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International health organizations encouraging focus on self-care

Self-Care Month is running from June 24 to July 24

Anyone who has been on a commercial airplane is familiar with flight attendants at the start of the trip explaining what to do in the event of a pressure change: oxygen masks will drop and you need to put yours on before helping others.

This analogy is also true when it comes to caring for others: to care for others well, people need to be caring for themselves and taking care of their own health needs.

June 24 marked the start of International Self-Care Month. The awareness month will end July 24, which marks Self-Care Day, a date chosen as a symbolic reminder that self-care can be practised “24-seven”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) launched Self-Care Month in 2019 to promote the importance of self-care in order to encourage people to stay healthy and alleviate pressure on health-care systems across the globe.

This is true now more than ever, given that factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic have placed added strain on health systems, the WHO says on its website.

The WHO is suggesting ways people can get involved with Self-Care Month and Self-Care Day. These include using social media, watching for local Self-Care Month events, and taking time to ponder ways to improve self-care.

The International Self-Care Federation (ISF) lists seven “pillars” of self-care it has developed as part of the organization’s self-care framework. Each of these points can be focused on in order to maximize self-care.

These are:

– Knowledge and health literacy
– Mental well-being, self-awareness and agency
– Physical activity
– Healthy eating
– Risk avoidance
– Good hygiene
– Rational and responsible use of products (medicines) and services

So, what exactly is “self-care”?

“Self-care is about empowering people to be active agents in their own healthcare,” the WHO states on its website. “As well as being the right thing to do, with more and more pressure on health systems there is a great need.”

The Switzerland-based Global Self-Care Federation describes self-care as “a lifelong habit and culture.”

“(Self-care) is the practice of individuals looking after their own health based on the knowledge and information available to them,” the organization says.

“It is a decision-making process that empowers individuals to look after their own health efficiently and conveniently, in collaboration with health and social care professionals as needed.”

You can click on these links to learn more about Self-Care Month and Self-Care Day:

https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2022/06/24/default-calendar/self-care-month

https://isfglobal.org/international-self-care-day/

https://selfcare.ca/self-care-day/

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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Laughter is proving to be the best medicine at Pleasant Meadow Manor

New laughter yoga program is having emotional benefits for residents

Pleasant Meadow Manor residents are discovering that laughter truly is the best medicine.

Residents were recently introduced to laughter yoga sessions led by Kim Williams, the Norwood long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator, and they’re seeing first-hand the emotional benefits the program delivers.

Laughter yoga is an exercise that marries voluntary laughter with breathing exercises. During laughter yoga sessions, participants maintain eye contact with one another which leads to contagious laughter.

Kim starts the sessions with a brief history and description of what laughter yoga is to help residents understand how the exercises may help them and to explain that it’s an activity that has been used in the medical profession.

This, she says, is to prevent participants from feeling “silly or foolish” during the exercises.

Kim and the residents then do warm-up exercises which consist of clapping and gently moving their bodies and legs. They then do deep breathing exercises.

They move on to the laughter exercises intermixed with “child-like playfulness,” and some singing. Sessions always include an affirmation which they say as loudly as they can: “I’m awesome, you’re awesome, we’re all awesome.”

Some of the laughter exercises Kim and the residents do include:

Gradient laughter: Everyone starts laughing quietly, gradually becoming louder

Roller-coaster laughter: Residents bring their arms up over their heads while saying “awww.” They then bring their arms down while saying “weee” or laughing

Full-moon laughter: The “favourite” laughter exercise where everyone howls like a wolf

“And of course, Rick (Riel), our maintenance manager, joins us for our Santa Claus laughter and our monkey laughter, which really gets everyone laughing for real and at times can cause tears of laughter,” Kim tells The OMNIway.

Kim learned about laughter yoga when she was a student in the recreation and leisure program at Fleming College and a laughter yoga instructor visited her class.

While admittedly skeptical at first, Kim says she noticed physical benefits after her initial laughter yoga session and even says she slept better that night.

Eventually, she took classes to become a certified laughter yoga instructor.

She first used laughter yoga with residents while working as a life enrichment aide at Frost Manor, where the sessions went over well. In fact, one Frost Manor resident said laughter yoga helped ease the severe anxiety she lived with, Kim notes.

Kim is noticing similar benefits at Pleasant Meadow Manor.

“We have found that our residents’ spirits are lifted, and you can see them smiling throughout the day,” she says.

“The way that I measure the benefits to the residents is that they returned for the next session and ask when the next one will be scheduled.”

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Kentwood Park residents enjoy their first barbecue in two years

‘It was a beautiful day and everybody loved it’

Kentwood Park residents were treated to their first barbecue since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, and the event proved to be a big hit with residents of the Picton, Ont. long-term care home, says administrator Melanie Rudd.

Family members and friends were also invited to join residents and staff members for the barbecue, which featured classic country music from entertainer Jay Middleton, who specializes in musical performances for seniors.

Team members cooked hamburgers and hot dogs, and there was an array of salads for side dishes. Strawberry shortcake was served for dessert.

Melanie says the atmosphere of family, friends, good food and music made for a perfect day.

“We invited residents’ families and friends, and we (hosted the barbecue) in our side garden; it was a beautiful day and everybody loved it,” she tells The OMNIway.

Melanie adds that the barbecue sparked a high level of excitement in residents, who have been missing group events like this during the past two years.

“Everybody was so excited, the residents were really happy to finally be able to get together in a group activity; they were very appreciative of having the time together and celebrating something,” she says.

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Summer has brought more programming and renewed optimism to Forest Hill residents

Residents have been enjoying outdoor entertainment, church services and seeing old friends

With summer in full swing and some pandemic restrictions easing, many Forest Hill residents have been able to see some of their friends who are fellow residents for the first time in two years, which is having a positive impact and providing hope that we are on the path to things returning to normal, says Craig Forrest, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

With some restrictions easing, Craig says Forest Hill tries to promote programming that allows residents to safely interact with one another while participating in activities they enjoy.

Summer, of course, allows for outdoor entertainment, and residents have been enjoying musical performers visiting the Ottawa-area long-term care home.

Craig says entertainment is important to residents, and, on average, one or two entertainers per week will perform outdoor shows during summer.

“We do try our best to have entertainment outside, (and) even when the residents are outside we try to keep them in groups by the floor they live on,” Craig says.

“But they have been getting to see some faces that they haven’t seen in a while; some are even getting together to play cards with people they haven’t seen in two years. It has been great to see the residents seeing faces that they haven’t seen in a little while.”

While some of the popular, long-standing Forest Hill programs – such as the Diner’s Club – are still on hold to keep everyone safe, residents and staff members alike are optimistic about their favourite events returning, Craig says.

Additionally, Forest Hill has been able to accommodate religious services for residents, with church groups coming in to conduct services in recent weeks.

“That’s definitely something that’s been lacking for residents over the past two and a half years, and many residents are happy to be able to attend church services again,” Craig says.

Craig adds that there are some events outside the home planned for this summer that he and the residents are looking forward to.

“We definitely have some outings we want to do this summer,” he says. “We’re getting slowly back to normal, but obviously we’re not 100 per cent there yet.”

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Frost Manor residents enjoying weekly barbecues this summer

‘We are really trying to take advantage of the good weather and getting residents outside more’

After two years of not being able to host barbecues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Frost Manor is making up for it by offering cookouts to residents every Friday throughout summer.

The Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home also has a new barbecue, so team members have been wanting to make the most of it, says administrator Neil MacDonald, who’s spearheading this initiative.

Neil says he got the idea to host weekly barbecues from his days working in the nutritional care department at another OMNI Health Care home, Riverview Manor, where life enrichment co-ordinator Sherry Baldwin organized weekly barbecues during summer.

“When I worked there they did this during the summer months and the residents just loved it,” he tells The OMNIway. “So we cook food on the barbecue and we put on music and the residents have fun in the sun and they really enjoy it.”

The barbecues, which are held on the home’s patio, are offered on a rotating basis, with different groups of residents each week to ensure everyone can attend without having the groups get too large.

Due to COVID-19 protocols that were in effect for two years, many activities and events had to be suspended. With restrictions now easing, having weekly barbecues is one way to give back to residents some of the fun they were missing, Neil says, adding the setup on the patio allows team members to cohort residents according to provincial protocols.

While Neil says Frost Manor has hosted summer barbecues in the past for residents, the home has never had these events on a regular basis.

“I think we did it once or twice annually before, but we are really trying to take advantage of the good weather and getting residents outside more,” he says.

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Maplewood team member’s contest entry adds Greek flavours to much-loved chicken

Chicken kebabs are a new twist on a much-loved favourite meal

Maplewood residents “love chicken,” so Emily Morewood, a team member in the nutritional care department at the Brighton, Ont. long-term care home, has created a Greek-style kebab that everyone enjoys.

The Greek kebab was also Emily’s submission to OMNI Health Care’s March Madness recipe challenge.

Emily says she came up with this recipe while looking for a new way to serve chicken to residents.

After a trial run serving her chicken kebab recipe for friends, she decided to bring the recipe to Maplewood.

“(I) recently tried these recipes while entertaining friends and knew they would be a hit,” Emily writes in her contest submission form.

Emily starts by making a marinade from olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, paprika, oregano, basil, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper and onion. She puts cubes of chicken thighs into this mixture and lets the meat rest in the refrigerator for two hours to absorb the flavours.

She then puts the chicken onto skewers between squares of onion and red pepper before cooking for about 10 minutes until the meat is at a temperature of 170 F.

Chris Weber, OMNI’s operations manager of nutrition and food service, says the March Madness contest, which saw 16 recipes compete in a bracket contest where votes were cast each week between April 14 and May 6, was close.

The winning entry was a Mediterranean omelette, created by Josephine Goddard at Country Terrace, which won “by a very thin margin,” Chris says.

OMNI launched the first annual March Madness recipe challenge in March in recognition of Nutrition Month in Canada.

Chris came up with the idea to encourage nutritional care managers and cooks to showcase their most-loved recipes and to highlight the high-quality meals served in OMNI homes.

Throughout March, nutritional care managers and cooks prepared their favourite meals, plated them and took photos that were sent to head office. The photos were accompanied by the name of each meal and its recipe.

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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Program introduces Garden Terrace residents to henna tattoos

Residents got their own henna designs and learned about the history of this traditional body art

Garden Terrace residents recently spent an afternoon getting henna tattoos and learning about the history of this traditional body art.

Henna tattoos are a traditional South Asian body art created by decorating skin with a dye derived from a paste made from the powdered leaves of the henna plant.

Unlike regular tattoos, henna tattoos are created by making prints on the top layer of skin. The designs fade away after about two weeks.

About 12 residents participated in the program, which was run by the life enrichment department at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home.

Because some people have a reaction to henna ink, life enrichment aide Neelam Luthara made a different version that everyone could use, explains life enrichment co-ordinator Rachael King.

There were small stencils with designs that team members used to create henna tattoos on participating residents.

Residents also learned about the significance of henna tattoos. Neelam, who is from a South Asian background, shared the history of henna tattoos as well as interesting facts about the designs.

“For example, she explained how when you are married your husband has to find your name in the henna, and if not, he has to give you a gift,” Rachael explains.

According to St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B., henna body art has been practised in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa for more than 5,000 years. Because henna ink has cooling properties, it is believed to have been originally used to defend skin from the heat in warmer parts of the world.

“Today, Henna is mainly used in celebration of special occasions such as weddings and birthdays in the joyous gathering of people,” the university says on its website.

“The Henna paste symbolizes good health and prosperity in marriage, and in some cultures, the darker the henna stain, the deeper the love between two individuals.”

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PHOTO CAPTION: Garden Terrace resident Sophia Tieu shows her new henna tattoo during a recent program.

In-house collaboration delivers memorable diner-style lunch to Pleasant Meadow residents

‘You could hear a pin drop in all the dining rooms as residents thoroughly enjoyed and devoured their chosen meal’

What began as an idea to make onion rings for Pleasant Meadow Manor residents quickly blossomed into an interdepartmental collaboration that created a 1950s-style diner for everyone that raised money for the Norwood long-term care home’s garden.

In late May, life enrichment co-ordinator Kim Williams asked nutritional care manager Judy Schell if she and her team could make onion rings for residents on June 22 to celebrate National Onion Ring Day.

Judy liked the idea but suggested they do more than just make onion rings. Judy envisioned making onion rings as well as hamburgers, chicken burgers, french fries and root beer floats to create a diner atmosphere that would bring back fond memories for residents.

To sweeten the deal, meals could be sold to staff members with all proceeds going towards beautifying the home’s garden.

The two departments collaborated to make this happen.

The nutritional care team prepared the food while the life enrichment team made the floats and decorated the dining areas. Decorations included a large sign that read “PMM Diner” and a jukebox.

Team members served residents wearing special hand-painted hairnets, and the burgers, onion rings and fries were served in handmade containers that were delivered on a tray, diner-style.

It was immediately evident this was going over well with residents, Kim says.

“You could hear a pin drop in all the dining rooms as residents thoroughly enjoyed and devoured their chosen meal,” she tells The OMNIway.

“Some commented that they were stuffed and that they hadn’t had a root beer float since they were kids.”

It turns out staff members enjoyed organizing this event as much as the residents enjoyed eating the delicious food.

“All the staff that were involved in pulling this off have asked to do it again, so I take this collaboration of the life enrichment and nutritional care staff as a great success,” Kim says.

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A touch of Las Vegas comes to Frost Manor

Team members are being applauded for the creativity they brought to casino-themed month

Frost Manor life enrichment team members are being applauded by managers for the hard work they put into organizing a month-long casino event that encouraged high resident participation and brought lots of fun and laughter to all.

Each month, the Lindsay, Ont. long-term care home focuses on a different theme for activities. For June, the theme was a Las Vegas-style casino. The life enrichment team spent several weeks up to the start of June preparing for this event, which included daily casino games as well as entertainment.

One of the favourite activities in the Frost Casino, as it was called, was a slot machine the life enrichment team made. Team members downloaded a slot machine app to a tablet. They then made a slot machine out of cardboard and placed the tablet into the cardboard housing so it looked like a real slot machine.

“The residents could then play slots – it was incredible,” administrator Neil MacDonald tells The OMNIway.

There were several other games created for the residents, including casino pong; take-a-chance, which is a poker-like game; and dart poker, a game that saw residents use Nerf guns to try to hit cards to make a hand.

Team members also made a photo booth for residents that was covered with images of playing cards and dice.

To add to the authenticity of the theme, life enrichment team members wore the vests casino dealers wear.

Throughout the month, team members kept track of all the residents’ scores from the games, with the highest scorers for each game earning a prize.

“This gave a little extra incentive for the residents to come to programming,” explains life enrichment co-ordinator Amy Whitehead.

One of the most creative moments during the month came when an Elvis impersonator who was scheduled to be at the home had to cancel on short notice.

Since no casino would be complete without entertainment, life enrichment aide Sarah Thayer made a guitar out of cardboard, and team members, with guitar in hand, performed Elvis karaoke for an hour.

“It was awesome that they were able to improvise on the fly like that and still provide entertainment for the residents,” Amy says.

“Everybody was laughing and had a great time. I was a very proud life enrichment co-ordinator at that moment.”

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PHOTO CAPTION: Frost Manor resident Martha Roy sits in a photo booth that was made for the casino-themed month the home recently hosted.

Chef enters Greek egg pie in recipe contest for one simple reason: ‘It’s delicious’

Almonte’s Sarah Montgomery shares a favourite recipe

When it came time to choose a recipe to enter in OMNI Health Care’s first annual March Madness recipe contest, Almonte Country Haven chef Sarah Montgomery went with a classic Greek egg pie.

“This dish I have picked to submit because it’s delicious,” Sarah said in a note accompanying her entry.

This tasty pie offers all the classic Greek flavours. Sarah starts with sautéing onions, garlic and peppers, and then adds black olives and oregano which, Sarah notes, takes the recipe “to a whole other level of Greek flavour.”

Beaten eggs and whipped cream are also added to the mix of layers. And, of course, no Greek meal would be complete without a healthy portion of feta cheese.

As Sarah says, “feta makes it betta.”

The egg and veggie mixture is then baked with a slice of tomato on top to give the dish a slightly sweet taste which balances well with the savoury meal.

Accompanying the Greek egg pie is another creation of Sarah’s, “Irish flag salad”, which uses Mandarin orange, feta and pear slices to replicate the tricolours of Ireland’s flag.

Chris Weber, OMNI’s operations manager of nutrition and food service, says the March Madness contest, which saw 16 recipes compete in a bracket contest where votes were cast each week between April 14 and May 6, was close.

The winning entry was a Mediterranean omelette, created by Josephine Goddard at Country Terrace, which won “by a very thin margin,” Chris says.

OMNI launched the first annual March Madness recipe challenge in March in recognition of Nutrition Month in Canada.

Chris came up with the idea to encourage nutritional care managers and cooks to showcase their most-loved recipes and to highlight the high-quality meals served in OMNI homes.

Throughout March, nutritional care managers and cooks prepared their favourite meals, plated them and took photos that were sent to head office. The photos were accompanied by the name of each meal and its recipe.

If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

If you have feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.