June is officially designated as Seniors’ Month in Ontario, and this year’s theme – Stay Safe, Stay in Touch – is especially meaningful, given the impact the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic is having on seniors.
“As we take this opportunity to mark Seniors’ Month, we recognize that these are very challenging times for seniors as they continue to self-isolate due to the risk of COVID-19,” Seniors and Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho says in a June 1 press release.
“Now more than ever, it is important that we come together to support our seniors and recognize and honour the knowledge, experience and the contributions that seniors have made to build the province that we enjoy today – and that they continue to make every day in communities across Ontario.”
The pandemic has resulted in long-term care homes provincewide being closed to all but essential visitors. Social distancing protocols are in place, and group programming is on hold.
The Stay Safe, Stay in Touch theme marries well with practices OMNI Health Care has been embracing to keep residents safe and connected to their loved ones.
OMNI homes have been working hard since the pandemic began in March to keep residents connected with their loved ones, since having these connections is important to residents’ quality of life.
OMNI homes began organizing video calls between residents and their families almost immediately after the pandemic began.
Craig Forrest, the life enrichment co-ordinator at Forest Hill in Kanata, says bookings for video calls filled up as soon as the home began offering them.
“The response has been overwhelming,” he told The OMNIway in March. “I came in and my e-mail was full, and I had messages on my phone from people who wanted to connect with their loved ones.”
“Window visits”, which see residents and their loved ones visiting through closed windows, have also been popular almost every day at OMNI homes.
One Springdale Country Manor resident, Lillian de Bassecourt, even celebrated her 100th birthday with her family during a window visit.
In late May, team members at Woodland Villa in Long Sault fitted the home’s patio with a wood and Plexiglas barrier to allow safe outdoor visits for residents and their loved ones.
While this idea is brand new, it is already getting rave reviews from residents and their families.
“Our visiting area has been working out wonderfully,” says Woodland administrator Janna Sabourin.
“We have had nearly every day booked with families who have been able to visit their loved ones.”
What is your long-term care home doing in honour of Seniors’ Month? If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.
If you have feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.