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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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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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Village Green residents were missing Tim Hortons, so staff built a Tim Hortons at Village Green

The creative life enrichment team built a Tim’s drive-thru in the home’s garden. Residents loved it

Challenging times often call for creative measures, and Village Green life enrichment team members really came through for residents when they heard how much people living at the Greater Napanee long-term care home were missing outings to Tim Hortons.

Before short-stay visits for Ontario long-term-care home residents were reinstated in late August by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, residents expressed to life enrichment co-ordinator Ulana Orrick that they were missing trips to Tim Hortons.

Many residents had not had Tim Hortons coffee and doughnuts since the global COVID-19 pandemic began in March.

So on Oct. 6, the life enrichment team set up a Tim Hortons drive-thru in the Village Green garden. Life enrichment aide Jess Boot, a new team member, designed a Tim Hortons storefront facade that was placed on the front of the gazebo.

The Tim Hortons store on Centre St. in Napanee donated coffee, doughnuts and Tim Hortons staff shirts for the life enrichment team to wear.

The nursing team then assisted residents outside to the garden where they queued on the walking path as they would at a Tim Hortons drive-thru.

The residents loved it, Ulana says.

“We had music playing and lots of fun was had,” she tells The OMNIway. “At one point one of the residents exclaimed, ‘you can tell this is a real Tim Hortons because the lineup is so long!’ ”

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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.

If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

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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.”

If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

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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.”

If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

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Alzheimer Society launches new fundraising and awareness campaign

The Alzheimer Society has rebranded its annual Coffee Break fundraiser and awareness campaign by launching the Social with a Purpose initiative this year, a move the charity says can help people and organizations create socially-distanced events while raising funds to help improve the lives of people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.

From singalongs to paint nights to making butter tarts, the Alzheimer Society offers a variety of ideas people and organizations can learn about in order to have their own Social with a Purpose event – and these event ideas can be hosted virtually using video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Skype to keep everyone safe during the pandemic.

“Social with a Purpose is a do-it-yourself fundraiser that promotes the importance of socializing, staying in touch, and building strong, positive relationships with your friends, family, and community,” the Alzheimer Society says on its website.

“As social distancing and physical isolation became a part of our daily routines, we began to understand the overwhelming feelings of loss and loneliness being separated from the community can bring us – feelings that people living with dementia experience in their normal, day-to-day lives.”

OMNI Health Care long-term care homes have been past participants in the Coffee Break campaign, and homes throughout the organization can contact their local Alzheimer Society branch for more information about hosting a Social with a Purpose event this September and October.

Given the large percentage of long-term-care home residents who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, OMNI has a history of supporting fundraising and awareness campaigns to help the Alzheimer Society and its branches.

September is World Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

Click here to learn more about the Social with a Purpose campaign as well as to read about how you can host your own safe fundraiser.

If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

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Province needs to address LTC staffing issues to better face second COVID wave

The need for more staff ‘is a big issue that’s affecting health-care providers across the country, and it’s seriously affecting long-term care homes,’ says OMNI CEO Patrick McCarthy

With health experts predicting a second wave of COVID-19 spread to begin within the coming months, the Ontario government needs to address staffing issues in the long-term care sector to help homes better prevent and manage infection, says OMNI Health Care president and CEO Patrick McCarthy.

Given that long-term-care home residents are among the most vulnerable population groups, it’s crucial that additional funding be earmarked to address staffing levels of front-line workers and provide staff training, both of which will be key to preparing for the second infection wave, he adds.

“(Staffing) is a big issue that’s affecting health-care providers across the country, and it’s seriously affecting long-term care homes,” McCarthy says in an interview with The OMNIway.

While long-term-care home staff members have worked tirelessly to keep residents safe from the highly contagious virus, the first wave of COVID-19 impacted homes across Ontario and Canada.

Long-term care homes having access to more front-line staff members will improve residents’ safety, McCarthy says.

All long-term care homes in Ontario receive funding specifically earmarked to provide nursing, personal care, programs and support services with no element of profit or surplus retained from the provision of those health services. As a result, funding for additional care staff needs to come from the province.

Private long-term care providers across Ontario have asked the Ford government to increase the supply of personal support workers (PSWs) by supporting innovative training programs, including on-the-job training and remote training.

McCarthy adds that the COVID-19 pandemic affects long-term-care home staff members beyond their work inside the homes.

For example, there may be instances where people cannot come to work due to outbreaks in the community or in schools, and there needs to be staffing levels to in place to ensure there’s always a ready supply of front-line care workers.

“It’s all a package that affects the availability of staff and the homes’ ability to staff during the pandemic,” he says.

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