Cooking at Streamway Villa is a chance to enrich lives every day, says team member

‘Putting a smile on residents’ faces – there is nothing more rewarding than that,’ says Litsa Christodoulou

Each day when Litsa Christodoulou walks into Streamway Villa to start her shift in the kitchen, she knows she’s making a difference in the lives of everyone she cooks for at the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home.

Being served high-quality meals is one of the most important aspects of life in a long-term care home for residents, and Litsa does everything she can to deliver the quality meals residents want.

It can be something as simple as plating meals colourfully or by making a happy face out of bacon and eggs, she says.

“I know it might sound a little bit kooky, but they love it; they will think that is the greatest thing,” Litsa tells The OMNIway.

Litsa has been doing “kooky” things like this for residents for seven years, and she says there’s no other job she can imagine doing.

“The thing I love about working in long-term care is the residents,” she says. “Putting a smile on residents’ faces – there is nothing more rewarding than that.”

It’s fitting that Litsa would gravitate to a career cooking for long-term-care home residents.

When she was a high-school student in Toronto, Litsa participated in an adopt-a-grandparent program through a Scarborough long-term care home. This experience had a positive impact on her and introduced her to the long-term care sector.

Additionally, Litsa’s parents owned restaurants, and Litsa grew up helping in the kitchen and working in restaurants, so Streamway Villa has been a perfect fit for a career, she says.

Litsa says the best part about her job is the residents she serves.

“At the end of the day, if I can make the residents happy, then I have fulfilled my duty,” she says.

So, what’s the difference between working in a long-term-care home kitchen and a restaurant kitchen?

“Foodwise, it’s all the same; whether I’m working in a restaurant or a long-term care home, I am giving 110 per cent every day, no matter what,” she says.

“The difference is the people. Sometimes in restaurants, the customers make you feel like they’re doing you a favour by coming in; but here (at Streamway Villa), the residents are always thanking you and telling you that your food is delicious. It’s constant, and I think that that’s the difference and makes it more rewarding.

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Nothing says ‘love’ quite like lobster

Nutritional care team treats Streamway Villa residents to a lobster lunch on Valentine’s Day

The Streamway Villa nutritional care team delivered a special Valentine’s Day lunch to residents Feb. 14 that featured lobster tails as the main course.

Valentine’s Day is always a big event at long-term care homes, so Garth Derry, Streamway Villa’s nutritional care manager, says he wanted to serve a memorable meal to mark the occasion.

Residents tucked into a lunchtime meal that featured large lobster tails served on a bed of rice accompanied by drawn butter, lemon slices, bell pepper rings and asparagus spears.

Residents of the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home had requested lobster for lunch, and Garth and the nutritional care team went all out to ensure they got the meal they wanted.

Garth is happy to report residents enjoyed their meal as much as he and the nutritional care team enjoyed preparing it for them.

“(It was) a rare treat that they loved,” he tells The OMNIway.

Of course, not everyone is a seafood fan, so residents who wished to opt-out of the lobster lunch were treated to pizza.

“Valentine’s wouldn’t be complete without treating our loved ones who don’t like lobster! Why not treat them to some PIZZA!” the Streamway Villa team wrote on the home’s Facebook page.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Pictured at left, Streamway Villa resident Debra Belliveau is seen here enjoying the lobster lunch residents were served on Valentine’s Day. Right, a plate that was served to residents for their Valentine’s lunch, featuring a lobster tail, rice, bell pepper and asparagus.

LEC emphasizes the importance of Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Month

‘During the pandemic, we have come to realize how important recreation therapy is in the world of life enrichment, and we at Streamway Villa wanted to acknowledge this skill set’

As Laurie Kracht will tell you, she is “passionate” about her career in life enrichment.

And since the COVID-19 pandemic began 23 months ago, life enrichment teams in long-term care homes have been at the forefront when it comes to maintaining a high quality of life for residents, says Laurie, the life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) at Streamway Villa in Cobourg.

This is why she is raising awareness of February being Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Month in Canada.

“Utilizing recreation therapy in long-term care is very important as it ensures residents live a full life through enhancing and engaging the five domains (of wellness): spiritual, cognitive, emotional, physical and social,” Laurie tells The OMNIway.

“This is done through assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation. During the pandemic, we have come to realize how important recreation therapy is in the world of life enrichment, and we at Streamway Villa wanted to acknowledge this skill set.”

Laurie underscores the important role life enrichment teams have played in the lives of long-term-care home residents since the pandemic began, noting the pandemic has meant life enrichment teams have had to change the way they do their work and also add new duties to their daily routine.

“We have not only continued to program in a different capacity than we were used to, but we have also been handling all the family visits and relationships,” Laurie says.

“With this being Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Month, I believe we need to reflect on how important the LECs and LEAs (have been) during the pandemic.”

Therapeutic Recreation Ontario, the organization that leads the awareness campaign in Ontario every February, explains the importance of therapeutic recreation on its website.

“The purpose of Recreation Therapy is to enable all individuals to achieve quality of life and optimal health through meaningful experiences in recreation and leisure,” the website states.

“We believe in the inherent capacities of individuals for personal growth, happiness and freedom.”

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Banners celebrate Streamway Villa’s resilience during the pandemic

Team member Michelle Harrison and her husband made a series of colourful support signs that now adorn the fence at the home

If you’re walking by Streamway Villa these days, you’ll notice some colourful banners attached to the fence showing support for the people living and working at the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home.

This act of kindness comes courtesy of Streamway Villa team member Michelle Harrison and her husband, Richard.

Michelle and Richard recently spent a few days making the banners, which are embossed with the OMNI Health Care logo and contain supportive messages like, “You’re appreciated more than you know!”, “Streamway Strong” and “Hope, Purpose and Belonging.”

Michelle says the inspiration behind making the banners was simple: she wanted to keep morale high amongst residents and team members who have stuck together throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I feel that the residents and staff here deserve (something to recognize them),” Michelle tells The OMNIway.

The gesture has been well-received by everyone, she adds.

“People are saying that it was nice to be recognized, and the residents all liked it, and when the residents are happy, everybody is happy,” Michelle says.

Canada is now in its fifth wave of COVID-19 since the pandemic began 23 months ago, but Michelle says the camaraderie remains strong at Streamway Villa.

Michelle also commends the home and company culture for the strong unity at Streamway Villa.

“OMNI is a really good company to work for, and Streamway is a great home,” she says.

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Streamway resident flying high during new program

Thanks to an idea from LEA Chelsea Tinney, Bob Thompson is once again navigating the Canadian skies

Streamway Villa life enrichment aide Chelsea Tinney has discovered a one-to-one program that has really “taken off” with one of the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home’s residents.

Bob Thompson, who moved into Streamway Villa three months ago, spent many years working as a flight navigator, including a career in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and has a lifelong passion for planes and flying.

With this in mind, Chelsea recently downloaded a flight simulator app onto an iPad and has been spending time with Bob circling the skies with this state-of-the-art virtual program.

Together, Bob and Chelsea will spend one-to-one time on the X-Plane app, which allows users to select the type of planes they wish to virtually fly as well as choose locations around the globe they can fly over.

As a flight navigator, Bob has naturally excelled at using the X-Plane app and is tapping into his extensive knowledge of both aircraft and landscapes.

During his career, Bob spent time aerial mapping while flying above Northern Canada, and the X-Plane app has been the perfect way for Bob to engage his strengths, says Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht, noting Bob enjoys reminiscing about his days in the sky.

“Bob loves it; he really engages in anything to do with planes and landscapes, especially Northern Canada,” she says.

Since Bob is enjoying the program so much, he and Chelsea will continue using the X-Plane app on a weekly basis, says Laurie, who applauds Chelsea for coming up with the idea for this activity.

“It’s one of those programs that is specific to a resident, and you are only able to come up with these special programs if you, the staff, really gets to know the residents and their past experiences,” she says.

“This is where I am proud of my life enrichment team. Together, all three of us take our own time on top of regular assessments to get to know each resident as they come into the home.”

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Streamway Villa residents show enthusiasm for in-home democracy

Home elects new residents’ council

Streamway Villa has just elected a new residents’ council for the next 12 months, and residents were enthusiastic about voting in the new board, which plays a large role in life at the Cobourg long-term care home, says Laurie Kracht, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

Elected to serve the next Streamway Villa residents’ council are president Wanda Greacen, vice-president Betty Bonneau and secretary Emmett Pichie.

Each role comes with a set of duties. The president’s role is to oversee meetings and ensure procedures are followed. The vice-president steps in when the president is not available. The secretary takes notes and maintains a file on the minutes.

Laurie says it was encouraging to see residents take a strong interest in electing the next council.

Residents’ councils are mandated by the Ministry of Long-Term Care. Residents’ councils serve to empower residents and help them make the most of their experience living in long-term care homes.

The councils meet regularly with staff members to advise on residents’ wishes and to discuss issues to keep quality of life high in long-term care homes.

While the new Streamway Villa residents’ council has not yet made any big decisions, Laurie says a major focus for 2022 will be continuing to work through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“They are mainly going to be focused on continuing to get through the pandemic and moving ahead into 2022,” she says.

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Streamway Villa residents receive some ‘sunshine’

Nonprofit organization Sending Sunshine sent cards filled with positive messages to residents during the holidays

Thanks to the thoughtfulness of a nonprofit organization and the people connected to it, Streamway Villa residents were recently inundated with cards filled with positive messages – something that has been especially meaningful during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Sending Sunshine is a Mississauga-based nonprofit organization run by four friends that is aimed at improving the lives of seniors. The organization achieves its mission by sending cards that are filled with kind thoughts to seniors around the world, many of whom live in long-term care and retirement homes.

People interested in sending cards to seniors through Sending Sunshine can do so through the organization’s website.

The cards Streamway Villa residents received just before Christmas included messages encouraging smiles and shared love. There were more than enough cards to go around, says Laurie Kracht, the Cobourg long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

“(The cards) had lots of good wishes for residents,” she tells The OMNIway. “We had lots of extra cards that we were able to hand out to staff as well.”

According to the organization’s website, Sending Sunshine is reaching out to seniors with cards to help promote inclusiveness for seniors while decreasing social isolation.

To date, Sending Sunshine has sent 93,175 cards to seniors living in 12 countries.

“We aim to help reduce the negative effects of social isolation and loneliness among senior citizens in our community by providing them with handwritten cards,” the website states.

“It is with the help of people like YOU that we can help provide a ray of sunshine in the lives of Canadian seniors.”

Click here to learn more about Sending Sunshine.

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Stuff a Stocking for a Senior initiative returns to Streamway Villa

All residents of the Cobourg LTC home received stockings filled with small gifts on Christmas Day, thanks to local project

Streamway Villa residents returned to their rooms after breakfast on Christmas Day morning to find traditional Santa stockings filled with small gifts, courtesy of the Stuff a Stocking for a Senior initiative.

Since 2017, Stuff a Stocking for a Senior, a Christmastime charity launched by friends Vicky Davis of Cobourg and Lynn Stewart Orangeville, has sent Christmas stockings and small presents to long-term care and retirement homes across Northumberland County during the holiday season.

Through the campaign, donations are collected from the community and then Christmas stockings and presents are bought for the residents of the homes the program serves.

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 said she noticed some residents were not getting family visits during the holidays 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.

Streamway Villa residents found a wide variety of gifts in their stockings this year, says Laurie Kracht, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

Some of the many gifts residents received included teddy bears, activity books, nail polish, toiletries and chocolates. “The residents loved their presents,” Laurie tells The OMNIway, adding Streamway Villa residents and team members are grateful for the Stuff a Stocking for a Senior initiative as well as for the other community members and organizations that showed support for the home over the holidays.

“It’s always a special treat for them on Christmas Day.”

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Streamway Villa welcomes back in-house entertainment

‘It was huge, the residents were all singing along’

Live indoor entertainment returned to Streamway Villa in early November, and residents at the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home are happy to be singing along to their favourite songs again.

After the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization in March 2020, Ontario long-term care homes had to put indoor entertainment on hold.

The home has offered outdoor entertainment, but being outside didn’t have quite the same impact on people, says life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht.

“It was fun outside, but the residents and entertainers were separated by a fence, so it wasn’t very interactive,” she tells The OMNIway. “When it’s in the building, it’s more interactive.”

The first entertainer to perform inside the home since the pandemic began was Darren Bailey on Nov. 3. Don Owen, who is also a well-known restaurateur in Cobourg, has performed for residents as well.

In fact, when Don performed at Streamway he didn’t even need a microphone since the residents singing along helped carry the songs,
Laurie says.

“It was huge, the residents were all singing along,” she says. “He just sang and his voice filled up the whole dining room, and the residents were all singing and they were smiling for the rest of the day.”

While in-house entertainment is being permitted in some long-term care homes, performers must meet safety requirements, including having proof of vaccination. Performers must also sign a waiver and attend an infection prevention educational session with staff members.

Laurie notes that three more entertainers are booked in December.

In addition to having entertainment, Streamway Villa is also starting pet therapy programs once again, so stay tuned to The OMNIway for upcoming stories.

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Streamway residents attend Remembrance Day ceremony at Cobourg cenotaph

A wreath dedicated to veterans living at Streamway and other OMNI homes was laid at the memorial

About 15 Streamway Villa residents and accompanying staff members attended a ceremony at the cenotaph at Victoria Park in Cobourg on Remembrance Day.

Although it was a cold, cloudy day, the group of residents bundled up in warm clothing and made the one-kilometre trek with staff members from the home to Victoria Park to attend the service.

Among the residents attending the ceremony were three veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Marnie Burke served as a nurse in the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery and was stationed in Victoria, B.C., during the Second World War. Tom Stewart served in the Canadian Army. Streamway Villa’s newest resident, Robert Thompson, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Streamway Villa residents and team members brought a wreath to the service dedicated to the veterans of the home as well as veterans living at OMNI Health Care’s other 17 long-term care homes.

During the service, Streamway Villa administrator Kylie Szczebonski was called to lay the wreath at the cenotaph on behalf of everyone at the home.

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