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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.

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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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.”

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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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.”

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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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.”

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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Vaccination clinics begin at OMNI homes

Residents of most homes have received their first COVID-19 vaccination and some have now received the second dose

Since January, most of OMNI Health Care’s 18 long-term care homes have hosted clinics to administer the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination to residents, and residents of some homes have now received the vaccine’s required second dose.

The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Since then, people working in the long-term care sector have put tireless efforts into keeping residents and their co-workers safe, and infection, prevention and control protocols have been ramped up.

While the pandemic continues to be a major concern and safety protocols remain top of mind, the vaccination clinics that have been held in OMNI homes have brought the first sign of life starting to return to normal, say staff members.

Although the vaccine is a major step forward in keeping residents safe from the highly contagious COVID-19 virus, homes will continue to exercise precautions for some time.

Located in Kanata, Ont., Forest Hill was one of the first OMNI long-term care homes to have residents receive a primary dose of the vaccine. Paramedics from the local public health unit administered the vaccine to residents on Jan. 14.

“We are still going to have months (of the pandemic) ahead of us, but at least you can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Forest Hill life enrichment co-ordinator Craig Forrest recently told The OMNIway.

All residents of Almonte Country Haven in Lanark County have also received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine. On Jan. 28, a team from the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit was at the home to administer the vaccine with the help of Almonte Country Haven staff.

After each resident received the vaccination, they were given a special badge to wear that read, “I Got My COVID-19 Vaccine,” and were then brought to the front of the home where a public health unit nurse was standing by to ensure they were experiencing no side effects.

“It was all hands on deck and all of our staff were involved in supporting the recommended half-hour observation period to ensure that any possible reaction was swiftly identified and dealt with,” Almonte Country Haven administrator Carolyn Della Foresta said in an e-mail sent the day of the vaccinations.

The Ontario government is aiming to immunize all long-term-care home residents who have given consent as soon as possible. Initially, the province set a Feb. 5 deadline to have all long-term-care home residents vaccinated; however, that target could not be met due to delays in supply lines, so the deadline has been extended into February.

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.

Students help make Valentine’s Day even more special at Streamway Villa

Grade 2 and 3 students from Notre Dame Catholic Elementary School send artwork to residents

Students at a local primary school helped ensure Streamway Villa residents had an extra-special Valentine’s Day.

The week before Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14), the Grade 2 and Grade 3 classes at nearby Notre Dame Catholic Elementary School made some creative Valentine’s Day artwork they sent to the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home’s residents.

The small posters the students made feature photos of them blowing on an extended hand and sending a flurry of hearts into the air as a Valentine’s Day message.

“We have a relationship with (Notre Dame Catholic Elementary School); they always make cards for our seniors, this time they did an art project of them blowing hearts – it was so cute,” says Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht.

Most importantly, Laurie says the students’ efforts were well-received by residents, who appreciated the time they took to create these unique pieces of art.

“The artwork put a huge smile on our residents’ faces,” she says. “It’s always special when we get stuff sent over from (the school).”

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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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.”

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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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.

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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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.”

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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‘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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