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Bingo, a prize draw and green beer mark St. Patrick’s Day at Frost Manor

Safety restrictions meant activities were low-key, but there was still lots of fun and laughter for residents

St. Patrick’s Day was low-key this year at Frost Manor, but the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home’s residents and team members still celebrated all things Irish on March 17.

In the morning, residents and staff dressed up in green St. Patrick’s Day attire and shared a laugh at what everyone was wearing, says Frost Manor life enrichment co-ordinator Lyndsay Burton.

Later in the day, residents and staff played “lucky bingo” in the different areas of the home. There was also a prize draw from a “pot of gold,” and those selecting a winning token received a cash prize.

Since there is currently no large-group programming at Frost Manor due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, team members organized St. Patrick’s Day activities for small groups of residents, with social distancing and other safety measures in effect.

And, of course, no St. Patrick’s Day would be complete without refreshments, so team members served pints of green beer to residents who wished to have a drink as well as other festive treats.

Because of restrictions in place to keep everyone safe during the pandemic, St. Patrick’s Day had to be toned down compared to previous years, but residents still enjoyed the fun and laughter that comes with the occasion, Lyndsay says.

“The residents enjoyed the special programming, and we said, ‘everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s day,’ ” she says.

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OMNI joins CaRES Fund to help families of senior living workers financially impacted by COVID-19

Launched in 2020, the CaRES Fund has provided more than $2.3 million to help support 679 Canadian caregivers and their families

OMNI Health Care announced today it has joined a partnership launched last year by four other long-term care providers to offer one-time financial relief to those working in senior living residences across Canada who require assistance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senior Living CaRES Fund was created by long-term care and retirement home providers Chartwell, Revera, Extendicare and Sienna (CaRES) in May 2020 to help people working for any provider of long-term care or retirement homes in Canada whose families have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

Southbridge Care Homes, a Cambridge, Ont.-based provider of long-term care and retirement homes, also joined the partnership today.

Patrick McCarthy, OMNI Health Care’s president and CEO, says OMNI understands the financial impact the pandemic has had on many Canadian families, including the families of people working in the long-term care sector.

OMNI wanted to join the partnership to help support those families and the employees who have dedicated themselves to caring for long-term care and retirement home residents during a challenging and uncertain time, he says.

“The CaRES Fund has supported hundreds of dedicated senior living employees from across the country,” McCarthy says.

“We look forward to joining the founding partners in supporting hundreds more in 2021.”

Applicants are eligible to receive up to $10,000 through the fund. To date, more than $2.3 million has been awarded to 679 people working in Canadian long-term care and retirement homes.

The CaRES Fund offers grants, not loans, so monies awarded do not need to be repaid.

The CaRES Fund will continue offering financial assistance to senior living residence employees facing financial challenges throughout 2021 by reviewing applications every quarter.

Applications for the first-quarter review open today (March 22) and close April 9.

Click here for more information on the CaRES Fund.

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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.”

Local initiative brings Christmas presents to Streamway Villa residents

For the fourth straight Christmas, the Stuff a Stocking for a Senior project partnered with Cobourg LTC homes. When funds fell short this year, a local florist stepped in to help

For the fourth straight year, the Stuff a Stocking for a Senior project helped ensure all residents of Streamway Villa woke up on Christmas morning to find presents to unwrap.

The Stuff a Stocking for a Senior project was launched by friends Vicky Davis of Cobourg and Lynn Stewart of Orangeville in 2017.

The project normally sends stockings stuffed with presents to long-term care homes, retirement homes and Community Living Ontario residences to bring Christmas cheer.

However, this year homes in the Cobourg area received money to purchase gifts for people.

Vicky, who oversees the project in Cobourg, had a goal of raising $7,000 this past Christmas season to buy presents for homes in the area, but by mid-December, she had only raised $2,000.

Then a Cobourg florist, Quinn’s Blooms & Greenery, donated $4,000 to the Stuff a Stocking for a Senior project, which was a huge boost for the project, explains Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht.

Vicky was then able to go to all the long-term care and retirement homes in the area and share the donations so staff members could buy presents for residents.

Using money that was donated through the Stuff a Stocking for a Senior project, as well as funds provided by OMNI Health Care, Streamway life enrichment staff went shopping for presents to give each of the 50 residents living at Streamway Villa.

In 2018, Vicky told The OMNIway she was inspired to start the program while visiting her mother, who was living at a long-term care home. She says she noticed some residents were not getting family visits and saw an opportunity to make a difference.

She then contacted Lynn, who had many years’ experience organizing a Christmas hamper and stocking-stuffing program for Orangeville seniors, to suggest working together to extend the stocking-stuffing program to Cobourg.

Laurie says the gifts she and her colleagues bought for residents were all personalized.

“We looked at each resident, we looked at their needs, and we went and bought them each individual presents and we then wrapped them,” she says.

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PSW students can receive training and work at Almonte Country Haven through partnership program

There are more than 10 spots available for February intake

Almonte Country Haven PSWs Debbie Burke (left) and Rebecca Smith (right) pose in their caps and gowns at a ceremony their colleagues at the Lanark County long-term care home organized for them.

People interested in a career as a personal support worker (PSW) can have the costs of their studies covered and receive employment at Almonte Country Haven through a partnership the Lanark County long-term care home has entered.

Almonte Country Haven began a workplace partnership this year with the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) and the Canadian Career Academy (CCA) to help provide people interested in careers as PSWs with the required training.

CDSBEO offers a PSW training program at a comparatively low cost and has also partnered with CCA to cover a portion of students’ tuition. Students are also permitted to earn money while completing their work placement hours.

Almonte Country Haven was approached by CDSBEO and CCA and asked if the home was interested in becoming a workplace partner.

Carolyn Della Foresta, Almonte Country Haven’s administrator, says the home didn’t hesitate to get involved. OMNI Health Care, which owns Almonte Country Haven, also offered to help.

“We, of course, jumped at this amazing opportunity, and OMNI kindly offered to cover, through the OMNI bursary program, the portion of the program that CCA did not cover,” she tells The OMNIway.

“This meant that any prospective student that was interested in the program would have the cost covered, would complete their placement with us, while earning money, and had guaranteed employment with us here at Almonte Country Haven during and post-graduation.”

The first two Almonte Country Haven PSWs to receive training through this partnership – Debbie Burke and Rebecca Smith – graduated in October.

Currently, there are four Almonte Country Haven team members enrolled in the PSW program who will graduate in January.

There are currently more than 10 spaces available for the PSW training program that will start in February, and Almonte Country Haven is looking for more to join.

Anyone interested in PSW training through this partnership can contact Carolyn at 613-256-3095, ext. 222.

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Frost Manor looking ahead to maintain programing and visitation during colder months

Team members will ‘try to keep things as normal as possible’ while adhering to safety guidelines

With the start of winter less than a month away, Frost Manor team members have been looking at ways to maintain programming and visitation for residents during the colder months while adhering to important safety measures as the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lyndsay Burton, the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator, says she and her team will “try to keep things as normal as possible” for residents in the coming months.

“We are still running programs with the usual social distancing (and with) the usual cleaning and sanitizing, so that does help that the residents can have some sense of normality going into the winter season,” she says.

Naturally, residents have been missing the in-house entertainment that’s normally a cornerstone of programing at Frost Manor.

Instead, Lyndsay says the team has been focusing on providing residents with Montessori-style activities, which she says have been especially fruitful for residents who normally don’t participate in programming.

Montessori activities include programs that tap into people’s strengths, such as colouring or sorting items.

“We have been focusing on that because a lot of our low-active residents did enjoy coming to music programs, so we want to make sure that their needs are still being met,” Lyndsay says.

Because visitation will continue to be important for residents and their families, especially during the holiday season, Frost Manor is working to create a new window-visiting location to provide families with some cover from the wind and the other elements, she adds.

Due to the uncertainty and changing rules surrounding visitation during the pandemic, the Frost Manor team is trying to stay ahead of the curve by always having window visits as an option for residents to connect with their loved ones, Lyndsay says.

“We want to still be able to offer window visits and still have the (outdoor visits) as well, so a lot of the visits are really working off of the guidelines created by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care,” she says.

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Helen Sadio becomes Burnbrae Gardens’ new DOC

‘This is a chance to make a bit of a difference’

Helen Sadio started working at Burnbrae Gardens six years ago; today, she’s the Campbellford long-term care home’s new director of care (DOC).

Helen is taking over as DOC after Laurie Gibson retired from the position Nov. 10.

She started as DOC the week before Laurie retired, and while much of Helen’s work so far has been transitioning to her new position, she says she’s looking forward to taking on new challenges and responsibilities.

“This is a chance to make a bit of a difference,” she tells The OMNIway. “I’ve always tried to keep an upbeat attitude and get everybody laughing and smiling, so I will continue to do that while trying to make everyday life a little bit more exciting for everyone involved.”

Helen began working at Burnbrae Gardens in 2014 after moving to Canada from the UK, where she worked as a registered nurse for the National Health Service (NHS).

Helen initially worked as a personal support worker at Burnbrae Gardens while she waited for her RN qualifications from the UK to be certified by the College of Nurses of Ontario. She began working as an RN at Burnbrae in 2015.

Although she has only recently become Burnbrae Gardens’ DOC, Helen says she has a good feeling about things to come, adding her familiarity with residents and staff members has made the transition seamless.

“I’ve got a really positive vibe about it,” she says. “I’m familiar with all the residents and staff and how Burnbrae works, so I’ve got a good head start.”

As part of the company’s culture, OMNI Health Care long-term care homes often promote their staff members to management positions, rather than hiring from outside.

This, Helen says, demonstrates commitment to team members and shows that OMNI “values the staff.”

Helen has had lots of well-wishes and kind words from her colleagues since becoming DOC, but she has also been touched by the amount of support from residents she’s received.

“I have had a few other visitors to the door to say congratulations and that has been from the residents, and that’s been really cool,” she says.

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The fair must go on

After the Norwood Fall Fair was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, the Pleasant Meadow team created their own version of the resident-favourite annual event

Since the Norwood Fall Fair has been cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Pleasant Meadow Manor hosted its own version of the annual 152-year-old event on Oct. 13.

Participating in the Norwood Fall Fair has become an important part of the culture at Pleasant Meadow Manor for residents over the years, so the life enrichment team wanted to keep up the tradition, explains Kim Williams, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

“Back in April, when the news that the Norwood fair had been cancelled, I presented the life enrichment team with the idea of holding our own fair day; we decided this would be a fun idea,” she tells The OMNIway.

The Norwood Fall Fair – which started in 1868 and had not been cancelled since the Second World War – features a midway, rides, vendors, and baking and crafts contests.

Every September, the residents start making crafts and baking pies, cookies and pastries for the fair. Virtually every year residents come away with prizes for their crafts and baking entries.

For Pleasant Meadow Manor’s version of the fall fair, the life enrichment team set up the activity room with fun games, including a “milk-the-cow” contest and bobbing for doughnuts.

“This created a lot of laughter from both the residents and staff members,” Kim says, adding the walls were decorated with some animals that would be found at the fair.

There were baking contests for both residents and staff members. Staff member Jeanette Davis won first place in all categories and was named Pleasant Meadow Manor’s Baker of the Year.

Staff served lemonade and baked goods made by the residents for treats, and there was even a candy floss machine.

“The residents said it really smelt like a fair,” Kim says.

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Self-directed art program at Kentwood Park also has therapeutic benefits

A self-directed art program at Kentwood Park has proven to be an ideal program for residents to be creative, expressive and to have a fulfilling activity in a safe environment.

Many of the Picton, Ont. long-term care home’s residents participate in the program, which encourages them to paint or draw whatever comes to mind.

The program has been especially popular since the global COVID-19 pandemic began in March because it’s an activity residents can do independently in their rooms.

Residents are set up with everything they need to be creative: paper, paint, brushes, pens and pencils, explains life enrichment co-ordinator and environmental services manager Lisa Mills.

“Whatever they make is a big surprise for us in the end,” she tells The OMNIway. “We never know what they’re going to paint.”

One of the key benefits of this program is that the paintings or drawings residents create can be a window into how they’re feeling, Lisa says.

“It’s an expressive thing for them; whatever their emotion is for the day is what you will see (in their art),” she says. “If they’re happy, it will be a happy picture, if they’re not happy that will come through.”

Lisa says if a resident paints a picture that’s sad in nature, staff members will talk with the resident about how they’re feeling, so there’s a strong therapeutic value to the program, she says.

“It’s a very emotional program for them,” she says.

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Springdale residents treated to their first live entertainment since March

Performer Trevor Baker played country music for residents from outside the dining room window Oct. 5

SPRINGVILLE, Ont. – Springdale Country Manor residents were treated to their first live music entertainment since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, and they couldn’t have been happier.

While outside entertainers are still restricted from performing inside Ontario long-term care homes due to safety restrictions in place, Trevor Baker was able to perform country music during the lunch hour on Oct. 5 from outside in the courtyard while residents watched through the dining room window.

He performed for residents during both mealtime sittings.

During Trevor’s performance, Sonia Murney, the Peterborough County long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator, came outside to tell The OMNIway what was happening inside.

“When he first started playing, one resident wheeled herself right over to the window to listen because it has been months since residents have had live entertainment,” she said.

Sonia said since the pandemic began staff members have sung for residents and there have been karaoke programs, but it’s not the same as having professional entertainers come to play.

“The residents are really loving the music; it has been really nice for them. Some residents are even asking if he takes requests,” she said. “We’ve had requests for songs by George Strait and Travis Tritt.”

Given the success of Trevor’s outdoor performance, Springdale is hoping to provide dinnertime entertainment from the courtyard at some point, Sonia said.

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