We will get through this together, Willows Estate residents say

Home aims to keep residents calm, collected as the world faces COVID-19 crisis

Residents of Willows Estate have a heartfelt message for the world during this time of uncertainty.

The Aurora long-term care home residents gathered Sunday (March 22) for their regular social, and discussion centred on the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“We here at the Willows want to make sure our residents remain calm and collected as we ride through this pandemic together,” life enrichment aide (LEA) Azaria Kanda tells The OMNIway.

In an effort to keep residents and staff members safe in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, OMNI Health Care has been enacting Public Health Ontario protocols to reduce the chance of exposure to the virus in the organization’s 18 long-term care homes.

At Willows Estate, the pandemic is top of mind.

“As per customary every Sunday at tea social, we decided to lift up (residents’) spirits and have them write what they’d like the world to know and also spread some much-needed love and light in these times,” the LEA explains.

“They want the world to know that we will get through together, they still love life, they want folks to stay safe and to be assured we have enough toilet paper.”

Meanwhile, Willows Estate wants its residents to know “that although the world outside may be caught in an unfortunate fight with an invisible enemy, in here our commitment to care for them remains the same,” Azaria says.

On a broader front, a month before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, OMNI began putting its pandemic plan into place.

“All of our homes were very prepared,” OMNI’s clinical operations manager Susan Cymbaluk recently told The OMNIway.

“We enacted the pandemic plan immediately and rolled it out to all 18 homes and (we are) checking in with them daily.”

OMNI has now instituted restrictions to visiting, allowing only “essential visitors” with family members who are very ill or requiring end of life care, in accordance with recommendations of Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.

Access to each home is restricted to a single entrance where active screening occurs. Non-essential programs, appointments, tours and visits from community agencies have been cancelled, along with out-of-home educational seminars and meetings for staff members.

Family members of residents can opt to have “wellness calls” with staff members over the phone or to enquire about the availability of “facetime” or alternative video conferencing method to keep up to date on any developments.

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