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‘Community changes everything’ at the core of Alzheimer Society’s 2022 awareness campaign

‘The First Link campaign emphasizes the themes of support, community and knowledge – all positive themes that intend to reassure people who are facing the frustrating question: What do I do next?’

The Alzheimer Society of Canada has launched its annual awareness campaign, and the main message the organization is focusing on in 2022 is “community changes everything,” say two of the society’s representatives.

At the heart of this message is First Link, an initiative the Alzheimer Society has created nationwide to help connect people living with dementia and their caregivers with programs and supports they need, say the Alzheimer Society’s chief of research and knowledge translation Dr. Saskia Sivananthan and marketing manager Nathan Christie.

In an e-mail interview with The OMNIway, Sivananthan and Christie say research conducted by the society’s COVID-19 and dementia task force indicates that people living with dementia and their caregivers have been disproportionately negatively impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so the theme for this year’s campaign is significant.

“As such, when developing this year’s campaign, the Alzheimer Society knew we had to focus on hope,” Sivananthan and Christie say in an e-mail.

“The First Link campaign emphasizes the themes of support, community and knowledge – all positive themes that intend to reassure people who are facing the frustrating question: What do I do next?

“Through the campaign, the Alzheimer Society wants people affected by dementia to know: you are not alone. There is support available right now.”

Sivananthan and Christie say the campaign, which has been launched to coincide with January being National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, is particularly aimed at people who have Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia but are not connected with the Alzheimer Society.

This includes people recently diagnosed with dementia, people who know someone exhibiting signs of dementia and people with dementia living in communities the Alzheimer Society has not effectively reached.

The campaign is also aimed at health-care providers who can use First Link as a referral service for people living with dementia to help connect them to services and supports they need.

Sivananthan and Christie say the best result that could stem from this year’s awareness campaign would be to have more people living with dementia connected to their local Alzheimer Society through the First Link initiative.

“At its essence, this campaign wants to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia during a time where every aspect of life has gotten more difficult via the pandemic,” they say.

For more information on First Link, please contact the Alzheimer Society at 1-855-705-4636 (INFO) or info(at)alzheimer.ca.

– This is Part 1 of a two-part series

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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Streamway Villa residents receive some ‘sunshine’

Nonprofit organization Sending Sunshine sent cards filled with positive messages to residents during the holidays

Thanks to the thoughtfulness of a nonprofit organization and the people connected to it, Streamway Villa residents were recently inundated with cards filled with positive messages – something that has been especially meaningful during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Sending Sunshine is a Mississauga-based nonprofit organization run by four friends that is aimed at improving the lives of seniors. The organization achieves its mission by sending cards that are filled with kind thoughts to seniors around the world, many of whom live in long-term care and retirement homes.

People interested in sending cards to seniors through Sending Sunshine can do so through the organization’s website.

The cards Streamway Villa residents received just before Christmas included messages encouraging smiles and shared love. There were more than enough cards to go around, says Laurie Kracht, the Cobourg long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

“(The cards) had lots of good wishes for residents,” she tells The OMNIway. “We had lots of extra cards that we were able to hand out to staff as well.”

According to the organization’s website, Sending Sunshine is reaching out to seniors with cards to help promote inclusiveness for seniors while decreasing social isolation.

To date, Sending Sunshine has sent 93,175 cards to seniors living in 12 countries.

“We aim to help reduce the negative effects of social isolation and loneliness among senior citizens in our community by providing them with handwritten cards,” the website states.

“It is with the help of people like YOU that we can help provide a ray of sunshine in the lives of Canadian seniors.”

Click here to learn more about Sending Sunshine.

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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New renovations, building community connections, among the exciting things on the Country Terrace horizon

Administrator Christie Patterson says she’s looking forward to being part of the next chapter in the home’s history

Administrator Christie Patterson says the completion of the renovations underway to expand Country Terrace as well as opportunities to build community connections are among the things she’s looking forward to most in her new role.

Christie, who became the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home’s administrator in October, says seeing the renovation project at Country Terrace, which will add 50,518 square feet and eight beds to the home, is especially exciting as she steps into her new role.

Once renovations are complete, Country Terrace will house four spacious 32-bed neighbourhoods for residents. The project will replace all three- and four-bed wards with one- and two-bed rooms.

Christie, a 13-year Country Terrace team member, says the renovations are an exciting chapter to the home’s history.

“I am looking forward to the changes that are happening with the new build – there’s a lot going on,” she says of the $32-million redevelopment project, which is expected to be completed by June 2024.

Along with the redevelopment project, Christie says she is also looking forward to seeing Country Terrace work to strengthen community connections.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in March 2020, Christie says some of those connections with people and organizations have quieted due to restrictions in place. However, she says she’s looking forward to rebuilding and strengthening those relationships once things begin to open up again.

With the completion of the redevelopment project on the horizon, those connections will be especially important, Christie says.

“With this home growing, that is a huge step, the community is well aware that we are building, and I think that’s nice,” she says.

– This is Part 2 of a two-part story

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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Community pulls together to help make Christmas extra special at Pleasant Meadow

‘The residents were deeply touched by the generosity of the community’

Local charities and citizens of Norwood are getting a huge round of applause from people living and working at Pleasant Meadow Manor for their tremendous generosity during the holiday season.

Thanks to many acts of community kindness, the home was on the receiving end of lots of wrapped presents that were handed out to residents on Christmas Day.

Organizations that delivered presents to the home in December include St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Home Instead, Be A Santa To A Senior (BASTA) and Christmas for Seniors. These groups requested a shopping list of items residents needed before the holiday season.

Pleasant Meadow is also thanking local resident Eryne Somers who, with the help of her daughter, used social media to reach out to the community to ask the citizens of Asphodel-Norwood to contribute gifts so they could meet the goal for their Christmas gift bag drive.

The gifts residents received included various items of clothing, blankets and a wide variety of treats.

In fact, there were so many presents sent to Pleasant Meadow Manor that life enrichment aide Sheila Fleury, who was in charge of handing the gifts out to residents, spent Christmas Day and Boxing Day delivering presents.

Maintenance manager Rick Riel put on a large Santa Claus mask and posed with the gifts that were sent to the home before they were delivered to residents.

Pleasant Meadow Manor life enrichment co-ordinator Kim Williams says the community’s kindness made a big difference to residents during the holiday season.

“The residents were deeply touched by the generosity of the community,” 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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All Forest Hill residents had gifts to open Christmas Day, thanks to annual initiative

Angel Tree program was once again a ‘huge success’

An annual program organized by Forest Hill to ensure every resident of the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home receives a Christmas present to open Dec. 25 was once again a “huge success,” says life enrichment co-ordinator Craig Forrest.

Every year, Forest Hill puts up the Angel Tree in the home. The Angel Tree is a Christmas tree that is covered with numbered tags representing every resident.

Family members, staff members and visitors are invited to take one of the numbered tags to buy presents for the resident each number on the tag corresponds with. The tags are always numbered for privacy and also include a list of gift ideas for residents.

Craig says the 100-plus tags on the tree were all gone within three days. As with past years, parishioners from nearby Trinity Presbyterian Church strongly supported the Angel Tree project, Craig says, adding church members took 80 tags.

In 2020, due to pandemic restrictions in place at the time, the Angel Tree was offered virtually through Google Docs.

This past Christmas, thanks to essential caregivers and limited general visitors being allowed inside the home before Christmas, Forest Hill once again set up the Angel Tree by the main entrance.

Craig says team members from the life enrichment department made sure the gifts got to the residents on Christmas Day.

“The life enrichment staff were able to deliver each resident a gift on Christmas Day and would spend some time with them helping open their gift and reminiscing about Christmases past,” he 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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PHOTO CAPTION: Pictured above, Forest Hill life enrichment aide Sara MacFarlane and resident Margaret Hall on Christmas Day.

Stuff a Stocking for a Senior initiative returns to Streamway Villa

All residents of the Cobourg LTC home received stockings filled with small gifts on Christmas Day, thanks to local project

Streamway Villa residents returned to their rooms after breakfast on Christmas Day morning to find traditional Santa stockings filled with small gifts, courtesy of the Stuff a Stocking for a Senior initiative.

Since 2017, Stuff a Stocking for a Senior, a Christmastime charity launched by friends Vicky Davis of Cobourg and Lynn Stewart Orangeville, has sent Christmas stockings and small presents to long-term care and retirement homes across Northumberland County during the holiday season.

Through the campaign, donations are collected from the community and then Christmas stockings and presents are bought for the residents of the homes the program serves.

In 2018, Vicky told The OMNIway she was inspired to start the program while visiting her mother, who was living at a long-term care home. She said she noticed some residents were not getting family visits during the holidays and saw an opportunity to make a difference.

She then contacted Lynn, who had many years’ experience organizing a Christmas hamper and stocking-stuffing program for Orangeville seniors, to suggest working together to extend the stocking-stuffing program to Cobourg.

Streamway Villa residents found a wide variety of gifts in their stockings this year, says Laurie Kracht, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

Some of the many gifts residents received included teddy bears, activity books, nail polish, toiletries and chocolates. “The residents loved their presents,” Laurie tells The OMNIway, adding Streamway Villa residents and team members are grateful for the Stuff a Stocking for a Senior initiative as well as for the other community members and organizations that showed support for the home over the holidays.

“It’s always a special treat for them on Christmas 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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Working multiple positions at Country Terrace has prepped administrator for newest role

Administrator Christie Patterson says she’s looking forward to being part of the next chapter in the home’s history

One key strength Christie Patterson brings to the table as Country Terrace’s administrator is her firm knowledge of the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home and its residents.

In fact, Christie, who moved into her role three months ago, has held positions in two other departments at Country Terrace – nutritional care and life enrichment – before taking on the administrator role after former administrator Karen Dann retired in October.

Her wide range of experience during her 13 years working at Country Terrace has given Christie valuable insight that will help her in her new role, she says.

Recognizing the talents and strengths of team members with internal promotion has long been a hallmark of the organizational culture at OMNI Health Care, and this can positively impact relationships and resident care.

Christie, who previously served as the Country Terrace life enrichment co-ordinator, says when managers have strong a familiarity with everyone connected to the home, residents, their families and staff members have “a higher comfort level” because they are well versed in the home’s operations.

“You know the residents and you know how the home runs in general; you know the family members, which is a huge plus, and you know the staff,” she says.

“(Having worked in other departments) gives me an understanding of more than one department, and that it takes the team to run the home – everybody has a role in keeping this home going.”

Christie adds her previous experience at Country Terrace helped her move into her new role, and the Country Terrace team has been supportive in helping her transition.

Looking ahead, Christie says she’s looking forward to taking on new challenges and strengthening community connections with the home.

– This is Part 1 of a two-part story

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.

Student says Garden Terrace placement has been a chance to positively impact people’s lives

‘I want all residents to be happy and to see them engaged – that’s what I like and I like to be a part of that,’ says Ellen Niekoop

Ellen Niekoop says the best part of her student placement at Garden Terrace has been the opportunity she has each day to make a positive difference in residents’ lives and to see residents tap into their full potential.

“I want all residents to be happy and to see them engaged – that’s what I like and I like to be a part of that,” says Ellen, a student in the community service worker program at the Native Education & Training College.

Ellen spoke with The OMNIway just before Christmas about her experiences as a placement student at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home. One of the benefits to students doing a placement in long-term care, she says, is that there are many different things to learn.

Helping residents during mealtimes, assisting with activities and lending a hand to staff members where needed are among the things Ellen does when she is at Garden Terrace three days a week.

But she says her favourite part of her placement work is doing one-to-one programming with residents. It’s through one-to-one programming that Ellen says she has learned the most about residents and their strengths.

“If I have to choose from all the activities, I have to say I like the one-on-one activities the most,” she says. “(During one-to-one programming) I have a chance to chat with the residents, and for me it is an opportunity to see how I can make them happy or get them more engaged.”

While Ellen says she’s still not sure where her career path will take her, she says her experience “seeing the residents smile” at Garden Terrace has had a positive impact on her time at the home.

Ellen also says she would recommend Garden Terrace to students looking for placement opportunities.

“This is a nice environment to work in and it will give any student a feel for what they would like to do further on,” she says. “If you like working with people, I would suggest doing it.”

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.

Residents applaud return of live entertainment to Willows Estate in December

‘The place was rocking,’ says Aurora long-term care home LEC

Life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Teddy Mazzuca’s voice is full of enthusiasm when she speaks about the joy the return of live entertainment has brought to residents of Willows Estate.

Kenny Joseph, a country singer and guitar player, brought smiles to residents’ faces and some to their feet to dance during an early December activity at the 84-bed Aurora long-term care home.

The musician’s visit was the first live entertainment offered inside the home by a community performer since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

“The place was rocking,” Teddy tells The OMNIway.

“I was so thrilled. The residents came to life. You could literally see them coming alive before your eyes.”

Teddy says for some of the home’s residents, this was their first experience with live entertainment in the home because they moved in recently or after the pandemic’s onset.

“They were up dancing … with just big smiles on their faces.”

To keep residents safe, there was a Plexiglas divider separating the home’s first-floor and second-floor residents, as well as a Plexiglas divider between residents and the entertainer.

Teddy says it has been “a bit challenging” going for so long without this type of entertainment.

“In the beginning (of the pandemic), we were doing a lot of one-to-ones with the residents, so they still got to see us, but it’s not the same.”

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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Seeing residents smile is the best part of the job for Country Terrace LEC

Lora Blackett shares her thoughts on her first three months working at the home

Lora Blackett says the best part of being the life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) at Country Terrace has been seeing the smiles on residents’ faces when they’re participating in programming they enjoy.

Lora, who became the LEC at the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home Oct. 4, says she’s also enjoying working with the life enrichment team members to create and run the activities that have a positive impact on residents.

“I like to be able to oversee the programs and watch how things are going, and watching the team at work and seeing them put smiles on the residents’ faces,” she tells The OMNIway, adding she’s enjoying her new position.

“It has been great, it has definitely been a learning experience, but I’ve been catching on and I really enjoy doing what I do.”

Lora has extensive experience working in life enrichment going back about 12 years. Most recently, she worked at a long-term care home in nearby London, Ont. for eight and a half years.

One aspect of programming Lora says she has been focusing on since becoming the Country Terrace LEC is introducing more small-group and one-to-one activities.

Small-group programming has been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, and one-to-one programming engages many residents who otherwise do not attend activities and events.

“Just to be able to focus our time on those residents (has been important),” Lora says.

Looking ahead, Lora says she plans to continue many of the successful programs her predecessor, Christie Patterson, ran for many years, as well as bringing her own ideas into the mix.

Christie, who is now the Country Terrace administrator, has also helped Lora adjust to her new role.

“It has been really great having Christie as the administrator now, being able to bounce ideas off of her as I learn the new role, and that has been really great, Lora says, adding the rest of the Country Terrace team has also been supportive.

“The management team has also been really kind and welcoming, as has the life enrichment team.”

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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