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Garden Terrace residents and staff receive first round of COVID-19 vaccinations

‘We are so happy; it’s a relief and excitement’

Garden Terrace residents and staff members received their first round of COVID-19 vaccinations at the Ottawa-area long-term care home on Jan. 13.

More than 20 paramedics from the local public health unit were at Garden Terrace to administer the vaccinations on Thursday.

There were 138 Garden Terrace residents who consented to receive the vaccine. All of the home’s managers and many of the front-line staff members and essential caregivers also received immunizations.

There will be a second round of vaccinations performed at Garden Terrace in three weeks.

“We are so happy; it’s a relief and excitement,” Garden Terrace’s director of infection, prevention and control Ruzica Subotic-Howell tells The OMNIway.

“We have (most) of the residents vaccinated and that’s exciting, and all of the managers have been vaccinated as well.”

The COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization in March 2020. At the time of this writing, the Government of Canada website is reporting there have been 674,473 cases of people in Canada contracting the virus. The website reports that 17,233 Canadians have died as a result of COVID-19 infection.

The Government of Ontario says on its website that vaccinations will be crucial to curbing COVID-19 infection.

“(Vaccines) will be an important tool to help stop the spread of the virus and allow individuals, families and workers to safely resume normal life,” the website states.

“The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine does not cause a coronavirus infection. It helps to build up your immunity to the virus, so your body will fight it off more easily if it affects you.”

Ruzica commends Garden Terrace team members for planning Thursday’s visit from the paramedics with precision and ensuring the immunizations went smoothly and in a timely manner.

“Every single manager in every department was diligent and organized to make this a success,” she says.

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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OMNI home redevelopment projects move forward in 2020

A major success for OMNI Health Care in 2020 was the move forward on three redevelopment projects, the announcement of a new home redevelopment project for Village Green and additional funding to expand the redevelopment project for the new Riverview Manor.

Construction has now started on the expansion of three OMNI long-term are homes: Pleasant Meadow Manor, Almonte Country Haven and Woodland Villa.

Once completed, these will all be Class A homes and will feature a wide range of modern amenities, such as wider hallways, more home-like dining and lounge spaces, and privacy for residents will be improved by having only one- and two-bed rooms.

During a Nov. 16 groundbreaking ceremony at Pleasant Meadow Manor, Sandra Tucker, the Norwood long-term care home’s administrator, said residents are especially looking forward to having more space, once the project, which will expand Pleasant Meadow by 34,000 square feet, is completed.

“They’re looking forward to the new rooms and having no more than two to a room,” she said.

Meanwhile, the province announced in November that funding has been approved to build a new Village Green in Greater Napanee that will have 128 beds, 62 more than the home currently has.

While there is no confirmation on when construction on the new Village Green will start or be completed, administrator Linda Pierce said a tentative site for the home is being considered on the west side of Lennox and Addington County Road 41.

Pierce said the new Class A Village Green, once completed, will enhance quality of life for residents and staff members.

“From bathing to dining experiences, everything will be enhanced,” she said. “Everything, in my opinion, will be more favourable to resident care and to the quality of life of the resident and the quality of life of the worker.”

Pierce added that the redeveloped Village Green will be a community asset because the additional 62 beds will help minimize waiting times for people in the region requiring long-term care.

There has also been good news for Riverview Manor.

The province announced in November that funding has been approved to add 32 beds to the 36 new beds that were promised in December 2018 for the rebuilt Peterborough long-term care home.

Riverview Manor’s current location on Water Street has 124 beds. Construction on the new Riverview Manor, which will be nearby on Langton Street in Peterborough’s north end, will likely start in 2021 and will take about two years to build.

During a virtual press conference on Nov. 20, Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith said the additional 32 beds Riverview Manor will receive will improve access for people in the region who require long-term care.

“Our seniors deserve quality care in the communities they live in,” he said.

“This is why (this) announcement of more new beds is so important. We are working to reduce wait times and meet the needs of our aging population now and in the future.”

An appearance from ‘Scuba Steve’ made everyone’s day at Pleasant Meadow

‘With just a little masking tape and some construction paper, I’m telling you, we can have lots of fun’

Pleasant Meadow Manor registered nurse Shelly Vandenberg and life enrichment co-ordinator Kim Williams recently tapped into two of OMNI Health Care’s core values — creativity and fun and laughter – to help keep the winter blues away.

Inspired by a pair of safety goggles she was wearing, Shelly decided to dress up like Scuba Steve, a character and toy from the 1999 Adam Sandler comedy film Big Daddy.

Once Kim heard about Shelly’s idea, she fashioned a pair of swim fins out of yellow construction paper for Shelly to wear on her feet. A homemade snorkel completed the outfit.

The residents responded exactly the way Shelly had hoped: they all had a good laugh, Kim says.

“Some of the residents wanted to splash water on her because she had scuba gear on, and another resident tried to encourage her to get into the bathtub,” she tells The OMNIway.

Kim says one of the funnier moments came when Shelly tried walking with her new swim fins. She found she had to make the same “flip-floppy” motions with her feet as if they were an authentic pair of fins.

With Christmas over and Ontario under a provincewide shutdown to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Shelly’s idea brought some much-needed humour to everyone at the Norwood long-term care home, Kim says.

And the best part, she says, is how easy this was to accomplish.

“With just a little masking tape and some construction paper, I’m telling you, we can have lots of fun.”

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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‘Dancing Avon Lady’ spreads Christmas cheer at the Willows

Jessica Yik dropped off gift bags made possible by donations and paintings from local children in December

Christmas is the time for giving, and residents and staff members at Willows Estate are grateful for the generosity of local Avon sales representative Jessica Yik and others in the community who helped spread holiday cheer at the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home in December.

In the days leading up to Christmas, Jessica, who calls herself the Dancing Avon Lady, turned to schools and the community in York Region to put together gift bags for area long-term care home residents.

With the help of donations, gift bags were put together and handed out. The gift bags contained items such as deodorant, lip balm and hand lotion.

There were enough gift bags for each Willows Estate resident as well as for staff members, says the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator Teddy Mazzuca.

Jessica also took her generous campaign to schools in the region and tasked students to create paintings for long-term-care home residents.

Jessica collected the students’ work and presented the art and the gift bags to Willows Estate just before Christmas.

“They are really nice paintings that we have hung on a wall here,” Teddy tells The OMNIway.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which began last March, has been challenging for residents and staff members at long-term care homes.

As a result of safety precautions in place, many long-term-care home residents have not been able to visit with their loved ones.

However, the kind gestures shown by the Dancing Avon Lady and the community during the holiday season helped brighten everyone’s day at the Willows, Teddy says.    

“This is the Christmas spirit.”

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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Care aides bring emotional assistance and friendliness to Willows residents

‘Care aides have been an immense relief for primary caregivers in the home, but they’ve gone above and beyond to be also of assistance to residents directly,’ says LEA

While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone, resident care aides, who were hired to help the Willows Estate team in 2020, have been having a positive impact on residents and staff, says Azaria Kanda.

Azaria, a life enrichment aide (LEA) at the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home, says the care aides at the Willows have done a lot to help during a difficult time.

Care aides have been hired by many Ontario long-term care homes since the pandemic began in March to help with tasks to reduce the workload on staff members.

But they have also been a strong value-add to residents, Azaria says.

“Care aides have been an immense relief for primary caregivers in the home, but they’ve gone above and beyond to be also of assistance to residents directly,” he tells The OMNIway.

Azaria says that aside from the help they have provided team members, care aides have taken it upon themselves to engage in social activities with residents.

Care aides, he notes, have helped with garden visits, one-on-one visits, card games, music therapy and small group chats with the residents.

Most importantly, residents have provided the Willows Estate team with lots of feedback that has been “overwhelmingly positive and appreciative” about the benefits care aides have offered, Azaria says.

“The residents speak highly of the care aides to me and are very grateful to have them come in the home,” Azaria says.

“Even though this is temporary in the duration of the pandemic, their presence is welcome by all.”

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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Maplewood residents treated to in-home Christmas parade

The event went over so well, plans are in the works to host another parade next holiday season

Life enrichment aide Rosanne Blackburn and her colleagues at Maplewood are known for coming up with creative ideas to enhance the quality of life for residents at the Brighton, Ont. long-term care home, and just before Christmas they organized another engaging event that put smiles on lots of faces: an in-home Santa Claus parade.

On Dec. 23, Rosanne and the life enrichment team decorated an antique crib to look like a sleigh. Inside the sleigh was a Santa Claus figure with lights along with snowmen and wrapped gift boxes.

One resident, dressed in a Santa Claus outfit, walked behind the sleigh, while another resident, dressed as Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, led the procession in a motorized scooter that was fitted with Christmas lights.

The parade went down a hallway and into the dining room, just before lunch was served. Traditional Christmas band music was played as the parade made its way through the home. There were seven participants in the parade.

Rosanne says the sight of the Santa Claus parade drew lots of cheers from residents as they watched the procession.

“All the residents enjoyed the parade as they waved with smiles,” Rosanne tells The OMNIway, adding the parade was planned for lunchtime to ensure most residents could watch.

Rosanne says the parade went over so well with residents she plans to make the event a Christmas tradition at Maplewood.

“This was our first Christmas parade, and it was such a success that we will continue it next year,” she says.

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Riverview resident Dorothy Bourne celebrates 101st birthday

The Riverview Manor team recently helped the Peterborough long-term care home’s most senior resident, Dorothy Bourne, celebrate her 101st birthday with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

On Dec. 1, the Riverview team organized a safe outdoor celebration to mark Dorothy’s birthday. Dorothy, who was warmly bundled up, and her family members, who all wore face masks, gathered under the gazebo in the home’s courtyard to celebrate.

Adam Wicklum, a life enrichment aide at Riverview Manor, says some of Dorothy’s family members had not seen her since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March.

“Two of her five children were there and they haven’t seen her since pre-COVID, so that was pretty special for them,” he says.

Once everyone was together, Dorothy’s family sang Happy Birthday and lit sparklers in her honour.

There was some additional fanfare for Dorothy as well, Adam notes.

“The family also had a big birthday sign on the lawn in front of her window,” he says.

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Four-year-old gets birthday wish of spending the day with ‘her people’ at Maplewood

Avery Smith Kargus celebrated her special day outside the home with residents watching on

Four-year-old Avery Smith Kargus considers the people living at Maplewood as “her people.”

For the past two years when Avery’s birthday has rolled around, she has requested her party be held at the Brighton, Ont. long-term care home where her mother, Paula Smith Kargus, works as a personal support worker.

However, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Avery has not been able to visit “her people” for the past nine months.

Still, Avery wanted her birthday plans to include Maplewood, so she and Paula had to think of a different way of celebrating her special day.

Last year, Avery’s birthday party was held at Maplewood. Maplewood administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator Rachel Corkery recalls the day being “so much fun for everyone.”

Although they couldn’t have Avery’s party inside Maplewood this year, they could, Avery and Paula discovered, have a celebration outside the home.

So that’s what they did.

On Dec. 5, Paula brought a birthday cake to Maplewood for residents to enjoy, and Avery visited residents from outside their windows.

“Although Avery was disappointed that she couldn’t come inside to visit her friends, she was happy that ‘her people’ got birthday cake, and her friends were so happy to sing Happy Birthday for Avery,” Rachel tells The OMNIway.

Rachel notes that the community also stepped in to help Avery celebrate her special day.

When Paula mentioned that Avery wanted a police car for her birthday, a Maplewood team member contacted the local OPP detachment and arranged for police to drive by her home with their sirens sounding.

Rachel says the kindness shown towards Avery is part and parcel of what Maplewood is all about.

“We truly are the Maplewood family here,” she says.

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PSW students can receive training and work at Almonte Country Haven through partnership program

There are more than 10 spots available for February intake

Almonte Country Haven PSWs Debbie Burke (left) and Rebecca Smith (right) pose in their caps and gowns at a ceremony their colleagues at the Lanark County long-term care home organized for them.

People interested in a career as a personal support worker (PSW) can have the costs of their studies covered and receive employment at Almonte Country Haven through a partnership the Lanark County long-term care home has entered.

Almonte Country Haven began a workplace partnership this year with the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) and the Canadian Career Academy (CCA) to help provide people interested in careers as PSWs with the required training.

CDSBEO offers a PSW training program at a comparatively low cost and has also partnered with CCA to cover a portion of students’ tuition. Students are also permitted to earn money while completing their work placement hours.

Almonte Country Haven was approached by CDSBEO and CCA and asked if the home was interested in becoming a workplace partner.

Carolyn Della Foresta, Almonte Country Haven’s administrator, says the home didn’t hesitate to get involved. OMNI Health Care, which owns Almonte Country Haven, also offered to help.

“We, of course, jumped at this amazing opportunity, and OMNI kindly offered to cover, through the OMNI bursary program, the portion of the program that CCA did not cover,” she tells The OMNIway.

“This meant that any prospective student that was interested in the program would have the cost covered, would complete their placement with us, while earning money, and had guaranteed employment with us here at Almonte Country Haven during and post-graduation.”

The first two Almonte Country Haven PSWs to receive training through this partnership – Debbie Burke and Rebecca Smith – graduated in October.

Currently, there are four Almonte Country Haven team members enrolled in the PSW program who will graduate in January.

There are currently more than 10 spaces available for the PSW training program that will start in February, and Almonte Country Haven is looking for more to join.

Anyone interested in PSW training through this partnership can contact Carolyn at 613-256-3095, ext. 222.

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Administrator Karen Dann designs Christmassy name badges for Country Terrace team

From left to right, Country Terrace team members Debbie Scheerer, Simi Mathew, Chris Crookshank and Lidia Keleta pose with their Christmas-inspired name badges.

Not wanting to back away from a challenge, Country Terrace administrator Karen Dann recently created special Christmas-themed name badges for every team member working at the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home.

Karen tells The OMNIway she was recently “challenged” by Country Terrace personal support worker (PSW) Christine Crookshank to make the badges for every staff member – including team members brought in to help during the pandemic – to bring some seasonal cheer to everyone.

So that’s exactly what Karen did.

She got to work making the decorative badges which feature several different yuletide designs, including snowmen, Santas, red-and-white stockings, reindeer, angels, Christmas trees and jingle bells.

Along with the new name badges, each team member received a personalized Christmas card from Karen.

“That was 175 cards and 175 Christmas name badges,” she says.

Call it a labour of love.

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