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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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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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Willows Estate card group thrilled to playing kings in the corner again

After seven months, the group ‘wasted no time’ in starting up again, says LEA

Recently, for the first time since the global COVID-19 pandemic began, a group of dedicated resident card players at Willows Estate were given the green light to resume playing their favourite game, kings in the corner.

“The group hasn’t been able to play together in so long, given the circumstances surrounding the pandemic,” Willows Estate life enrichment aide (LEA) Azaria Kanda tells The OMNIway.

“When our director of care, Allan (Nixon), gave the thumbs-up to gather small groups back to enjoy card night, they wasted no time signing up to join in for a fun playtime.”

Azaria says playing cards has many benefits for residents of the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home.

“Beyond being a fun pastime, it is also a time for this group particularly to catch up on various happenings in their lives, family, friends, and of course, a little dose of gossip,” Azaria says with a chuckle.

The group recently welcomed a new member into the fold, resident Anthony Smallman. While Anthony had not played kings in the corner before, the residents who are more seasoned in its rules have been taking time to teach him, and his progress is coming along, Azaria says.

“The group, which is predominantly ladies, has been instrumental in not only teaching Anthony the game but also patiently allowing him to learn it, Azaria says.

“He now plays it like a pro and looks forward to playing with the bunch.”

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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.”

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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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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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