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What happens when you combine luck, fabulous people and even a small glitch?

Maplewood hosts ‘astounding’ live auction

November 19, 2013 — Michelle Strutzenberger 

The night before Maplewood long-term care home’s inaugural live auction, Rachel Corkery dreamed the event had raised more than $5,000. Though she knew there was no way that would happen, the life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) headed into work that day energized to think this could be a good omen for the event.

In total, the event raised, not $5,000, but close to $2,700, which, for a small long-term home in a small community is still very significant, says Corkery. Image courtesy of OMNI files.

In total, the event raised, not $5,000, but close to $2,700, which, for a small long-term home in a small community is still very significant, says Corkery. Image courtesy of OMNI files.

She shared her dream at the home, which fuelled the energy of the day as final preparations for the auction took place.

In the end, the evening event went off in a way Corkery now describes as astounding.

“We’re still glowing, days later,” she says. “We’re still getting feedback from people that they had such a wonderful evening.”

The evening began with a silent auction and a chance to sample “absolutely delicious” desserts and hot drinks prepared and served by volunteers.

A local band, the Bordens, struck up a mix of bluegrass, classic rock and folk music. “They were wonderful,” says Corkery, noting the home plans to have the band back for a resident birthday party.

About 7 p.m., it was time for the live auction, which featured a mix of about 30 items — from artwork to baked goods to a spa day pass.

The room at that point was so full Corkery had to run and find extra chairs in residents’ rooms.

Then she stepped up to the podium to announce the one hiccup in the otherwise perfect evening — that the auctioneer they had planned to have join would be unable to participate — and that she, Corkery, would be taking his place.

Admittedly nervous beforehand, Corkery says she found herself quite at ease once she started the bidding. She’s now thinking that glitch may have contributed to the event’s success. “I think my inexperience as an auctioneer allowed for the prices to go up a little faster than they might have,” she says with a chuckle.

In total, the event raised, not $5,000, but close to $2,700, which, for a small long-term home in a small community is still very significant, says Corkery.

“It’s about double what we raise in a typical fundraising event.”

Glitch aside, she attributes the evening’s success in large part to a group of “hardworking, fabulous” volunteers.

“At Maplewood we’re very lucky,” she notes. “We have a lot of volunteers who are committed to Maplewood and making sure that no matter what we do, we’re successful at it. It’s almost like they own Maplewood too.”

In addition to the volunteers, there were many community members who attended and showed their support of the residents of Maplewood by bidding — sometimes surprisingly high — on items.

The event would also have not been possible without the contributions from local businesses for the auction, says Corkery, who is a strong advocate of shopping local and supporting local businesses.

Local businesses have consistently demonstrated their eagerness and willingness to support the long-term care home, as well as other similar organizations, she says. “We wouldn’t be able to do our fundraisers without them. I can’t speak highly enough about shopping local.”

All of this support — from the long-term care home, volunteers, community members and local businesses — demonstrates to residents that they’re valued members of the community, Corkery says.

“There are some unique qualities about being a small home in a small town,” she adds. “We don’t get lost in a big city; we don’t get lost in a big home

“Our community takes care of us and we do our best to take care of the community.”

All proceeds from the fundraising will be directed to the residents’ council. A portion will be used to enable all residents to participate in a variety of outings. Residents’ council also sponsors part of the highly anticipated annual Maplewood family/resident barbecue and resident birthday parties.

The hardworking volunteers of the night Corkery would like to recognize include: Marg Catney, Carol Leadbetter, BJ Brideau, Cindy Phillips, Ron Peppy, Robyn Dilworth, Marilyn Page and Marianne Muston.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 27, or e-mail michelle(at)axiomnews.ca.

Students and residents collaborate on Remembrance Day

The Willows hosts an innovative multisensory program honouring veterans

November 15, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

Residents at Willows Estate collaborated with a group of York University nursing students Nov. 8 in an innovative, multisensory

York University students pose with a wreath made by Willows Estate residents for Remembrance Day.

York University students pose with a wreath made by Willows Estate residents for Remembrance Day.

program that honoured those who have served in the Armed Forces.

Residents were provided with visual and auditory PowerPoint presentations incorporating photos; John McCrae’s famous poem, In Flanders Fields; and a sounding of trumpets.

Afterwards, the students encouraged residents to share their memories of people who served in the military. As part of a question-and-answer session, residents explained to the group what Remembrance day means to them and why it’s an important part of our culture.

Residents also spoke about their family members who had served.

“They were talking a lot about their own parents and what they went through — a lot of the residents said that, in their homes, war was not to be spoken of,” Jacqueline Sands,one of the students, tells the OMNIway.

Aside from the program’s obvious cognitive benefits, the activity also focused on residents’ motor skills. The students guided residents as they made impressive memorial wreaths that were displayed in the Aurora long-term care home.

Sands says she and the other students were most impressed by the residents’ teamwork that day.

“What we were really fascinated to find was the high degree of respect for one another that was in the room — if one resident was having difficulties, another resident would step up to help,” Sands says. “That was very nice to see.”

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or email deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Study claims singing show tunes may stave off dementia symptoms

“Popular songs help enhance cognition, quality of life for people with dementia, research shows”

November 14, 2013 — Deron Hamel

Musical activities are always popular in long-term care homes, and new research is suggesting that singing — particularly show tunes — can stave off the impact of dementia.

“The message is: don't give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging.”

“The message is: don’t give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging.”

The results of the study conducted by U.S. researchers indicates that residents who are encouraged to sing show tunes, such as Somewhere Over the Rainbow and When You Wish Upon a Star, demonstrate improved cognition and enhanced quality of life.

During a four-month period, the scientists studied nine people affected by dementia who regularly sing show tunes at their eastern U.S. long-term care home. The residents are involved with a choir designed by the researchers. The residents were led in a 50-minute chorus of a variety of show tunes three times per week. This is why this is common practice in many care homes similar to Home Care Heroes.

The original choir consisted of 18 residents. The nine residents who did not participate in singing during the course of the study observed those who did. Results between the two groups of residents were compared.

The study indicates that singing show tunes is particularly beneficial to residents with moderate to severe dementia.

Scans on residents involved with the study showed enhanced activity in various regions of the brain; a factor scientists believe is the result of singing songs from The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Oklahoma and Pinocchio.

Neuroscientist Dr. Jane Flinn of George Mason University in Virginia is one of the researchers involved with the study. Based on the study’s results, Flinn recommends long-term care homes consider encouraging residents with cognitive impairment to sing show tunes.

“Even when people are in the fairly advanced stages of dementia, when it is so advanced they are in a secure ward, singing sessions were still helpful,” Flinn told Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

“The message is: don’t give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging.”

Click here for more information on the study.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or email deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Work placement steers students towards LTC

Willows Estate’s environment of respect helped one student decide on her career

November 18, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

Three York University nursing students says their work placement at Willows Estate has been a guiding light in helping them choose a career when they graduate.

The students are currently doing their work placement at the Aurora long-term care home.

“All three of us can say that after doing this placement, yes, we are (looking into careers in long-term care),” one of the students, Jacqueline Sands, tells the OMNIway.

“From the moment we walked in, we have been embraced and respected, and the staff members have educated us on what the environment is like. We’ve just learned so much here.”

Sands says what cemented her decision to pursue a career in the sector is the environment she has found at Willows Estate.

“It’s the environment here and the respect between all the members of staff and the care that they show the residents — this is the biggest thing for me,” she says.

“If my parents were ever looking for (a long-term care home), this is the place I would consider.”

Another benefit to working in a long-term care home, she notes, is the skill set nursing professionals can develop.

This was evident to her and the other students on their first day. Being involved with developing resident activities, for example, is one aspect of working in a long-term care home that appeals to her, Sands says, adding that the Willows Estate team has empowered the students to take ownership of many of the things they are doing at the home.

“When we got here, we didn’t know what we would be doing, and the chance to help plan activities and educate has been awesome to be a part of,” she says.

“If you have an idea to make this place even better than it already is, (the staff members) encourage you.”

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or email deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Pleasant Meadow flu-vaccination campaign rolling along

Most residents, staff members receive immunization

November 13, 2013 — Deron Hamel

Almost all of the 61 residents and about 80 per cent of staff members at Pleasant Meadow Manor have received the flu shot this year as

Getting the vaccination is especially important for residents 65 and older

Getting the vaccination is especially important for residents 65 and older. Creative Commons photo.

part of OMNI Health Care’s corporate-wide vaccination campaign.

Pleasant Meadow Manor registered nurse Shelley Vandenberg says all the residents who have consented to the vaccination have received the flu shot and the campaign is ongoing at the Norwood long-term care home.

Each year at this time OMNI Health Care’s 17 long-term care homes embark on the vaccination campaign as part of the effort to keep homes free of the flu. The program is important to any home’s infection prevention and control program and helps keep outbreaks ay bay, says Vandenberg.

“It’s not going to always stop people from getting sick, but (the vaccination) is going to make it less severe,” Vandenberg says.

Vandenberg says flu vaccinations are especially important for seniors living in long-term care homes.

“As with any medication there are pros and cons, but (with the flu vaccination) the pros far outweigh the cons as far as I’m concerned, especially for people who are vulnerable already,” the RN says.

The Health Canada website underscores the importance of influenza vaccinations and infection prevention.

“The most effective way to protect yourself from the flu is to be vaccinated each year in the fall,” the site says. “Regular hand-washing is another way to help minimize your risk. By washing your hands often, you will reduce your chance of becoming infected.”

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or email deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Garden Terrace caregivers star in information video

YouTube video explores caregivers’ work

November 11, 2013 — Deron Hamel

Two Garden Terrace front-line staff members have helped create a YouTube video providing insight into experiences if working with people who have a cognitive impairment.

Personal support workers (PSWs) Ashley Astle and Dieune Simplice worked as actors in Caregivers, a video made by Interplay Creative Media on behalf of You and Me for Memories, an Ottawa-area grassroots group raising money for Alzheimer’s disease research.

The video was screened during You and Me for Memories fifth annual An Evening to Remember gala Oct. 26. The gala raises money to further the research of Dr. Richard Bergeron, a neuroscience specialist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

Astle provided English dialogue, while Simplice spoke French in the video. Actors Kent Goranson and Penelope Goranson portrayed long-term care residents affected by dementia.

The six-minute video delves into what front-line caregivers do in their work with residents who are living with a cognitive impairment; issues such as feeding and bathing are explored, and Astle and Simplice demonstrate how to hold a conversation with people affected by dementia.

“I take each day as it comes and I don’t have any plans when I’m working on an Alzheimer’s unit because when you come into work things tend to change,” Astle says.

In the video, Astle explains why she chose her career path and what her work means to her.

“When I go home at the end of the day I feel good about myself and I know that I’m in this because I’m passionate, caring and I understand how (dementia) affects (residents) every day,” she says

Click here to watch the video.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or email deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

RPN underscores importance of flu shot

Country Terrace sees 90% vaccination rate

November 5, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

While getting the flu shot is an option for long-term care home residents, there are many benefits to getting vaccinated this time of year, says Country Terrace registered practical nurse (RPN) and infection control lead Brenna Slota.

For starters, the vaccination reduces the chance of a person contracting the flu, which in turn reduces the odds of an outbreak in a long-term care home. The vaccine is also proven to boost the human immune system, says Slota.

Getting the vaccination is especially important for residents 65 and older

Getting the vaccination is especially important for residents 65 and older. Creative Commons photo.

Even if you get the flu after having the vaccination, the symptoms will not be as severe because the body has developed a defence from the antibodies in the vaccine, she notes.

This also reduces the risk of pneumonia and hospitalization, the RPN adds.

Once again, OMNI Health Care and its long-term care homes are encouraging residents and staff members to get vaccinated this flu season. As the vaccination campaign is coming to an end at Country Terrace, the Komoka long-term care has had a 90 per cent vaccination success rate, Slota says, adding there are some people — both residents and staff members — who had the flu shot for the first time.

Slota takes time to engage residents and family members about the importance of flu vaccination in keeping people safe at the home. There is also an infection-control awareness week at the home every October and Slota uses this time to educate staff members about the flu shot.

Getting the vaccination is especially important for residents 65 and older, she adds.

There may be an added benefit to the flu vaccination for those affected by heart disease, which is common amongst long-term care residents.

In a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers discovered that the flu shot in people who have recently had a heart attack reduces risk of a serious cardiac event by 55 per cent after being vaccinated.

Do you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway? If so, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have any feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

How could the right-to-die issue impact long-term care?

Rona Ambrose and Provinces seeking solutions. Photo courtesy of RonaAmbrose.com.

Rona Ambrose and Provinces seeking solutions. Photo courtesy of RonaAmbrose.com.

Government interest could spark possibility of future change in laws

October 8, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

There’s been much talk recently among provincial health ministers about people’s right to die with dignity. While this conversation isn’t new, it has been getting a lot more attention, due to Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose sitting down last week with her provincial counterparts to discuss the issue.

While Ambrose reaffirmed that the government has no plans to change the Criminal Code to accommodate assisted suicide for people who are terminally ill, it cannot be ignored that the federal government’s willingness to hear input about the matter is signalling the possibility that the tide could one day turn.

Increased discussion within government was triggered by a law proposed in Quebec’s National Assembly that would allow doctors to help terminally-ill patients, under specific circumstances, end their lives if they chose.

But how could this impact the long-term care sector?

Clearly, there’s a balance to be struck. Promoting quality of life is a cornerstone of long-term care providers’ values and culture. Moreover, long-term care homes are committed to upholding people’s dignity. But what about the dignity of a person who is terminally ill, and how can dignity be upheld if a person is not allowed to die the way they choose?

There’s no simple, one-size-fits-all answer here. But the right-to-die question is something the sector needs to ponder, since any given long-term care home has many people living with terminal illnesses, from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease to neurological illnesses.

Something else to consider is the fact that long-term care homes are today seeing an increased number of residents with serious complex-care issues uncommon to long-term care in years past — homes are now admitting residents with terminal illnesses such as Huntington’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (commonly called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

These are illnesses that have considerable impact on a person’s dignity and quality of life. In countries that allow physician-assisted death under certain circumstances, such as Switzerland, the patients often have these illnesses.

Naturally, the right-to-die issue raises controversy; after all, doctors are legally and morally tasked with prolonging people’s lives, not helping end lives. The question to be asked is this: is the current system helping or hindering patients if prolonging a terminally-ill person’s life against their will is decreasing their life quality? As caregivers in long-term care homes, how could allowing physicians to assist people in the dying process affect you?

If you would like to comment on this issue, please e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca, or call 800-294-0051, ext. 23.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, or e-mail deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

Residents give back through Christmas Bazaar

Streamway Villa seniors support Philippines relief, the Giving Tree

November 28, 2013 — Jennifer Neutel 

Streamway Villa’s annual Christmas Bazaar has a new element this year that Christina Verleysen says may make it the best yet – the residents’ council is putting all proceeds towards two good causes.

Some of the funds raised will be donated towards Typhoon Haiyan Philippines relief. OMNI Health Care president and CEO Patrick McCarthy sent out an e-mail noting that any money makes a difference, prompting the idea. OMNI is matching donations made towards Typhoon Haiyan relief dollar for dollar, and the Government of Canada is doubling every individual donation.

The rest of the funds will go towards purchasing gifts for two children in need through the Northumberland Mall’s Giving Tree. Children who appear on the Giving Tree are referred by a number of community organizations.

“It’s definitely going to be one busy Christmas, however it’s going to be probably the best bazaar yet because of what we are putting the funds towards,” says Christina Verleysen, life enrichment coordinator at the long-term care home.

The residents’ council vice-president came to Verleysen’s office noting she had spoken with other residents and they all agreed these causes are what they want the bazaar proceeds to be spent on.

Verleysen notes the residents’ council fund currently has a healthy savings allowing the funds to be used in this way, rather than putting it towards entertainment and outings.

The Christmas Bazaar is taking place at the Cobourg home this Saturday, Nov. 30, from 2 to 4 p.m.

There is a $2 charge at the door. Music entertainment will be provided by Doug Morgan and tea, coffee and hot chocolate will be served.

Family members are providing baked goods. The home’s administrator Kylie Szczebonski takes photographs and frames them as raffle prizes, which are a big hit, says Verleysen.

Residents have been making salsa and cranberry ketchup to sell. A woman whose mother previously lived at the home has also rented a table to sell items.

To spread the word about the event an ad was placed in the local newspaper, and family members have since told Verleysen that is how they found out about it.

“I am hoping to see more of the community coming in this year,” says Verleysen.

Being located close to Cobourg’s downtown, hosting the bazaar allows the home to get its name out in the community and is a way to do something active and give back, she adds.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 26, or email jennifer(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 26, or e-mail jennifer(at)axiomnews.ca.

‘It’s certainly Christmas at Riverview Manor’

 Baking, decorations and special events lead up to the holidays

November 26, 2013 — Jennifer Neutel

With Christmas a month away, residents at Riverview Manor have been busy baking goodies for their bake sale this Friday, just one of several events taking place at the Peterborough long-term care home leading up to the holidays.

Life enrichment co-ordinator Sonia Murney says the baking has produced smells throughout the home luring people into the activity room where residents and staff have been “little Betty Crockers.”

This past weekend residents and staff made fudge, peanut butter fudge, maple fudge, mincemeat tarts, cherry tarts and banana bread.

“They are the kings and queens of baking,” says Murney.

There is one rule: that the first batch is a taste test, and after that it’s for the bake sale, Murney says with a laugh.

The baking provides a time for memories and reminiscing.

“If you look at our residents and the religious factor where they would have been part of their church, and they would have been part of their church bazaar and it brings back true memories that way, as well as just the smells alone – it’s a warm and cozy feeling,” Murney tells The OMNIway.

Everyone is welcome to come to the Nov. 29 bake sale, which runs from 2-4 p.m. at the Peterborough home. Funds raised through the sale will go towards the residents’ council.

In addition to the delicious smells, the home looks festive for the holidays.

“It’s certainly Christmas at Riverview Manor. The home is beautifully decorated with the help of the residents as well as the activity department,” says Murney, noting the nursing stations on each side of the home takes on decorating their station.

The spirit of giving is also present at the home. Office manager Virginia Murphy says Riverview Manor is collecting toys for the Country 105 Christmas Toy Drive, which collects new unwrapped toys for The Salvation Army. People can drop donations off at the home until Dec. 14, when the Miracle Broadcast will happen live from Peterborough’s Lansdowne Place.

“It’s good to get involved in the community, we try to do that a lot,” notes Murphy.

Every year the home has a residents’ wish tree in its main office. The name of each resident is on the tree and people can pick a name and buy that resident a gift to open Christmas morning.

Jay Lough Hayes from Peterborough Realty is assisting with the residents’ wish tree for the second year through the Christmas Elves for Seniors program. This year Hayes took 18 resident names. St. Anne’s Church is also donating beautiful quilted lap blankets.

“There’s a ton of community involvement and donations that help out for every home,” says Murney. “It’s incredible everybody steps up to the plate this time of year and it’s wonderful the love that you get.”

During the first week of December the home hosts two Christmas turkey dinners for families.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 26, or email deron(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 26, or e-mail jennifer(at)axiomnews.ca.