Local church donates 5 iPads to Country Terrace residents

Gateway Church members wanted to do something for residents to keep spirits high during the pandemic

A local church recently donated five iPads to Country Terrace residents through its community outreach program, a kind gesture everyone at the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home is grateful for, says life enrichment co-ordinator Christie Patterson.

Country Terrace and Gateway Church have had a long-standing connection. As part of its Gateway Cares outreach program, the church recently contacted the home to offer support for residents and staff to help lift spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Christie and Jesse MacMillan, one of the pastors at Gateway Church, had several conversations about ideas that would both thank staff members for their hard work during the pandemic and lift residents’ spirits.

In the end, it was decided the Gateway Cares team would donate five iPads to residents. The iPads are helping residents connect with family and friends as well as providing entertainment. Residents are also attending virtual church services by watching them on the iPads.

Each Country Terrace resident also received a personal letter from Gateway Church members and a small bag of treats.

Gateway Church also provided doughnuts, muffins and coffee for Country Terrace staff members on the day church members delivered the iPads.

Each staff member also received a Tim Hortons gift card to thank them for their hard work and service to residents.

With vaccination rates increasing and businesses and services opening up in Ontario, there are signs of light at the end of the tunnel.

However, the greater health-care sector is still working hard to keep people safe, and it needs to be remembered that the pandemic is not over, Christie says.

The timing of Gateway Church’s generosity is meaningful, she notes.

“As Jesse and I talked, we stated that we believe people forget we are still fighting this COVID battle,” Christie says.

“The staff are still making sacrifices to protect the residents, and it has taken a toll. (The church’s kind gesture shows) that people still care. It is truly a blessing.”

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Burnbrae residents get home ready for Canada Day decorating contest

Residents are ‘very excited’ and hopeful the home will be in the winner’s circle

Canada Day isn’t for another six days, but Burnbrae Gardens is already decked out to celebrate the country’s 154th birthday on July 1.

That’s because the Campbellford long-term care home has entered the Trent Hills Canada Day Decorating Contest, a decorating challenge for homes and businesses in the region organized by the Trent Hills Chamber of Commerce.

Life enrichment aide Lauren Farnham organized the decorations at Burnbrae Gardens and got lots of help from residents Jean Bradshaw, Florence Casselman, Helen Earl, Diane Partridge, Karen Phillips, Jim Pollock, Tom Robbins and Marie Shearer.

Together, they decorated the front of the home with Canadian flags and a wide array of other red and white decorations with Canadian motifs.

When the decorating was done, Lauren snapped a picture of the front of the home (see photo above) and submitted it to the chamber of commerce to be entered in the contest.

According to contest rules, participants must have their decorations up by June 26 at noon and they must remain on display until July 4.

Burnbrae Gardens, along with other participating homes and businesses, will be part of a driving route for sightseers.

This is the first year Burnbrae Gardens has participated in the contest.

“They are doing (the contest) this way because of COVID precautions; it allows people to keep their distance from their cars, but they still get to see all the decorations,” Lauren says.

The contest winners will be announced July 2, and residents are hopeful Burnbrae Gardens will be in the winner’s circle, Lauren says.

“The residents are very excited,” she says. “They loved putting up the decorations, and I keep hearing compliments about the decorations from inside and outside the home.”

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Country Terrace focusing on quality mealtimes to keep spirits high during the pandemic

‘You have to be creative and work within the restrictions’

Since protocols in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have limited group activities and programming for long-term care homes, Country Terrace has turned to something that is universally important to residents to ensure their quality of life is kept high: meals.

Every two weeks the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home hosts the Diners Club, a mealtime program where small groups of residents, on a rotating basis, choose a special meal the nutritional care team prepares for them.

The program was launched a few years ago, but it has been especially important to residents since the pandemic was declared 14 months ago, says Country Terrace nutritional care manager Alex Achillini.

Recently, the Diners Club featured a meal of pork ribs, chicken wings, onion rings, fries, coleslaw and pineapple upside-down cake. Other meals residents have requested over the years include beef tenderloin, seafood and reuben sandwiches.

The Diners Club has also focused on providing special meals for residents on texture-modified diets.

“You have to be creative and work within the restrictions,” Alex says.

Along with providing residents with their favourite foods, the Diners Club program also includes wine and beer for residents to enjoy, and meals are served using the home’s best plates and cutlery.

Country Terrace nutritional care team members have also received outside praise for their work.

In 2020, the team was recognized by the Canadian Society of Nutrition Management (CSNM) for the Mother’s Day lunch of barbecued pork ribs, parsnips, cornbread muffins, cream of celery soup and dulce de leche cheesecake that was served last May.

The CSNM posted a photo of the meal on its website to honour the team.

Residents also provide the nutritional care team with input to enhance their dining experience. For example, the team is now looking at sprucing up the meatloaf recipe to make a favourite meal even better for residents, Alex says.

And it’s not just the Diners Club the nutritional care team is focusing on during the pandemic. Alex and his team also regularly treat residents to ice cream and other desserts, he adds.

“These are all things you can do to improve the quality of life from the dietary (department’s) point of view,” Alex says.

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Residents honour Burnbrae staff during Nursing Week

Kind, supportive messages from residents fill an entire wall at the home

In recognition of National Nursing Week, a wall at Burnbrae Gardens has been covered with kind notes and thoughtful messages from residents in support of everyone working at the Campbellford long-term care home.

The notes, which are written on colourful rectangular paper designed to resemble doctor’s prescription pads and laminated, share residents’ feelings about the people who provide their care every day.

The kind messages fill an entire wall in the hallway leading to the dining room, a corridor that sees lots of traffic every day.

“Oh my, where do I start? All the staff is just absolutely incredible,” says one note.

“They (staff) make me feel safe and take care of everyone here. They all do amazing at their jobs,” says another.

“Everybody makes me feel so loved,” says another note.

National Nursing Week is May 10 to 16. Burnbrae Gardens celebrates Nursing Week every year by honouring all staff members working in every department.

April Faux, Burnbrae Gardens’ administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator, says Nursing Week is especially meaningful this year, given the hard work team members have put forth during the past 14 months to keep residents and each other safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Normally we just hand out a few treats (during Nursing Week), but we really want the staff to know that they are appreciated by the residents that they take care of,” April tells The OMNIway.

“We intend to leave the messages up longer than a week because a lot of work went into this; we will probably leave it up for a few weeks, just to make sure everyone has a chance to read the comments.”

April says staff members will be receiving snacks on each shift and there will be a raffle for various prizes during Nursing Week.

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 our health-care system.

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Easter Bunny visits Kentwood Park

LEA Darlene VanVlack made Easter morning special for residents

Sometimes the smallest gestures have the greatest impact, and that was certainly the case at Kentwood Park on Easter morning when residents of the Picton, Ont. long-term care home had a special visitor.

Life enrichment aide (LEA) Darlene VanVlack put on a rabbit costume and played the part of the Easter Bunny for residents. She went around the home visiting each of the residents to wish them a happy Easter and to spend some one-to-one time with them.

Of course, since it was Easter, there were lots of chocolates for everyone, and the Easter Bunny made sure every resident had their share of sweets, says Kentwood Park life enrichment co-ordinator Lisa Mills.

With restrictions in place to keep residents safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, large-group programming is currently on hold, so one-to-one time between residents and staff has a lot of value.

Getting a visit from the Easter Bunny proved to be a big hit with residents and ensured they had a happy Easter, Lisa says.

“Residents spoke of this for days, and (were talking about) how pleased they were to receive the gifts she handed out,” she tells The OMNIway.

“So to speak, it was a hopping good time had by all.”

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Riverview Manor is celebrating St. Patrick’s Month

The life enrichment team has organized engaging Irish-themed programs for residents throughout March

Rather than paying homage to Irish culture only on St. Patrick’s Day, the Riverview Manor life enrichment team has been helping residents celebrate the Emerald Isle throughout March.

During “St. Patrick’s Month”, the Peterborough long-term care home’s life enrichment team has been organizing a wide variety of programs for residents that combine fun with learning.

One creative program the team delivered residents was a virtual tour of Ireland that was presented by streaming Internet videos through the large TVs in the two dining rooms. Residents also got to see a piece of Blarney Castle life enrichment aide Adam Wicklum brought.

Adam also showed residents a video about the town of Wicklow, on the east coast of Ireland. The town has a personal connection with Adam, whose ancestors hailed from Wicklow. In fact, Adam explained, his family’s surname was changed from “Wicklow” to “Wicklum” upon their arrival in Canada.

Irish-themed trivia and games, including an Irish-themed bingo, a “shamrock spin beanbag toss” and a “pot of gold coin toss”, have also been featured throughout March.

The life enrichment team tapped into web-based resources like Activity Connection to come up with ideas for programming that included a game where residents played a version of “name that tune” with an Irish song theme.

Additionally, there was an Irish blessing at a church service, and residents also watched Stella Days, a 2011 film set in rural Ireland.

On March 15 and 16, residents were treated to pub nights which have proven to be fan-favourite events, Adam says, adding these programs have had “residents and staff talking for days.”

Drinks served at the pub nights included green beer, pop and a rainbow punch made from sherbet, crushed ice and diet lemon-lime pop.

To help build up everyone’s thirst, residents were provided with snacks that included green-coloured sour cream and onion ring chips, mozzarella sticks and orange Cheezies. The colours of these snacks matched the tri-colour flag of the Republic of Ireland.

Adam often makes creative Jell-O desserts for special occasions at Riverview Manor, and he came through for the pub nights, preparing a tri-colour green, white and orange gelatin dessert over top of crushed pineapple symbolizing a pot of gold.

He made a separate Jell-O dessert for those who are not fans of pineapple.

Adam says he also got into the groove during pub nights.

“(I) tried to do a little Irish jig, then danced a little with some residents before ending the program,” he says.

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How COVID-19 prompted a dietary staff member to become a PSW

Sheila Warren had worked in the kitchen at Almonte Country Haven for 29 years, but when an outbreak began in March 2020, she decided to make a career change

Sheila Warren had worked in the nutritional care department at Almonte Country Haven for 29 years when a COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the Lanark County long-term care home on March 29, 2020.

Knowing front-line team members would need additional help caring for residents, and having previous health-care aide training, Sheila approached administrator Carolyn Della Foresta and asked to switch duties so she could work on the floor to help the personal support workers (PSWs).

Carolyn accommodated Sheila’s request and immediately noticed Sheila had a natural gift for PSW work. In fact, Carolyn, along with other Country Haven team members, thought caregiving may truly be Sheila’s calling.

Managers, PSWs and nurses suggested Sheila take PSW training and change job roles at Almonte Country Haven.

“As a management group, we saw that Sheila was amazing (working on the floor), she was meant to work hands-on,” Carolyn tells The OMNIway.

“We saw that Sheila shone outside of the dietary department working hands-on for her entire shift with the residents.”

There was also a perfect opportunity waiting for Sheila: Almonte Country Haven had recently entered a partnership with the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO) through a PSW training program the school board offers.

The training program, which is supported by the Canadian Career Academy (CCA), is offered to students at a comparatively low cost. The CCA covers a portion of the program’s tuition fees and allows students to earn money while doing their work placements.

For people like Sheila doing their placement at Country Haven, OMNI Health Care covers the remainder of the tuition costs through its bursary program.

Sheila decided to consider the offer, but before making a final decision, she wanted to consult with one more person: her mother who, coincidentally, had been a caregiver at Almonte Country Haven.

“I thought long and hard about it and talked to my mum, and my mum was the icing on the cake for my decision to take the PSW course,” Sheila says.

“She basically said you are your mother’s daughter and you will be fantastic at it.”

Sheila completed the training program and is now a full-time PSW at Almonte Country Haven. Sheila says she has not looked back on her decision.

“I love it immensely,” she says of her new position.

Sheila also has words of praise for the PSW program offered by CDSBEO.

“It was very informative,” she says of the program, adding her neighbour recently expressed interest in signing up for the training. “Between doing the course, working and taking care of everything at home, my schedule was full, but it was a very informative program.”

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Photo caption: Four Almonte Country Haven team members recently graduated from a PSW training program the home is involved with through a partnership with the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario. Pictured left to right, Tiffany Brydge, Sheila Warren, Rebekah Lafontaine and Tracie Boyd.

Streamway Villa residents take a trip to ‘Margaritaville’

Residents and staff celebrate National Margarita Day

It may have been one of the coldest days this winter, but inside Streamway Villa residents were sipping margaritas on Feb. 22 to mark the drink’s special day.

On National Margarita Day, the life enrichment team at the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home served up icy-cold margaritas for residents to enjoy – complete with straws and cocktail umbrellas.

“Originally we were all going to dress up in vacation gear, but I have to say it was hard, due to it being in a snowstorm that day and the coldest day of the year,” explains Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht.

“But we did go through with the margaritas and a little dance party, of course. We played music like we were on vacation, such as Margaritaville, and then drank margaritas.”

For an added measure of fun, the life enrichment team asked residents to close their eyes and imagine they were walking along a warm, tropical beach, listening to the waves roll up to the shore.

“Some of the residents really engaged in the activity and started to tell me how hot the sand was on their toes and how they could hear birds in the distance,” Laurie says.

Margarita day was part of this year’s Spirit Days program at Streamway Villa. Spirit Days are themed programs aimed at ramping up fun and laughter during the colder months.

Streamway Villa hosted Spirit Days last year at this time, but the COVID-19 pandemic began shortly after and the program had to be put on hold.

“Lately it has been pretty gloomy with the winter, cold days, and the pandemic so we chose to try and lift everyone’s spirits,” Laurie says.

“The Spirit Days are meant to just cheer everyone up since we still aren’t able to do much recreation programming besides one-to-ones or very small group activities.”

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Willows outbreak ends, team members recognized with staff appreciation day

Staff was honoured for their hard work and support for residents and each other

After a two-month COVID-19 outbreak ended at Willows Estate in late February, team members at the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home were recognized for their hard work and commitment to residents and each other with a staff appreciation day on Feb. 25.

During the outbreak, Aimee Merkley, OMNI Health Care’s director of western operations, was the acting administrator at the Willows. From the day York Region Public Health declared the outbreak on Dec. 23, Aimee says Willows Estate team members worked hard to care for residents, ramp up infection, prevention and control measures, and support each other.

During the outbreak, Aimee worked closely with Doneath Stewart, who is acting director of care at the Willows, and Neil MacDonald, formally the nutritional care manager at Riverview Manor who was called in for assistance.

The efforts put forth by Doneath and Neil, as well as support from OMNI Health Care home office team members, helped residents and staff during this challenging time, Aimee says.

“There were many tough and emotional days during the outbreak, (but) staff pulled together and committed to the hard work required to ensure infection, prevention and control practices were observed and residents received the care and support they needed,” Aimee says.

Every time a resident case of COVID-19 was resolved, team members rang a bell on the unit, and “staff looked so forward to ringing the bell,” Aimee says.

When the outbreak officially ended Feb. 23, Silver Fox Pharmacy, an OMNI provider, supplied the Willows team with 100 cowbells to ensure everyone at the home had a bell to ring to signify the outbreak’s end.

Two days later, Aimee organized the staff appreciation day for team members working on all three shifts.

Staff members were treated to coffee and doughnuts from Tim Hortons as well as pizza and cupcakes. Everyone received T-shirts displaying the OMNI logo on the front and the words “tough times don’t last – tough teams do” on the back.

Community donations of Tim Hortons gift cards and gift bags were awarded for prizes during trivia games, and OMNI logo wear was also provided to draw winners.

Aimee says the appreciation day was well received by the Willows Estate team.

“They loved the day and were so appreciative of the recognition, which they truly deserved,” she says.

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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.”