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.”

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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.”

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Working at Streamway this summer has opened student’s eyes to LTC

‘It has been really nice to meet so many new people and hear so many stories,’ says Kiana Gammage

While Kiana Gammage says she’s not sure what career path she will eventually choose, working at Streamway Villa this summer gave her valuable experience in long-term care that can help her make her decision someday.

Kiana, who will be entering Grade 10 this school year, still has lots of time to make up her mind, but she says she’s happy she’s had two months to experience life at the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home.

“That’s part of the reason why I came here; to see if (long-term care) would be something I would be interested in pursuing,” Kiana says.

“It has been really interesting because it’s so different from what most people my age are doing, so it was such a nice experience to gain knowledge in different areas like that.”

Kiana has been working in Streamway Villa’s life enrichment department since late June. Her last day is today (Sept. 2).

With indoor large-group programming currently on hold due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, Kiana has spent much of her time doing one-to-one programming with residents and helping with resident-family visits.

One of the things Kiana says she has liked best about working at Streamway Villa is that it’s a small home, and that has allowed her to get to know the 59 residents on a personal level.

“What I love about Streamway is that there are not too many residents, so I’ve really been able to get close with each person and get to know them personally,” she says.

“It has been really nice to meet so many new people and hear so many stories.”

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Streamway Villa transformed into a campground

Team members created a week-long camping-themed week that was rich with reminiscing and full of fun and laughter

Summer just wouldn’t be summer without camping for many people, so the Streamway Villa life enrichment team created a week-long camping program Aug. 10 to 14 with every activity throughout the week having a camping theme.

In fact, the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home was even decorated with a camping motif, complete with an outdoor fire pit, a tent, an inflatable pool where residents could catch plastic fish, posted campground rules and signs warning everyone to “watch out for bears.”

Due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing and safety protocols were in effect during each program.

Laurie Kracht, Streamway Villa’s life enrichment co-ordinator, says the team had one goal in mind: to make residents feel like they were on a camping trip.

The week also encouraged lots of blissful reminiscing, while for others camping activities were brand-new experiences.

“One of our residents was telling me he had never set up a tent, so he helped me set up the tent,” Laurie tells The OMNIway.

“(The resident) is in his 80s and he set up a tent for the very first time.”

Laurie says the highlight of the week was a campfire on Aug. 12 where residents roasted marshmallows and hot dogs at the fire pit in the home’s courtyard.

“That was the best part; it was great to see the residents all laughing,” Laurie says.

“Everyone had a great time, and even the residents who normally don’t participate, they were raving about it the next day.”

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New LEC says she’s found her calling at Streamway Villa

Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht, right, is pictured with resident Vera Haden in the photo from 2019.

‘I want to be an advocate for the seniors. I’m very passionate about that,’ says Laurie Kracht

As Streamway Villa’s new life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC), Laurie Kracht says she has found her calling. Read more

VIDEO: Company donates video of Streamway Villa residents having safe fun during the pandemic

To encourage the spirit of fun and laughter at Streamway Villa, a local video and media production company created and donated a video of the Cobourg long-term care home’s residents having some safe fun during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

‘My dad showed me what I was supposed to do in life’

Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht, right, is pictured here with resident Vera Haden in this photo from autumn 2019.

Streamway Villa’s new LEC, Laurie Kracht, says caring for her father inspired her to pursue a career in LTC

Laurie Kracht became Streamway Villa’s new life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) in early July, and she credits her late father for inspiring her to take the career path that brought her to the Cobourg long-term care home. Read more

Splash party scores lots of laughter from Streamway residents

‘I have not seen some of the residents laugh like they did in a long time,’ LEC says

In an effort to beat the heat and have some outdoor fun, Streamway Villa organized a splash party for residents and staff members in the Cobourg long-term care home’s garden on July 22. Read more

Streamway Villa residents treated to a special violin, guitar performance

Pictured above, Taylor Stacey plays violin for Streamway Villa residents from outside the fence that surrounds the home’s garden.

Student Taylor Stacey hosts a safe, outdoor show for residents

Since Taylor Stacey could not enter Streamway Villa due to restrictions in place during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, the high-school student came up with a creative idea to safely bring some entertainment to residents of the Cobourg long-term care home. Read more

Pet therapy can change the ‘energy’ of a long-term care home: Streamway volunteer

Duffy, a British golden retriever, is a St. John Ambulance therapy dog who has visited Streamway Villa with his owner, Lisa Denvir. Due to protocols to keep residents and staff safe during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, there is currently no pet-therapy programming at OMNI Health Care long-term care homes.

Lisa Denvir, who has visited Streamway Villa with her therapy dog Duffy, says animals bring many benefits to residents

When dogs and cats visit a long-term care home with their handlers for pet therapy programs, residents often develop a connection with the animal that remains after the session has ended, says Lisa Denvir. Read more