If OMNI can do it, Canada can do it


Springdale administrator discusses importance of creating national dementia strategy
Wednesday, January 15, 2014 — Deron Hamel

When asked if Canada could have a national dementia strategy, Maureen King cites the province’s Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) initiative as evidence that widespread protocols and practices can work effectively.

King, the administrator at Springdale Country Manor, notes how OMNI Health Care has adopted many ideas and processes outlined in BSO, a $40-million provincial initiative designed to enhance quality of life for seniors affected by dementia and other conditions that cause agitation.

The result has been reduced agitation and happier residents living in OMNI long-term care homes.

“Think of all the residents we have with Alzheimer’s — that’s a lot of lives we’re touching,” King tells the OMNIway. “Now imagine if the country had such a strategy, because just what (OMNI) has been able to do has been phenomenal and is changing lives of residents with Alzheimer’s who have responsive behaviours in our homes every single day.

“(BSO) has become a part of who we are and how we operate and how you can expect to be cared for if you come into an OMNI home. . . . OMNI is an organization that has taken itself to task and said, ‘We are going to be leaders.’ ”

So, if OMNI can enact a strategy like BSO, why can’t Canada create and implement a national dementia strategy, King says, noting Canada is the only G8 country without a strategy.

The lack of a national dementia strategy in Canada received significant media attention in December during a G8 conference in London, England focused on dementia.

With the populations of G8 nations — Canada, Britain, the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan — aging at a fast pace there’s more need now than ever to find a cure, attending health ministers concluded. The ministers vowed to invest resources to find a cure for dementia by 2025.

Until a cure is found, however, a national strategy is needed for Canada, King says. And creating one can start with bringing experts together to discuss what works best and how to implement procedures.

“If we can say, ‘Here’s how OMNI cares for residents with responsive behaviours,’ why can’t you take the same philosophies and principles and say, ‘This is how our country cares for people who have dementia,’ ” King says.

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

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

Accreditation, health record platform, managers’ forum some of 2014’s highlights

CEO Patrick McCarthy discusses what’s on the horizon for OMNI in coming year



Friday, January 3, 2014 — Deron Hamel

Preparing for accreditation, moving each of its 18 long-term care homes to the MED E-care health record platform and the seventh annual spring managers’ forum are some of the major highlights at OMNI Health Care in 2014.

In a recent interview, OMNI president and CEO Patrick McCarthy enthusiastically spoke about some of the key events to look forward to in the coming year.

At the moment, homes are busy preparing for Accreditation Canada surveyors to visit March 23-28. This is the third time OMNI has sought accreditation — three-year accreditation was granted to the organization and its homes in 2008 and 2011. The purpose of accreditation is to increase transparency and demonstrate that national standards of excellence have been met or exceeded.

“(Surveyors) will be visiting our homes and visiting our office, and we’re looking forward to a very positive outcome from that,” McCarthy tells the OMNIway.

OMNI has teams at each of its homes preparing for the surveyors’ visits and “they’ve done a great job,” he adds.

Another milestone OMNI will reach in 2014 is moving all but three of its homes to the MED E-care platform by the end of the year. The web-based platform helps long-term care homes provide better information around key quality indicators which, in turn, positions providers to maximize case mix index scores.

The tool also helps homes better manage resources to ensure the highest quality of care delivery.

“Our applications are designed to minimize care staff’s time documenting so that they have the opportunity to better assist their residents,” MED E-Care says on its website.

This spring, OMNI will host its seventh annual spring managers’ forum at Fern Resort near Orillia. The three-day event consists of workshops, presentations and activities for managers.

Prior to the forum, McCarthy says managers will be asked for their input about what they would like to see in the program to make it the most productive event possible where attendees walk away with valuable information they can use, McCarthy says.

He adds that the opportunity for managers to come together and network is one of the event’s strong points.

“I think people learn a lot from working with each other,” he says.

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

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

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)

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

‘Perpetual smiling staff member’ lives the OMNIway

Jessica Lynch nominated for Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award

From picking flowers with residents to helping them make fresh fruit smoothies, Jessica Lynch “lives” the OMNI values of honesty, integrity, creativity, and fun and laughter. Read more

BSO continues to demonstrate value

A glimpse at what’s working well

October 11, 2013 — Deron Hamel

The Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) program, the provincial initiative to help enhance quality of life for seniors affected by dementia and other conditions that cause agitation, is proving to be one of the most fruitful interventions the sector has seen recently.

OMNI Health Care homes have certainly seen the benefit of this program, which is funded to long-term care homes through Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks. Funding is largely put towards staff education.

There has been $55 million in provincial funding provided for BSO during the past two fiscal years.

In a Sept. 16 OMNIway article, registered practical nurse Allison Fairweather, Country Terrace’s BSO lead, commended the program for helping the Komoka long-term care home reduce its rate of responsive behaviours by half since the home began using methods derived from training made possible through the funding.

The home’s care team also sees the program’s value.

“They have to see it to believe it, but once they do, they’re hooked,” she says, adding it is rewarding to see her colleagues climb on board the BSO ship. “I find what helps the most is having someone show you exactly how it is done,” she adds.

This is just the latest BSO success story at OMNI; other OMNI homes have also seen benefits from the program.

In 2012, Riverview Manor in Peterborough reported a 35.5 per cent decrease in responsive behaviours, with a 34.4 per cent decline in PRN medication administration since it launched the program.

Pharmaceuticals considered PRN medications include psychotropic and anti-anxiety medications as well as sedatives.

At Forest Hill in Kanata, intentional decisions to reduce the use of restraints to keep residents safe resulted not only in fewer falls, but also in reduced agitation and anxiety. If this emotion starts to creep up again, they may have to look into increasing the anxiety medication or look into other natural alternatives like the best CBD oils on offer, as these are said to help ease anxiety and many other ailments. However, for some people who decide to use this instead, they might not know which one may be best for them to take. It can be confusing with so many options out there to choose from, luckily there is help in the form of a Lazarus review here and another CBD company there, etc. There are many that people can read up on.

At Streamway Villa in Cobourg, use of Montessori activities with residents who have dementia helped reduce as-needed use of psychotropic drugs from 63 per month to one.

The OMNIway will continue to share success stories from the BSO initiative.

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

– With files from Jeanne Pengelly

Former RPN returns as RAI/CCC co-ordinator

Becky Brownson has good vibes about OMNI

Becky Brownson reluctantly left Burnbrae Gardens nine years ago; a health ministry guideline had made it impossible for her to continue her job as RPN and care for her family. Read more

Riverview goes rural

Farm animals engage 50 residents

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — The chatter wasn’t just from the clucking hens, or the baaing goat; it was as much from the residents of Riverview Manor who welcomed a mobile petting zoo complete with a lamb, goat, chickens, bunnies, a rooster or two and baby chicks.

As resident after resident touched and chatted to a bin full of baby chicks, another group of residents had a chance to get up-close and personal with the white duck that made its way around the group Aug. 15.


It was all part of a mobile farm afternoon organized for the Peterborough home by acting life enrichment co-ordinator Joanne Brown through Critter Visits, a local group that travels with its petting zoo to various celebrations.

“This event surpasses what I expected,” Brown says. “The residents are so obviously enjoying this.”

That was clear, not just from the smiles, but also from the number of residents who attended the event. As well, the chatter amongst them, or between them and the animals, was telltale.

One resident stunned many staff by her participation in the event. She was so involved in the petting zoo that she requested a chair so she could sit with the animals.

“The background is that some residents are slow to take part in group activities,” Brown says. “Not here, not today. It’s a whole different story, and it’s really nice to hear the other staff mention it.”

One staff member brought her two young children, so there were animal lovers of all ages in the garden.

That amused one resident specifically who said, “it’s so nice to see the children here too.”

Brown says while many residents have  a farming background, not all do.

“It’s entertainment for the residents. They love to just watch the  animals interact with one another, and they like to touch and feel them too,” she says.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at  800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail jeanne(at)

Community celebrated at Maplewood’s annual BBQ

Nice weather helps, too

July 19, 2013 — Jeanne Pengelly

If it weren’t for community sponsorship, the Maplewood barbecue just wouldn’t be the event it is.

Elvis provided the entertainment at Maplewood's annual barbecue. Photo Courtesy of OmniWay news.

Elvis provided the entertainment at Maplewood’s annual barbecue. Photo Courtesy of OmniWay news.

The event this year drew 66 guests, 49 residents and about 20 staff members.

For Tina King, who works at the barbecue every year, it’s a perfect opportunity to get involved with the residents, their families, other staff, and even members of the community.

“Every year, Tina tries to get everyone up dancing,” says life enrichment co-ordinator Rachel Corkery.

The barbecue is the largest event of the year for Maplewood. They hear feedback from residents, family and neighbours of the home for months afterward.

“If not for the community sponsorship, we would not be able to afford everything that goes into (the event). For instance the tent we get is given to us at a very low cost; otherwise I don’t know what we would do as tents this size normally cost about $1,000 to $1,500 to rent.

Donations from Sysco Foods, Mike and Lori’s No Frills and Downey Pharmacy help make the meal possible by keeping costs low, she says.

“Leading up to the BBQ the following year, we all remember the good times and memories of the years gone by,” Corkery says.

“We worry in the weeks before the event, we will have enough food? Will it be a success?  And it always is.”

Elvis, played by Matt Cage, is always in attendance at the barbecue, and a huge hit with the residents and their families.

This year, Mother Nature was also in attendance.

“I really think Mother Nature has a crush on Matt Cage, because as long as he shows up, she shows up with her best dress on,” Corkery says.

“At the end of the day all we are doing is having a big old family BBQ out on the back yard.”

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail jeanne(at)

Patient-centred care key at OMNI Health Care

Inspired Leaders at 17 Omni Health Care centers. Photo Courtesy of OmniWay.

Inspired Leaders at 17 Omni Health Care centers. Photo Courtesy of OmniWay.

Inspired Leaders identify keys to success

July 21, 2013 — Jeanne Pengelly

It doesn’t matter which of OMNI Health Care’s 17 homes you go to, or which of the Inspired Leaders you speak with, the message is the same: Being recognized for outstanding contributions to patient care is certainly a key to employee satisfaction.

This year, OMNI’s senior management team chose to let each home choose its own “inspired leader.” The choices were made by peers and colleagues, and the winners were celebrated at the managers’ retreat at FERN Resort in Orillia this spring.

Without exception, each of the winners has divulged what they consider the secret to their success, and to their satisfaction with their position at their own home.

April Faux, for example, at Burnbrae Gardens in Campbellford, starts her day saying hello to colleagues and stopping to chat with them. She does the same thing when the afternoon shift starts.

Faux is always ready to assist her peers when necessary, another quality that seems to rise to the surface in OMNI Health Care homes.

“Anywhere that I can help, I will jump in if I can, and they really appreciate that,” she says.

A theme clearly evident in the stories Inspired Leaders tell is that the culture of OMNI Health Care encourages individuality, innovation and respect.

“People need to know that their opinion is valid,” Faux says, “and getting people’s opinions and suggestions is (important.)”

Brian Lafantaisie, for example, is a cook at Forest Hill in Kanata. His job tends to be a lot of the same thing, repeated again and again — exactly the thing that leads him to seek solutions to minor and major inconveniences in the process of preparing residents’ food. Not only are his solutions appreciated, tested, and embedded in procedure, but his colleagues and his boss encourage him to find those answers that make things easier and more efficient for everyone.

Kentwood Park nutritional services manager Catherine Reid was first drawn to the home by the mission and values that put communication and patients first. Now she says Kentwood Park is a workplace unlike any other she’s experienced.

“When you come in here you feel like you’re at home,” says Reid, pointing to the culture of respect that clearly puts residents first.

Even at the small 66-bed home in Selby, Ont., the atmosphere is one of respect and love. Environmental services and office manager Jane Hughes speaks of the “family atmosphere,” something OMNI Health Care managers try to put front and centre.

If there is a way to bottle the formula these employees utilize on a daily basis, it would encompass a system of care that incorporates outgoing personalities seeking to create a safe, comfortable home for each resident. It’s a method of care that includes respecting colleagues and residents, encouraging opinion and suggestion and embracing change with a smile.

Meeting Needs

Dealing with difficult situations and behaviour

In this video we hear about alternatives in behavioural assessment.

Fern 2013 Riverview from The OMNIway on Vimeo.