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With safety top of mind, Forest Hill residents celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

Life enrichment team’s ingenuity helped make the event a big hit with residents

Instead of having a big St. Patrick’s Day party at Forest Hill this year, there were five smaller events to celebrate all things Irish – with social distancing and other safety precautions in full effect, of course.

Like with many long-term care homes, St. Patrick’s Day is a big affair at Forest Hill. Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, a typical Forest Hill St. Patrick’s Day party included entertainers performing Celtic music and large-group pub events.

However, due to restrictions in place to keep everyone safe during the ongoing pandemic, this year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration could not include large-group gatherings or live entertainment.

But by using their ingenuity, life enrichment team members were able to organize simultaneous St. Patrick’s Day celebrations that met safety protocols on each of the Ottawa-area long-term care home’s five floors.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t have live music, but we did have Irish and Celtic music CDs here, so we put on lots of music for residents,” explains Craig Forrest, Forest Hill’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

“Gatherings (on each floor) had to be smaller, but we still had the music, the non-alcoholic green beer and other drinks, and lots of food.”

Residents were also provided with St. Patrick’s Day outfits, such as green hats, to wear in the spirit of the day, Craig notes.

Even with social distancing in place and no large-group activities, residents still had a lot of fun on March 17, thanks to the work life enrichment aides put into the day, Craig says.

“The life enrichment aides here are really good, and the residents on each floor really enjoyed (the celebration) – it was a lot of fun for them,” he says.

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Bingo, a prize draw and green beer mark St. Patrick’s Day at Frost Manor

Safety restrictions meant activities were low-key, but there was still lots of fun and laughter for residents

St. Patrick’s Day was low-key this year at Frost Manor, but the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home’s residents and team members still celebrated all things Irish on March 17.

In the morning, residents and staff dressed up in green St. Patrick’s Day attire and shared a laugh at what everyone was wearing, says Frost Manor life enrichment co-ordinator Lyndsay Burton.

Later in the day, residents and staff played “lucky bingo” in the different areas of the home. There was also a prize draw from a “pot of gold,” and those selecting a winning token received a cash prize.

Since there is currently no large-group programming at Frost Manor due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, team members organized St. Patrick’s Day activities for small groups of residents, with social distancing and other safety measures in effect.

And, of course, no St. Patrick’s Day would be complete without refreshments, so team members served pints of green beer to residents who wished to have a drink as well as other festive treats.

Because of restrictions in place to keep everyone safe during the pandemic, St. Patrick’s Day had to be toned down compared to previous years, but residents still enjoyed the fun and laughter that comes with the occasion, Lyndsay says.

“The residents enjoyed the special programming, and we said, ‘everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s day,’ ” she says.

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Let’s dance: Burnbrae music program gets residents moving

The Music Appreciation program is providing residents with exercise, reminiscing and lots of fun and laughter

Since Burnbrae Gardens started a multifaceted music program six months ago, residents of the Campbellford, Ont. long-term care home have been benefiting from the joys music brings as well as from more exercise, increased happiness and lots of reminiscing.

The Music Appreciation program is the brainchild of life enrichment aide Shawna Booth, who started the program in September to provide residents with activities they enjoy while adhering to safety protocols in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Music brings a lot of joy into people’s lives, and I was thinking this was something that was lacking because of (the pandemic), so that was the main inspiration,” Shawna says.

The program, which Shawna hosts every Thursday, varies from week to week. Each week there’s a different musical theme, from golden oldies to country classics to jazz.

Residents gather in small, physically distanced groups while music is played. Often, Shawna leads residents in exercises they can do standing or sitting.

“Sometimes we do activities where residents can dance in their chair for exercise where there are movements to go along with the songs, (and) sometimes we will play songs that will get residents reminiscing,” Shawna says, adding residents recently enjoyed reminiscing about songs they remembered hearing at weddings and other events.

Shawna says she has also played relaxing music while leading residents in chair yoga exercises.

A major benefit Shawna says she has seen from the Music Appreciation program is increased participation. While some residents are not interested in games or bingo, virtually everyone loves music.

As a result, several residents who normally don’t participate in programs are attending this activity every week, she says.

But perhaps the greatest benefit Shawna is seeing from residents is an elevated mood accompanied by lots of laughter.

“That’s always good because laughter is the best medicine, and of course reminiscing is helpful with memory and cognition, and we do a lot of reminiscing,” she says.

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Province approves development of 192-bed Streamway Villa Long-Term Care Home

The project, which will upgrade the current 59 beds Streamway Villa offers and add 133 new beds in Cobourg, is expected to begin next spring

COBOURG, Ont. – Streamway Villa residents and staff members are looking forward to living and working in a new, spacious 192-bed long-term care home with modern conveniences that will be built in Cobourg to replace the present home within the next three and a half years.

Representatives from OMNI Health Care, the Ontario government, Northumberland County and the Town of Cobourg held a press conference in the Streamway Villa courtyard March 22 to make the blockbuster announcement.

The project, which will likely begin next spring, will upgrade the current 59 long-term care beds Streamway Villa offers and add 133 new beds in Cobourg.

Construction is expected to take up to 36 months to complete, including the design and approval stages.

“We have a proud history of providing great care to this community, and we’re happy to see the Ontario government recognize the need for more long-term care beds right here in Cobourg,” said Patrick McCarthy, OMNI’s president and CEO.

Once completed, the new Streamway Villa will be a Class A long-term care home with modern amenities, such as wider hallways and more home-like dining areas, and privacy will be enhanced by limiting all rooms to no more than two beds.

The new home will be divided into six neighbourhoods, with 32 beds in each home area, to provide residents with a quieter, more enjoyable living experience.

Streamway Villa administrator Kylie Szczebonski said the new, state-of-the-art home with all its amenities will help enhance quality of life for residents and enable staff members to provide an even higher level of care.

“The new modern facility will have a significant impact and a positive impact on our residents, families and staff,” she said.

“The new home will allow us to provide the highest standard of care that we are known for in the community while also allowing us to easily incorporate new technologies and innovations into our practices.

“We cannot wait to have this new home, and we cannot wait to be one of the top (long-term care homes) in this province.”

Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini underscored the impact the new home will have on the local community.

“Our loved ones in long-term care deserve a comfortable, modern place to live that is near family and friends and has the built-in supports they need when and where they need it,” Piccini said.

“The number of people in Cobourg who will need long-term care is expected to rise over the next decade. These new and upgraded spaces, built to modern design standards, will help ensure residents have access to the care they need in a safe and secure environment.”

With a growing aging population and a greater need for long-term care beds in the region, Northumberland County Warden Bob Crate said the project will help shorten wait times for people in the county seeking long-term care.

“An expanded 192-bed home will increase access to long-term care and address some of the associated pressures in our local health-care system,” he said.

Cobourg Mayor John Henderson also welcomed the announcement as a “historic long-term care investment” in the community.   

“We are proud and supportive of our aging demographic and recognize that this is a huge step in the right direction towards continuing to serve our senior population.”

The province has now approved redevelopment projects for seven OMNI long-term care homes since 2018.

In addition to today’s announcement for Streamway Villa, approval has been given for a new 192-bed Riverview Manor in Peterborough, a new 128-bed Village Green in Greater Napanee, and a redeveloped and expanded 128-bed Country Terrace in Komoka, Ont., all of which are currently in the design phase.

Construction is well underway on the renovation and expansion of Almonte Country Haven, Pleasant Meadow Manor and Woodland Villa.

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OMNI joins CaRES Fund to help families of senior living workers financially impacted by COVID-19

Launched in 2020, the CaRES Fund has provided more than $2.3 million to help support 679 Canadian caregivers and their families

OMNI Health Care announced today it has joined a partnership launched last year by four other long-term care providers to offer one-time financial relief to those working in senior living residences across Canada who require assistance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senior Living CaRES Fund was created by long-term care and retirement home providers Chartwell, Revera, Extendicare and Sienna (CaRES) in May 2020 to help people working for any provider of long-term care or retirement homes in Canada whose families have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

Southbridge Care Homes, a Cambridge, Ont.-based provider of long-term care and retirement homes, also joined the partnership today.

Patrick McCarthy, OMNI Health Care’s president and CEO, says OMNI understands the financial impact the pandemic has had on many Canadian families, including the families of people working in the long-term care sector.

OMNI wanted to join the partnership to help support those families and the employees who have dedicated themselves to caring for long-term care and retirement home residents during a challenging and uncertain time, he says.

“The CaRES Fund has supported hundreds of dedicated senior living employees from across the country,” McCarthy says.

“We look forward to joining the founding partners in supporting hundreds more in 2021.”

Applicants are eligible to receive up to $10,000 through the fund. To date, more than $2.3 million has been awarded to 679 people working in Canadian long-term care and retirement homes.

The CaRES Fund offers grants, not loans, so monies awarded do not need to be repaid.

The CaRES Fund will continue offering financial assistance to senior living residence employees facing financial challenges throughout 2021 by reviewing applications every quarter.

Applications for the first-quarter review open today (March 22) and close April 9.

Click here for more information on the CaRES Fund.

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Pandemic prompts Burnbrae life enrichment team to invent new programming

A Mardi Gras activity and a music program are among the life enrichment team’s creations since safety restrictions have been in place

Necessity, as the old saying goes, is the mother of invention, and since the global COVID-19 pandemic began a year ago, Burnbrae Gardens life enrichment team members have had to tap into their creativity to develop meaningful programs for residents to enjoy.

And April Faux, the Campbellford, Ont. long-term care home’s administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator, says the life enrichment staff has answered the challenge by coming up with fun programs for residents that enhance their quality of life while adhering to protocols to keep everyone safe during the pandemic.

In February, life enrichment aide (LEA) and physiotherapy assistant Lauren Farnham organized a Mardi Gras party – something the home had never done before – complete with music and props such as Mardi Gras beads and refreshments.

The event sparked a lot of interest from residents, April says, adding Lauren was able to run the program for all residents who wanted to join the fun by having small groups take turns participating at different intervals.

For residents who stayed in their rooms, the LEAs would bring them a treat, such as a non-alcoholic margarita, to ensure they were still included in the activity.

“Residents loved the Mardi Gras program,” April says.

Another LEA, Shawna Booth, started a music program in September called Music Appreciation.

As part of this program, Shawna plays different types of music and encourages residents to dance and exercise. Each time the program runs there will be a different theme of music for residents to enjoy. The music is based on residents’ musical interests.

Like the Mardi Gras program, the music program is only done with small groups of residents.

“We have had to reach outside the box because we used to have so much live entertainment, but we can’t have that right now, so we’re having to be a bit more creative, which is good for everyone and it’s (providing) new programs for the residents,” April says.

– More to come

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2021 Nutrition Month campaign focusing on how healthy eating is different for everyone

When it comes to healthy eating, there is no one-size-fits-all approach because everyone is different.

That’s the key message behind this year’s Nutrition Month, which is acknowledged across Canada throughout March. The theme for this year’s Nutrition Month is “Good for you – dietitians help you find your healthy.”

The campaign, which is organized by Dietitians of Canada, looks at how culture, health conditions and personal circumstances all come into play when it comes to individual meal plans.

Nutrition Month is focusing this year on how healthy eating can be incorporated into everyone’s life while adhering to cultural traditions, health plans and personal circumstances.

Long-term care homes, for instance, are reflective of society at large, since every resident’s nutritional needs and preferences are different.

In a section of this year’s Nutrition Month activity guide focused on long-term care residents, registered dietitian Christine Francis notes how promoting quality of life is at the centre of the work long-term care homes do – and quality mealtimes are a top priority for residents.

Residents living in many long-term care homes, including OMNI Health Care homes, have menu choices at every mealtime that meet daily nutritional requirements. Offering these options is important to residents, both on a personal level and a nutritional level, writes Francis, who has experience working with residents of long-term care homes.

“Having a choice between menu options and entrees creates a sense of belonging and autonomy for the residents, while allowing them to still feel involved in their care and decision making.”

The activity guide recommends several ways stakeholders can get involved with Nutrition Month. These include using social media, trying new recipes and having conversations about nutrition.

You can look out for the hashtags #NutritionMonth and #FindYourHealthy on social media to learn the latest news on this year’s campaign.

For more information on this year’s Nutrition Month campaign, click here to access the 2021 activity guide.

What is your long-term care home doing to support Nutrition Month? If you have a story to share, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

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Streamway Villa residents take a trip to ‘Margaritaville’

Residents and staff celebrate National Margarita Day

It may have been one of the coldest days this winter, but inside Streamway Villa residents were sipping margaritas on Feb. 22 to mark the drink’s special day.

On National Margarita Day, the life enrichment team at the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home served up icy-cold margaritas for residents to enjoy – complete with straws and cocktail umbrellas.

“Originally we were all going to dress up in vacation gear, but I have to say it was hard, due to it being in a snowstorm that day and the coldest day of the year,” explains Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht.

“But we did go through with the margaritas and a little dance party, of course. We played music like we were on vacation, such as Margaritaville, and then drank margaritas.”

For an added measure of fun, the life enrichment team asked residents to close their eyes and imagine they were walking along a warm, tropical beach, listening to the waves roll up to the shore.

“Some of the residents really engaged in the activity and started to tell me how hot the sand was on their toes and how they could hear birds in the distance,” Laurie says.

Margarita day was part of this year’s Spirit Days program at Streamway Villa. Spirit Days are themed programs aimed at ramping up fun and laughter during the colder months.

Streamway Villa hosted Spirit Days last year at this time, but the COVID-19 pandemic began shortly after and the program had to be put on hold.

“Lately it has been pretty gloomy with the winter, cold days, and the pandemic so we chose to try and lift everyone’s spirits,” Laurie says.

“The Spirit Days are meant to just cheer everyone up since we still aren’t able to do much recreation programming besides one-to-ones or very small group activities.”

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Willows outbreak ends, team members recognized with staff appreciation day

Staff was honoured for their hard work and support for residents and each other

After a two-month COVID-19 outbreak ended at Willows Estate in late February, team members at the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home were recognized for their hard work and commitment to residents and each other with a staff appreciation day on Feb. 25.

During the outbreak, Aimee Merkley, OMNI Health Care’s director of western operations, was the acting administrator at the Willows. From the day York Region Public Health declared the outbreak on Dec. 23, Aimee says Willows Estate team members worked hard to care for residents, ramp up infection, prevention and control measures, and support each other.

During the outbreak, Aimee worked closely with Doneath Stewart, who is acting director of care at the Willows, and Neil MacDonald, formally the nutritional care manager at Riverview Manor who was called in for assistance.

The efforts put forth by Doneath and Neil, as well as support from OMNI Health Care home office team members, helped residents and staff during this challenging time, Aimee says.

“There were many tough and emotional days during the outbreak, (but) staff pulled together and committed to the hard work required to ensure infection, prevention and control practices were observed and residents received the care and support they needed,” Aimee says.

Every time a resident case of COVID-19 was resolved, team members rang a bell on the unit, and “staff looked so forward to ringing the bell,” Aimee says.

When the outbreak officially ended Feb. 23, Silver Fox Pharmacy, an OMNI provider, supplied the Willows team with 100 cowbells to ensure everyone at the home had a bell to ring to signify the outbreak’s end.

Two days later, Aimee organized the staff appreciation day for team members working on all three shifts.

Staff members were treated to coffee and doughnuts from Tim Hortons as well as pizza and cupcakes. Everyone received T-shirts displaying the OMNI logo on the front and the words “tough times don’t last – tough teams do” on the back.

Community donations of Tim Hortons gift cards and gift bags were awarded for prizes during trivia games, and OMNI logo wear was also provided to draw winners.

Aimee says the appreciation day was well received by the Willows Estate team.

“They loved the day and were so appreciative of the recognition, which they truly deserved,” she says.

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Riverview Manor residents celebrate Mardi Gras

With safety protocols in place, residents enjoyed a piece of New Orleans in the home

A little bit of New Orleans came to Riverview Manor in mid-February.

The Peterborough long-term care home hosted its own version of Mardi Gras, the famed carnival held every year in the Big Easy on Shrove Tuesday.

Residents living on the north side of Riverview Manor celebrated Mardi Gras with a pub night organized by the life enrichment team on Feb. 15 and those living on the south side celebrated on Feb. 16, which was Shrove Tuesday.

Mardi Gras, which translates to “Fat Tuesday,” gets its name from the tradition of Catholics eating rich, high-calorie foods the day before the start of Lent the next day, Ash Wednesday.

So, of course, there were plenty of snacks available for residents to enjoy, including mozzarella sticks, pigs in a blanket, sour cream ring chips and a special gelatin dessert life enrichment aide Adam Wicklum made with Jell-O featuring the three colours representing Mardi Gras, green, gold and purple.

For drinks, residents had a choice of Mardi Gras purple punch with cherry and pineapple ice cubes or beer and pop.

Each of the Mardi Gras colours carries significance. Green represents faith, gold stands for power and purple signifies justice. Adam also made a Mardi Gras backdrop using these three main colours.

Masks and beads are also part of Mardi Gras celebrations, and Adam attached Mardi Gras masks and beads to the colourful backdrop for added effect.

Mardi Gras beads are said to be protective and ward off evil spirits or spells, and they can also be good-luck charms, Adam explains.

Music is another important feature of any Mardi Gras celebration, and residents listened to Louisiana-flavoured music through Spotify during the events.

Due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing was in effect and there were transparent barriers between people to ensure everyone kept safe.

“(During) other years, residents got Mardi Gras masks and beads (to wear), but because of COVID-19 they did not this year for their safety, but they had this year’s backdrop for decoration and (there were) photo sessions with some residents,” Adam says.

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