Western-themed activities score high resident engagement marks

Riverview Manor resident Ulva Braden poses for her "most wanted" photo during the home's Western Week in June.

Riverview Manor resident Ulva Braden poses for her “most wanted” photo during the home’s Western Week in June.

OMNI values of fun and creativity lead to new discoveries for two homes

Fun and creativity are two of OMNI Health Care’s core values that help ensure a high quality of life for the more than 1,400 residents living in the organization’s 18 long-term care homes.

Residents and staff members from Willows Estate recently celebrated Western Day at the Aurora long-term care home.

Residents and staff members from Willows Estate celebrated Western Day at the Aurora long-term care home on Oct. 9.

Throughout 2015 OMNI life enrichment departments showcased their strength at developing creative, engaging programming for residents that resulted in rave reviews.

One interesting idea that emerged at two OMNI homes this year was a western-themed activity. Life enrichment departments at Riverview Manor and Willows Estate discovered that engaging residents in country-and-western music, dancing and serving western-themed food was a big hit.

June 22-26 was Western Week at Peterborough’s Riverview Manor. The week included movies, musical entertainment, a campfire cookout, mock chuckwagon races and food celebrating the Wild West. Almost everyone donned hats and western clothing to celebrate the week. There was even a visit from goats, bunnies, chickens, ducks and a lamb during an event called “the roundup.”

The highlight of the week was the June 25 saloon dance, which featured entertainment from local musician Melissa Payne, who got the residents clapping and singing along to songs.

Before the dance, residents queued up to get their photos taken in full western gear. The photographs were then made into “most wanted” posters that were distributed around the home.

The event, which engaged most of the home’s 124 residents, was the brainchild of life enrichment aides Marilyn Price, Tina Hutchinson and Lyndsay Irwin.

“We just spontaneously thought of it, and it just kind of grew,” Price says, adding volunteers helped make the week a success.

Like Riverview Manor, Willows Estate in Aurora also hosted a western-themed activity that was a huge hit with residents.

Unlike the Riverview Manor event, Willows Estate’s life enrichment department didn’t put extensive planning into their Western Day; it was improvised when the team noticed small hay bales in the activity room that were being used as Halloween props and were inspired to use them as a backdrop to celebrate cowboy culture with western-themed activities on Oct. 9.

The dietary department played a large part in the day’s success. Residents were served a lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs and baked beans, and for dinner nutritional care manager Gary Rose barbecued steaks.

It was not difficult to gauge the success of this program; most of Willows Estate’s 84 resident participated, says life enrichment co-ordinator Teddy Mazzuca.

Mazzuca also says the success of the event shows the need to create more themed activities for residents.

“I think we’re going to expand on our theme days because it gets all departments involved,” she says. “The residents like (theme days), and they are a lot of fun.”

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