Families praise OMNI homes for balancing quality of life with safety during the pandemic

From keeping residents in touch with their loved ones to delivering meaningful programming, homes have excelled in resident focus, say family members

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, long-term-care home residents, their families and staff were faced with the challenge of balancing safety restrictions with providing residents a high quality of life.

Residents’ family members understood this challenge and, in recent OMNIway stories, they have expressed their thoughts on how well homes have worked to keep their loved ones safe and happy during a trying time.

When the pandemic was declared, long-term care homes immediately put safety precautions in place, including closing homes to all but essential visitors.

This presented the challenge of keeping residents and their loved ones connected. Technology helped bridge this gap. Homes began using video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom and FaceTime, to keep residents and their families in contact.

Forest Hill family member Judy Wood recalls how this helped her and her siblings stay in touch with their mother. Craig Forrest, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator, helped arrange frequent video calls between Judy and her siblings and their mother.

“We are all very close to our mom, (and) Craig and his staff were so accommodating,” Judy said.

“I would call to ask for a time to connect with my mom and they would make it happen. We all worked together. It was nice to be able to see her and connect with her.”

There is also the programming that life enrichment teams have created that both meet residents’ needs and adhere to safety protocols.

Gladys Morris’s brother Doug was a Streamway Villa resident from October 2018 until he passed away in August. Gladys says Streamway Villa team members have continued to deliver meaningful programming to residents despite the challenges that have come with the pandemic.

This, she says, made a big difference to her brother.

For example, in late July, Streamway Villa hosted an Olympic-themed week. At the end of the week, team members organized a closing ceremony with a parade for residents.

Team members decorated residents’ wheelchairs and walkers as part of a contest. Doug, a retired farmer, had his wheelchair decorated as a Cub Cadet tractor by personal support worker (PSW) Linda Norton.

Doug took second place in the contest and was overjoyed, Gladys says.

“He wasn’t able to be up there very long, but he really enjoyed it,” she says.

Gladys recalls the moment when she realized how much Streamway Villa meant to her brother.

Shortly before he passed away, Doug was in hospital for treatment. Upon returning to Streamway, Doug was sedated. He suddenly heard the voice of one of the PSWs. “When he heard the voice of the PSW, he lit right up and it was like he was living anew,” Gladys says.

“That was the first thing that really hit me, and I said, ‘Doug, are you where you want to be?’, and he said, ‘yes, this is my home.’ ”