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Royal memories, a chip truck visit and residents’ council week mark a busy month at OMNI homes

September was a busy month at OMNI Health Care homes, and team members did an amazing job of organizing meaningful events for residents.

The big news across the globe was the Sept. 8 passing of Queen Elizabeth II, who served as head of state to the United Kingdom and 14 Commonwealth realms – including Canada – for 70 years.

At Forest Hill, residents and staff members spent the week of Sept. 19 to Sept. 25 paying homage to Her Majesty with a variety of events, beginning with watching the Queen’s funeral on TV live from Westminster Abbey.

Residents were also engaged in a variety of TV programs and documentaries about Queen Elizabeth II. A favourite activity amongst residents was watching a YouTube video featuring a virtual tour of Buckingham Palace, the reigning monarch’s official residence in London.

Life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Craig Forrest said the week meant a lot to the residents.

“Many residents are from a generation where the monarchy was really important, and they were happy for us to honour the Queen,” he said.

Summer may have turned to autumn on Sept. 22, but there was still enough sunny weather on Sept. 23 for a chip truck to swing by Streamway Villa and dish up portions of poutine, the favourite Canadian snack consisting of fries, gravy and cheese curd.

After the residents got their poutine from the Personal Touch Catering chip truck, they joined their loved ones and the Cobourg long-term care home’s team members in the scenic courtyard to enjoy the afternoon.

The idea for the chip truck visit came from LEC Laurie Kracht, and members of the residents’ council voted to fund the event.

“We haven’t been able to go anywhere, and I wanted to do something to also include the staff,” Laurie said. “I spoke with the residents’ council, and the residents’ council gave the OK to us to splurge on them, so that’s what we did.”

Residents’ Council Week was Sept. 12-18, and Willows Estate marked the week by hosting a variety of activities that were both fun and informative.

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.

Among the activities team members organized to celebrate the week were a tea party, a photo booth and trivia about residents’ councils. Team members created a display wall that offered information about Residents’ Council Week.

LEC Teddy Mazzuca said 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 said.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Forest Hill residents are pictured here at a high tea that was hosted Sept. 23 during a week that honoured Queen Elizabeth II.

Resident’s son commends Streamway Villa team for helping his mother continue the activities she loves

Mike Filip says his mother, Joan, is still gardening, bird watching and spending time with her family

COBOURG, Ont. – Since moving into Streamway Villa eight months ago, Joan Filip has been enjoying the same activities she always has, and she’s especially happy to be continuing her passion for growing flowers, gardening and bird watching as well as spending lots of time with her family.

Joan was able to move all her flowers and plants from home to Streamway, and her son, Mike, built a little garden outside his mother’s window, complete with bird feeders.

“She loves the birds and she loves to garden because that’s what she did when she retired, so we tried to bring that here for her as well because that’s what she had in the past,” Mike tells The OMNIway.

Sitting outside the home on a pleasant Friday afternoon, Joan and Mike spoke with The OMNIway about their experiences at Streamway Villa and how the home’s staff members have ensured Joan’s transition was seamless.

Pointing towards the Streamway Villa courtyard, Mike says the environment provides the scenery Joan finds comforting, adding if his mother lived in another home she might not have her own little flower garden.

“We’re able to do that here, rather than being in a skyscraper or an apartment building where all you have is a window and looking out onto cement; she’s got the window she can look out of and she’s got the trees that are around her window,” Mike says.

Joan, who’s 102, also gets lots of visits from her family members and friends, and Mike says Streamway staff members go out of their way to accommodate visitors.

“She loves the fact that she’s in contact with her family all the time,” Mike says. “She has a phone in her room, so her grandchildren can call her, (and) she’s able to watch the hockey games, so there are all kinds of benefits that a small home provides.”

Joan is highly active at Streamway Villa, participating in programming and she especially enjoys taking trips to the local farmers’ market on Saturday mornings.

She also spends a lot of time with her loved ones, going for lunch or out for walks, Mike notes, adding Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht has been helpful at ensuring Joan’s family members can visit.

“Her family members come from all over, and they always work out timing with Laurie to get in here and get all the protocols covered,” he says.

– This is Part 2 of a two-part story.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Streamway Villa resident Joan Filip and her son, Mike, are pictured here enjoying a sunny afternoon together at the Cobourg long-term care home.

Streamway Villa is a small home with a big heart, says family member

‘The people here are unbelievable’

COBOURG, Ont. – When Joan Filip was ready to move into a long-term care home eight months ago, Streamway Villa was the only option her son, Mike Filip, says was on the table.

Joan and Mike were aware of Streamway Villa’s stellar reputation in Cobourg, and after looking at several other homes in the region, they both knew Streamway was the right fit, Mike says.

With 59 beds, Streamway Villa is a small and older long-term care home, but Mike cites these characteristics as strengths.

He also underscores that it’s the people who work at Streamway Villa, not the building, that makes the home such a special place.

“Everybody here knows my mum,” he tells The OMNIway. “When I walk down the hall, or when she walks down the hall, someone will always say hi to her. It’s always on a first-name basis and it’s always very positive. The people here are unbelievable.”

Joan, who is 102, is a retired laboratory technician who spent her career at the Banting Institute in Toronto. She says living at Streamway Villa has been a seamless transition.

Joan notes that her family members are close by and often visit, and she does many of the same things at Streamway Villa she did before moving to the home, such as tending to her plants and enjoying the outdoors.

“I haven’t really realized that I’m here; I could be (back home),” Joan says of her transition to Streamway Villa.

“I know I’m close to my family, (and) I need to be near my family, and I am happy that this experience is available.”

Mike agrees.

“Geography-wise, I’m only 10 minutes away; I don’t have to fight traffic to get here, and it’s a comfortable and personable environment, and that’s what we love about it,” he says.

Streamway Villa recently won the Northumberland News Readers’ Choice diamond award in the “best nursing home/long-term care centre” category, which is the top honour.

Mike says Streamway Villa earning this accolade is reflective of the care his mother receives at Streamway Villa and of the culture of the home.

“My thoughts are, simply, this is why we’re here,” he says. “This is the best (long-term care home), at least for my mum and her lifestyle. She loves being here.”

– This is Part 1 of a two-part story

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PHOTO CAPTION: Streamway Villa resident Joan Filip and her son, Mike, are pictured here enjoying a sunny afternoon together at the Cobourg long-term care home.

Canadians encouraged to participate in National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Today marks the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, and people and organizations across the country are being encouraged to acknowledge the day by hosting activities and educational events that honour the First Nations people of Canada who survived the residential school system as well as those children who did not return home from residential schools.

People can honour the day by wearing orange, the official colour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and organizations can support the day by hosting educational activities using resources from the Government of Canada’s website.

During the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in 2021, OMNI Health Care long-term care homes hosted events that involved residents and staff members.

For example, West Lake Terrace hosted an all-day event that included introducing residents to traditional First Nations foods and holding an information session focused on the traditions and customs of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

The event also featured a video presentation that included an interview with a residential school survivor.

Everyone was also asked to wear orange, a colour that has important significance.

In 1973, Phyllis Webstad, a then-six-year-old First Nations student from British Columbia, had an orange shirt taken from her by teachers at the residential school she attended.

In addition to today being the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, it’s also Orange Shirt Day, which was first acknowledged on Sept. 30, 2013, to raise awareness of the injustices First Nations, Inuit and Métis people faced in residential schools.

Orange has been designated as the colour of remembrance for the children who didn’t return home from residential schools.

“The orange shirt is a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations,” the Government of Canada says on its website.

“On September 30, we encourage all Canadians to wear orange to honour the thousands of Survivors of residential schools.”

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PHOTO CAPTION: Pictured above, West Lake Terrace team members wear orange shirts during the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, 2021.

Streamway Villa receives diamond Readers’ Choice Award in LTC category

The home’s close-knit, family-like culture is credited for this success

Streamway Villa is the 2022 diamond recipient of the Northumberland News Readers’ Choice Award in the “best nursing home/long-term care centre” category, and the home’s close-knit, family-like culture is being credited for this success.

The diamond award is the highest accolade given to Readers’ Choice Award recipients.

Built in 1977 and housing 59 beds, Streamway Villa is a smaller and older long-term care home. But, as staff members and residents’ families are quick to point out, it’s the people inside that make the home a vibrant place to live and work.

“We’re family here,” Linda Powell, a Streamway Villa personal support worker, tells The OMNIway. “We are all really close together; we have a lot of long-standing staff members here and we all just love each other.”

Readers’ Choice Awards are given annually by Metroland Media Group newspapers. Readers nominate local businesses and organizations to their local Metroland newspaper in June and July and people vote online for their favourite business in each category.

Winners are awarded diamond, platinum and gold accolades in each business category.

Linda, who is also president of CUPE Local 2225-01, the union representing the Cobourg long-term care home’s team members, says everyone does their best to create an environment where people want to live and work.

“We tell jokes, we dance, and that’s a big part of being here: we make it fun,” she says.

Winning a Readers’ Choice Award is also a great morale booster for everyone, Linda says.

“It makes us proud, and hey, we work hard; we work hard and we love the residents and they love us. This is our home. We (staff members) don’t live here, but we still feel this is our home.”

Family member Mike Filip says Streamway Villa earning this honour is reflective of the care his mother, Joan, receives at Streamway Villa and the culture of the home.

Like Linda, Mike says the culture Streamway Villa has created for residents and staff members is why he thinks the home is deserving of the award.

“My thoughts are, simply, this is why we’re here,” Mike says. “This is the best (long-term care home), at least for my mum and her lifestyle. She loves being here.”

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A perfect day for poutine at Streamway Villa

Local chip truck pays a visit to the home to deliver the classic snack of fried, gravy and cheese curd

It was a perfect day for poutine.

On the afternoon of Sept. 23, a chip truck from Personal Touch Catering pulled up to Streamway Villa in Cobourg to serve up the famous Canadian staple of fresh-cut fries, gravy and cheese curd to residents, their family members and staff.

Under a sunny sky with a gentle, cool breeze, residents gathered in the home’s courtyard amidst the flowers and plants to enjoy their mid-afternoon snack and enjoy the day with each other and their loved ones.

Although it can be a gamble setting up events like this during the autumn when the weather fluctuates, life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht and the other organizers lucked out by picking a pleasant day that was sandwiched between two days of rainy weather.

Personal Touch Catering is based in nearby Bailieboro and the company’s chip truck can often be seen down by the waterfront in Cobourg. Seeing the truck in the area prompted Laurie to contact the company and arrange a visit to Streamway Villa.

She approached residents about the idea and they were on board, offering to fund the visit through the council’s Memorial Fund.

“We haven’t been able to go anywhere, and I wanted to do something to also include the staff,” Laurie tells The OMNIway.

“I spoke with the residents’ council, and the residents’ council gave the OK to us to splurge on them, so that’s what we did.”

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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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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Did you know today is World Alzheimer’s Day?

The campaign’s organizing associations offer ideas to help people and workplaces raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, a campaign that takes place across the globe every year to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia as well as to share information on how to help people affected by cognitive impairment.

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, and World Alzheimer’s Day is the focal point of the campaign, which is organized by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), an association of organizations across the world that work to raise awareness of the chronic neurodegenerative disease and to reduce its stigma.

The Alzheimer Society of Canada estimates that 597,300 Canadians were living with dementia in 2020. By 2030, the organization expects that number to grow to nearly one million.

As with Alzheimer’s Month, the theme for Alzheimer’s Day 2022 is Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s, which is the continuation of the 2021 theme.

Due to “recent developments and potential breakthroughs, in both dementia treatment and support,” there will also be a significant focus on examining the importance of post-diagnostic support for people living with Alzheimer’s, ADI says.

On its website, UK-based organization Inclusive Employers says individuals and workplaces can get involved with World Alzheimer’s Day by hosting fundraising events, promoting awareness through social media, learning more about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and revisiting workplace policies.

ADI notes that people and workplaces can host events virtually.

“Since COVID-19, many associations, including ADI members, host events and activities virtually,” ADI says on its website. “These activities include webinars, remote memory walks and more.”

ADI says people and organizations looking to use social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to raise awareness can use the hashtags #KnowDementia and #KnowAlzheimers for this year’s campaign.

You can learn more about World Alzheimer’s Day and Alzheimer’s month by visiting the ADI website.

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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.

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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