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Conversations with residents a highlight of student’s Village Green placement

‘They have years and years of experience and stories that they love to tell and love to talk about,’ says Griffin Newton

Griffin Newton says his favourite part of his two-month student placement at Village Green was the time he spent getting to know the Greater Napanee long-term care home’s residents.

Griffin, a Grade 13 student at Napanee District Secondary School, recently completed his co-op placement at Village Green. The experience has helped shape his career path, and he has applied to Loyalist College’s recreation and leisure program for the September intake.

As part of his placement, Griffin spent much of his time helping with activities and playing games or reading newspapers with residents.

It was through the time he spent with residents that Griffin says he learned a great deal about the people living at Village Green.

“They have years and years of experience and stories that they love to tell and love to talk about,” Griffin says.

“If you are a people person, they love to talk and they love to talk with you because their stories have been a big, monumental part of their lives and you have to be able to listen.”

One memorable moment for Griffin came when he was reading a newspaper with residents. Walter Gretzky, the father of NHL legend Wayne Gretzky, had recently passed away and there was an article about the world’s most famous hockey dad.

It turned out one of the residents knew the elder Gretzky many years ago.

“When (the resident) knew him, he sold cheese back in the day, and the other residents didn’t know that, so that was one of the great stories I heard,” Griffin says.

Griffin, who has also been working as a front-door screener during the pandemic, says having these conversations gave him “a new perspective” on people living at Village Green. Hearing about their stories and experiences was a chance to get to know them on a different level.

“I also love working there and being down there and interacting with the residents and, right now, taking their mind off of everything, especially with COVID,” he says.

– This is Part 2 of a two-part story

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Village Green residents treated to a jungle safari without leaving home

Safari Day was beneficial to residents on many levels

Village Green residents were recently treated to an African safari that included a tour where they spotted different animals and learned about several creatures that live in a jungle habitat.

The activity, which was held on April 6, began with the life enrichment team hosting an educational program on Kenyan folklore in the morning.

Later, the life enrichment team and co-op placement student Griffin Newton led residents through the Greater Napanee long-term care home on the safari to search out the variety of “animals” that were made from pieces of cardboard cut into the shapes of different creatures and then painted by Griffin and his family.

The animals were created with “amazing” detail, notes Village Green life enrichment co-ordinator Ulana Orrick.

“Griffin has an immense artistic talent, and over the Easter weekend he and his family created all of these different animals by hand,” Ulana says.

Residents and their safari guides walked through Village Green looking for tigers, gazelles and other animals that one may spot on a safari.

As soon as an animal was spotted by residents, a life enrichment team member would provide information about the creature.

The safari ended in the home’s sunroom where there was a cardboard cut-out of a Jeep that served as a prop for residents to have their photos taken with.

The fun continued after the safari when residents were treated to a Kenyan-themed pub afternoon where they enjoyed drinks and special food made by team members.

The food included pigs-in-a-blanket – dubbed “boar in a blanket” – as well as a chutney and tropical fruit.

The day ended with residents learning how to play mancala, a strategy-based board game that originated in Africa.

Ulana says the activities from Safari Day met residents’ needs on many levels. Aside from being fun and educational for residents, the day also had social aspects and also proved to be a way to get people exercising.

“Walking in the halls, they were exercising without even realizing it,” Ulana says.

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Annual Tropical Day brings sunny atmosphere to Frost Manor

A Hawaiian dance from the environmental services team was the highlight of the day

Frost Manor hosted its annual Tropical Day on March 25, and in keeping with the spirit of the occasion, the environmental services team was inspired to bring a little bit of Hawaii to residents of the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home.

The environmental services team dressed in seashell-top bikinis, grass skirts and leis and did a Hawaiian dance through the dining rooms during breakfast, a gesture that received a round of applause from residents and their fellow staff members.

With restrictions in place to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the team wanted to bring some extra fun and laughter to everyone to keep spirits up, says Frost Manor environmental services and maintenance manager Rick Riel.

“There was much-needed laughter and funny comments,” he tells The OMNIway.

Tropical Day was part of Spirit Days, a string of themed days where residents and staff members participate in activities centred on fun ideas.

After their dance, the environmental services team posed for a photo, and Rick, who can be seen in the centre of the picture (see above top photo), appears to be tired out from watching staff perform many hours of high-intensity cleaning.

“Environmental services aides Robert Reynolds, Tanya Smith and Nathan Durham remained happy and upbeat about performing these tasks daily,” Rick jokes, adding his staff has done a “great job … keeping the home clean, safe and fun for all our residents.”

The life enrichment department ensured every resident was in the spirit of the day by offering pina coladas, and there was also a tropical-themed painting class where residents painted hibiscus flowers.

Lyndsay Burton, Frost Manor’s life enrichment co-ordinator, says events like this are crucial during this challenging time when large-group activities and outside entertainment are not possible.

“Spirit days such as these are so important during the pandemic, it is a time for us to have fun, let loose and be creative,” she says.

“We had so much fun bringing in the warm weather; since we can’t travel, we brought the vacation to Frost Manor this year.”

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Let’s dance: Burnbrae music program gets residents moving

The Music Appreciation program is providing residents with exercise, reminiscing and lots of fun and laughter

Since Burnbrae Gardens started a multifaceted music program six months ago, residents of the Campbellford, Ont. long-term care home have been benefiting from the joys music brings as well as from more exercise, increased happiness and lots of reminiscing.

The Music Appreciation program is the brainchild of life enrichment aide Shawna Booth, who started the program in September to provide residents with activities they enjoy while adhering to safety protocols in effect due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Music brings a lot of joy into people’s lives, and I was thinking this was something that was lacking because of (the pandemic), so that was the main inspiration,” Shawna says.

The program, which Shawna hosts every Thursday, varies from week to week. Each week there’s a different musical theme, from golden oldies to country classics to jazz.

Residents gather in small, physically distanced groups while music is played. Often, Shawna leads residents in exercises they can do standing or sitting.

“Sometimes we do activities where residents can dance in their chair for exercise where there are movements to go along with the songs, (and) sometimes we will play songs that will get residents reminiscing,” Shawna says, adding residents recently enjoyed reminiscing about songs they remembered hearing at weddings and other events.

Shawna says she has also played relaxing music while leading residents in chair yoga exercises.

A major benefit Shawna says she has seen from the Music Appreciation program is increased participation. While some residents are not interested in games or bingo, virtually everyone loves music.

As a result, several residents who normally don’t participate in programs are attending this activity every week, she says.

But perhaps the greatest benefit Shawna is seeing from residents is an elevated mood accompanied by lots of laughter.

“That’s always good because laughter is the best medicine, and of course reminiscing is helpful with memory and cognition, and we do a lot of reminiscing,” she says.

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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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Pleasant Meadow residents receive first COVID-19 vaccination, second dose coming

Immunizations bring ‘a sense of relief and hope’ to residents and staff

Most of the residents of Pleasant Meadow Manor have received their first dose of the vaccine to protect them from the COVID-19 virus, and they are expected to get the booster immunization in the coming days.

On Jan. 28, paramedics from Peterborough Public Health were at the Norwood, Ont. long-term care home to work with front-line staff members to immunize all residents who had given consent to receive the vaccine.

The paramedics are expected to return to Pleasant Meadow Manor this week to administer the booster shot, says Sandra Tucker, the home’s administrator and director of care.

With the first round of resident vaccinations complete and the second immunizations coming soon, Sandra says there’s “a sense of relief and hope” amongst residents and staff members that the global pandemic’s end is on the horizon.

All municipalities covered by Peterborough Public Health, including Norwood, are currently in the yellow zone of the Ontario government’s colour-coded reopening framework. Municipalities in yellow zones are under “strengthened measures” and are expected to focus on protection.

Keeping in line with safety protocols, there are no large-group activities at Pleasant Meadow Manor at the moment, but residents are receiving one-to-one and small-group programming involving five or fewer people, with social distancing and other safety measures in effect.

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.”

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Vaccination clinics begin at OMNI homes

Residents of most homes have received their first COVID-19 vaccination and some have now received the second dose

Since January, most of OMNI Health Care’s 18 long-term care homes have hosted clinics to administer the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination to residents, and residents of some homes have now received the vaccine’s required second dose.

The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Since then, people working in the long-term care sector have put tireless efforts into keeping residents and their co-workers safe, and infection, prevention and control protocols have been ramped up.

While the pandemic continues to be a major concern and safety protocols remain top of mind, the vaccination clinics that have been held in OMNI homes have brought the first sign of life starting to return to normal, say staff members.

Although the vaccine is a major step forward in keeping residents safe from the highly contagious COVID-19 virus, homes will continue to exercise precautions for some time.

Located in Kanata, Ont., Forest Hill was one of the first OMNI long-term care homes to have residents receive a primary dose of the vaccine. Paramedics from the local public health unit administered the vaccine to residents on Jan. 14.

“We are still going to have months (of the pandemic) ahead of us, but at least you can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Forest Hill life enrichment co-ordinator Craig Forrest recently told The OMNIway.

All residents of Almonte Country Haven in Lanark County have also received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine. On Jan. 28, a team from the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit was at the home to administer the vaccine with the help of Almonte Country Haven staff.

After each resident received the vaccination, they were given a special badge to wear that read, “I Got My COVID-19 Vaccine,” and were then brought to the front of the home where a public health unit nurse was standing by to ensure they were experiencing no side effects.

“It was all hands on deck and all of our staff were involved in supporting the recommended half-hour observation period to ensure that any possible reaction was swiftly identified and dealt with,” Almonte Country Haven administrator Carolyn Della Foresta said in an e-mail sent the day of the vaccinations.

The Ontario government is aiming to immunize all long-term-care home residents who have given consent as soon as possible. Initially, the province set a Feb. 5 deadline to have all long-term-care home residents vaccinated; however, that target could not be met due to delays in supply lines, so the deadline has been extended into February.

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.

Students help make Valentine’s Day even more special at Streamway Villa

Grade 2 and 3 students from Notre Dame Catholic Elementary School send artwork to residents

Students at a local primary school helped ensure Streamway Villa residents had an extra-special Valentine’s Day.

The week before Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14), the Grade 2 and Grade 3 classes at nearby Notre Dame Catholic Elementary School made some creative Valentine’s Day artwork they sent to the Cobourg, Ont. long-term care home’s residents.

The small posters the students made feature photos of them blowing on an extended hand and sending a flurry of hearts into the air as a Valentine’s Day message.

“We have a relationship with (Notre Dame Catholic Elementary School); they always make cards for our seniors, this time they did an art project of them blowing hearts – it was so cute,” says Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht.

Most importantly, Laurie says the students’ efforts were well-received by residents, who appreciated the time they took to create these unique pieces of art.

“The artwork put a huge smile on our residents’ faces,” she says. “It’s always special when we get stuff sent over from (the school).”

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West Lake team hosts a ‘deer hunt’ for residents with great success

‘We haven’t had this much fun and laughter in our home since this pandemic started’

The West Lake Terrace team recently hosted a “deer hunt” that brought residents and staff members together for an engaging activity that resulted in lots of fun and laughter for all.

Team members gathered the Christmas trees that were set up around West Lake Terrace during the holidays and brought them to the dining room to create a makeshift forest.

Donning reindeer hats, team members began milling about through “the woods” as residents patiently sat looking through the sights of the Nerf guns they’d been given.

When a “deer” came into view, residents pulled their triggers, sending a volley of Nerf darts at them. Residents then tagged their “deer”.

Life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard says she and other team members at the Prince Edward County long-term care home were inspired to create the activity after reading an article about a home on Manitoulin Island that organized a similar activity with great success.

With the holiday season over and restrictions in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Janie says this activity was exactly what residents and staff members needed to fend off the winter blues.

“We haven’t had this much fun and laughter in our home since this pandemic started,” Janie tells The OMNIway, adding that even residents who often don’t participate in activities joined in on the fun.

“This was just what residents and staff needed; it was an eruption of laughter for a good 20 minutes. Some of the residents were asking when we could do this again.”

To accommodate the residents’ wishes, the life enrichment team is planning to host another similar activity in the near future, Janie says.

“We’re going to have the residents shoot at tin cans and have more games with the Nerf guns,” she says.

“This was a great activity and it was much needed for everybody in the home.”

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2020 hasn’t been easy, but we’ve learned a lot

There’s no softer way to say it, 2020 has been a challenging year.

For the first time in a century, the world has been dealing with a large-scale pandemic that has changed the way we live, work and spend our free time.

For those working in the greater health-care sector, 2020 has been especially challenging. Front-line workers have had to adapt like no one else in the workforce to keep the coronavirus in check.

Work life and family life have been greatly impacted for health-care workers, who have had to adapt to the changing circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic has brought.

We have seen this first-hand at OMNI Health Care’s 18 long-term care homes, and we are grateful for the sacrifices team members have made – both personal and professional.

But for all the challenges and anxieties this year has brought, there has also been a lot we have learned as a collective team.

When the pandemic was declared in March, we learned how much local communities value our long-term care homes when kind letters, cards and complimentary meals began showing up for our teams.

Being physically distanced from those we care about is never easy, but we learned how supportive and understanding family members were when they could not visit their loved ones due to safety restrictions in place at long-term care homes for the first three months of the pandemic.

Providing residents in our long-term care homes with a high quality of life is the most important part of our work. Throughout 2020, we learned how creative and innovative our team members are – even under the most challenging of circumstances – when it came to providing residents meaningful programs, meals they enjoy and the care they expect.

And despite the staffing shortages affecting the Ontario long-term care sector at large, we learned how well we come together when our residents need us most.

We are still living through the pandemic, and there will be more challenges ahead. The good news is we are on the right path. We have proven that time and time again throughout 2020.