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CEO gives OMNI homes a top grade for COVID-19 response

‘It has really been about dedicated staff going over and above,’ says Patrick McCarthy

Asked how he would grade team members at OMNI Health Care’s 18 long-term care homes for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization’s president and CEO Patrick McCarthy doesn’t hesitate in his response.

“A-plus is considered the top mark, but we need to put another plus beside it” to truly recognize the contribution of staff members, McCarthy tells The OMNIway.

The global COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March by the World Health Organization. OMNI homes immediately put strict ministry protocols into effect, and OMNI’s pandemic plan was followed to the letter.

Knowledge of the virus, its transmission and impact has grown over time, and protocols, directives and guidelines have continuously evolved to reflect that knowledge.

The expanded availability of public health resources for testing and tracing has also had a significant effect on the ability to contain the spread.

While a major COVID-19 outbreak did occur in late March at one OMNI home, Almonte Country Haven, McCarthy says staff members at the home went above and beyond to care for residents in the face of the highly contagious virus.

“They were heroic in the contributions they made and their personal sacrifices; they showed tremendous passion and caring for their residents and each other,” he says.

Limited outbreaks among staff or residents have occurred at several other homes, and staff showed equal dedication and caring, McCarthy adds.

Aside from adhering to safety protocols and strong staff diligence, McCarthy says OMNI homes have also focused on communication with staff during the pandemic.

For example, daily team huddles for staff members to talk about issues and share information with each other on everything from residents’ well-being to the availability and use of personal protective equipment to the latest information about the COVID-19 virus has been vital.

But more than anything, McCarthy says OMNI staff members’ resident-centred approach to care and dedication to their work has been the big story during the pandemic.

“It has really been about dedicated staff going over and above,” he says. “They made sure the residents were cared for and were kept safe in a very difficult situation.”

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.

Province needs to address LTC staffing issues to better face second COVID wave

The need for more staff ‘is a big issue that’s affecting health-care providers across the country, and it’s seriously affecting long-term care homes,’ says OMNI CEO Patrick McCarthy

With health experts predicting a second wave of COVID-19 spread to begin within the coming months, the Ontario government needs to address staffing issues in the long-term care sector to help homes better prevent and manage infection, says OMNI Health Care president and CEO Patrick McCarthy.

Given that long-term-care home residents are among the most vulnerable population groups, it’s crucial that additional funding be earmarked to address staffing levels of front-line workers and provide staff training, both of which will be key to preparing for the second infection wave, he adds.

“(Staffing) is a big issue that’s affecting health-care providers across the country, and it’s seriously affecting long-term care homes,” McCarthy says in an interview with The OMNIway.

While long-term-care home staff members have worked tirelessly to keep residents safe from the highly contagious virus, the first wave of COVID-19 impacted homes across Ontario and Canada.

Long-term care homes having access to more front-line staff members will improve residents’ safety, McCarthy says.

All long-term care homes in Ontario receive funding specifically earmarked to provide nursing, personal care, programs and support services with no element of profit or surplus retained from the provision of those health services. As a result, funding for additional care staff needs to come from the province.

Private long-term care providers across Ontario have asked the Ford government to increase the supply of personal support workers (PSWs) by supporting innovative training programs, including on-the-job training and remote training.

McCarthy adds that the COVID-19 pandemic affects long-term-care home staff members beyond their work inside the homes.

For example, there may be instances where people cannot come to work due to outbreaks in the community or in schools, and there needs to be staffing levels to in place to ensure there’s always a ready supply of front-line care workers.

“It’s all a package that affects the availability of staff and the homes’ ability to staff during the pandemic,” he says.

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.

Safe barbecues help bring some normalcy back to Willows residents

With social distancing in effect, recent small-group barbecues have helped residents enjoy a favourite summertime activity while keeping safe during the pandemic

Summer is here and that can only mean one thing: it’s barbecue season at Willows Estate.

Recently, the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home hosted back-to-back barbecues in the garden for residents.

The barbecues were on back-to-back days because large-group activities are still suspended in long-term care homes due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing protocols remain in effect.

Team members grilled hot dogs for residents and provided toppings, including mustard, relish, ketchup, mayonnaise, onion and tomato.

Residents were treated to cool beverages, such as orange juice, lemonade, fruit punch and water.

To complement the food, warm weather and atmosphere, life enrichment aide Azaria Kanda played jazz music in the background which residents enjoyed.

“(Residents) were, as usual, grateful to be back to somewhat normalcy for the time being and just enjoying the moment with friends from different floors they might have not seen in months,” Azaria tells The OMNIway.

“All in all, it was a wonderful time.”

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.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown LTC homes’ strengths

If you’ve been reading the papers or watching the evening news in recent months, you’ve probably noticed a narrative emerging that questions the safety of long-term care homes during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. Read more

Forest Hill resident’s daughters wish mom a happy birthday from parking lot

The daughters of resident Hertha Davidson wave a banner from the Forest Hill parking lot on March 18 to wish their mother a happy birthday.

‘This was a positive experience and has marked a positive feeling forever in everyone’s mind who witnessed this scene,’ says interim administrator John Donzil

The COVID-19 pandemic is not only challenging for long-term-care home residents and staff members, it has also been a trying time for family members, who are unable to visit their loved ones while ministry protocols are in effect restricting visitation. Read more