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Country Terrace focusing on quality mealtimes to keep spirits high during the pandemic

‘You have to be creative and work within the restrictions’

Since protocols in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have limited group activities and programming for long-term care homes, Country Terrace has turned to something that is universally important to residents to ensure their quality of life is kept high: meals.

Every two weeks the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home hosts the Diners Club, a mealtime program where small groups of residents, on a rotating basis, choose a special meal the nutritional care team prepares for them.

The program was launched a few years ago, but it has been especially important to residents since the pandemic was declared 14 months ago, says Country Terrace nutritional care manager Alex Achillini.

Recently, the Diners Club featured a meal of pork ribs, chicken wings, onion rings, fries, coleslaw and pineapple upside-down cake. Other meals residents have requested over the years include beef tenderloin, seafood and reuben sandwiches.

The Diners Club has also focused on providing special meals for residents on texture-modified diets.

“You have to be creative and work within the restrictions,” Alex says.

Along with providing residents with their favourite foods, the Diners Club program also includes wine and beer for residents to enjoy, and meals are served using the home’s best plates and cutlery.

Country Terrace nutritional care team members have also received outside praise for their work.

In 2020, the team was recognized by the Canadian Society of Nutrition Management (CSNM) for the Mother’s Day lunch of barbecued pork ribs, parsnips, cornbread muffins, cream of celery soup and dulce de leche cheesecake that was served last May.

The CSNM posted a photo of the meal on its website to honour the team.

Residents also provide the nutritional care team with input to enhance their dining experience. For example, the team is now looking at sprucing up the meatloaf recipe to make a favourite meal even better for residents, Alex says.

And it’s not just the Diners Club the nutritional care team is focusing on during the pandemic. Alex and his team also regularly treat residents to ice cream and other desserts, he adds.

“These are all things you can do to improve the quality of life from the dietary (department’s) point of view,” Alex says.

If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

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From cook to administrator, Neil MacDonald discusses his OMNI career path

Neil, who recently became Frost Manor’s administrator, says he was looking at managerial roles from his earliest days with OMNI

Several years ago, when he was working as a cook and dietary aide at Riverview Manor, Neil MacDonald was thinking about a career path that would lead him to become a long-term-care home administrator.

On April 8, after stints working at Riverview Manor, Frost Manor, Springdale Country Manor and Willows Estate, Neil became the administrator at Frost Manor in Lindsay.

“I (knew that) at some point I would want to pursue an advancement towards (the administrator position) – I didn’t know I would become an administrator, but I did strive towards it,” he tells The OMNIway.

Neil started his career with OMNI Health Care as a cook and dietary aide at Riverview Manor. He completed culinary school and accepted a position as Frost Manor’s nutritional care manager in 2014.

Neil later became NCM at Riverview Manor in Peterborough. After a short time away from OMNI, Neil came back to help at Willows Estate during an outbreak early in 2021.

During his time with OMNI, Neil has also worked short placements when needed at Springdale Country Manor and Pleasant Meadow Manor.

Two months into the administrator position, Neil says he’s enjoying the job and there’s a lot of familiarity for him at Frost Manor.

He notes that he and nutritional care manager Zach Jarvis went to culinary school together, and he has worked with several other Frost Manor team members over the years.

“It’s really great to step into a role and be familiar with the team you work with,” he says.

“I really enjoy the teamwork and the camaraderie, and I guess my favourite part (of being administrator) is understanding how the management team and the staff at Frost Manor really work together towards the common goal of providing the best quality of resident care that we can provide and being a part of that – this has been the most rewarding part so far.”

Looking ahead, Neil says he wants to see everyone working at Frost Manor continue to grow as a team and achieve the best possible quality of care for residents.

“That’s really what I want to be successful at and what I look forward to each day – that camaraderie and teamwork towards always improving ourselves, which in turn ultimately provides better quality of care for our residents,” he says.

– This is Part 1 of a three-part story

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Seniors’ Month 2021 theme is Stay Safe, Active and Connected

June is Seniors’ Month in Ontario, and this year’s theme balances the importance of remaining vigilant about safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic with keeping a healthy body and mind.

The theme of this year’s Seniors Month is Stay Safe, Active and Connected.

In a press release, Ontario Seniors and Accessibility Minister Raymond Cho says Seniors’ Month is important because it highlights the contributions to society older Ontarians have made and continue to make.

“It is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the programs and services that are available to meet the immediate needs of seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” Cho says in the May 3 statement.

Cho notes that “great strides” have been made in 2021 to ensure Ontario seniors, including those living in long-term care homes, have been immunized against the highly contagious COVID-19 virus.

Most residents living in OMNI Health Care’s 18 long-term care homes have now received both required doses of the vaccines, and staff vaccinations are also well underway.

Homes are keeping safety precautions at the forefront while remaining mindful about the importance of providing a high quality of life to residents, which marries well with this year’s Seniors’ Month theme.

Indeed, staff members have been working hard to keep the quality of life high for residents by holding activities that adhere to the province’s safety guidelines.

In the press release, Cho asks organizations to share the link to the Seniors’ Month toolkit, which includes Seniors’ Month posters, a fact sheet and information about the Seniors Community Grant program.

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.

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Texture-modified meals highlight recent Country Terrace Diners Club

Minced and pureed meals were plated and decorated in 5-star restaurant fashion

A recent Diners Club meal at Country Terrace focused on providing residents who are on texture-modified diets with a tasty and visually appealing dinner featuring some of their favourite foods.

The latest Diners Club meal provided a special dinner for residents on puree and mince diets. Since people “eat with their eyes first,” Alex Achillini, the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home’s nutritional care manager, creatively plated and decorated each plate the way a high-end restaurant would serve dinner.

Residents requiring minced meals enjoyed lasagna for their main course. Residents requiring pureed meals were served a pork chop with peas, mashed potatoes and gravy.

The lasagna was created with noodles Alex made from scratch. The minced lasagna noodles were placed in a glass bowl between layers of meat sauce and ricotta cheese. Homemade cheese buns and a caesar salad were served alongside the lasagna.

For the residents requiring pureed diets, the main feature was a pork chop. The meat was pureed and placed in a silicone mould, frozen to form the shape of a pork chop, and then cooked. This was served with peas and mashed potatoes that were piped into decorative shapes.

For dessert, residents enjoyed a mousse that was layers of dark chocolate and white chocolate, topped with chopped strawberries for residents on the minced diet and a caramel sauce for those on the pureed diet.

When creating meals for residents requiring texture-modified food, Alex says presentation is especially important. Something as small as adding a spoonful of sauce to cover meat or a decorative mashed potato or vegetable can go a long way in making a meal more enjoyable, he says.

Alex notes there was an added touch to this Diners Club meal.

“Residents ate outside on the patio, which added to the enjoyment, and the activities and maintenance departments did a great job decorating it,” he says.

The Diners Club is being hosted for small groups of residents in a rotation. Alex creates a menu featuring foods residents enjoy. Residents are served the meals in a way one would expect from a top-notch restaurant.

Due to restrictions in place to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is currently no large-group programming. To ensure all residents can enjoy a Diners Club meal, the program is offered in one area of the home every two weeks, with no more than six residents participating at a time.

If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

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Riverview Manor’s ladies have a ‘picture-perfect’ Mother’s Day

Residents have special photos taken and sent to their loved ones for Mother’s Day

The ladies living at Riverview Manor had a “picture-perfect” Mother’s Day this year.

In the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day on May 9, Riverview Manor life enrichment aides (LEAs) were busy taking photos of every lady living at the Peterborough long-term care home.

LEA Adam Wicklum was the photographer and worked with LEAs Brigitte Byette, Rosemary Roseborough and Taylor Ioannou, who organized a beauty parlour for the ladies so they could have their hair done for their photos.

Residents had their photos taken in front of a backdrop of a spring blooming tree mural. The tree changes colour with the seasons, and different props, such as birds, butterflies, frogs and turtles, were added.

There was a vase of large artificial flowers next to residents in their photos, and residents held a large bouquet of similar flowers.

The photos were printed in colour on life enrichment co-ordinator Sherry Baldwin’s printer. Using residents’ photos, Adam made two Mother’s Day collages, one for each side of the home.

The collages were taped up in the dining rooms for two weeks for all the residents and staff to enjoy. When they came down, each resident received their colour printed photo.

The power of attorney of residents who had their photos taken received an e-mail with an attached photo of their loved one just before Mother’s Day.

When Mother’s Day arrived, all the ladies received a Mother’s Day card and a corsage. A large “Happy Mother’s Day” lawn sign was put up at the front of the home. Residents and staff could see the sign from both dining rooms.

LEAs Tina Hutchinson and Marilyn Price organized a special tea and trivia on both sides of the home with fancy tea cups on Mother’s Day. They ate cupcakes and cookies that were made at another program that weekend.

Adam says the photos received lots of positive feedback from residents’ families.

“Sherry read some e-mails to the life enrichment team from different families thanking us for making a beautiful photo of their mother and e-mailing it to them (so they can) cherish it,” he says.

If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

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Creative quick thinking saves Streamway Villa Cinco de Mayo celebrations

‘It ended up being so much fun’

Streamway Villa’s life enrichment department had scheduled a Cinco de Mayo celebration on May 5 for residents, but when the province announced new safety measures that included restrictions on buying non-essential items from stores, the life enrichment team was suddenly in a bind.

“I realized last minute that we didn’t have any decorations onsite, and then I realized that I couldn’t purchase decorations from the stores,” life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht tells The OMNIway.

Decorations are, of course, a big part of any Cinco de Mayo celebration, so the team had to think quickly to ensure the festivities could go ahead as planned.

Laurie networked with her colleagues at the Cobourg long-term care home and together they came up with ideas.

Administrator Kylie Szczebonski provided some decorations she had brought home from holidays in Mexico, and Laurie bought some Mexican finger foods, tacos, limeaid, a lime pie and tequila for residents to enjoy.

Laurie says everyone had a good time and staff members got everyone into the spirit of the day.

“My team got out some maracas, put on traditional Mexican music, and we celebrated,” she says. “It ended up being so much fun.”

Cinco de Mayo – which translates to “fifth of May” — commemorates the Mexican army’s defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, during the French occupation of Mexico. The holiday is celebrated in many parts of Mexico, particularly the state of Puebla.

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Streamway Villa residents make new feathered friends

Two ducks meandered into the home’s garden to visit residents as they did spring yard work

A group of Streamway Villa residents recently discovered that doing yard work can be just “ducky.”

The OMNIway recently told you about residents and staff members working together to beautify the garden and courtyard outside the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home.

While residents and staff were raking leaves and setting up tables and chairs, two ducks ambled through the gate and into the garden from the small ravine outside the home.

The winged visitors made a nice day even better for residents, who named their new feathered friends Beatrice and Orville, says life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht.

“Literally, the two ducks just strolled in,” she tells The OMNIway. “They walked right up to us, not even afraid. … It was a nice moment for the staff and residents seeing the ducks.”

Beatrice and Orville stayed with residents in the garden for most of the day. They would walk around visiting residents, who could not have been more pleased, Laurie says.

When the day’s work was done and it was time for everyone to go back indoors, the ducks were still meandering around the yard.

Laurie guided them towards the gate so they wouldn’t be locked in.

“Then someone reminded me that ducks fly,” Laurie chuckles.

If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

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Residents honour Burnbrae staff during Nursing Week

Kind, supportive messages from residents fill an entire wall at the home

In recognition of National Nursing Week, a wall at Burnbrae Gardens has been covered with kind notes and thoughtful messages from residents in support of everyone working at the Campbellford long-term care home.

The notes, which are written on colourful rectangular paper designed to resemble doctor’s prescription pads and laminated, share residents’ feelings about the people who provide their care every day.

The kind messages fill an entire wall in the hallway leading to the dining room, a corridor that sees lots of traffic every day.

“Oh my, where do I start? All the staff is just absolutely incredible,” says one note.

“They (staff) make me feel safe and take care of everyone here. They all do amazing at their jobs,” says another.

“Everybody makes me feel so loved,” says another note.

National Nursing Week is May 10 to 16. Burnbrae Gardens celebrates Nursing Week every year by honouring all staff members working in every department.

April Faux, Burnbrae Gardens’ administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator, says Nursing Week is especially meaningful this year, given the hard work team members have put forth during the past 14 months to keep residents and each other safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Normally we just hand out a few treats (during Nursing Week), but we really want the staff to know that they are appreciated by the residents that they take care of,” April tells The OMNIway.

“We intend to leave the messages up longer than a week because a lot of work went into this; we will probably leave it up for a few weeks, just to make sure everyone has a chance to read the comments.”

April says staff members will be receiving snacks on each shift and there will be a raffle for various prizes during Nursing Week.

Held the week of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12 every year since 1965, National Nursing Week aims to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions nurses make to our health-care system.

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Conversations with residents a highlight of student’s Village Green placement

‘They have years and years of experience and stories that they love to tell and love to talk about,’ says Griffin Newton

Griffin Newton says his favourite part of his two-month student placement at Village Green was the time he spent getting to know the Greater Napanee long-term care home’s residents.

Griffin, a Grade 13 student at Napanee District Secondary School, recently completed his co-op placement at Village Green. The experience has helped shape his career path, and he has applied to Loyalist College’s recreation and leisure program for the September intake.

As part of his placement, Griffin spent much of his time helping with activities and playing games or reading newspapers with residents.

It was through the time he spent with residents that Griffin says he learned a great deal about the people living at Village Green.

“They have years and years of experience and stories that they love to tell and love to talk about,” Griffin says.

“If you are a people person, they love to talk and they love to talk with you because their stories have been a big, monumental part of their lives and you have to be able to listen.”

One memorable moment for Griffin came when he was reading a newspaper with residents. Walter Gretzky, the father of NHL legend Wayne Gretzky, had recently passed away and there was an article about the world’s most famous hockey dad.

It turned out one of the residents knew the elder Gretzky many years ago.

“When (the resident) knew him, he sold cheese back in the day, and the other residents didn’t know that, so that was one of the great stories I heard,” Griffin says.

Griffin, who has also been working as a front-door screener during the pandemic, says having these conversations gave him “a new perspective” on people living at Village Green. Hearing about their stories and experiences was a chance to get to know them on a different level.

“I also love working there and being down there and interacting with the residents and, right now, taking their mind off of everything, especially with COVID,” he says.

– This is Part 2 of a two-part story

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Village Green placement steers student towards LTC career

‘I did a two-month placement there and fell in love with it’

Griffin Newton was no stranger to Village Green when he started a two-month co-op placement at the Greater Napanee long-term care home earlier this year.

His mother, Tammy Newton, is Village Green’s clinical care co-ordinator, and Griffin has been familiar with the home from an early age.

So when it came time for Griffin, a Grade 13 student at Napanee District Secondary School, to do his co-op placement, his mother suggested he consider Village Green, where Griffin also works as a front-door screener.

Tammy saw in Griffin a key strength that’s valuable in long-term care work: his ability to connect with people.

“She came up with the idea of my going back and making a connection (at Village Green) because she said I was always good at interacting with other people and helping others, so why not try that out,” Griffin tells The OMNIway.

“I did a two-month placement there and fell in love with it.”

During his placement, Griffin spent much of his time working with the life enrichment department helping out with activities.

He enjoyed the experience so much he plans to make a career out of it.

Griffin, who will complete his high-school studies this year, has applied to the recreation and leisure program at Loyalist College for the September intake.

Graduates of this program often go on to work in life enrichment departments at long-term care and retirement homes.

One idea he came up with during his placement was to draw a cartoon animal on the whiteboard every morning as well as to write a pun.

“He did this every day because the residents liked the first one so much,” says Ulana Orrick, Village Green’s life enrichment co-ordinator, who adds Griffin is well suited for this line of work.

Griffin says doing his placement at Village Green wasn’t so much “work” as it was learning about the home’s residents.

“It wasn’t a job for me, it was getting a chance to hang around with a group of interesting people I had not met before,” he says.

– This is Part 1 of a two-part story

If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

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