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Garden Terrace residents and staff receive first round of COVID-19 vaccinations

‘We are so happy; it’s a relief and excitement’

Garden Terrace residents and staff members received their first round of COVID-19 vaccinations at the Ottawa-area long-term care home on Jan. 13.

More than 20 paramedics from the local public health unit were at Garden Terrace to administer the vaccinations on Thursday.

There were 138 Garden Terrace residents who consented to receive the vaccine. All of the home’s managers and many of the front-line staff members and essential caregivers also received immunizations.

There will be a second round of vaccinations performed at Garden Terrace in three weeks.

“We are so happy; it’s a relief and excitement,” Garden Terrace’s director of infection, prevention and control Ruzica Subotic-Howell tells The OMNIway.

“We have (most) of the residents vaccinated and that’s exciting, and all of the managers have been vaccinated as well.”

The COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization in March 2020. At the time of this writing, the Government of Canada website is reporting there have been 674,473 cases of people in Canada contracting the virus. The website reports that 17,233 Canadians have died as a result of COVID-19 infection.

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.”

Ruzica commends Garden Terrace team members for planning Thursday’s visit from the paramedics with precision and ensuring the immunizations went smoothly and in a timely manner.

“Every single manager in every department was diligent and organized to make this a success,” 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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‘Dancing Avon Lady’ spreads Christmas cheer at the Willows

Jessica Yik dropped off gift bags made possible by donations and paintings from local children in December

Christmas is the time for giving, and residents and staff members at Willows Estate are grateful for the generosity of local Avon sales representative Jessica Yik and others in the community who helped spread holiday cheer at the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home in December.

In the days leading up to Christmas, Jessica, who calls herself the Dancing Avon Lady, turned to schools and the community in York Region to put together gift bags for area long-term care home residents.

With the help of donations, gift bags were put together and handed out. The gift bags contained items such as deodorant, lip balm and hand lotion.

There were enough gift bags for each Willows Estate resident as well as for staff members, says the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator Teddy Mazzuca.

Jessica also took her generous campaign to schools in the region and tasked students to create paintings for long-term-care home residents.

Jessica collected the students’ work and presented the art and the gift bags to Willows Estate just before Christmas.

“They are really nice paintings that we have hung on a wall here,” Teddy tells The OMNIway.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which began last March, has been challenging for residents and staff members at long-term care homes.

As a result of safety precautions in place, many long-term-care home residents have not been able to visit with their loved ones.

However, the kind gestures shown by the Dancing Avon Lady and the community during the holiday season helped brighten everyone’s day at the Willows, Teddy says.    

“This is the Christmas spirit.”

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Care aides bring emotional assistance and friendliness to Willows residents

‘Care aides have been an immense relief for primary caregivers in the home, but they’ve gone above and beyond to be also of assistance to residents directly,’ says LEA

While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone, resident care aides, who were hired to help the Willows Estate team in 2020, have been having a positive impact on residents and staff, says Azaria Kanda.

Azaria, a life enrichment aide (LEA) at the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home, says the care aides at the Willows have done a lot to help during a difficult time.

Care aides have been hired by many Ontario long-term care homes since the pandemic began in March to help with tasks to reduce the workload on staff members.

But they have also been a strong value-add to residents, Azaria says.

“Care aides have been an immense relief for primary caregivers in the home, but they’ve gone above and beyond to be also of assistance to residents directly,” he tells The OMNIway.

Azaria says that aside from the help they have provided team members, care aides have taken it upon themselves to engage in social activities with residents.

Care aides, he notes, have helped with garden visits, one-on-one visits, card games, music therapy and small group chats with the residents.

Most importantly, residents have provided the Willows Estate team with lots of feedback that has been “overwhelmingly positive and appreciative” about the benefits care aides have offered, Azaria says.

“The residents speak highly of the care aides to me and are very grateful to have them come in the home,” Azaria says.

“Even though this is temporary in the duration of the pandemic, their presence is welcome by all.”

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Front-line team surprises Burnbrae managers with Christmas gifts

‘It really hit home that we have a great team here’

When a personal support worker (PSW) approached April Faux on Dec. 21 to request a team huddle, the Burnbrae Gardens administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator wasn’t surprised – after all, the number of daily huddles has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

But when April and her fellow managers at the Campbellford, Ont. long-term care home arrived at the huddle, they were greeted by front-line team members bearing Christmas gifts they had pooled their money together to buy.

Each of the five managers received a Christmas plant as well as a personalized Christmas card and a Tim Hortons gift card.

The gift packages were presented on behalf of all Burnbrae Gardens residents and staff members.

“It was just really nice because the managers are not always recognized like this, and the fact that they did this without us knowing and on their own accord (to thank us for) being supportive over the year during (the pandemic) was so kind,” April tells The OMNIway.

“They thanked us for our support during such a difficult year, which was really nice.”

April says the kind gesture from Burnbrae Gardens staff members solidified the environment of camaraderie and teamwork that is central to the home’s culture.

“It really hit home that we have a great team here, and yes, (managers) always appreciate them, but we receive it back as well.”

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Country Terrace nutritional care team recognized by CSNM for Mother’s Day lunch

Photos and a description of the meal have been posted on the CSNM website

Country Terrace nutritional care team members have been recognized by the Canadian Society of Nutrition Management (CSNM) for the meal and tray service they provided residents on Mother’s Day.

The CSNM is a national organization aimed at moving nutritional-care management forward. Members, who largely represent the greater health-care sector, are provided with educational and networking opportunities to advance professional development.

The organization launched an initiative this year called Share the Passion to encourage members nationwide to submit something special they have done for residents, patients or customers during the pandemic.

Country Terrace submitted photos and an explanation of the Mother’s Day lunch tray the nutritional care team prepared. The CSNM selected the Country Terrace submission to be featured on a banner on the organization’s website.

The CSNM website states the initiative is aimed at encouraging nutritional care teams to share their work in an effort “to educate, inform and inspire positive change” and “to help increase the professional bond and showcase the outstanding work of our members.”

Knowing how important Mother’s Day is at Country Terrace, the nutritional care team prepared a special lunch that was served to each of the home’s 120 residents on May 10.

In addition to the barbecued pork ribs, parsnips, cornbread muffins, cream of celery soup and dulce de leche cheesecake that was served to all residents, the 55 mothers living at Country Terrace each had a small floral arrangement and Mother’s Day note on their tray.

Country Terrace nutritional care manager Alex Achillini says he and his colleagues are honoured to be recognized by the CSNM for their work.

“It is very nice for the staff to be recognized by such an institution, especially during this time where everyone works hard to keep up with the changes and (to make) the residents’ lives better with small gestures, such as the flowers for Mother’s Day on the food tray,” he says.

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2020 hasn’t been easy, but we’ve learned a lot

There’s no softer way to say it, 2020 has been a challenging year.

For the first time in a century, the world has been dealing with a large-scale pandemic that has changed the way we live, work and spend our free time.

For those working in the greater health-care sector, 2020 has been especially challenging. Front-line workers have had to adapt like no one else in the workforce to keep the coronavirus in check.

Work life and family life have been greatly impacted for health-care workers, who have had to adapt to the changing circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic has brought.

We have seen this first-hand at OMNI Health Care’s 18 long-term care homes, and we are grateful for the sacrifices team members have made – both personal and professional.

But for all the challenges and anxieties this year has brought, there has also been a lot we have learned as a collective team.

When the pandemic was declared in March, we learned how much local communities value our long-term care homes when kind letters, cards and complimentary meals began showing up for our teams.

Being physically distanced from those we care about is never easy, but we learned how supportive and understanding family members were when they could not visit their loved ones due to safety restrictions in place at long-term care homes for the first three months of the pandemic.

Providing residents in our long-term care homes with a high quality of life is the most important part of our work. Throughout 2020, we learned how creative and innovative our team members are – even under the most challenging of circumstances – when it came to providing residents meaningful programs, meals they enjoy and the care they expect.

And despite the staffing shortages affecting the Ontario long-term care sector at large, we learned how well we come together when our residents need us most.

We are still living through the pandemic, and there will be more challenges ahead. The good news is we are on the right path. We have proven that time and time again throughout 2020.

Riverview resident Dorothy Bourne celebrates 101st birthday

The Riverview Manor team recently helped the Peterborough long-term care home’s most senior resident, Dorothy Bourne, celebrate her 101st birthday with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

On Dec. 1, the Riverview team organized a safe outdoor celebration to mark Dorothy’s birthday. Dorothy, who was warmly bundled up, and her family members, who all wore face masks, gathered under the gazebo in the home’s courtyard to celebrate.

Adam Wicklum, a life enrichment aide at Riverview Manor, says some of Dorothy’s family members had not seen her since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March.

“Two of her five children were there and they haven’t seen her since pre-COVID, so that was pretty special for them,” he says.

Once everyone was together, Dorothy’s family sang Happy Birthday and lit sparklers in her honour.

There was some additional fanfare for Dorothy as well, Adam notes.

“The family also had a big birthday sign on the lawn in front of her window,” he says.

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Four-year-old gets birthday wish of spending the day with ‘her people’ at Maplewood

Avery Smith Kargus celebrated her special day outside the home with residents watching on

Four-year-old Avery Smith Kargus considers the people living at Maplewood as “her people.”

For the past two years when Avery’s birthday has rolled around, she has requested her party be held at the Brighton, Ont. long-term care home where her mother, Paula Smith Kargus, works as a personal support worker.

However, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Avery has not been able to visit “her people” for the past nine months.

Still, Avery wanted her birthday plans to include Maplewood, so she and Paula had to think of a different way of celebrating her special day.

Last year, Avery’s birthday party was held at Maplewood. Maplewood administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator Rachel Corkery recalls the day being “so much fun for everyone.”

Although they couldn’t have Avery’s party inside Maplewood this year, they could, Avery and Paula discovered, have a celebration outside the home.

So that’s what they did.

On Dec. 5, Paula brought a birthday cake to Maplewood for residents to enjoy, and Avery visited residents from outside their windows.

“Although Avery was disappointed that she couldn’t come inside to visit her friends, she was happy that ‘her people’ got birthday cake, and her friends were so happy to sing Happy Birthday for Avery,” Rachel tells The OMNIway.

Rachel notes that the community also stepped in to help Avery celebrate her special day.

When Paula mentioned that Avery wanted a police car for her birthday, a Maplewood team member contacted the local OPP detachment and arranged for police to drive by her home with their sirens sounding.

Rachel says the kindness shown towards Avery is part and parcel of what Maplewood is all about.

“We truly are the Maplewood family here,” she says.

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Being proactive has kept Village Green safe during the pandemic: administrator

‘We have … made a strong commitment to try to keep (COVID-19) out,’ says Linda Pierce

Village Green administrator Linda Pierce describes the COVID-19 pandemic as a bit like fighting an “invisible enemy” that is “circling the sky” – but by being proactive from the beginning, the Greater Napanee long-term care home has been able to keep residents and staff members safe from the virus.

“We can’t see it, but it’s there, and we’re fighting to keep it out, and staff members are doing an amazing job to keep it out,” she tells The OMNIway.

“It involves every day, every moment, ensuring mask-wearing, ensuring hand hygiene, ensuring social distancing.”

Aside from everyone on the floor being vigilant about safety measures and infection prevention, Linda says there has been strong leadership from both Village Green director of care Debbie McTaggart as well as from OMNI Health Care’s clinical operations manager Susan Cymbaluk.

Strong leadership has resulted in strong compliance, Linda says, crediting everyone working at Village Green for doing their part to keep residents and themselves safe during the pandemic.

“We started wearing masks inside the home before we were told we had to – I have to give credit to Debbie and to Susan and to all of the team, but when you have the leads and the supports directing it, it moves it along a path of heightened awareness,” Linda says.

“We have, collectively in our discussions together, made a strong commitment to try to keep (COVID-19) out.”

Most of all, Linda says the Village Green team always keeps the pandemic top of mind and people do not let their guard down.

“It’s a worry every day, (but) we are standing guard and we are trying our very best to keep our residents and staff safe,” she says.

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