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LTC redevelopment support needs to stay on track to ensure resident safety and comfort

When the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic 17 months ago, those of us in the long-term care sector knew we had to brace ourselves.

It was evident early on that the sector would be put to the test. As with any serious virus, we knew COVID-19 had the potential to be especially devastating to the elder population and to those with complex health conditions.

While we had pandemic plans in place, there were many unknown factors surrounding COVID-19 we had to grapple with: How contagious was this virus? How can we protect residents without compromising their quality of life? How long would this last?

If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us as a sector, it’s that as prepared as long-term care homes may be, as expertly trained and knowledgeable as home staff and managers are, the homes themselves must be spacious and equipped with modern features and amenities in order to offer maximum protection to residents.

The good news is the Ontario government has, since 2018, been investing in a capital redevelopment plan to upgrade the province’s older Class B and C long-term care communities to meet new home standards.

OMNI Health Care is grateful for the commitment the province has made to provide funding to support redevelopments that are underway at three of our long-term care homes – Almonte Country Haven, Pleasant Meadow Manor and Woodland Villa – as well as Country Terrace which is expected to be underway imminently.

The province has also committed redevelopment support for Riverview Manor, Streamway Villa and Village Green, which are currently in the design and planning process.

Amongst the many features that will come with these upgrades, perhaps the most important will be the improvement of personal space for residents through the elimination of three- and four-bed wards and the creation of home areas housing no more than 32 residents.

Not only will providing more space enhance residents’ quality of life, it will also improve infection control by reducing the number of residents living in close proximity to one another.

While progress has been made and shovels are in the ground for many of these projects, the momentum of the capital redevelopment plan needs to continue at full throttle.

Investing in long-term care now not only improves the quality of life for the residents of today, it will offer an added layer of safety for future residents.

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 applauds the province’s creation of a tuition-free PSW program

The Accelerated PSW Training Program is aiming to provide free tuition to 6,000 people interested in careers as PSWs in an effort to improving health care staffing levels

OMNI Health Care is applauding a move from the Ontario government to launch a program that will provide tuition-free training to those interested in careers as personal support workers (PSWs).

The province announced Feb. 24 that more than $115 million has been earmarked to create the Accelerated PSW Training Program in the hope of attracting 6,000 new students.

The program will be offered at Ontario’s 24 publicly assisted colleges.

PSW training typically takes eight months for students to complete, but students enrolled in this accelerated program will complete their studies after six months.

Patrick McCarthy, OMNI’s president and CEO, says the organization is commending this initiative, which aims to alleviate staffing shortages in the long-term care and acute care sectors.

Like other long-term care providers, OMNI, which operates 18 homes in the province, has felt pressure from the shortage of front-line caregivers, and McCarthy says the government’s announcement is timely.

“We are very pleased to see the announcement of this initiative by the government,” he says.

“The cost of tuition is a major entry barrier to those wishing to pursue a career in long-term care, and this will help to create a cohort of trained PSWs that is much needed in long-term care homes today and in the future.”

Additionally, the Ontario government announced last Wednesday it will be offering financial assistance to students currently enrolled in a PSW program at any of the province’s publicly assisted colleges.

“Nearly 2,200 students will be eligible to receive a $2,000 tuition grant to help them complete their studies, as well as a stipend to complete the clinical placement part of their training,” the province said in the announcement.

Registration for the Accelerated PSW Training Program is expected to begin in March. Those interested in registering for the program can click here for more information.

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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Almonte receives approval for redevelopment; news brings back memories for administrator

Home will be expanded from 82 to 96 beds by 2022. Carolyn Della Foresta remembers the day Almonte Country Haven opened

Carolyn Della Foresta remembers being a little girl in 1981 when Almonte Country Haven moved into its current site at 333 Country St. in Almonte, Ont., from its previous location at the local hospital. Read more

New 160-bed Riverview Manor to be built by 2022

Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal (centre) is seen here speaking with Riverview Manor resident Robert Peltz (left) and OMNI Health Care president and CEO Patrick McCarthy on April 23. Leal was at the Peterborough long-term care home to announce that a new site for Riverview Manor would be built by 2022 as part of Ontario’s long-term-care-home renewal strategy.

Peterborough home approved for funding through province’s LTC redevelopment plan

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – Exciting news came to OMNI Health Care on Monday (April 23), when it was announced the province will be funding the construction of a new Riverview Manor with 36 additional beds as part of the province’s capital redevelopment program for long-term care homes.

Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal was at Riverview Manor in Peterborough on Monday morning to make the announcement and to meet with OMNI president and CEO Patrick McCarthy as well as with residents and staff members.

Through the funding, a new Riverview Manor will be built in the city’s north end. OMNI is in the process of finalizing a land deal for the site of the new 160-bed Riverview Manor. The present home has 124 beds.

The Ontario government introduced a long-term-care-home renewal strategy in 2014 as a multiyear plan to support the renewal of 30,000 beds by 2025. The recent announcement of 5,000 additional beds, which includes Riverview Manor, supports the viability of the renewal program, McCarthy says.

OMNI has long supported the goal of rebuilding and modernizing older long-term care homes in Ontario, McCarthy says. Rebuilding and renovating homes will provide more comfortable, home-like rooms and amenities, enhance care and provide greater dignity for residents and families, he adds.

Newer homes will also offer wider hallways, smaller resident home areas, more storage and quieter, more home-like dining and lounge spaces. Privacy for residents will be improved through the elimination of three- and four-bed wards.

“(A new site for Riverview Manor) will enhance the environment for residents and their care, and create a safer and more comfortable living experience,” McCarthy tells The OMNIway.

McCarthy says OMNI is also applauding the province’s redevelopment program for the stability and viability it will create for Ontario’s long-term care homes.

OMNI’s older homes, he notes, have licences that expire in 2025. The new Riverview Manor will be a state-of-the-art Class A home and have a 30-year licence.

While having modernized long-term care homes is important, it’s the homes’ staff members who make the greatest difference. During his visit, Leal commended OMNI for its contribution to Ontario’s long-term care sector and Riverview Manor’s staff members for the service they provide.

“OMNI has a wonderful (presence) in the province of Ontario, and the team that’s here (at Riverview Manor) can take great satisfaction in the level of care that you provide, and that’s so important,” he said.

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

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