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OMNI’s exceptional food quality and team members’ love for their work shine through during March Madness contest

Between March and September, The OMNIway showcased examples of the amazing food residents in OMNI Health Care’s long-term care homes enjoy, prepared by dedicated team members who are committed to their art.

The March Madness recipe challenge encouraged nutritional care team members to choose their favourite recipes and enter them in the bracket contest, which was similar to sports playoffs.

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

Eighteen recipes were submitted, and team members had fun showcasing their talents, which was exactly what Chris Weber, OMNI’s operations manager of nutrition and food service, was aiming for when he created the contest.

Once the photos and recipes were posted online, OMNIway readers and OMNI team members voted for their favourite recipes. The contest ran each week until early May.

The winning recipe was a Mediterranean omelette created by Country Terrace nutritional care team member Josephine Goddard. The omelette is a medley of spinach, eggplant, red pepper, mushrooms, onions, feta cheese and garlic.

What truly shone through during this six-month story series was how much nutritional care team members enjoy their work and how they marry their love of food with their dedication to residents.

Team members shared how they were inspired to create the recipes they entered, and there were some interesting stories behind these meals.

One team member shared a childhood memory of the meatball stew her mother would make; another was inspired to submit the recipe for the roast turkey he often makes for Sunday lunch.

What stood out during the March Madness contest was how team members wanted to share their favourite food memories with the residents they serve.

That’s a special kind of commitment.

Innovative thinking remains in high gear at OMNI homes

Team members working in OMNI Health Care homes have been showing their ingenuity throughout autumn and using their knack for innovative thinking to create programs and ideas to help keep quality of life high for the residents they serve.

Michelle Geeves, a new life enrichment aide (LEA) at Springdale Country Manor, recently created a program that’s bringing residents back to primetime TV of the 1980s.

The program, called Laughing with the Golden Girls, sees residents watching episodes of the Golden Girls on DVD and then participating in trivia about the program and a discussion about the episode over cheesecake – the Golden Girls’ favourite dessert.

“Residents remember the Golden Girls well, and we have cheesecake because that was the Golden Girls’ favourite snack,” Michelle tells The OMNIway.

“We all laughed and thought it was fun.”

The Laughing with the Golden Girls program has prompted lots of reminiscing about the days when it was a top-rated TV show, says Springdale life enrichment co-ordinator Sonia Murney.

“Michelle gets a good group of residents together and they sit around and chat and create memories and do all kinds of fun stuff,” she says.

It has been Christmas year-round at Riverview Manor for the past 22 months, thanks to the ingenuity of one of the home’s LEAs.

With limited space in the two dining rooms for Christmas trees – due to COVID-19 pandemic protocols, residents have been spaced six feet apart during mealtimes – Tina Hutchinson came up with the idea to put trees on corner walls in December 2020.

Tina and the life enrichment team attached branches from the home’s artificial Christmas trees to the walls and decorated them with holiday-themed ornaments and lights as they do every holiday season.

After the Christmas season ended, the team decided to leave the trees up and add decorations throughout the year to match seasonal themes, Tina explains, noting the trees have remained popular conversation pieces among residents.

“So now, decorations for every season, every holiday, are put up on the tree,” she says.

At Maplewood, staff members are being encouraged to bring their pets to work from home to spend time with residents and their colleagues. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 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, Maplewood has been unable to get the pet therapy visits residents enjoyed prior to the pandemic, says administrator Rachel Corkery.

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

This is where staff can help, Rachel says.

Allowing staff members to bring their pets to spend the day at the home is a three-way symbiotic relationship, she 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.

Resident’s son commends Streamway Villa team for helping his mother continue the activities she loves

Mike Filip says his mother, Joan, is still gardening, bird watching and spending time with her family

COBOURG, Ont. – Since moving into Streamway Villa eight months ago, Joan Filip has been enjoying the same activities she always has, and she’s especially happy to be continuing her passion for growing flowers, gardening and bird watching as well as spending lots of time with her family.

Joan was able to move all her flowers and plants from home to Streamway, and her son, Mike, built a little garden outside his mother’s window, complete with bird feeders.

“She loves the birds and she loves to garden because that’s what she did when she retired, so we tried to bring that here for her as well because that’s what she had in the past,” Mike tells The OMNIway.

Sitting outside the home on a pleasant Friday afternoon, Joan and Mike spoke with The OMNIway about their experiences at Streamway Villa and how the home’s staff members have ensured Joan’s transition was seamless.

Pointing towards the Streamway Villa courtyard, Mike says the environment provides the scenery Joan finds comforting, adding if his mother lived in another home she might not have her own little flower garden.

“We’re able to do that here, rather than being in a skyscraper or an apartment building where all you have is a window and looking out onto cement; she’s got the window she can look out of and she’s got the trees that are around her window,” Mike says.

Joan, who’s 102, also gets lots of visits from her family members and friends, and Mike says Streamway staff members go out of their way to accommodate visitors.

“She loves the fact that she’s in contact with her family all the time,” Mike says. “She has a phone in her room, so her grandchildren can call her, (and) she’s able to watch the hockey games, so there are all kinds of benefits that a small home provides.”

Joan is highly active at Streamway Villa, participating in programming and she especially enjoys taking trips to the local farmers’ market on Saturday mornings.

She also spends a lot of time with her loved ones, going for lunch or out for walks, Mike notes, adding Streamway Villa life enrichment co-ordinator Laurie Kracht has been helpful at ensuring Joan’s family members can visit.

“Her family members come from all over, and they always work out timing with Laurie to get in here and get all the protocols covered,” he 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.

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

PHOTO CAPTION: Streamway Villa resident Joan Filip and her son, Mike, are pictured here enjoying a sunny afternoon together at the Cobourg long-term care home.

Smoked salmon quiche offers a unique addition to Country Haven’s St. Patrick’s Day meal

This tasty quiche was so good, its creator, chef Sarah Montgomery, entered the recipe in OMNI’s March Madness challenge

Back in March, Almonte Country Haven chef Sarah Montgomery wanted to serve something different to residents of the Lanark County long-term care home on St. Patrick’s Day.

What she came up with was a delicious smoked salmon quiche that was served in addition to the corned beef and cabbage and Irish stew that’s normally served for the occasion.

While Sarah says smoked salmon “can be a little intimidating for the older generation,” especially if they’ve never had it before on its own, but the familiar taste of eggs and other ingredients modifies the taste and creates a delicate flavour that goes well when paired with the side salad she serves it with.

“I found that the salmon with the fresh herbs, Dijon zing and savouriness of the sautéed onions, all comes together perfectly and the pairing salad with it (makes it) yummy,” Sarah says.

Sarah enjoyed making her smoked salmon quiche for residents so much that she entered it in OMNI Health Care’s March Madness recipe challenge.

To create this quiche, Sarah first makes a pastry from flour, water, shortening, salt and vinegar. The filling is made from a combination of eggs, sautéed onions, smoked salmon, chives, Dijon mustard, fresh basil and whipping cream.

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

OMNI social worker recalls how helping a resident self-advocate changed their home experience

‘The experience of self-advocating really did wonders for the resident’

During the five months she has been a social worker at five OMNI Health Care long-term care homes, Alicia Niewiatowska has provided many interventions that have helped enhance residents’ home experience, but there’s one that stands out in her mind.

A resident at one of the homes Alicia works with was struggling with mental-health issues exacerbated by isolation during the pandemic. As a result, the resident began experiencing agitation that led to behaviours.

Front-line staff members were working hard to help the resident, but they were struggling to provide the needed supports.

Alicia was brought in to meet with the resident and provide interventions, one of which was helping the resident voice concerns they had, and empower the resident to take some control over their situation.

Alicia encouraged the resident to write a letter to the home’s administrator to explain their concerns. Alicia also supported the resident when they met with the administrator to get their perspective known.

“The experience of self-advocating really did wonders for the resident,” Alicia tells The OMNIway.

“The intervention of being able to speak up, to be heard, to be autonomous, and to have that agency over their own experience and their own residency in the home, that, in and of itself, really eliminated 80 per cent of (the issues) the resident was having.”

OMNI began rolling out a social worker program in many of its seniors’ homes earlier this year. Alicia says this initiative is not only innovative and fills a needed gap by addressing residents’ psycho-social needs, it is also alleviating pressure on front-line staff members who would otherwise be called to help.

Alicia says staff members approached her to say that after this intervention, the resident’s quality of life – and outlook – improved. The resident didn’t need medical intervention, they needed a psycho-social intervention, and that’s where an in-house social worker can help, she adds.

“That was a great success,” 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 call the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

Classic St. Patrick’s Day meal is one of Willows chef’s specialties

Diana Payne submitted her corned beef and cabbage recipe to OMNI’s March Madness recipe challenge

St. Patrick’s Day served as the inspiration behind Willows Estate chef Diana Payne’s delicious recipe submission for OMNI Health Care’s March Madness recipe challenge.

Corned beef and cabbage is a classic recipe served on St. Patrick’s Day, and Diana prepared her version of this fan-favourite meal for the residents of the Aurora, Ont. long-term care home on March 17, right around the time she submitted her recipe.

It’s a colourful, flavourful meal that Diana is rightfully proud to serve.

She starts by thinly slicing meat from a corned beef roast she then fries in butter. Next, Diana will sauté sliced cabbage, onions and carrots in butter and olive oil until the cabbage begins to brown.

She seasons the cabbage, onion and carrots – which reflect the green, white and orange colours of Ireland’s flag – with salt and pepper and serves the veggies with the meat.

“(I) planned the menu down to the detail, including making a pitcher of green beer to serve with lunch,” Diana says.

Accompanying her corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day were lemon cupcakes with green buttercream icing.

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

‘Travelling programs’ encouraging resident involvement at Garden Terrace

‘If we bring the program to people, we are making more contact’

The Garden Terrace life enrichment team is finding that individualized one-to-one programs delivered to residents at their own leisure is increasing participation, especially among those residents living with cognitive impairment.

Shannon Boisvenue, the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator, says her department has been focusing on programs that engage residents living with cognitive impairment to provide them with meaningful activities that meet their needs.

“Travelling programs”, which see team members go from resident to resident to provide a variety of one-to-one activities based on each resident’s interests, has hit the mark, she says.

“It could be going room to room with a dartboard and playing darts with residents for one-to-one programming, and the next person might be a resident who just wants someone to give them a hand massage, so it’s more one-to-one programming that we’re aiming at,” Shannon tells The OMNIway.

“This has been a good program because it lets us connect with more people, rather than just relying on the people who regularly attend programming. If we bring the program to people, we are making more contact.”

There are 16 residents living in each of the home’s secured neighbourhoods, and team members will either conduct programming with residents individually or in groups of two or three for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, based on each resident’s preference.

Shannon says team members speak with each resident to learn more about their interests and strengths and then create individualized activities that meet their interests and strengths.

Team members also relay information to each other to ensure everyone is kept up to date, Shannon says.

“The (life enrichment) staff does a good job of sharing that information (about) which programs have been successful with which residents,” 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 call the newsroom at deron(at)axiomnews.com.

Pandemic has highlighted the need for psycho-social support in LTC: social worker

‘Social work provides a more holistic approach to the resident care’

There’s a crucial need for long-term-care home residents to be able to access psycho-social support, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made this clear, says OMNI Health Care social worker Alicia Niewiatowska.

When the pandemic began in March 2020, long-term-care home residents across Canada faced isolation as homes went into lockdown to prevent the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus.

As a result, residents could not visit their loved ones face to face for several months, which had a detrimental impact on many, says Alicia, who has serves the residents of five OMNI homes, Kentwood Park, Rosebridge Manor, Village Green, West Lake Terrace and Woodland Villa.

As such, homes everywhere began to see an increased need for in-house psycho-social support for residents. OMNI, Alicia says, rose to the challenge this year by hiring social workers to serve the residents of their homes.

So, what does a day in the life of a long-term-care home social worker look like?

“It looks different every day,” Alicia tells The OMNIway, adding the variety of tasks that come with her role is her favourite part of the job.

Much of her day may be spent building rapport with residents and their loved ones. She also consults with staff members, especially Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) team members who work with residents experiencing agitation or exhibiting behaviours, to get updates on residents and to provide them with emotional support.

Alicia also spends a good deal of time engaging with a wide range of community partners that run the gamut from geriatric psychiatry professionals to public libraries.

“It’s a mixed bag, for sure,” she says of her job.

What sets social workers apart from other long-term-care home team members is that social workers do not use the medical model of treatment, Alicia says.

“We provide an alternate perspective, that is, at times, very much in contrast to the medical model,” she says.

“Social work provides a more holistic approach to the resident care.”

– This is Part 2 of a four-part story series about the role of social work in OMNI Health Care homes. Click here to read Part 1.

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.

Country Terrace residents take first lunch outing in two years to favourite spot

Trip to Mackie’s restaurant in Port Stanley brings back happy childhood memories

It had been more than two years since Country Terrace residents went on a lunchtime outing, so staff members at the Komoka, Ont. long-term care home wanted to make sure they were treated to somewhere special as soon as they had a chance.

And the team knew just the place.

Mackie’s restaurant, located in Port Stanley, has been a fixture in southwestern Ontario since it opened on the shores of Lake Erie in 1911.

Since then, several generations have enjoyed the hamburgers, hot dogs, fish and chips, and famous homemade beverage, Orangeade, the restaurant offers.

Many Country Terrace residents are among those who have fond memories of enjoying a meal at Mackie’s, says Lora Blackett, Country Terrace’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

On July 14, a group of 12 residents and staff members made the 45-minute drive to Port Stanley to have lunch at Mackie’s and enjoy the scenery of the beach town.

Given that this was the first outing of its kind since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2022, residents had an especially enjoyable time, Lora says.

“The residents loved it; it was such a beautiful day,” she tells The OMNIway. “It was nice and sunny, and they were able to eat outside and look at the water and watch the kids playing on the beach.”

After lunch, residents were treated to ice cream and then got to take a walk along the beach. The Port Stanley beach is wheelchair accessible which allowed all residents to participate, Lora notes.

Lora says the outing brought back fond childhood memories for several residents, and one of the best parts of the trip for her was hearing residents recall their experiences at Mackie’s and Port Stanley.

“A lot of the residents shared memories about going there when they were kids,” 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.

In-house social workers add a new dynamic to OMNI homes

By providing social work services to residents, OMNI is staying ahead of the curve among LTC providers, says Alicia Niewiatowska

Social worker Alicia Niewiatowska says she has a unique but clearly defined role to play in the lives of residents living at the five OMNI Health Care long-term care homes she serves – and that’s to “enhance their quality of life from a psycho-social perspective, because the medical one is well covered.”

Alicia is one of the social workers who have joined the OMNI team this year to add a new dynamic to the organization and take the high level of care OMNI prides itself on up another notch.

Since March, she has served the residents of Kentwood Park, Rosebridge Manor, Village Green, West Lake Terrace and Woodland Villa as an in-house advocate when they need someone to talk with or if they require mental-health support.

Alicia says the role OMNI has created for social workers is unique.

“Social workers (in long-term care homes) are usually relegated to the admissions process or doing community liaison work with other agencies, but (OMNI’s) program is really looking to be much more in-depth and focused on psycho-social needs,” she tells The OMNIway.

Alicia is also at the ready to help family members navigate the system when needed as well as to connect residents with valuable services they may want outside the home, such as library programs.

Alicia worked in the long-term care sector before joining the OMNI team, and she brings a wealth of experience working with residents and family members to her role.

One of the aspects of her job Alicia says she likes best is that she’s a “mobile social worker,” serving many residents at different homes, which broadens the positive impact she can make.

OMNI has rolled out a social worker program across many of its seniors homes this year, and Alicia is crediting the organization for positioning itself ahead of the curve by recognizing the need for social work in the seniors home sector and understanding the important part social workers can play enhancing quality of life for long-term-care home residents.

Ontario long-term care homes are not mandated to have social workers on staff. The addition of social workers to the organization shows OMNI’s commitment to residents, Alicia says.

“OMNI is going ahead and doing what they think is best for residents, which I wholeheartedly agree with,” she says.

– This is Part 1 of a four-part story series about the role of social workers in OMNI Health Care homes.

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.