolate and cheer to the residents who loved it,” she tells The OMNIway.

“The residents were laughing and hugging the Easter bunny. At one point the Easter bunny lost his tail – it just fell off – and the residents all thought that was hilarious.”

As much as the visit from the Easter bunny made residents’ day, the big story is about a staff member coming to work on his own time to make everyone’s day a little brighter, Lora says.

“I think it’s so amazing that staff here will volunteer their own time to spread cheer to the residents,” she says. “I think that really tells you the kind of person they are.

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March Madness recipe challenge winds down to the Battle of the Beef

Voters will choose between Asian beef steak and steak salad

And then there were two.

As we enter the fourth round and final week of voting in the first annual OMNI Health Care March Madness recipe challenge, it’s down to the Battle of the Beef.

Voters are now tasked to choose whether the Asian beef steak or steak salad will take first place and give the meal’s creator both bragging rights and a $100 gift card.

The OMNIway is keeping the identity of each meal’s creator secret until after the contest is finished on May 6.

You can click here to vote in the finals of the bracket contest.

OMNI launched the March Madness recipe challenge in March in recognition of Nutrition Month in Canada.

The idea behind the contest was hatched by Chris Weber, OMNI’s operations manager of nutrition and food service, to encourage nutritional care managers and cooks to showcase their most-loved recipes and to highlight the high-quality meals served in OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes.

Throughout March, nutritional care managers and cooks prepared their favourite meals, plated them and took photos that were sent to head office. The photos were accompanied by the name of each meal and its recipe.

Sixteen recipes were entered.

After the contest is finished, The OMNIway will highlight each meal and its creator in a series of stories that will run throughout the coming months.

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