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Frost Manor residents make special tree, enjoy turkey dinner to mark Thanksgiving

While it has been a challenging year, residents are still thankful for the important things

Although the global COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone for the past seven months, Frost Manor residents still feel blessed for many things and took time before the Thanksgiving holiday to reflect on what makes them most grateful.

The result was a paper “Thanksgiving tree” they made as a craft. Each of the leaves contains residents’ thankful thoughts.

“Some of the things they were thankful for were friends, family and thankful for the loving staff – it’s all about the people who are important to them,” Frost Manor life enrichment co-ordinator Lyndsay Burton tells The OMNIway.

Of course, no Thanksgiving would be complete without a traditional meal, so on Monday the nutritional care department served up a roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings, including mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

As with all mealtimes since the pandemic began, residents were served Thanksgiving dinner in two seatings for safety. There are also Plexiglas dividers between residents so they can still share meals while adhering to social distancing requirements.

There was also a special Thanksgiving-style bingo where team members gave away treats as prizes. Residents played to win chocolate bars, potato chips, Cheezies, word search books or plastic jewelry.

“It was a different Thanksgiving this year, but the residents still enjoyed it,” Lyndsay says.

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If you can’t bring residents to a tea social, then bring a tea social to residents

Willows Estate LEA Azaria Kanda has an idea to modify a resident-favourite program during the pandemic

Being creative and thinking outside the box are valuable assets to people working in long-term-care home life enrichment departments, and during these challenging times, those attributes are especially valuable.

Willows Estate life enrichment aide (LEA) Azaria Kanda has a long track record of delivering creative programs to the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home’s residents, and one idea he’s planning to implement is to host mobile tea socials for residents.

Azaria says tea socials are popular with Willows Estate residents, but large-group programming is currently on hold due to restrictions in place to keep everyone safe during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

Before the pandemic was declared in March, Willows Estate residents were having regular tea socials on Sundays in the dining room.

Since safety restrictions do not allow the tea socials to continue as large-group programs, Azaria’s plan is to stock a cart with tea, coffee and snacks and go room to room to offer residents the refreshments they would normally have at a tea social.

“When confronted with something like a pandemic or any other kind of limitation, you have to up your game and find new ways to do activities for the residents, the things they like,” Azaria tells The OMNIway.

“I thought about doing a tea social on wheels, so (I can) bring it up to them in a safe manner. It’s a small modification, but it’s delivering a program the residents enjoy.”

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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In-home visits have been a ‘game-changer’ for residents’ emotional well-being: LEA

Azaria Kanda says some Willows Estate residents had not seen their family members in months, and new visitation rules have had a positive impact

When it comes to residents and their loved ones seeing each other, nothing is better than them being in the same room, says Azaria Kanda, a life enrichment aide at Willows Estate.

Every time the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care eases restrictions in place on visitation, Azaria says he sees an upswing in residents’ emotional health and well-being – and even a decrease in agitation.

When the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic in March, Ontario long-term care homes put protocols in place restricting non-essential in-home visits to prevent the spread of the contagious virus.

During this time, staff members at the Willows (and other OMNI Health Care long-term care homes) began organizing video conferencing meetings between residents and their loved ones so they could keep in touch.

In spring, restrictions relaxed to allow residents and their families to have outdoor visits with social distancing and screening measures in place. As a result, patios and other outdoor areas were opened so residents and their families could safely visit, as long as visitors could prove negative COVID-19 test results from within the previous two weeks and wore face masks.

In mid-June, restrictions eased again to allow in-home visits between residents and one family member at a time, with visitors still required to wear face masks.

Some residents had not seen their loved ones in more than six months, Azaria says.

“The ability for residents to get back in touch with their loved ones for indoor visits has been really therapeutic for them,” he tells The OMNIway.

“Nothing beats seeing (a loved one) in person. To see their loved ones … (has) really been a game-changer, it really has improved their emotional well-being.

“They’re happier, they’re looking forward to seeing their family members again, one at a time. It’s been the light at the end of the tunnel.”

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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YouTube proving to be a valuable source for resident entertainment at Kentwood Park

With restrictions in place on large-group indoor programming, including live entertainment, in Ontario long-term care homes due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Kentwood Park life enrichment team has been turning to YouTube for help.

The OMNIway recently told you about how the Picton, Ont. long-term care home was accessing YouTube to continue its drumming circle program.

Lisa Mills, Kentwood Park’s life enrichment co-ordinator, says the online video-sharing platform is also being accessed for entertainment purposes.

Some entertainers in the region are offering livestreamed performances for a small fee which Kentwood is accessing. There’s even a calendar that outlines which entertainers will be performing at what time.

“We open it up (on a computer) and it’s right there,” Lisa tells The OMNIway.

“We have just started doing this, and the residents are really enjoying it.”

Since the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization in March, Kentwood Park and other long-term care homes have been restricted from having large-group indoor programming, and regular entertainers have not been able to perform indoors.

Like with other long-term care homes, Kentwood Park residents have been missing their usual entertainment, but being to access performances from entertainers they know via the Internet has been a game-changer, Lisa says.

“It’s still different, but it’s better than what it was before,” she 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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Maplewood residents help make realistic front yard fall display

‘We have had quite a few people walk by and stop to look at the display, so the residents are proud’

Applefest may have been cancelled in the town of Brighton due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but that didn’t stop Maplewood residents and staff from pitching in to keep the spirit of the annual celebration of all things apple alive.

Applefest is a flagship event held every September in Brighton that features a street fair, a parade and a variety of entertainment, and Maplewood residents and staff members always attend.

To keep things safe during the pandemic, the municipality encouraged local businesses to create festive autumn displays on their property, so the folks at Maplewood decided to get in on the action.

Residents and life enrichment aide Rosanne Blackburn created a front yard scene that features a very lifelike display of a Maplewood nurse and a resident – both wearing face masks to promote safety – surrounding a table covered with apples and a bag of flour to make apple pies.

Residents were involved with creating the display by helping with crafts, such as colouring foam balls red and green to make the apples.

They also glued the foam apples to a cupcake stand Rosanne gave them so the replica fruit wouldn’t blow away.

There’s even a homemade apple tree with laminated apples dangling from it the residents made, and the flour bag included in the display was crafted by residents from a potato sack.

With social distancing protocols in effect, Rosanne brought a few residents outside to stuff the display nurse with garbage bags, and residents decided on how everything was arranged.

Rosanne says the display is so realistic some pedestrians have had to look twice when passing by.

“We have had quite a few people walk by and stop to look at the display, so the residents are proud,” she says.

The display was completed Sept. 18 and will remain on Maplewood’s front lawn for the next few days.

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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How ping pong is making a difference to one Willows Estate resident

Luis Martins often reminisces about his days playing the game while a soldier in the Portuguese army

If there’s one thing Willows Estate resident Luis Martins enjoys, it’s a good game of ping pong.

It’s a game he picked up as a young soldier in the Portuguese army. He and his fellow troops would ping pong to pass the time as well as to unwind from the stress that can come with a soldier’s life.

Today, ping pong is a game Luis loves to play at the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home. He and Willows Estate life enrichment aide (LEA) Azaria Kanda can sometimes be found playing a match or two.

While the Willows does not have a ping pong table, Azaria has fashioned one out of two tables and a portable net.

Azaria says he and Luis will have interesting conversations in between sets, often about Luis’s life growing up in Portugal.

“He recounts why he decided to join the army as a young chap, where in the world those mandatory training camps took him, including Angola, Brazil and other formerly owned Portuguese colonies,” Azaria tells The OMNIway.

While Luis is, by nature, a quiet man, a game of ping pong can be a vehicle that prompts him to open up and start talking, Azaria notes.

Lately, Luis and Azaria have been playing ping pong about once a week, and the time the two spend together playing the game has a positive impact on Luis, the LEA adds.

“It allows him to be active in both physical and mental ways,” Azaria says. “He’s able to, I find, express who he is and used to be.”

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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Alzheimer Society launches new fundraising and awareness campaign

The Alzheimer Society has rebranded its annual Coffee Break fundraiser and awareness campaign by launching the Social with a Purpose initiative this year, a move the charity says can help people and organizations create socially-distanced events while raising funds to help improve the lives of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.

From singalongs to paint nights to making butter tarts, the Alzheimer Society offers a variety of ideas people and organizations can learn about in order to have their own Social with a Purpose event – and these event ideas can be hosted virtually using video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Skype to keep everyone safe during the pandemic.

“Social with a Purpose is a do-it-yourself fundraiser that promotes the importance of socializing, staying in touch, and building strong, positive relationships with your friends, family, and community,” the Alzheimer Society says on its website.

“As social distancing and physical isolation became a part of our daily routines, we began to understand the overwhelming feelings of loss and loneliness being separated from the community can bring us – feelings that people living with dementia experience in their normal, day-to-day lives.”

OMNI Health Care long-term care homes have been past participants in the Coffee Break campaign, and homes throughout the organization can contact their local Alzheimer Society branch for more information about hosting a Social with a Purpose event this September and October.

Given the large percentage of long-term-care home residents who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, OMNI has a history of supporting fundraising and awareness campaigns to help the Alzheimer Society and its branches.

September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

Click here to learn more about the Social with a Purpose campaign as well as to read about how you can host your own safe fundraiser.

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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Flowers blooming in September at Pleasant Meadow Manor

The home’s 61 residents receive potted azaleas courtesy of Jim Barry Breakfast Club

Even in autumn, the flowers are blooming at Pleasant Meadow Manor.

The Norwood, Ont. long-term care home was recently on the receiving end of an act of kindness when Dawn Barry, the daughter of Pleasant Meadow Manor resident Mary Barry, delivered 61 potted azaleas, one for each resident.

The flowers were donated by the Children’s Breakfast Club of Canada through the Jim Barry Breakfast Club at Roger Neilson Public School in Peterborough, which Dawn is involved with.

This isn’t the first time Pleasant Meadow Manor residents have received flowers from the organization.

In early March, Dawn delivered spring flowers for each resident. The flowers were planted in the home’s perennial garden so residents can enjoy them every year in spring. 

Kim Williams, the life enrichment co-ordinator at Pleasant Meadow Manor, says kind acts like this have a positive impact on residents.

“The residents really enjoy them, and they add a splash of colour to their rooms,” she 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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Safe reading and discussion groups restart at Willows Estate

Residents enjoy discussing current events, and having this program back has been important to them, says LEA

Willows Estate life enrichment aide (LEA) Azaria Kanda has restarted a long-popular reading and discussion group for the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home’s residents with social-distancing in place.

Azaria says reading and keeping up to date with current issues and events is a favourite activity for residents, and it’s a passion he shares with them.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, there were regular group reading and discussion groups for residents. However, because group programming was suspended in Ontario long-term care homes for three months after the pandemic began, the groups were not able to meet.

With restrictions easing, Azaria has been hosting two smaller reading-discussion groups on both floors at the Willows, with social distancing in effect.

During the discussions, residents talk about subjects ranging from politics to sports. But stories about current events residents read in newspapers are the favourite, Azaria says.

“The residents are very aware and they really stay on top of the headlines – and I think it’s one thing for them to hear or read about (news) and it’s another thing for them to expand on that (with discussions) to give their point of view and to talk amongst one another,” he says.

Indeed, there has been a lot to talk about in 2020. Aside from the pandemic, there has been increased awareness about racial injustice and mounting concern about the state of the economy.

“Those three topics have really been at the forefront,” Azaria says.

During the week ending Sept. 12, the groups talked about the pandemic. Last week they discussed racial injustices. This week they are scheduled to talk about the economic situation.

“A lot of the residents were born in the 1920s or 1930s, so they’ve lived through many decades, and there’s always a common thread to find because each generation has had its (struggles), whether that be war or political turmoil,” Azaria says.

“So, it’s really interesting to talk about that common thread, to talk about what’s happening now, and a lot of the residents don’t find it that surprising to be going through this because they’ve gone through major cultural shifting moments before.”

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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Frost Manor keeping family council, volunteers up to date on the latest news

Given the changes happening in the long-term care sector due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that family councils have not been able to meet inside long-term care homes since March, Frost Manor has been keeping its family council members and volunteers up to date on the latest news at the home.

The life enrichment team has been sending the monthly activities and special events calendar to family council members and volunteers “to keep the conversations flowing,” says life enrichment co-ordinator Lyndsay Burton.

Family council and volunteers are particularly interested in activities, events and programs, so the team wanted to keep everyone in the fold, she adds.

Lyndsay says there are a few members of Frost Manor’s family council who have stayed on the council even when they no longer have a loved one living at the home. This, she says, speaks to the value of the connections family members make with the Frost Manor team.

“We talk about the programs and what we are doing in detail,” Lyndsay says. “I will send a copy of our newsletter, especially if they don’t have a resident living here anymore because they’ll be missing those things.”

Additionally, the team will e-mail updates about what is going on in the long-term care sector as well as changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic to keep everyone informed.

Looking ahead, Lyndsay says the Frost Manor team plans to explore new ways to connect with family council and volunteers while safety restrictions remain in place.

“We will be looking into an option of doing video calling meetings with our family council, just to keep connected and keep that camaraderie there,” she 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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