PSW praised for focus on ensuring people’s dignity

Birru Firew nominated for Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award

October 22, 2013 — Deron Hamel

On any given day, Garden Terrace personal support worker (PSW) Birru Firew can be found working with residents affected by cognitive impairment and going above and beyond his responsibilities.

Firew often takes on tasks that increase his workload, says administrator Carolyn Della Foresta. But because his No. 1 priority is residents he never shows an ounce of stress, she adds, noting he exhibits patience, kindness and genuine caring every day.

Ensuring residents living with dementia maintain their dignity is of utmost importance to Firew, says Della Foresta, adding she has seen the PSW encourage residents to complete tasks independently. When they do, Firew is standing there with a big smile.

This is why the administrator has nominated Firew for the Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award, which will be announced Oct. 26 during the You and Me for Memories Evening to Remember Gala in Ottawa.

“His respect and reverence for each of the residents entrusted to his care is evident in his words, his actions and his smile,” says Della Foresta in her nomination.

“His soothing and calm approach with his residents can be described as angelic.  Even though his workload is tremendous and his duties are taxing, no one around him would ever know and the residents he is caring for would certainly never feel that he is experiencing any stress.”

As a testament to Firew’s gift as a caregiver, Della Foresta says the PSW has amazing success working with female residents. This, she notes, is often challenging for male caregivers, but Firew’s caring nature overcomes this, she says.

“I believe that our residents see in Birru what each of us would so desperately long for if we were in their shoes — I believe they see comfort.”

Della Foresta tells the nominating committee that Firew doesn’t expect any recognition for his work — for him it’s all about the residents.

“Nothing with Birru is for show — it is genuinely who he is and how he desires to care for his residents,” she says.

“He can often be seen reassuring a resident, calming them down when they are upset for no apparent reason and in doing so preserving their pride and helping them back to a place of peace.”

The Anita St-Jean Memorial Caregiver of the Year Award is given out annually during the You and Me for Memories and Evening to Remember Gala to front-line caregivers in the Ottawa region who have shown outstanding performance in caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.

You and Me for Memories is a grassroots group raising money for Alzheimer’s disease research. It was started in 2008 by family members of Garden Terrace residents.

— More to come

Roots of resident’s interests found in early station days

Frank Trombley’s latest endeavour: a wooden diorama

CAMPBELLFORD, Ont. – Frank Trombley has no problem finding something to occupy his time. The Burnbrae Gardens resident is enthralled by a wide variety of things. Read more

Country Terrace embarks on two new outings

Country Terrace residents are seen here enjoying a London Knights hockey game Oct. 5. at Budweiser Gardens.

Country Terrace residents are seen here enjoying a London Knights hockey game Oct. 5. at Budweiser Gardens.

Access to the OMNI van made everything possible, says


October 18, 2013 — Deron Hamel

Country Terrace residents got to go on two new outings recently, which was made possible by the Komoka long-term care home having access to the OMNI van.

It was an experience like no other for four residents and two staff members from Country Terrace when they travelled to Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont. Oct. 5 to watch an OHL hockey game.

The residents had wanted to attend a hockey game for some time, but this had been challenging to organize because of transportation barriers. But when Country Terrace had access to the OMNI van the team booked tickets and the group got to see the London Knights beat the Guelph Storm 7-2.

While everyone was happy the home-team favourites won, it was the experience of once again being able to see a live hockey match that truly made the day special, says life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Christie Patterson.

“This was the first time we had gone to a London Knights game — the residents had asked about it last spring, during the playoffs, but we didn’t have the van at that time, so we made this a priority when we found out we’d be getting the van in October,” she tells the OMNIway, adding that having access to the OMNI van “makes a huge difference to our home.”

Patterson says being able to attend a live game made a big difference to residents. While they enjoy watching hockey on TV, it’s just not the same as being at an arena and in the thick of the action, she adds.

“And that’s what the residents said after — that (being at the game) was so much nicer,” Patterson says. “It’s many days later and the residents are still talking about it.”

Given the success of this trip, Patterson says she hopes to organize another hockey-game excursion in the future.

The hockey game wasn’t the only new outing at Country Terrace this month. On Oct. 16 the life enrichment team accompanied residents to a local theatre, which proved to be a special occasion.

In fact, one resident had not been to a movie theatre since her youth in England, Patterson notes.

“It was really neat to see their reaction when we went into the theatre,” Patterson says. “And the residents even said (the theatre) had the best popcorn ever.”

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)

Is coconut oil the answer to the Alzheimer’s question?


Thank you to for the photo enhancement.

A study is looking into the possibility of preventing, controlling cognitive impairment

October 15, 2013 — Deron Hamel

Coconut oil is the latest natural remedy researchers are giving serious consideration to in effort to prevent and control Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

While there’s yet to be published clinical evidence attributing coconut oil to preventing or treating Alzheimer’s disease, a five-year U.S. study examining the substance’s effects on 65 people with mild to moderate cognitive impairment is expected to be released next year.

There is also anecdotal evidence supporting coconut oil’s positive effect on people with cognitive impairment, including the husband of Dr. Mary Newport, the researcher leading the study.

Newport, a doctor who heads a neonatology ward in Tampa, Florida, began including four teaspoons of coconut oil into her husband’s diet each day.

Then she began noticing improvements in her husband’s condition.

“Before the coconut oil, he could not tie his shoes,” Newport said in an interview with CTV News, adding her husband also had gait issues.

“That improved. He walked normally and he was able to start running again. He was able to start reading again, his conversation improved dramatically and then over several months we saw improvements in his memory.”

Newport says before she started giving her husband coconut oil he was not responding to his medications.

Some experts believe the key to using coconut oil as a treatment for cognitive impairment might be molecules called ketones. Ketones are produced when fat is turned into energy.

An estimated 500,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. Cognitive impairment also affects the majority of long-term care home residents.

While the Alzheimer Society of Canada underscores that there is yet to be conclusive evidence pointing to the impact of coconut oil on people with cognitive impairment, studies like this are important to finding a cure.

“(T)he interest in coconut oil reinforces the value we place on research,” the society’s website says. “It’s our best hope of finding effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and improving the quality of life and care for those affected.”

If you would like to comment on this issue, please e-mail deron(at), or call 800-294-0051, ext. 23.

See for related stories

Linda Pierce celebrating 25 years at Village Green

Administrator reflects on changes she has seen

October 9, 2013 — Deron Hamel

It was September 1988 when Linda Pierce started her career at Village Green and she has seen a lot of change in the course of 25 years.

The most notable change, she says, has been the different faces — both residents and staff members — she has seen pass through the Selby long-term care home’s doors throughout the years.

“These are the people that we connect with as a community at Village Green, and (people’s coming and going) has been both a little bit exciting and a little bit sad,” Pierce tells the OMNIway.

She notes how she has seen the changes that come with leadership, with each leader bringing strengths to the organization. When Pierce began her career at Village Green, Steve Wilson and a partner ran the organization. In 1989, Wilson became sole owner and, in 1998, his son, Fraser, took the reins until 2007 when OMNI was bought by Abacus Private Equity.

Of course, Pierce has experienced change herself. While she started her OMNI career as the home’s office manager, she was promoted to administrator in 1991. She credits OMNI’s support and belief in empowering its employees for helping her in her career.

Aside from the people and leadership changes Pierce has seen, there have also been systematic changes.

While the high level of resident care has remained constant, some aspects of care delivery have changed, she notes. Thanks to staff education and learning about best practices, Village Green and OMNI Health Care’s other 16 long-term care homes have enhanced processes, systems and policies to continuously improve resident care.

Pierce says it’s the relationships she has formed with people over the years that have made her job most rewarding.

“The journey has been an incredible, exciting path to walk on,” she says. “All the people have been so great. . . . If there is one thing I could say to all those people it would be a thank you for all the support they have given.”

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)

A ‘true love story’ at Woodland Villa

Collaboration reunites husband and wife

October 7, 2013 — Deron Hamel

A husband and wife have been reunited at Woodland Villa, thanks to collaboration between the Cornwall-area long-term care home, a hospital and the regional Community Care Access Centre (CCAC).

Life enrichment co-ordinator Lisa Doran says residents Gaston and Molly Duchesneau have been living happily together since Sept. 9 when Gaston moved into Woodland Villa.

Gaston-Molly Duchesneau

Reunited: Gaston and Molly Duchesneau are happy together at Woodland Villa.

After Molly moved into the home in early August, the couple didn’t know if they would ever be able to live together again, but the efforts of resident services co-ordinator Denise Partridge, The Ottawa Hospital and Champlain CCAC resulted in the couple reuniting.

The three parties put “a lot of work” into making sure the Duchesneaus would be reunited, says Doran.

Prior to the couple moving into Woodland Villa, Gaston was Molly’s primary caregiver, until he required surgery in Ottawa. During this time Molly moved into Woodland Villa but was concerned the change would mean she and her husband would not be able to live together again.

Doran describes the couple as a “true love story.”

“Molly was anxious all morning, pacing the halls, asking staff if he was actually coming or if something changed and he wasn’t able to come,” Doran tells the OMNIway.

“But let me tell you at 11:35 a.m., when the Ottawa civic transportation van pulled up, you could see Molly and staff jumping out of their skin, waiting in anticipation for him to come through the doors.

Doran says the entire Woodland Villa team is touched by the Duchesneaus’ story.

“It was pretty special to see them reunite again,” she says. “They’re taking care of each other again and life is grand for them. . . . It’s as though they were never apart.”

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051 or e-mail deron(at)

Chef whips up creative concoctions

Brings restaurant lessons into long-term care

CAMPBELLFORD, Ont. – If you’ve been to Ricky’s All Day Grill in Peterborough, you’ve probably eaten Adam Brand’s culinary creations; he was the chef from the time they opened until just recently when he took the job of nutritional services manager at OMNI Health Care’s Burnbrae Gardens. Read more

Cruise night proves to be valuable fundraising, community engagement event


Pleasant Meadow Manor recently hosted a cruise night that saw 23 classic cars stop by the Norwood long-term care home.

Life enrichment worker’s first crack at event organizing pays off for Pleasant Meadow

October 1, 2013 — Deron Hamel

Life enrichment worker Tiffany Martell was recently at a car show and fundraiser in Warsaw, Ont., when she got an idea — why not do the same thing at Pleasant Meadow Manor?

She brought the idea to her manager, life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Chris Garden, who supported it, and on Sept. 18 the Norwood Cruisers brought 23 classic and antique cars and three motorcycles to the home for residents, their families, staff members and people from the community to enjoy.

The event, which Martell organized, was also used as a fundraiser for residents’ council. A barbecue, 50-50 draw and a silent auction raised a whopping $1,662 in just a few hours.

Garden attributes much of the event’s success to planning — and advertising. Her husband, who works as a mechanic in Norwood, spread the word to customers, and Martell created posters advertising the event. Even the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion helped advertise the event, as did staff members, volunteers and families.

“The night was great; it was a huge success . . . and there was a great teamwork approach to make it happen,” Garden tells the OMNIway.

Garden also commends Martell for coming up with the idea and making it work.

“Tiffany did an awesome job,” says the LEC, adding it was Martell’s first time organizing a large event at the home.

Garden notes the event was successful in two ways. First, the money it raised for residents’ council will go towards meaningful programming. Secondly, there’s an important engagement aspect — the event brought Norwood residents to the home and proved itself once again to be a central spot in the community.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051 or e-mail deron(at)

‘Physio is what keeps me going’: resident

Leonard Grady spends 12 hours a day in a wheelchair. The rest of the time, or most of it, he’s in bed.

If it weren’t for the physiotherapy services provided to his long-term care residence, Garden Terrace in Kanata, by Achieva Health, he would be very uncomfortable.

Garden Terrace residents ask the government not to alter funding for physiotherapy in long-term care.

Garden Terrace residents ask the government not to alter funding for physiotherapy in long-term care.

That’s not an empty prediction; Grady is actually experimenting.

“If I don’t have any exercise in a week, if I’m busy with family guests, I start losing the ability to sleep well,” he tells the OMNIway.

He suffers more cramps and the symptoms of restless leg syndrome, and it becomes harder to feed himself.

Grady is 73 and he has muscular sclerosis.

“The way I live is still fairly good yet, even though I’m in a wheelchair,” he says.

“If you sit here in this chair for 12 hours without any exercises, I just lose that.”

Grady receives physiotherapy services three times a week to maintain flexibility and strength in both his arms, so he can feed himself, and his legs, so he can stand.

“Physio is what keeps me going,” he says.

Yolande Perry is 80, and she also lives at Garden Terrace. She often wants to visit her family, and it requires that she be able to climb stairs. That’s a problem for Perry; she has fibromyalgia and has had hip fractures.

“If it hadn’t been for the therapy, I wouldn’t be walking,” she says, adding that she was able to attend a family barbecue on the weekend because of the therapy. “If I don’t do the exercises, I jam up.”

Both Grady and Perry are treated by Achieva Health physiotherapist Viji Rajasekaran who says “these guys need the physiotherapy three times a week.”

A member of the health team at Garden Terrace for three years, Rajasekaran describes the world in long-term care, where residents often arrive after a hospital stay and need help to return to their usual level of activity.

By working on flexibility, strength, balance and education, therapists help residents regain stamina that not only improves their quality of life, but also reduces their risk of further injury by tripping or transferring from bed to wheelchair. Motion exercises also help reduce the risk and severity of ulcers.

The process starts with a realistic three-month goal. With frequent regular therapy, the goal is achieved, but the threat of funding cuts that would reduce the frequency of physiotherapy services in long-term care homes worries Rajasekaran.

If they’re going to get less than three times a week, it’s hard to achieve the goals. There will definitely be a decline in residents’ health, and it will lead to more falls, more contractures and ulcers, more hospitalizations, and more money spent for seniors’ care in hospitals.

“Some families are very concerned and worried,” she says.

A three-panel just will begin today to review an application by some physiotherapy clinics in the province to stop the government from spreading physiotherapy funding in a thinner layer to more seniors. The physiotherapists claim the consultation process the government used was flawed, even by its own standards. A judge agreed with the application on first review July 26, and delayed any implementation of physio funding cuts in long-term care until after the more in-depth review set to begin today.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at  800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail jeanne(at)



Riverview goes rural

Farm animals engage 50 residents

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — The chatter wasn’t just from the clucking hens, or the baaing goat; it was as much from the residents of Riverview Manor who welcomed a mobile petting zoo complete with a lamb, goat, chickens, bunnies, a rooster or two and baby chicks.

As resident after resident touched and chatted to a bin full of baby chicks, another group of residents had a chance to get up-close and personal with the white duck that made its way around the group Aug. 15.


It was all part of a mobile farm afternoon organized for the Peterborough home by acting life enrichment co-ordinator Joanne Brown through Critter Visits, a local group that travels with its petting zoo to various celebrations.

“This event surpasses what I expected,” Brown says. “The residents are so obviously enjoying this.”

That was clear, not just from the smiles, but also from the number of residents who attended the event. As well, the chatter amongst them, or between them and the animals, was telltale.

One resident stunned many staff by her participation in the event. She was so involved in the petting zoo that she requested a chair so she could sit with the animals.

“The background is that some residents are slow to take part in group activities,” Brown says. “Not here, not today. It’s a whole different story, and it’s really nice to hear the other staff mention it.”

One staff member brought her two young children, so there were animal lovers of all ages in the garden.

That amused one resident specifically who said, “it’s so nice to see the children here too.”

Brown says while many residents have  a farming background, not all do.

“It’s entertainment for the residents. They love to just watch the  animals interact with one another, and they like to touch and feel them too,” she says.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, or feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at  800-294-0051, ext. 30, or e-mail jeanne(at)