West Lake LEC underscores the positive impact music is having on residents

‘When we have music entertainers, that always gets everyone going, and music is something everyone enjoys’

Since in-house musical entertainment has returned to West Lake Terrace, life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) David Forsyth says residents have enjoyed getting back into the groove.

Music-based activities, he says, are programs everyone at the Prince Edward County long-term care home enjoys.

“When we have music entertainers, that always gets everyone going, and music is something everyone enjoys,” David tells The OMNIway.

With pandemic protocols relaxing, in-house entertainment has returned to West Lake Terrace this year and residents have been flocking to the performances the home hosts.

In fact, David has booked three entertainers for the coming month to meet the residents’ entertainment needs.

West Lake Terrace has a long-standing group of entertainers who have become well known to residents, but residents are also open to new entertainers, David notes.

Sometimes residents are the source of ideas.

For instance, a resident recently approached David to recommend a singer-guitarist who performed at the home a few years back, so David took the resident up on their offer.

“I called that gentleman and he has agreed to come in,” the LEC says.

Music has long been an important tool used to enhance quality of life for long-term care home residents. Music can be uplifting and bring back fond memories.

For those residents living with cognitive impairment, music can be relaxing and calm agitation.

David says he has seen first-hand the benefits music can provide residents. Right after an entertainer performs, a positive vibe will resonate at the home, he says.

“(Music) will just put people in a good mood.”

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Residents and team members mark Residents’ Council Week at the Willows

‘I think we focused more on Residents’ Council Week this year, just because we’re trying to get back into the swing of things’

Willows Estate residents and team members celebrated Residents’ Council Week with a variety of fun and informative events, including a tea, a photo booth and the unveiling of a display wall.

Residents’ Council Week was Sept. 12-18. The week, organized each year by the Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils (OARC), aims to raise awareness about the important role residents’ councils play in long-term care homes.

Residents’ councils are mandated by the Ministry of Long-Term Care and serve to empower residents and help them make the most of their experience living in long-term care homes.

Teddy Mazzuca, the life enrichment co-ordinator at the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home, says the tea party hosted in honour of the week had a large turnout. To make the event even more special, team members brought out the home’s best china, she adds.

OARC, which included social events in its recommendations of events for residents’ councils to host, provided special placemats.

There was also trivia about the residents’ council for team members, who demonstrated a strong degree of knowledge about the council, Teddy says.

Questions centred on areas including naming resident leaders and knowing how often the council meets and where. The idea behind the trivia was to ensure everyone was well informed about the residents’ council, Teddy says.

“Most of my group knew (a lot) and I was so proud of them,” she says.

On Sept. 15, a photo booth was set up for residents and team members to take their pictures, and lots of fun was had throughout the day, Teddy says.

Additionally, a display wall was set up to share information about Residents’ Council Week. The display included the 29 rights listed in the Residents’ Bill of Rights.

Teddy says that although Willows Estate celebrates Residents’ Council Week every year, this year’s event had a great presence, a fact she attributes to pandemic restrictions easing this year.

“I think we focused more on Residents’ Council Week this year, just because we’re trying to get back into the swing of things,” she says.

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Maplewood brings back innovative intervention after successfully reducing resident’s anxiety

Weighted blanket has the feel of a gentle hug

When a Maplewood resident recently began experiencing agitation, one of the Brighton long-term care home’s life enrichment aides (LEAs) put their arm around the resident for comfort and the resident became calm.

Seeing the positive impact this had on the resident, some team members remembered the home had a weighted blanket specially designed to provide a feeling of comfort to people with cognitive impairment who experience agitation.

The blanket is shaped like a bear rug and weighs only a few pounds, but it provides sensory stimulation similar to a hug. Team members offered it to the resident, who became elated with the blanket, cradling the bear head in her hands.

“It worked wonderfully,” says Rachel Corkery, Maplewood’s administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator. “It was really beneficial to that resident.”

Despite being heavier than most blankets, weighted blankets do not pose a safety issue for people, Rachel notes.

The blanket was purchased by Maplewood several years ago to help one resident. Unfortunately, the intervention at the time didn’t work and the blanket was shelved.

But given the positive result the team recently achieved with the blanket, Rachel says staff will consider using it again if this resident or others experience agitation in the future.

She adds that interventions like this are not one-size-fits-all approaches. Each resident has a unique set of needs, and an intervention that works for one resident may not work for someone else, she notes.

Still, the success team members achieved with the blanket means they’re going to keep it at the ready, Rachel says.

“It was nice to work our way through that, to think of a solution and see that it worked,” she says. “We saw a reduction in anxiety. We are going to keep trying that.”

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Royal memories: Riverview resident reflects on friendship with Queen Elizabeth II

Joan Brownson served with Her Majesty in the British Army during the Second World War

To the world, she was Queen Elizabeth II, but before she was the monarch who reigned as head of state of the United Kingdom and 14 Commonwealth realms, including Canada, then-19-year-old Joan Brownson knew her as “Lizzie.”

As a teenager in the 1940s, this was the name the future monarch preferred to be addressed by when she and Joan served alongside each other as mechanics in the Women’s Auxiliary Territory Service, a branch of the British Army, during the Second World War.

Six days after Queen Elizabeth II passed away on Sept. 8, Joan, a resident of Riverview Manor in Peterborough, sat down with The OMNIway in an interview organized by life enrichment aide Adam Wicklum to talk about her time spent with the woman who would become the longest reigning queen in history.

As mechanics in the army, Joan and Princess Elizabeth, as she was then known, worked side by side on military vehicles, diagnosing engine problems and making repairs.

Although “mechanic” may often be seen as a largely male-dominated profession, Joan says many women learned the trade during the war when everyone needed to pitch in to help. “We just needed people at that time and we all needed to pick up what we could do,” Joan tells The OMNIway.

Joan, 96, says she remembers then-Princess Elizabeth as being friendly and well-liked but also a humble young woman who would shun the attention that came with her notoriety.

“She was a person like me, (and) what she wanted and what I wanted were the same things,” Joan says.

Another memory Joan has is how she and others would protect the future monarch from media attention. When press photographers would try to take her picture, the future monarch’s comrades would form a circle around her to shield her from the cameras.

“There was a time when she suddenly (got more media attention) and we had to just watch whatever she was doing, and we would gather around her,” Joan says.

“There was somebody – and it wasn’t always obvious – but there was always somebody watching her.”

Princess Elizabeth would ascend to the throne and become Queen Elizabeth II in 1952. In 1957, Joan moved to Canada and settled in Peterborough, where she and her husband raised five sons.

Like the Queen, Joan has also led a life dedicated to public service. She has served as a volunteer with the Special Olympics and has been involved with the Royal Canadian Legion. She has also served as a member of the Riverview Manor residents’ council. In 2019, Joan received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ontario Long Term Care Association for her service to others.

While this has been a sad time for Joan as she joins other citizens of the Commonwealth in mourning the passing of our Queen, she says she has also been reminiscing about happy times shared with her friend “Lizzie” many years ago.

“I was very upset when I heard,” Joan says of the Queen’s passing.

After a brief pause, she smiles as she recalls a happy memory of her youth.

“I enjoyed her company and I liked her a lot,” Joan says of the Queen. “We had a lot of fun and we got along so well together.”

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PHOTO CAPTION: Riverview Manor resident Joan Brownson holds a newspaper with a photo of Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away Sept. 8. Joan and the Queen served together in the British Army during the Second World War.

Smoked salmon quiche offers a unique addition to Country Haven’s St. Patrick’s Day meal

This tasty quiche was so good, its creator, chef Sarah Montgomery, entered the recipe in OMNI’s March Madness challenge

Back in March, Almonte Country Haven chef Sarah Montgomery wanted to serve something different to residents of the Lanark County long-term care home on St. Patrick’s Day.

What she came up with was a delicious smoked salmon quiche that was served in addition to the corned beef and cabbage and Irish stew that’s normally served for the occasion.

While Sarah says smoked salmon “can be a little intimidating for the older generation,” especially if they’ve never had it before on its own, but the familiar taste of eggs and other ingredients modifies the taste and creates a delicate flavour that goes well when paired with the side salad she serves it with.

“I found that the salmon with the fresh herbs, Dijon zing and savouriness of the sautéed onions, all comes together perfectly and the pairing salad with it (makes it) yummy,” Sarah says.

Sarah enjoyed making her smoked salmon quiche for residents so much that she entered it in OMNI Health Care’s March Madness recipe challenge.

To create this quiche, Sarah first makes a pastry from flour, water, shortening, salt and vinegar. The filling is made from a combination of eggs, sautéed onions, smoked salmon, chives, Dijon mustard, fresh basil and whipping cream.

Chris Weber, OMNI’s operations manager of nutrition and food service, says the March Madness contest, which saw 16 recipes compete in a bracket contest where votes were cast each week between April 14 and May 6, was close.

The winning entry was a Mediterranean omelette, created by Josephine Goddard at Country Terrace, which won “by a very thin margin,” Chris says.

OMNI launched the first annual March Madness recipe challenge in March in recognition of Nutrition Month in Canada.

Chris came up with the idea to encourage nutritional care managers and cooks to showcase their most-loved recipes and to highlight the high-quality meals served in OMNI homes.

Throughout March, nutritional care managers and cooks prepared their favourite meals, plated them and took photos that were sent to head office. The photos were accompanied by the name of each meal and its recipe.

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Annual corn roast returns to Forest Hill

The resident-favourite event included live entertainment for the first time since 2019

Forest Hill residents once again enjoyed a beloved end-of-summer tradition on Sept. 2 when the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home hosted its annual corn roast.

The event is always a huge hit with residents, who look forward to tucking into cobs of fresh, locally grown corn and barbecued pork riblets made by Craig Forrest, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

Salads, buns and dessert accompanied the riblets and corn.

Although we are still in a pandemic, some restrictions have eased since last year’s corn roast. One welcomed addition to this year’s event was live entertainment, courtesy of Jumpin’ Jimmy Leroux, a resident-favourite musician known for engaging the crowd and encouraging people to sing along.

This was the first corn roast to have live entertainment since 2019.

“We bought our corn the day of (the event) and it was fresh-picked that day, and we even had a few residents come down and husk the corn,” Craig tells The OMNIway.

As with past corn roasts, family members were welcomed to attend; however, safety protocols require them to wear face masks at all times while visiting the home. Because people need to remove their masks to eat, family members were unable to have food at the event.

“We still had families who came to sit with their loved ones and enjoy the entertainment, and I offered them all a to-go bag,” Craig says, adding family members have worked well with the home throughout the pandemic and have understood the need for the protocols.

“Our family members have been really good – they’ve been outstanding.”

Another change from last year was that Craig was able to organize a single corn roast. Due to last year’s protocols, he had to run four events, so the residents were happy to be able to eat together again, he says, adding this year’s corn roast was a big hit with the crowd.

“It’s always a great time,” Craig says.

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Streamway physio program graduate moves back home

Debra Belliveau worked hard to improve her mobility to the point she can once again live on her own

During her time in the Streamway Villa physiotherapy program, Debra Belliveau improved her mobility so well she was able to move back home earlier this year.

Working with Streamway Villa physiotherapy assistant Harita Patel, Debra spent about 17 months doing strengthening exercises, range-of-motion exercises, practising transferring, weight training, balance training and doing lots of walking.

Debra’s goal from the get-go was to improve her mobility to the point she could return to living independently, and she worked hard to make that happen, Harita says.

When Debra made her intentions known, team members at the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home, along with the physiotherapy team, worked with her to create a plan to help her maximize her strength and achieve her mobility goals.

Once a plan was in place, Debra focused on her exercises and let nothing get in her way, Harita says.

“That was really inspiring,” Harita tells The OMNIway, adding Debra’s determination, focus and sticking to her planned routines helped her achieve success.

“She used to exercise and walk with me every day,” Harita says.

Not only did Debra exercise with the physiotherapy team, she also worked on improving her mobility by herself, Harita says.

Harita says that while the support physiotherapy team members provide plays a part in residents’ progress, it’s also crucial the residents are self-motivated and are dedicated to improving their mobility.

“Motivation, dedication and consistency are very important,” Harita says, noting Debra showed each of these characteristics.

Physiotherapy programs are an important part of life in OMNI Health Care long-term care homes. For many years, residents have worked with physiotherapists and physiotherapy assistants to achieve goals to improve their mobility.

While she now lives on her own, Debra continues to keep in close contact with Streamway Villa, making frequent visits to the home to say hello to residents and staff, who have remained her close friends.

“She came to visit us, just last week, and she was so happy,” Harita says.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Pictured above, former Streamway Villa resident Debra Belliveau is now living on her own, thanks to improving her mobility in the home’s physio program.

Country Terrace residents and staff participate in Walk for Parkinson

Everyone was encouraged to walk, wheel or exercise to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease

Country Terrace residents and team members couldn’t attend the Parkinson Society of Southwestern Ontario’s annual Walk for Parkinson’s fundraiser this past weekend, so instead, they completed their own awareness event Sept. 5-9 at the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home.

Almost every September Country Terrace participates in the Walk for Parkinson’s to support the Parkinson Society. During this year’s event, residents and team members walked, wheeled or did exercises with the physiotherapy and life enrichment teams to earn as many “shoes” as they could.

The shoes were cardboard cutouts of running shoes with participants’ names printed on them that were attached to poster boards team members made for the event, explains Country Terrace life enrichment co-ordinator Lora Blackett.

She adds that residents and staff members from each Country Terrace neighbourhood had their own poster board.

Lora says there was “lots of resident participation” with about 10 to 15 residents from each of the home’s neighbourhoods coming out each day.

At the end of the week, the life enrichment team put all the shoes into a draw and three residents received prizes.

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. According to Parkinson Canada, there are more than 100,000 Canadians living with Parkinson’s disease, and 25 Canadians each day are diagnosed with the condition.

Click here to learn more about Parkinson Canada.

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New West Lake LEC looking forward to developing innovative activities

Of note, David Forsyth says he’d like to bring tai chi to residents and expand exercise programming

As David Forsyth settles into his role as the new life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) at West Lake Terrace, he says what he’s looking forward to most is developing more innovative activities for residents of the Prince Edward County long-term care home.

In particular, David, who became the West Lake Terrace LEC in July, says he hopes to develop more exercise programs with the home’s physiotherapy assistant to help enhance residents’ mobility as well as bring activities like tai chi to the home.

David holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, the study of the dynamics of human body movement, so it’s no surprise he has a strong interest in programming focused on helping residents improve their strength and endurance.

David’s studies in kinesiology and gerontology resulted in a keen interest in helping older adults improve and maintain their physical well-being, so long-term care has been a natural fit for a career choice, he says, adding he’s now working towards a master’s degree in health studies.

David says he was drawn to kinesiology after having to undergo physiotherapy when he sustained a knee injury in Grade 12.

“From there, I developed an interest in that field,” says David, who began his career at West Lake Terrace when he assumed the role of office manager/NASM in February 2021.

While David says he enjoyed his post as the West Lake Terrace office manager/NASM, being the LEC is more geared towards his background.

David also notes that being the LEC means he works more directly with residents, which is what he says he enjoys most about the position, and this is where his strengths lie.

David says participating in activities with residents is his favourite part of his job.

“Bingo is my favourite activity to do with residents,” he says, adding that bingo is also the residents’ favourite activity.

“I’m testing out different things (and) I’m looking forward to bringing more (activities) here.”

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Maplewood team encouraged to bring pets for visits

‘We have had to be so creative throughout the pandemic, and I think this is another way for us to be creative’

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, Maplewood residents received frequent and meaningful visits from St. John Ambulance therapy dogs and their handlers.

But while restrictions began easing this year and other volunteers started returning to the Brighton long-term care home, Maplewood has been unable to get the pet therapy visits residents enjoyed prior to the pandemic.

In some cases, volunteers have moved away or have retired from volunteering, resulting in a shortage of pet therapy volunteers.

Given the void this has left, Maplewood administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator Rachel Corkery is encouraging the home’s team members to bring their own pets to work to spend time with residents and staff.

In a recent OMNIway story, we told you how Rachel is bringing her new German shepherd puppy, Remington, to work with her on Fridays. She says she hopes others follow suit because having pets in the home is beneficial to residents and staff members.

“I’m hoping that staff will feel open to bringing in their pets, especially if they think it’s an appropriate match that the residents and their fellow staff members would benefit from,” Rachel says.

It’s not just dogs and cats team members can bring, Rachel adds, noting one team member has a bearded dragon.

OMNI Health Care has a visiting pet policy, and any pets brought into the home must meet specific standards and have proof of vaccinations, Rachel notes.

Allowing staff members to bring their pets to spend the day at the home is a three-way symbiotic relationship, Rachel says: a pet, such as a dog, visiting the home pleases residents and staff, and the animal is getting lots of attention as well, she notes.

“It’s hard not to smile to smile when you see a pet, especially something like a little puppy, walking through the home,” she says.

Rachel adds that having team members bring their pets to the home for visits is also an example of thinking outside the box to meet a need for residents and staff.

“We have had to be so creative throughout the pandemic, and I think this is another way for us to be creative.”

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