Posts

Maplewood team encouraged to bring pets for visits

‘We have had to be so creative throughout the pandemic, and I think this is another way for us to be creative’

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, Maplewood residents received frequent and meaningful visits from St. John Ambulance therapy dogs and their handlers.

But while restrictions began easing this year and other volunteers started returning to the Brighton long-term care home, Maplewood has been unable to get the pet therapy visits residents enjoyed prior to the pandemic.

In some cases, volunteers have moved away or have retired from volunteering, resulting in a shortage of pet therapy volunteers.

Given the void this has left, Maplewood administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator Rachel Corkery is encouraging the home’s team members to bring their own pets to work to spend time with residents and staff.

In a recent OMNIway story, we told you how Rachel is bringing her new German shepherd puppy, Remington, to work with her on Fridays. She says she hopes others follow suit because having pets in the home is beneficial to residents and staff members.

“I’m hoping that staff will feel open to bringing in their pets, especially if they think it’s an appropriate match that the residents and their fellow staff members would benefit from,” Rachel says.

It’s not just dogs and cats team members can bring, Rachel adds, noting one team member has a bearded dragon.

OMNI Health Care has a visiting pet policy, and any pets brought into the home must meet specific standards and have proof of vaccinations, Rachel notes.

Allowing staff members to bring their pets to spend the day at the home is a three-way symbiotic relationship, Rachel says: a pet, such as a dog, visiting the home pleases residents and staff, and the animal is getting lots of attention as well, she notes.

“It’s hard not to smile to smile when you see a pet, especially something like a little puppy, walking through the home,” she says.

Rachel adds that having team members bring their pets to the home for visits is also an example of thinking outside the box to meet a need for residents and staff.

“We have had to be so creative throughout the pandemic, and I think this is another way for us to be creative.”

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 call the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

Puppy makes debut at Maplewood to rave reviews from residents and staff

Remington, a German shepherd, did so well on his first visit to the home, his owner, administrator Rachel Corkery, wants to bring him back every Friday

Last Friday (Aug. 26), Maplewood administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator Rachel Corkery brought her new dog, a German shepherd puppy named Remington, to the Brighton long-term care home to meet residents and staff members.

But he was so well behaved and proved to be so good with everyone, Rachel now plans to bring Remington – whom she affectionately calls Remi – to work every Friday.

On his first day, Remi made a big impression on everyone as soon as Rachel walked through the door with him at 8 a.m.

“We walked up and down the hallways and went to visit residents – we’ve just kind of been out and about – and every time someone passes by they stop and play with him,” Rachel tells The OMNIway.

Rachel says Remi spending time at Maplewood is a win-win for everyone. Remi is getting the socialization a puppy needs, and the residents and staff get to play with a dog, which, for many, brings back fond memories.

“I was talking with one resident, and I brought Remi into his line of vision and a big smile came across his face and we started talking about a dog that he had,” Rachel says.

Maplewood has a longstanding connection with the canine community. For many years, therapy dogs from St. John Ambulance would visit the home to spend time with residents.

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, the dog therapy program was suspended. With restrictions easing and programs opening again, Maplewood has been eager to restart pet visits. Unfortunately, the home has not been able to find therapy dogs in the area, Rachel says.

This is where Remi can help. Rachel says she’s considering having Remi trained as a therapy dog which would allow him to spend more time with residents.

As important as pet therapy is for long-term-care home residents, it’s also valuable for staff members, Rachel says, noting her co-workers were lining up to see Remi.

“Dogs have always been well received here, by both our staff and our residents, when we’ve had them in the past, and even when family members bring their (dogs) in to visit, it completely changes the atmosphere,” Rachel says. “As long as he continues to be well behaved, he will continue to come to work with me on Fridays.”

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 call the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

Garden Terrace residents now enjoying rabbit therapy

Home has adopted two rabbits that are having a positive impact

Two rabbits have found a home at Garden Terrace, where they now play leading roles in a new pet therapy program.

The rabbits – named Thunder and Coco – came to Garden Terrace from a farm owned by the family of Christine Ritchie, the home’s director of care.

The Garden Terrace team got the idea to adopt the rabbits after learning their sister home in Kanata, Forest Hill, welcomed three guinea pigs in March.

“They have guinea pigs, so we thought we would get some bunnies,” says Garden Terrace life enrichment co-ordinator Rachael King.

Garden Terrace residents had their first rabbit therapy session on June 9. Rachael says the program went well and that being around the small animals brought back fond memories for many.

“The residents really, really enjoyed it,” she says. “Some had bunnies and other animals growing up, and even if they didn’t, a lot of them are animal lovers in general.”

Rachael says having pets living at the home fills an important emotional need for residents.

When residents were engaging with the rabbits, “you could see the compassion and the care and the happiness light up in their eyes because they get to be with an animal again.”

One of the big questions residents were asking was, “when do we have to give them back?” Rachael says.

“It was exciting for them to realize that they have their own animals in the home now.”

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.

Bunny visit merges Easter programming with pet therapy at the Willows

LEA Bobbi Wright dressed as the Easter bunny visited residents – and was accompanied by a real bunny

The Willows Estate team married an Easter activity with a pet therapy program on April 13 when two bunnies visited the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home’s residents.

One of the bunnies was in costume. Life enrichment aide (LEA) Bobbi Wright put on an Easter bunny outfit that day and strolled around the Willows, visiting residents and wishing them a happy Easter.

She also brought her daughter’s pet rabbit to the home that day and was able to bring residents some much-appreciated pet therapy.

When Bobbi visited residents as the Easter bunny, they were able to have some time with the real bunny.

Residents were able to pet and cuddle the rabbit with their hands, which had a positive impact on everyone, says Teddy Mazzuca, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC).

“The residents were really petting the bunny, and I was so impressed,” she tells The OMNIway. “It turned out so well – it was so nice that we could do this.”

This was the first Easter Willows Estate had a bunny visit, Teddy says.

“I don’t believe in my time we’ve had a bunny here, so this was nice,” she says. “Bobbi was willing to bring the bunny in, which was so nice of her.”

While it was Teddy who came up with the idea for the Easter program, she underscores that all activities at the home result from strong teamwork.

“It’s always a joint effort at the Willows,” she says.

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.

Playful puppies pop by Garden Terrace

A visit from four puppies and their mother proves to be both fun and therapeutic for residents

A visit from a mother dog and her puppies proved to be both fun and therapeutic for Garden Terrace residents.

On April 3, Dawn O’Leary, a nurse at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home, brought her Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever and her four puppies to visit residents.

Life enrichment team members took the pups to have visits with residents on each floor. There was also a playpen set up for the puppies.

During their visits, residents played with the puppies and they got to hold them. Garden Terrace life enrichment co-ordinator Rachael King notes that one of the residents’ favourite activities with the puppies was watching them jostle in the playpen.

“They loved watching the puppies wrestle,” she tells The OMNIway.

“The residents also reminisced. They talked about what they would name the dogs, they talked about dogs they had owned in the past, and they talked about what dogs meant to them.”

Some residents have had a version of pet therapy in the past using life-like robotic dogs, but these residents told Rachael it’s not the same as a real canine.

Rachael says the pups also encouraged resident engagement.

“Some residents who usually don’t come to programs came to this one, and that was nice,” she adds.

The program went so well Garden Terrace is planning to have Dawn return soon with the pups for another visit.

“Hopefully, we will have them back in a few weeks,” she says.

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.

‘Golden Girls’ find new home at Forest Hill

Three guinea pigs, who have become permanent guests at the home, were each named after a character from the hit TV series

Forest Hill recently welcomed Golden Girls Dorothy, Blanche and Rose as permanent guests.

But these aren’t the famed television Golden Girls you’re probably thinking of but rather three guinea pigs who have been adopted by the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home, thanks to a collaboration with Guinea Pig Rescue Ottawa.

Guinea Pig Rescue Ottawa, a shelter for guinea pigs needing homes, launched a project to help bring the small animals to long-term care homes to serve as therapy pets.

Forest Hill is the first long-term care home to partner with the shelter.

“We just happened to contact them at the right time because that was when they were starting this initiative,” life enrichment co-ordinator Craig Forrest tells The OMNIway.

“We were the first home for them to try this with.”

The shelter provided Forest Hill with the guinea pigs as well as two cages – a large one that houses the Golden Girls and a smaller one for transporting the pets between floors.

Hay, water bottles and food dishes were also provided at no cost. To thank the charity, Forest Hill made a donation to help Guinea Pig Rescue Ottawa continue its service.

Craig says residents are enjoying their new housemates, who moved to Forest Hill shortly after Golden Girls cast member Betty White passed away on Dec. 31, aged 99.

White, who played Rose Nylund on the hit TV show, was a renowned animal welfare advocate, so residents and staff decided to name the guinea pigs after three of the Golden Girls characters, Craig says.

Craig notes the guinea pigs get excited at feeding time and make chirping noises, which residents get a kick out of.

“Residents congregate around the guinea pigs – they really enjoy seeing them, especially around feeding time or when they are getting treats,” he says.

“It has been a really big success so far and the residents have really enjoyed 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.

PHOTO CAPTION: Forest Hill resident Ieta Van Heukelom is pictured here with guinea pigs Rose and Dorothy.

West Lake residents enjoy their first pet-therapy program in 20 months

Huxley, the brother of beloved volunteer pug Gibson, makes his debut as pet-therapy headliner at the home

Dog owners are all too familiar with their loyal canines waiting at the front door for them to return home, but on Nov. 22 the situation was reversed at West Lake Terrace as residents anxiously waited for a visit from a pug named Huxley.

Huxley and his owner, Lesley Campbell, were due to arrive at 2:30 p.m. that day for the Prince Edward County long-term care home’s first pet-therapy session in 20 months, so it’s easy to understand why residents were looking forward to seeing their furry friend.

The last pet-therapy program at the home was before the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, when Lesley was at the home with Huxley’s brother, Gibson, a five-year volunteer at West Lake Terrace, who sadly passed away in summer.

Huxley had been to West Lake Terrace with Gibson, but this was the first time he had been “the star of the show,” says Janie Denard, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

Residents were so excited to see Huxley and Lesley they were waiting by the front door for an hour, Janie notes.

“It was fabulous; Huxley wasn’t coming until 2:30, but the residents were waiting by the door at 1:30,” she tells The OMNIway.

“I told them Huxley wasn’t coming for another hour, and they said, ‘we don’t want to miss him.’ … Some (residents) were even pacing in the dining room.”

During their visit, Lesley and Huxley spent time with the residents who had been eagerly waiting in the lounge as well as with those who were in their rooms.

Janie says the visit from Lesley and Huxley had a positive impact that is still being felt days after their time at the home.

“Residents were so thrilled, not just to see Huxley but also Lesley,” she says.

“Pet therapy is one of those activities that (positively impacts) every resident in the home. The staff are also thrilled that we are able to do this because it‘s one step closer to things being the way they were pre-COVID.”

Janie says Lesley and Huxley will be visiting West Lake Terrace every Wednesday for pet-therapy sessions.

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.

PHOTO CAPTION: Pictured above, West Lake Terrace volunteer Lesley Campbell holds her pug, Gibson, during a window visit in 2020. Sadly, Gibson passed away this past summer, but his brother, Huxley, is now headlining pet-therapy sessions with residents.

Pet therapy returns to Garden Terrace

‘It was nice for them to get to see the dogs again’

It has been a long time coming, but a pet therapy program has returned to Garden Terrace, and the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home’s residents were happy to be reunited with two of their favourite canines.

On Sept. 14, residents had their first pet therapy session since the COVID-19 pandemic began 18 months ago. Two trained therapy dogs – a Labrador retriever and a Shetland sheepdog – visited Garden Terrace with their handlers from Ottawa Therapy Dogs.

To keep everyone safe during the pandemic, the program was kept outside, and mask-wearing and social distancing protocols were in effect.

Garden Terrace life enrichment co-ordinator Rachael King says residents were overjoyed to be able to visit with the dogs. The therapy dogs had been to the home before the pandemic began.

“They haven’t had pet therapy in over a year and a half, and a lot of the residents adore animals,” Rachael tells The OMNIway. “It was nice for them to get to see the dogs again.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization in March 2020, non-essential visits to Ontario long-term care homes were halted. This meant pet therapy programs were suspended.

But with high resident vaccination rates and eased restrictions, Garden Terrace residents were able to enjoy an outdoor visit with their furry friends.

“A few of the residents recognized the dogs,” Rachael says. “It was a nice day and the residents loved it.”

Rachael says outdoor visits with therapy dogs will continue for the rest of the year as long as the weather permits.

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.

West Lake Terrace honours therapy dog Gibson at a memorial service

Gibson, who recently passed away, served as a much-loved volunteer at the home for five years

West Lake Terrace residents and staff members said goodbye to a valued four-legged volunteer who spent five years bringing love and happiness to everyone at the Prince Edward County long-term care home.

A memorial service was held at the home Aug. 11 to honour Gibson, a pug owned by volunteer Lesley Campbell. Gibson passed away recently and the loss has deeply affected residents and staff members, says life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard.

“It was a very emotional day for the residents and staff as we said our goodbye to Gibson,” she tells The OMNIway.

Gibson, a St. John Ambulance therapy dog, began his pet-therapy journey at West Lake Terrace in 2016. In addition to West Lake Terrace, Gibson and Lesley volunteered at three retirement homes in the area as well as at Hospice Prince Edward, Pathways to Independence and Community Living Prince Edward.

“Gibson touched so many people during his time with us, and Lesley did so much for our home we can’t begin to express our sincere appreciation to her,” Janie says.

“A resident commented to me (after the service), ‘we lost a very special member of our family. No one could ever replace our Gibby.’ ”

Indeed, Gibson’s volunteering services were valued at West Lake Terrace. During special occasions and holidays, Gibson would show up at the home in costumes, such as the Easter bunny or as a pumpkin at Halloween.

After the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, volunteers were not able to visit West Lake Terrace due to safety restrictions in place. However, Gibson and Lesley still made regular window visits to say hello to the residents and staff members they were missing.

Janie says the memorial service was emotional. At the same time, everyone felt grateful to have had five years of visits from Gibson, she adds.

“Lots of tears were shed, but we also feel very blessed to have had Gibson become a part of our West Lake Terrace family, and (we) witnessed the true unconditional love Gibson had for our residents,” Janie says.

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.

Streamway volunteer recalls the positive impact her therapy dog had on a resident

Duffy, a British golden retriever, is a St. John Ambulance therapy dog who has visited Streamway Villa with his owner, Lisa Denvir. Due to protocols to keep residents and staff safe during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, there is currently no pet-therapy programming at OMNI Health Care long-term care homes.

‘For me, when I see that dramatic of a change, that’s particularly rewarding,’ says Lisa Denvir

Pet therapy programs are valuable assets to long-term care homes because of the positive impact they have on residents, but Lisa Denvir, who has visited Streamway Villa with her British golden retriever, Duffy, says the pair also reaps rewards from their time at the home. Read more