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Streamway Villa author receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Streamway Villa resident Verna Thaxter is pictured here receiving her Lifetime Achievement Award from OMNI Health Care president and CEO Patrick McCarthy during a recent ceremony at the Cobourg long-term care home.

Verna Thaxter’s memoir of her experiences during the Great Depression has left a mark on residents and staff

When Verna Thaxter moved into Streamway Villa, everyone knew right away that she was someone special, says the Cobourg long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Christina Doughty.
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This pie is no lemon

Garth Derry’s ‘exaggerated lemon meringue pie’ an example of top-quality baking

Before working in Streamway Villa’s kitchen, nutritional care manager Garth Derry owned a bakery for 12 years. His pie-making skills are well established, and it’s a strength he’s brought to the Cobourg long-term care home.

This week’s featured recipe is Derry’s “exaggerated lemon meringue pie,” which has been a fan favourite at Streamway Villa, and it’s a dessert for which he gets many compliments.

What’s so special about this lemon meringue pie? For starters, it’s made from scratch with fresh ingredients, so it doesn’t have that frozen-pie taste, he says. Secondly, it’s huge, which is why it’s called “exaggerated” lemon meringue pie, Derry points out.

With its pleasing colours and mountainous meringue topping, Derry’s lemon pie gets a lot of requests around Streamway Villa; it’s why Chris Weber, OMNI’s operations manager of nutrition and food services, asked the OMNIway to do a story featuring this yummy dessert.

On a recent episode of TV’s Top Chef Canada, judge Mark McEwan’s words to two contestants on the cooking reality show were that their dish resembled “nursing-home” food. McEwan’s comments were based on the stigma that food served in long-term care homes isn’t appetizing.

Weber saw the episode and wants to put an end to the preconceived notion that “nursing-home food” is in some way below par in taste and presentation. He wants to show the world just what “nursing-home food” really is and how chefs and cooks working in the long-term care sector can produce top-quality dishes as good as anyone.

Using the hashtag #NursingHomeFood on social-media networks Twitter and Facebook, Weber and The OMNIway are collaborating in the coming weeks to showcase some of the top-notch food prepared at OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes.

Derry, who has also worked in high-end restaurants, says his lemon meringue pie is one example of the top-quality food served in long-term care homes today. It’s food like this that’s part of the change in long-term care homes seen over the years, he adds.

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

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

Administrator has ‘changed Streamway Villa around significantly’

Kylie Szczebonski receives Inspired Leader award

In the three years since Kylie Szczebonski joined the Streamway Villa team, the Cobourg long-term care home’s administrator has shown top-notch leadership qualities that have made her the ideal recipient for this year’s Inspired Leader award, says Christina Verleysen.

Verleysen, Streamway Villa’s life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC), says Szczebonski has “changed Streamway Villa around significantly” through several policies and procedures she has spearheaded or helped bring to the home.

At the top of this list is her involvement with implementing Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) at Streamway Villa.

BSO is a $40-million provincial initiative to help enhance quality of life for seniors affected by dementia and other conditions that cause agitation. The funding, which is provided to long-term care homes through the province’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks, is largely put towards staff education.

Since Streamway Villa began its involvement with BSO in 2012, the home has seen a significant decrease in aggressive behaviours from residents affected by cognitive impairment, Verleysen points out.

In fact, during a one-month period in 2012, the home saw a 50 per cent reduction in responsive behaviours, including aggression, wandering, physical resistance and agitation.

“BSO was a huge thing,” Verleysen tells The OMNIway. “She (Szczebonski) went to head office and she helped with implementing of BSO. Our behaviours have decreased significantly since BSO was implemented.”

In addition to the policies she’s helped implement at Streamway Villa, Szczebonski has shown strong leadership by way of example, Verleysen says.

“She always has an open-door policy and she’s a very hard worker,” the LEC says. “She’s a very strong leader in that if you are unsure of anything you can go to her and she usually has the answer.”

Szczebonski and team members from 16 other OMNI Health Care long-term care homes were presented with Inspired Leader awards May 7 during the second annual Awards and Recognition Night at Fern Resort. The presentation was part of OMNI’s annual managers’ forum.

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

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

G8 health ministers commit to curing dementia by 2025

OMNI administrator shares thoughts on international plan

Thursday, December 12, 2013 — Deron Hamel

The health ministers of the world’s eight largest economies committed on Wednesday to finding a cure for dementia, a condition affecting an estimated 44 million people worldwide, including 500,000 Canadians, by 2025.

Canadian Minister of Health Rona Ambrose attended the Summit in London. Photo Courtesy of Rona Ambrose Web.

Canadian Minister of Health Rona Ambrose attended the Summit in London. Photo Courtesy of Rona Ambrose Web.

It’s estimated that 1.4 million Canadians will have some form of dementia by 2031.

Meeting at a G8 conference in London, U.K. to address the issue of dementia and what can be done to find a cure, health ministers from Canada, Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan agreed to create a “dementia envoy” dedicated to promoting research into finding a cure.

The first step to finding a cure for dementia will be to appoint the envoy, who will be tasked with assembling international expertise and obtaining research funding from public and private sectors.

The conference drew attention to the fact that $12 billion worldwide has been spent on research to cure dementia, yet there has been little success in the process.

With the populations of G8 nations aging at a fast pace there’s more need now than ever to find a cure, the ministers concluded.

Streamway Villa administrator Kylie Szczebonski sees the impact dementia has on residents and staff members every day. With most long-term care residents affected by some form of cognitive impairment, it’s a condition that needs addressing, she says, adding the G8 health ministers’ commitment is a step in the right direction.

“I think (this is) very positive because they’re focusing on geriatrics and they’re focusing on dementia and the elder population — people are living longer and people are taking better care of their (physical) health, so dementia is only going to become a bigger issue in the future,” she tells the OMNIway.

“The fact that (the G8 health ministers) have set a goal, they’re talking about it and it’s becoming news is important because that’s something that you never would hear before. This is a significant step.”

Canada is the only G8 country without a national dementia strategy. Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose noted in an interview with reporters at the conference that to develop a national strategy in Canada, the federal government and provinces will need to collaborate.

Responding to this, Szczebonski says Ontario is advanced in dementia research and that there’s room for the provinces to meet and discuss what they are each doing and then federally implement successes seen in each of the 10 regions.

“This (would be) reflective of what’s working (across Canada),” Szczebonski says.

Szczebonski points to the province’s Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) program as an example of what’s already working well in dementia care. While not focused on finding a dementia cure, BSO does foster best practices in preventing behavioural responses in people affected by dementia through non-pharmaceutical interventions.

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

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

Streamway staff save lives by donating blood

Home joins Canadian Blood Services Partners for Life program

November 29, 2013 — Jennifer Neutel 

When Christina Verleysen looked across the room as she donated blood and saw her Streamway Villa colleagues, she says she felt even more proud to be a part of the home.

“It was just amazing the response I got so it was definitely something that I will be doing again in January,” says Verleysen. “It brought us closer – it doesn’t matter what your position is at Streamway, everyone came together.” Photo From Canadian Blood Services.

“It was just amazing the response I got so it was definitely something that I will be doing again in January,” says Verleysen. “It brought us closer – it doesn’t matter what your position is at Streamway, everyone came together.”
Photo From Canadian Blood Services.

Fifteen of the Cobourg long-term care home’s staff members donated blood Nov. 20 at the Columbus Community Centre, thanks to the idea of dietary aide Tamara Dunn. Dunn approached Verleysen, life enrichment co-ordinator at the home, with the idea and asked if Verleysen could organize it.

“I’m a regular donor and I think everybody should do it if they can,” Dunn tells the OMNIway.

When Verleysen approached colleagues they were eager to give blood and understood the importance of saving lives.

“It was just amazing the response I got so it was definitely something that I will be doing again in January,” says Verleysen. “It brought us closer – it doesn’t matter what your position is at Streamway, everyone came together.”

According to the Canadian Blood Services every hour saves three lives, so through the 15 staff members 45 lives were saved.

Streamway Villa is now part of Canadian Blood Services’ Partners for Life Program, and will be in touch with the agency every other month.

Canadian Blood Services community development co-ordinator Crystal Powell says Verleysen was able to educate and recruit a large number of donors for their first blood drive. The home has a goal of 30 units of blood (one unit equals one donation, healthy donors can donate every 56 days) for 2014.

“I am sure they will far exceed this number given the great leadership of Christina and the obvious camaraderie and teamwork of its staff. I look forward to watching their lifesaving number grow throughout the year,” says Powell.

Among the benefits to workplaces for getting involved with Canadian Blood Services are saving lives, building staff morale and pride, providing employee development opportunities, having a positive public image and receiving recognition from Canadian Blood Services.

“New donors are essential to the continued success of our blood donor clinics and the Partner for Life program is a great way for organizations, groups, companies to become involved,” says Powell.

To learn more about the Partners for Life program or to join visit www.blood.ca. After joining, a community development coordinator gets in touch to answer questions, complete the registration process and develop an individual plan.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 26, or email jennifer(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 26, or e-mail jennifer(at)axiomnews.ca.

Halloween comes to OMNI homes

Homes host parties to celebrate a favourite tradition

November 4, 2013 — Deron Hamel

Streamway Villa staff members show off their costumes during the home's annual Halloween party.

Streamway Villa staff members show off their costumes during the home’s annual Halloween party.

OMNI Health Care long-term care homes celebrated Halloween, a favourite holiday amongst residents and staff members, on Oct. 31 and residents and staff members had a ball, say organizers.

Streamway Villa and Frost Manor were busy last week planning activities for residents, some of which brought a unique twist to Halloween parties.

At Streamway Villa in Cobourg, the morning exercise class was given a Halloween theme: “Monster Mash Fun and Fitness,” that saw Halloween songs played.

There was also Halloween bingo and all residents received sweets and Halloween prizes. Some residents who opted out of bingo carved pumpkins and decorated Halloween cupcakes.

In the evening, the Bernard Sisters, a sister act that has been entertaining OMNI home residents for many years, was on hand that day.

“Residents looked amazing — we had priests, Mother Theresa, chefs, clowns, witches, pirates (and) spice racks,” says life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Christina Verleysen.

Staff members also did an “amazing job” dressing up, too, she adds. “We have Si from Duck Dynasty, a flapper girl, Raggedy Ann and brother (Andy), a hockey fan (and a) pirate.”

At Frost Manor in Lindsay, residents and staff members dressed up in an array of costumes for that home’s Halloween shindig. Costumes included an angel, a witch and a police officer amongst others.

The day before Halloween was an intergenerational craft day. Students from St. Dominic Catholic Elementary School came dressed in costumes.

LEC Vi O’Leary commends staff members for their hard work, adding their efforts paid off.

“The residents loved it,” she says.

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

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

Residents give back through Christmas Bazaar

Streamway Villa seniors support Philippines relief, the Giving Tree

November 28, 2013 — Jennifer Neutel 

Streamway Villa’s annual Christmas Bazaar has a new element this year that Christina Verleysen says may make it the best yet – the residents’ council is putting all proceeds towards two good causes.

Some of the funds raised will be donated towards Typhoon Haiyan Philippines relief. OMNI Health Care president and CEO Patrick McCarthy sent out an e-mail noting that any money makes a difference, prompting the idea. OMNI is matching donations made towards Typhoon Haiyan relief dollar for dollar, and the Government of Canada is doubling every individual donation.

The rest of the funds will go towards purchasing gifts for two children in need through the Northumberland Mall’s Giving Tree. Children who appear on the Giving Tree are referred by a number of community organizations.

“It’s definitely going to be one busy Christmas, however it’s going to be probably the best bazaar yet because of what we are putting the funds towards,” says Christina Verleysen, life enrichment coordinator at the long-term care home.

The residents’ council vice-president came to Verleysen’s office noting she had spoken with other residents and they all agreed these causes are what they want the bazaar proceeds to be spent on.

Verleysen notes the residents’ council fund currently has a healthy savings allowing the funds to be used in this way, rather than putting it towards entertainment and outings.

The Christmas Bazaar is taking place at the Cobourg home this Saturday, Nov. 30, from 2 to 4 p.m.

There is a $2 charge at the door. Music entertainment will be provided by Doug Morgan and tea, coffee and hot chocolate will be served.

Family members are providing baked goods. The home’s administrator Kylie Szczebonski takes photographs and frames them as raffle prizes, which are a big hit, says Verleysen.

Residents have been making salsa and cranberry ketchup to sell. A woman whose mother previously lived at the home has also rented a table to sell items.

To spread the word about the event an ad was placed in the local newspaper, and family members have since told Verleysen that is how they found out about it.

“I am hoping to see more of the community coming in this year,” says Verleysen.

Being located close to Cobourg’s downtown, hosting the bazaar allows the home to get its name out in the community and is a way to do something active and give back, she adds.

If you have a story you would like to share with the OMNIway, please contact newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 26, or email jennifer(at)axiomnews.ca.

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 26, or e-mail jennifer(at)axiomnews.ca.

Streamway toasts volunteers for making a difference

Streamway Villa residents Fred and Joan Hawes are seen here enjoying the home's recent volunteer barbecue.

Streamway Villa residents Fred and Joan Hawes are seen here enjoying the home’s recent volunteer barbecue.

Annual BBQ brings together all those who enrich residents’ lives

October 17, 2013 — Deron Hamel 

Streamway Villa recently hosted a volunteer barbecue to say thank you to the many people who give their spare time to enhancing the lives of residents at the Cobourg long-term care home.

The barbecue has been a tradition at Streamway Villa for the past four years, and is always held in the autumn when there are fewer events and everyone has more time.

Hosted in Streamway Villa’s courtyard Sept. 28, the barbecue featured live entertainment for the first time. Food included sausages, hamburgers, salads and cake.

Residents and staff members made thank-you cards with a special inscription:

“We are very fortunate to have such amazing volunteers like you that come to our home to strive to bring hope, love and understanding to all of our residents in the form of musical entertainment, crafts, block walks, lending a helping hand on van outings/events or socializing one on one with our amazing residents,” the cards read. “Streamway Villa would not be the comfortable, fun and hopeful home it is without our volunteers.”

As a token of appreciation for their hard work and dedication to residents, staff members gave the volunteers soup mugs that read, “Volunteers are souper” on one side and on the other side, “Our team is ‘souper’ because volunteers like you go above and beyond in all that they do.”

Life enrichment co-ordinator Christina Verleysen notes that these words incorporate a core element of OMNI Health Care’s culture: going above and beyond to ensure the best quality of life for residents.

“All life enrichment staff were present to cater and engage with our volunteers as well as say a speech at the end of the day,” she says. “The sun was out, the food was amazing, the music was great and many laughs and stories were heard.”

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