OMNI LEA wins prestigious caregiver award

‘At the end of each day I feel like it’s my life that has been enriched by the residents,’ says Kellie Bennett

October 29, 2013 — Deron Hamel

It may be Kellie Bennett’s job to enrich people’s lives but she says it’s her life that’s made better through her work with Garden Terrace residents.

Garden Terrace LEA Kellie Bennett (centre) is seen here after winning the 2013 Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award.

Garden Terrace LEA Kellie Bennett (centre) is seen here after winning the 2013 Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award.

A life enrichment aide (LEA) at Garden Terrace, Bennett was honoured on Saturday (Oct. 26) with the 2013 Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award. It was presented in Ottawa during the You and Me for Memories Evening to Remember Gala.

“At the end of each day I feel like it’s my life that has been enriched by the residents,” she tells the OMNIway. “This means the world to me; I’m very honoured.”

The Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award is given out annually at gala to front-line caregivers in the Ottawa region who have shown outstanding performance in caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.

While she says she’s “honoured” to have won the award, Bennett notes the impact has yet to sink in. As happy as she is to have won the award, Bennett says she’s even more proud that the selection committee chose a life enrichment worker, adding LEAs play a major role in the lives of long-term care residents who have dementia.

Bennett was nominated for the accolade by administrator Carolyn Della Foresta. Like Bennett, Della Foresta comes from a life enrichment background and knows first-hand the difference LEAs make in residents’ lives.

Della Foresta nominated Bennett because of the LEA’s personalized approach to working with residents affected by cognitive impairment. The administrator saw that when Bennett worked with residents they would often enjoy an activity they didn’t think they wanted to do, simply because of Bennett’s kind, caring approach.

“With Kellie, nothing is done for show — every decision that is made in her day is about what is good for the residents,” says Della Foresta.

You and Me for Memories is a grassroots group raising money for Alzheimer’s disease research. It was started in 2008 by families of Garden Terrace residents.

This year saw three front-line workers from OMNI Health Care long-term care homes. They were Bennett, Garden Terrace personal support worker Birru Firew and Almonte Country Haven LEA Jessica Lynch.

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

Ont. doctor underscores importance of end-of-life care plan

Summary explaining futility of aggressive treatment in some cases would help people make informed decisions

October 28, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

The chair of the Ontario Medical Association’s section on general internal medicine is suggesting health-care stakeholders develop a written summary of end-of-life goals and information explaining the futility of aggressive treatquality-endoflife-care_630x440ment in some cases to enhance palliative-care practices.

In the commentary section of the Toronto Star on Oct. 24, Dr. Charles S. Shaver offers an interesting solution to a challenge found in the health-care system: that a group of doctors, nurses, ethicists and spiritual leaders could convene to draft a summary that would help physicians talk with families to help them make better end-of-life care decisions when their loved ones have no chance of survival.

Once completed, the information could be translated into several languages and sent to Canadian hospitals from coast to coast.

The issue of family members insisting on resuscitating their loved ones who have no chance of survival is often rooted in cultural and religious differences, Shaver points out.

In other cases, Shaver writes, a person’s son or daughter who lives far away from their parent has feelings of guilt and will insist that doctors use aggressive treatment to prevent their mother or father from dying.

However, having information available explaining how aggressive treatments to individuals who are dying can often be detrimental could help ease these situations when they arise, Shaver proposes.

“A physician dealing with a difficult situation — especially when the patient is of a different ethnic background — could speak to family members, hand out this document for them to discuss among themselves, and then meet again to make a more reasoned end-of-life decision,” he writes.

Shaver adds: “Communication would be further enhanced if the physician could enlist the help of a physician, nurse, pharmacist, etc. who was of the same cultural group as the patient, and could meet with family members and answer any questions in their own language.”

In his commentary, Shaver proposes that the Canadian Medical Association could scrutinize the process to prevent the information as being perceived as a tool to save money in provincial health budgets.

Obviously, this is an issue the long-term care sector has a stake in. If you would like to comment on this issue, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)

Click here to read Shaver’s full commentary.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, 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

Think pink: Willows raises breast cancer awareness

Home hosts its first Pink Day

October 23, 2013 — Deron Hamel

Given that the majority of staff members and residents at Willows Estate are women, it was fitting for the Aurora long-term care home to host Pink Day to support breast cancer research and awareness, says life enrichment co-ordinator Teddy Mazzuca.

Because it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, administrator Linda Burr suggested at the start of October that the Willows team reserve

Willows Estate residents Joan Caldwell and Margaret Cunningham are seen here during the home's Oct. 11 Pink Day.

Willows Estate residents Joan Caldwell and Margaret Cunningham are seen here during the home’s Oct. 11 Pink Day.

a day to raise awareness of breast cancer, a disease that will affect approximately one in every nine Canadian women in their lifetime.

“It was nice to be able to give our support,” Mazzuca tells the OMNIway, adding that this is the first Pink Day the home has hosted.

Residents and staff members began organizing the Oct. 11 event. The first thing the group did was make pink tie-dyed T-shirts. Residents and staff members also baked cupcakes frosted with pink icing that were sold on Pink Day. They are also going to be looking into various items that people can purchase that can also help spread awareness, such as these cancer wristbands from here or similar websites that can provide various items to raise awareness on any number of things.

The team also sold pink grapefruit flavoured Tic Tac mints. Pink Tic Tacs are sold in autumn in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the manufacturer, Ferraro, makes a $100,000 donation to breast cancer research.

According to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, 23,800 women and 200 men in Canada will be diagnosed with the disease in 2013.

Click here for more information on the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Do you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway? If so, 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, or e-mail deron(at)

Roots of resident’s interests found in early station days

Frank Trombley’s latest endeavour: a wooden diorama

CAMPBELLFORD, Ont. – Frank Trombley has no problem finding something to occupy his time. The Burnbrae Gardens resident is enthralled by a wide variety of things. Read more

Country Terrace embarks on two new outings

Country Terrace residents are seen here enjoying a London Knights hockey game Oct. 5. at Budweiser Gardens.

Country Terrace residents are seen here enjoying a London Knights hockey game Oct. 5. at Budweiser Gardens.

Access to the OMNI van made everything possible, says


October 18, 2013 — Deron Hamel

Country Terrace residents got to go on two new outings recently, which was made possible by the Komoka long-term care home having access to the OMNI van.

It was an experience like no other for four residents and two staff members from Country Terrace when they travelled to Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont. Oct. 5 to watch an OHL hockey game.

The residents had wanted to attend a hockey game for some time, but this had been challenging to organize because of transportation barriers. But when Country Terrace had access to the OMNI van the team booked tickets and the group got to see the London Knights beat the Guelph Storm 7-2.

While everyone was happy the home-team favourites won, it was the experience of once again being able to see a live hockey match that truly made the day special, says life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Christie Patterson.

“This was the first time we had gone to a London Knights game — the residents had asked about it last spring, during the playoffs, but we didn’t have the van at that time, so we made this a priority when we found out we’d be getting the van in October,” she tells the OMNIway, adding that having access to the OMNI van “makes a huge difference to our home.”

Patterson says being able to attend a live game made a big difference to residents. While they enjoy watching hockey on TV, it’s just not the same as being at an arena and in the thick of the action, she adds.

“And that’s what the residents said after — that (being at the game) was so much nicer,” Patterson says. “It’s many days later and the residents are still talking about it.”

Given the success of this trip, Patterson says she hopes to organize another hockey-game excursion in the future.

The hockey game wasn’t the only new outing at Country Terrace this month. On Oct. 16 the life enrichment team accompanied residents to a local theatre, which proved to be a special occasion.

In fact, one resident had not been to a movie theatre since her youth in England, Patterson notes.

“It was really neat to see their reaction when we went into the theatre,” Patterson says. “And the residents even said (the theatre) had the best popcorn ever.”

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

Is coconut oil the answer to the Alzheimer’s question?


Thank you to for the photo enhancement.

A study is looking into the possibility of preventing, controlling cognitive impairment

October 15, 2013 — Deron Hamel

Coconut oil is the latest natural remedy researchers are giving serious consideration to in effort to prevent and control Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

While there’s yet to be published clinical evidence attributing coconut oil to preventing or treating Alzheimer’s disease, a five-year U.S. study examining the substance’s effects on 65 people with mild to moderate cognitive impairment is expected to be released next year.

There is also anecdotal evidence supporting coconut oil’s positive effect on people with cognitive impairment, including the husband of Dr. Mary Newport, the researcher leading the study.

Newport, a doctor who heads a neonatology ward in Tampa, Florida, began including four teaspoons of coconut oil into her husband’s diet each day.

Then she began noticing improvements in her husband’s condition.

“Before the coconut oil, he could not tie his shoes,” Newport said in an interview with CTV News, adding her husband also had gait issues.

“That improved. He walked normally and he was able to start running again. He was able to start reading again, his conversation improved dramatically and then over several months we saw improvements in his memory.”

Newport says before she started giving her husband coconut oil he was not responding to his medications.

Some experts believe the key to using coconut oil as a treatment for cognitive impairment might be molecules called ketones. Ketones are produced when fat is turned into energy.

An estimated 500,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. Cognitive impairment also affects the majority of long-term care home residents.

While the Alzheimer Society of Canada underscores that there is yet to be conclusive evidence pointing to the impact of coconut oil on people with cognitive impairment, studies like this are important to finding a cure.

“(T)he interest in coconut oil reinforces the value we place on research,” the society’s website says. “It’s our best hope of finding effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and improving the quality of life and care for those affected.”

If you would like to comment on this issue, please e-mail deron(at), or call 800-294-0051, ext. 23.

See for related stories

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

A ‘true love story’ at Woodland Villa

Collaboration reunites husband and wife

October 7, 2013 — Deron Hamel

A husband and wife have been reunited at Woodland Villa, thanks to collaboration between the Cornwall-area long-term care home, a hospital and the regional Community Care Access Centre (CCAC).

Life enrichment co-ordinator Lisa Doran says residents Gaston and Molly Duchesneau have been living happily together since Sept. 9 when Gaston moved into Woodland Villa.

Gaston-Molly Duchesneau

Reunited: Gaston and Molly Duchesneau are happy together at Woodland Villa.

After Molly moved into the home in early August, the couple didn’t know if they would ever be able to live together again, but the efforts of resident services co-ordinator Denise Partridge, The Ottawa Hospital and Champlain CCAC resulted in the couple reuniting.

The three parties put “a lot of work” into making sure the Duchesneaus would be reunited, says Doran.

Prior to the couple moving into Woodland Villa, Gaston was Molly’s primary caregiver, until he required surgery in Ottawa. During this time Molly moved into Woodland Villa but was concerned the change would mean she and her husband would not be able to live together again.

Doran describes the couple as a “true love story.”

“Molly was anxious all morning, pacing the halls, asking staff if he was actually coming or if something changed and he wasn’t able to come,” Doran tells the OMNIway.

“But let me tell you at 11:35 a.m., when the Ottawa civic transportation van pulled up, you could see Molly and staff jumping out of their skin, waiting in anticipation for him to come through the doors.

Doran says the entire Woodland Villa team is touched by the Duchesneaus’ story.

“It was pretty special to see them reunite again,” she says. “They’re taking care of each other again and life is grand for them. . . . It’s as though they were never apart.”

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

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