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Willows residents attend their first church service in two years, just before Easter

Willows Estate was able to host a church service on April 14, the first since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, which was well-received by residents of the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home.

Teddy Mazzuca, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator, says “the residents were overjoyed” at being able to attend the service, which was provided by Trinity Anglican Church, just before the Easter weekend.

The church had contacted the home earlier to offer the service to residents.

“When they called, it just so happened we were able to have them back in, so we had a nice group that came out to the service at 2 o’clock … and we were able to get our piano back into the room, so they played a lot of the church music and they sang, and being that Good Friday (was the next day) it was perfect timing,” Teddy tells The OMNIway.

Throughout the duration of the service, pandemic protocols, such as social distancing and mask-wearing, were in place. About 15 residents were able to attend the service.

Given the success of the first service, the Willows team has invited the people from Trinity Anglican back to the home for monthly services.

While having the ability to bring back a church service is a small step forward, Teddy says it had a “huge” impact on residents.

“You could see the residents relaxing, and they got to see some of their friends who they haven’t been able to see,” she says.

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Riverview Manor administrator brings well-rounded experience to position

Matt Riel has previously served as administrator at three other OMNI homes

A key strength Riverview Manor administrator Matt Riel brings to his position is well-rounded experience managing three other OMNI Health Care long-term care homes in the span of two years.

Matt, who became Riverview Manor’s administrator in January, joined the OMNI team in April 2020 when he became the administrator at Kentwood Park in Picton. He has also served as administrator at West Lake Terrace and Willows Estate.

A Peterborough native who says he’s happy to be back in his hometown, Matt says the experience of working with people from across OMNI has afforded him the opportunity to work with many people within the organization who have helped him grow professionally in a short time.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work at some of the smallest OMNI homes and at some of the larger OMNI homes; I’ve worked with a diverse group of people, from small communities, like Picton in Prince Edward County, to much larger communities, like Aurora (in the Greater Toronto Area), and now I’m back in Peterborough,” Matt tells The OMNIway.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of people across the company and with a lot of experienced managers, and I have worked with the great staff across the board at OMNI, so it has been great.”

Matt says he’s found lots of support throughout OMNI during his first two years with the organization. When he began his OMNI career at Kentwood Park, the COVID-19 pandemic had just started and there was lots of uncertainty in the long-term care sector, which had never faced a crisis of this magnitude.

However, Matt says working with team members such as Streamway Villa administrator Kylie Szczebonski early on and later with Aimee Merkley, Doneath Stewart, Pat Chartier and Shawn Riel from head office while at the Willows, he was able to make transitions and meet challenges.

The teamwork and camaraderie he has experienced since joining the OMNI team have stood out for Matt, he says.

“I had an opportunity to learn through some really great mentors,” Matt says, adding that the addition of director of care Tammy Colman-Sadd to the Riverview team when he came on board has also been a plus.

“Having Tammy join our leadership here around the same time (has benefited Riverview Manor), and she has brought a lot of knowledge to her position,” he says.

Looking ahead, Matt says he’s looking forward to the completion of the Riverview Manor capital redevelopment project, which will see a new 192-bed home on Langton Street in Peterborough’s north end replace the existing 124-bed home on Water Street.

“I’m excited to work with the staff here and I look forward to growing with Riverview as it advances to a larger home in the future,” he says.

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Dance troupe makes Garden Terrace debut in early April

Celtic Cross Dancers bring a memorable performance of Irish, Scottish and other dances to residents

A Celtic dance troupe made its Garden Terrace debut April 6 during a performance for residents and staff members at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home.

The Celtic Cross Dancers perform what they describe on their website as a “trifecta” of traditional Irish, Scottish and Ottawa Valley step dances.

The troupe was originally scheduled to perform at the Garden Terrace St. Patrick’s Day party on March 17, but the event was postponed, says Garden Terrace life enrichment co-ordinator Rachael King.

When Rachael was looking for St Patrick’s Day entertainment in March, she found the Celtic Cross Dancers’ website and contacted the group.

“I wanted to spice things up and kind of do something different,” she tells The OMNIway.

“I found this group and they showed up and performed traditional Irish dance, traditional Scottish dance and river dancing.”

In between the group’s performances, a singer took the stage to entertain residents with Celtic songs, Rachael adds.

The approximately 20 residents attending were in awe by the performances, Rachael says.

“They loved it,” she says. “We will definitely be bringing them back again.”

According to the Celtic Cross Dancers’ website, the group has performed across the globe.

“Collectively, we have decades of experience as teachers, performers, competitors, and choreographers,” the website states.

“We’ve performed for diplomats, royalty, festival audiences, wedding guests, political staff, and much more.”

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Community chips in to help Riverview Manor celebrate Nursing Week

Riverview Manor paid tribute to the Peterborough long-term care home’s nurses and personal support workers (PSWs) last week with five days of food-filled events, and much of the celebration was made possible by families, local businesses and community organizations chipping in to help.

Each day, from Monday to Friday, front-line staff members were provided with something different as a show of gratitude for their dedication to residents and hard work.

Monday was ice cream day that included a variety of frozen treats for everyone, thanks to some outside help, notes Becky Dennie, Riverview Manor’s manager of resident quality and co-IPAC lead.

“We were able to utilize a $200 donation from a family member to obtain ice-cream sandwiches and cones,” she tells The OMNIway.

On Tuesday, 90 apple fritters that were donated by Kawartha Buttertart Factory in Douro-Dummer arrived at the home for apple fritter day.

Wednesday was pop and potato chip day. As an add-on, nurses and PSWs each received a carnation courtesy of local florist Rambling Rose Flowers.

Thursday was candy day, and capping off the week on Friday was a barbecue for everyone where hamburgers, hot dogs and a variety of salads were served.

The manager of the Tim Hortons on Water Street donated three dozen doughnuts with coffee and tea to the Riverview Manor team each day last week.

There was a draw for a $25 gift card for Walmart and Esso that was donated by supplier Handicare Canada. The Chemung Lake District Lions Club donated 10 $20 pizza vouchers so team members could enjoy complimentary meals.

Each Riverview Manor team member also received a name-tag holder, with registered staff receiving a key chain as well.

National Nursing Week 2022 was May 9-15. The week is set aside to acknowledge nurses and other front-line staff members for their work.

Health-care organizations across Canada dedicate the week every year to acknowledging nursing teams.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Riverview Manor team members were given key chains and name-tag holders during Nursing Week.

CNA urges Canadians to support Nursing Week

‘The pandemic brought to light the courage and commitment that nurses work under every day and showed the important role that nurses play in the community’

This week is National Nursing Week in Canada, and the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), the organization promoting this annual seven-day event, is offering some ideas to help long-term care homes, hospitals and other health-care providers acknowledge their nurses and personal support workers (PSWs) who are dedicated to caring for others.

To celebrate front-line team members, CNA says people and organizations can post stories and photos highlighting the work nurses and PSWs do. Hashtags, including #WeAnswerTheCall, #NationalNursingWeek and #Nurses2022, can be used with posts.

The theme of this year’s Nursing Week is #WeAnswerTheCall.

“The theme this year is #WeAnswerTheCall and was developed by CNA to showcase the many roles that nurses play in a patient’s health-care journey,” CNA states on its website.

While front-line staff members have always been the backbone of the greater health-care sector, the CNA underscores the impact caregivers have had since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

“The pandemic brought to light the courage and commitment that nurses work under every day and showed the important role that nurses play in the community,” the organization says.

In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saluted front-line caregivers for their commitment to others.

“To all nurses across Canada, I express my heartfelt gratitude for your hard work and devotion,” he said. “You can take pride in knowing that you are helping to build a better Canada every day.”

National Nursing Week 2022 is May 9-15. The week is set aside to acknowledge nurses for their work. Health-care organizations across Canada dedicate the week every year to acknowledging nursing teams.

Held the week of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12 every year since 1965, National Nursing Week aims to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions nurses make to Canada’s health-care system.

Click here to learn more about Nursing Week.

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A taste of Mexico comes to Frost Manor

Residents and team members celebrate Cinco de Mayo with activities, food and drink

It was fiesta time at Frost Manor on May 5 when the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home’s residents and team members celebrated the famed Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo.

The event was marked by Mexican-themed food, games and beverages.

In the morning, residents played a “fiesta shopping game”, which was similar to a grocery-item version of bingo residents play, according to life enrichment co-ordinator Amy Whitehead.

For lunch, the nutritional care team prepared a Mexican-style meal that included chicken quesadillas with avocado, salsa and sour cream. This was accompanied by a taco salad, which Amy says was “a very popular choice.”

In the afternoon, life enrichment aides went around Frost Manor delivering mocktail sangrias to residents.

Cinco de Mayo – which translates to “fifth of May” – honours the Mexican army’s defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, during the French occupation of Mexico.

Throughout the event, residents and team members had their photos taken to capture the fun everyone was having, Amy notes.

“It’s very hard to tell with masks on, but I promise everyone is smiling,” she says.

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Flower arranging and harpist performance mark Garden Terrace pre-Mother’s Day celebration

Residents enjoy first Mother’s Day event with full programming in two years

The residents of Garden Terrace were treated to pre-Mother’s Day activities and entertainment on May 6 to mark the first time the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home has celebrated the occasion with larger programming since the pandemic began in 2020.

In the morning, the life enrichment team helped residents with a craft for Mother’s Day. Residents were provided small watering cans that they were able to fill with flower arrangements to keep as Mother’s Day gifts or to give to a loved one or friend.

“The residents really liked it – there were lots of smiles on their faces,” life enrichment co-ordinator Rachael King tells The OMNIway. “It was really nice for them.”

Due to restrictions in place to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the past two Mother’s Days have been quiet occasions. But since restrictions have eased, residents were able to do more programming this year.

The positive impact this is having is evident in the photos taken during the floral arrangement activity, where “everyone looks happy,” Rachael notes.

In the afternoon, residents were treated to a performance from a harpist which was enjoyed by all.

Residents were also given Mother’s Day cards and a flower, courtesy of Garden Terrace team members. Residents were also treated to a special meal when Mother’s Day arrived May 8.

Rachael says the Mother’s Day programming meant a lot to the residents.

“It has been different these past two Mother’s Days, but it’s nice to be able to celebrate (the mothers) because they deserve it,” she says.

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Country Terrace moms receive aromatherapy bracelets

LEC creates unique accessories for Mother’s Day

The ladies of Country Terrace were treated to a special Mother’s Day gift when they received specially made aromatherapy bracelets courtesy of Lora Blackett, the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC).

Aromatherapy bracelets are beaded bracelets covered with a scent. Lora used lavender for the bracelets she made residents. Bracelets, she notes, were a unique way to combine a gift for Mother’s Day, which was May 8, with aromatherapy.

In addition to the bracelets, the Country Terrace mothers also received Mother’s Day cards and nutritional care manager Alex Achillini made special cupcakes for everyone to celebrate the occasion.

Lora got the idea to make the bracelets from administrator Christie Patterson, who formerly served as the home’s LEC. Christie had made aromatherapy bracelets for residents one Mother’s Day and they had been a big hit with residents.

Lora explains how the bracelets work.

“They are made from little beads that soak up essential oils and you just dab the beads with the oil,” she tells The OMNIway, adding, “lavender is a very calming scent,” which is why she chose it.

Lora notes that Mother’s Day is one of the most popular days of the year at Country Terrace. Lora, who became the Country Terrace LEC last October, says she wanted to make her first Mother’s Day at the home extra special.

Going with a tried and proven handmade gift felt like the perfect way to do so, she says.

“Mother’s Day is (so popular) here that it can sometimes be busier than Christmas,” Lora says. “Since the residents loved the bracelets when Christie made them, I thought it was a good idea to do it again.”

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OMNI is about people. And that’s the way Raheem Hirji likes it

The organization’s new president and CEO says he’s looking forward to working with the OMNI team and building upon the ‘great work’ already accomplished

As he starts the next chapter in an already rich career in the long-term care and retirement living sectors, Raheem Hirji, OMNI Health Care’s new president and CEO, says what’s exciting him most is the opportunity he will have to get to know and work with the people who comprise the organization.

Long-term care is a people-based business, and people are OMNI’s greatest asset. This is a sentiment Raheem, who previously held executive positions at Sienna Senior Living (formerly Leisureworld) and, most recently, at Seasons Retirement Communities, where he served as chief financial officer, cannot underscore enough.

“I’m really excited about meeting the people,” Raheem, who starts his position today, tells The OMNIway.

“I’ve been in the industry now for a number of years, and (I know that) OMNI has had a phenomenal reputation and culture centred around quality and care, and that’s really a testament to the people who contribute to that, day in and day out.

“As I gear up and get ready to start, I’m most excited about meeting people because this is a people business at the end of the day, and that’s what makes this business move forward.”

By working with people from across the organization, Raheem says he sees many opportunities on the horizon to build upon the “great work” OMNI’s leadership team has accomplished over the years and take OMNI’s reputation, both as a long-term care provider of choice and employer of choice, to the next level.

Topping the list of exciting times ahead Raheem sees is the completion of redevelopment projects at several OMNI homes – including the rebuilding of four homes – that will enhance the living experience for residents and the working experience for staff.

Patrick McCarthy, OMNI’s previous president and CEO, has stepped down from the position as he prepares for retirement, but he is continuing with OMNI in an advisory role for a period of time not yet determined. Raheem commends Patrick and the rest of the leadership team for laying the groundwork that’s making future opportunities possible.

“I think we’re at an exciting time in the company’s evolution, so that’s what really stands out,” Raheem says. “There’s a ton of opportunity to build on the great work that Pat and the leadership team have already done so much of, and obviously the organization is well in hand, so I’m just excited about building upon that.”

– This is Part 1 of a two-part story

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Earth Day presentation generates lots of interest at Garden Terrace

Residents were keen to learn about the importance of sustainability and had many questions for presenter Sarah Vierra

Garden Terrace residents learned about the importance of sustainability as well as about the extinction of species and the impact this has on the environment during an Earth Day presentation at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home.

The April 22 presentation was delivered by life enrichment aide Sarah Vierra who also explained that while humans are the main source of environmental damage, humans are also working towards solutions to increase sustainability and prevent further environmental harm.

“We looked at videos that talked about how in the past certain species were very prominent, that all the rainforests were still there, but deforestation happened and pushed them out,” explains Garden Terrace life enrichment co-ordinator Rachael King.

“As a result, today’s world has changed, and that was interesting for the residents to learn about.”

Recognized every April 22 since 1970, Earth Day is honoured worldwide to raise awareness of environmental issues and support environmental protection.

Some of the residents come from a generation where there was far less concern over the state of the global environment, but the presentation Sarah created sparked lots of interest, Rachael says.

“A lot of them were curious about different animals and where they originated,” she says. “One resident was asking about different types of frogs and what their colours mean, so they were pretty interested in everything.”

Rachael is commending Sarah for organizing the engaging presentation that piqued lots of interest from residents.

“It was well received by the residents; Sarah did a very good job,” she says.

Given the success of the Earth Day presentation and other learning programs residents have had, Rachael says the Garden Terrace life enrichment team will continue delivering educational sessions to residents throughout the year.

“We are going to do more educational programs like this to help inform residents about things going on in the world and things going on in the community,” she says.

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