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OMNI applauds the province’s creation of a tuition-free PSW program

The Accelerated PSW Training Program is aiming to provide free tuition to 6,000 people interested in careers as PSWs in an effort to improving health care staffing levels

OMNI Health Care is applauding a move from the Ontario government to launch a program that will provide tuition-free training to those interested in careers as personal support workers (PSWs).

The province announced Feb. 24 that more than $115 million has been earmarked to create the Accelerated PSW Training Program in the hope of attracting 6,000 new students.

The program will be offered at Ontario’s 24 publicly assisted colleges.

PSW training typically takes eight months for students to complete, but students enrolled in this accelerated program will complete their studies after six months.

Patrick McCarthy, OMNI’s president and CEO, says the organization is commending this initiative, which aims to alleviate staffing shortages in the long-term care and acute care sectors.

Like other long-term care providers, OMNI, which operates 18 homes in the province, has felt pressure from the shortage of front-line caregivers, and McCarthy says the government’s announcement is timely.

“We are very pleased to see the announcement of this initiative by the government,” he says.

“The cost of tuition is a major entry barrier to those wishing to pursue a career in long-term care, and this will help to create a cohort of trained PSWs that is much needed in long-term care homes today and in the future.”

Additionally, the Ontario government announced last Wednesday it will be offering financial assistance to students currently enrolled in a PSW program at any of the province’s publicly assisted colleges.

“Nearly 2,200 students will be eligible to receive a $2,000 tuition grant to help them complete their studies, as well as a stipend to complete the clinical placement part of their training,” the province said in the announcement.

Registration for the Accelerated PSW Training Program is expected to begin in March. Those interested in registering for the program can click here for more information.

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1950s diner and a visit from the Fonz highlight West Lake Terrace activity week

The home’s Beat the Winter Blahs Week succeeded in its mission, says LEC

The West Lake Terrace dining room recently looked like Arnold’s Drive-In, the famed diner where characters from the 1950s-themed sitcom Happy Days would hang out.

Residents and staff could tuck into burgers, hot dogs, fries and onion rings served in baskets lined with checkered paper. There were ice-cream sundaes for dessert and cherry cola to wash everything down.

People were dancing to the 1950s rock ’n’ roll that was playing, and there was even a visit from Arthur Fonzarelli – AKA, Fonzie – himself.

Resident Elwood Lewis donned a black leather jacket and sunglasses to play the part of Fonzie perfectly, right down to giving the thumbs-up, and his “aaayyy!” was spot-on, says West Lake Terrace life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC), Janie Denard.

For Janie, the 1950s theme day, which was held at the Prince Edward County long-term care home on Feb. 18, was the pinnacle of a week of fun events that aimed to blow away the winter blues.

“We really wanted to be creative this year to come up with activities that would help both the residents and the staff beat the blahs this year,” she tells The OMNIway.

Every February, West Lake Terrace hosts a Beat the Winter Blahs Week, seven days dedicated to themed activities to help residents and staff members through the often cold and dreary winter month.

The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic made year’s activity week even more important for everyone, given the restrictions that have been in place since the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization 11 months ago, Janie says.

Other events held the week of Feb. 12 to Feb. 19 included:

– Chinese food for lunch on Feb. 12

– On Feb. 14 there were Valentine’s Day photos taken, and a steak dinner served in the evening

– Feb. 15 was Pyjama Day, so residents and team members stayed in their PJs for the day

– On Shrove Tuesday, pancakes were on the menu and there was a special Mardi Gras event for everyone that included games

– A sports day for staff members and the West Lake Terrace Winter Games for residents on Feb. 17

– A special breakfast capped off the week on Feb. 19

Janie says residents and staff members had a lot of fun during this year’s Beat the Winter Blahs Week

“They had a blast, they’re already asking when we can do it again.”

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Pleasant Meadow residents receive first COVID-19 vaccination, second dose coming

Immunizations bring ‘a sense of relief and hope’ to residents and staff

Most of the residents of Pleasant Meadow Manor have received their first dose of the vaccine to protect them from the COVID-19 virus, and they are expected to get the booster immunization in the coming days.

On Jan. 28, paramedics from Peterborough Public Health were at the Norwood, Ont. long-term care home to work with front-line staff members to immunize all residents who had given consent to receive the vaccine.

The paramedics are expected to return to Pleasant Meadow Manor this week to administer the booster shot, says Sandra Tucker, the home’s administrator and director of care.

With the first round of resident vaccinations complete and the second immunizations coming soon, Sandra says there’s “a sense of relief and hope” amongst residents and staff members that the global pandemic’s end is on the horizon.

All municipalities covered by Peterborough Public Health, including Norwood, are currently in the yellow zone of the Ontario government’s colour-coded reopening framework. Municipalities in yellow zones are under “strengthened measures” and are expected to focus on protection.

Keeping in line with safety protocols, there are no large-group activities at Pleasant Meadow Manor at the moment, but residents are receiving one-to-one and small-group programming involving five or fewer people, with social distancing and other safety measures in effect.

The Government of Ontario says on its website that vaccinations will be crucial to curbing COVID-19 infection.

“(Vaccines) will be an important tool to help stop the spread of the virus and allow individuals, families and workers to safely resume normal life,” the website states.

“The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine does not cause a coronavirus infection. It helps to build up your immunity to the virus, so your body will fight it off more easily if it affects you.”

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Country Terrace residents treated to chocolate fondue for Valentine’s Day

There is no food connected to Valentine’s Day as much as chocolate, and when Feb. 14 rolled around the Country Terrace nutritional care team made a chocolate fondue for the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home’s residents to enjoy.

The nutritional care team made a “chocolate fondue cart” and visited residents on Valentine’s Day to offer them a taste.

The pot of chocolate fondue the nutritional care team prepared was accompanied on the cart by several items to go with it. These included fruits such as strawberries, grapes, pineapple and blueberries.

There were also wafers, Oreo cookies, marshmallows, homemade Rice Krispies squares and puff pastry twists.

Due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, safety protocols were followed by staff members when serving the dessert.

The Country Terrace nutritional care team usually hosts a special meal and gathering for residents on Valentine’s Day, but it was not possible to do so this year because of safety protocols in place.

Still, nutritional care manager Alex Achillini said the chocolate fondue was well-received by residents.

“It was wonderful; everyone really enjoyed it,” he tells The OMNIway. “It was something different for St. Valentine’s Day.”

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Streamway Villa marks 1,000th COVID-19 test with celebration

Streamway Villa officially conducted 1,000 COVID-19 tests at the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home on Feb. 16.

Nurse Jessica Bell has been performing nasal pharyngeal PCR COVID-19 swabs since testing began last spring after the World Health Organization declared the pandemic.

“A couple of other nurses have done (the tests) when Jessica was off, but if you speak to any of the staff, it’s Jessica who has been our star swabber,” Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht tells The OMNIway.

Performing these tests on residents and team members is crucial to detecting COVID-19 infection and preventing the spread of the virus.

Due to Jessica’s hard work, Streamway Villa administrator Kylie Szczebonski decided to mark the 1,000 swab with a celebration.

There was cake for everyone to enjoy, confetti was thrown and there was a large “1,000” made up of balloons attached to the ceiling in the home to mark the occasion.

Laurie says Jessica makes the swabbing process easy for everyone.

Jessica and nurse manager Jennifer Suave have set up a TV showing a clip of a fireplace burning, and there is calming music in the background as well, Laurie says.

“She’s gentle and makes the experience special for us,” Laurie says. “Jessica even gives us treats after every swab.”

Laurie adds that Jessica will be starting new rapid COVID-19 tests at Streamway Villa next week.

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Colourful artwork spreads joy at Garden Terrace

The Ottawa-area LTC home recently received a piece of artwork through the Colourful Connections program created by a local church

Stittsville United Church launched a program in late 2020 to use art to bring cheer and inspirational messages to people across the Ottawa region during the COVID-19 pandemic. Garden Terrace has now been touched by one of the initiative’s random acts of kindness.

The Kanata, Ont. long-term care home recently received a piece of artwork through Stittsville United Church’s Colourful Connections program.

Through this program, the church works with community partners, including local artists of all ages, to provide artwork to people and organizations across the region.

The artwork Garden Terrace received is a four-by-eight-foot brightly coloured painting with the words “You Matter” featured prominently.

Garden Terrace team members have placed the piece in the home’s front lobby, so it has been getting lots of attention, says Kelly Peterson, the home’s interim life enrichment co-ordinator.

Kelly says the artwork Garden Terrace received is an example of how a kind gesture can have a positive impact on others during a challenging time.

“We all need some colour and inspiration of positivity during these times,” she tells The OMNIway.

“A friendly reminder that kindness and a smile go a long way.”

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Having a certified doula will enhance the quality of end-of-life/palliative care at Country Haven, says manager

RPN Rachel Gukert, who has a ‘passion’ for helping residents receiving palliative care and their families, recently completed her end-of-life doula training

Almonte Country Haven registered practical nurse (RPN) Rachel Gukert recently became a certified end-of-life doula, and her training and expertise counselling residents at the end-of-life stage and their families will help enhance the quality of care at the Lanark County long-term care home, says one of Rachel’s colleagues.

Ruzica Subotic-Howell, the director of infection, prevention and control at Garden Terrace, worked with Rachel at Almonte Country Haven when Ruzica was Country Haven’s director of care. She says Rachel has a “passion” for helping residents receiving palliative care supports and their families, and the knowledge she has gleaned through her end-of-life doula certification will enhance the already-strong palliative care team at the home, Ruzica adds.

“Doula” is a Greek word that translates to “servant” or “helper”. The goal of an end-of-life doula is to empower and counsel people who are at the end-of-life stage and their families on decision making when it comes to their wishes and needs.

While staff members working on palliative care teams already consult with residents receiving end-of-life care and their families about their wishes and needs, a doula specializes in the approach, Ruzica says.

“What (having an end-of-life doula) will mean for residents receiving end-of-life care is that they will have a specialized person who will be able to look at the domains of their care as they move to end-of-life/palliative care,” Ruzica tells The OMNIway.

“This is definitely related to the quality of resident care because Rachel is now a leader in that, and she’s a wonderful teacher and a team player who shares her knowledge with others, so it will be a tremendous benefit for the home.”

Ruzica says there are not many doulas working in Ontario long-term care homes, so being certified as an end-of-life doula is a “massive achievement” for Rachel that will benefit Almonte Country Haven residents and their loved ones.

“Rachel has been such a keen person, (and) she has taken on the initiative to (build upon) her palliative care knowledge, so this brings (her expertise) up quite a notch,” Ruzica says.

“She wants to work with residents at Almonte and really solidify the knowledge she has to help them.”

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Streamway’s resident Santa makes Christmas even more special

Even if he wore a protective face mask instead of a long white beard, Streamway Villa’s resident Santa Claus still made a positive impact on other residents at Christmas.

Dressed in a full Santa costume, resident Claire Conlin did a walkabout at the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home Christmas Day, handing out gifts and visiting residents to help give the occasion that needed personal touch that only Kris Kringle can deliver.

During his visits to residents, Claire played up the part of Father Christmas well, asking everyone if they remembered what he brought them last year, says Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht.

“And the residents would all say, ‘Oh yeah, I remember,’ and he’d say, ‘well, this is your present for this year,’ and hand them their gift,” Laurie tells The OMNIway.

Normally, presents are given to residents in the dining room on Christmas morning, but because of social distancing precautions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was safer for Claire to hand the presents out one by one in residents’ rooms, Laurie adds.

Laurie says the Streamway Villa team is grateful to Claire for playing the part of Santa and helping make Christmas extra special for residents.

“He played the part really well,” she says.

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West Lake team hosts a ‘deer hunt’ for residents with great success

‘We haven’t had this much fun and laughter in our home since this pandemic started’

The West Lake Terrace team recently hosted a “deer hunt” that brought residents and staff members together for an engaging activity that resulted in lots of fun and laughter for all.

Team members gathered the Christmas trees that were set up around West Lake Terrace during the holidays and brought them to the dining room to create a makeshift forest.

Donning reindeer hats, team members began milling about through “the woods” as residents patiently sat looking through the sights of the Nerf guns they’d been given.

When a “deer” came into view, residents pulled their triggers, sending a volley of Nerf darts at them. Residents then tagged their “deer”.

Life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard says she and other team members at the Prince Edward County long-term care home were inspired to create the activity after reading an article about a home on Manitoulin Island that organized a similar activity with great success.

With the holiday season over and restrictions in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Janie says this activity was exactly what residents and staff members needed to fend off the winter blues.

“We haven’t had this much fun and laughter in our home since this pandemic started,” Janie tells The OMNIway, adding that even residents who often don’t participate in activities joined in on the fun.

“This was just what residents and staff needed; it was an eruption of laughter for a good 20 minutes. Some of the residents were asking when we could do this again.”

To accommodate the residents’ wishes, the life enrichment team is planning to host another similar activity in the near future, Janie says.

“We’re going to have the residents shoot at tin cans and have more games with the Nerf guns,” she says.

“This was a great activity and it was much needed for everybody in the home.”

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OMNI home redevelopment projects move forward in 2020

A major success for OMNI Health Care in 2020 was the move forward on three redevelopment projects, the announcement of a new home redevelopment project for Village Green and additional funding to expand the redevelopment project for the new Riverview Manor.

Construction has now started on the expansion of three OMNI long-term are homes: Pleasant Meadow Manor, Almonte Country Haven and Woodland Villa.

Once completed, these will all be Class A homes and will feature a wide range of modern amenities, such as wider hallways, more home-like dining and lounge spaces, and privacy for residents will be improved by having only one- and two-bed rooms.

During a Nov. 16 groundbreaking ceremony at Pleasant Meadow Manor, Sandra Tucker, the Norwood long-term care home’s administrator, said residents are especially looking forward to having more space, once the project, which will expand Pleasant Meadow by 34,000 square feet, is completed.

“They’re looking forward to the new rooms and having no more than two to a room,” she said.

Meanwhile, the province announced in November that funding has been approved to build a new Village Green in Greater Napanee that will have 128 beds, 62 more than the home currently has.

While there is no confirmation on when construction on the new Village Green will start or be completed, administrator Linda Pierce said a tentative site for the home is being considered on the west side of Lennox and Addington County Road 41.

Pierce said the new Class A Village Green, once completed, will enhance quality of life for residents and staff members.

“From bathing to dining experiences, everything will be enhanced,” she said. “Everything, in my opinion, will be more favourable to resident care and to the quality of life of the resident and the quality of life of the worker.”

Pierce added that the redeveloped Village Green will be a community asset because the additional 62 beds will help minimize waiting times for people in the region requiring long-term care.

There has also been good news for Riverview Manor.

The province announced in November that funding has been approved to add 32 beds to the 36 new beds that were promised in December 2018 for the rebuilt Peterborough long-term care home.

Riverview Manor’s current location on Water Street has 124 beds. Construction on the new Riverview Manor, which will be nearby on Langton Street in Peterborough’s north end, will likely start in 2021 and will take about two years to build.

During a virtual press conference on Nov. 20, Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith said the additional 32 beds Riverview Manor will receive will improve access for people in the region who require long-term care.

“Our seniors deserve quality care in the communities they live in,” he said.

“This is why (this) announcement of more new beds is so important. We are working to reduce wait times and meet the needs of our aging population now and in the future.”