Holocaust Education Event Focuses on Survivor Experiences

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Dori Ekstein poses with her late father, a Holocaust survivor who was imprisioned at Auschwitz concentration camp.

Dori Ekstein poses with her father, a Holocaust survivor who was imprisioned at Auschwitz concentration camp, before he passed away in December, 2016.

Circle of Care is one of the ten largest recipients world-wide to receive home care funding from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany in support of Holocaust survivors.

On April 24, Circle of Care employees connected with children of Holocaust survivors to better understand the unique challenges and circumstances faced by survivors and their families. The education event was held in recognition of Yom HaShoah – Israel’s day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

During the session, guests including Dori Ekstein (pictured at left with her father) shared details of their parents’ experiences during the war as a way of providing context for the emotional trauma and physical limitations that persist among many of Circle of Care’s 1,400 Holocaust clients. Whether forced into hiding from Nazi captors, sent to meet their fate at notorious concentration camps, or separated from their families and evacuated to safety with other children – every survivor came away from the war with a distinct experience that continues to impact their personal relationships, coping abilities and related health conditions, particularly as they age.

“It’s an honour to be able to provide care and support for our aging survivor clients,” says Carey Lucki, CEO of Circle of Care and VP, Sinai Health System. “Taking time to hear these courageous stories, and respecting the memories that live on, will allow us to continue to meet the needs of our Holocaust clients with the dignity they deserve.”

A Smoother Passage from Hospital to Home

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Toward the end of a hospital stay, it can be common for patients and caregivers to feel anxious about the transition back home due to a lack of understanding around care management and how to access community supports that will aid in the recovery process. To help address this gap, a collaborative pilot program was launched at Mount Sinai Hospital that leverages Circle of Care’s expertise in the home health care sector.

Through a generous donation from the Max and Larry Enkin Family Foundation, a community social worker from Circle of Care was assigned to Mount Sinai Hospital as a dedicated Social Work Care Navigator. In this role, Revital Shuster works with patients and families pre- and post-discharge to make sure the appropriate community supports are put in place to ensure a successful transition home, and to reduce the risk of readmission.

“We know that patients ultimately want to be back home with their loved ones,” says Shuster, “But it can be overwhelming to figure out who to call for help. By connecting people to resources and advocating on their behalf, the transition from hospital to home is being significantly improved.”

The Social Work Care Navigator pilot is one of Sinai Health System’s first integration initiatives. Typically, a hospital social worker provides recommendations for resources and supports in the community upon discharge, but for patients with complex health issues and/or multiple social support requirements, the coordination of these services is often difficult and overwhelming. By connecting the Care Navigator with patients who require significant post-discharge support, the intended result is a more seamless transition that paves the way to better outcomes.

“Our Social Work Care Navigator’s role extends beyond the hospital walls and follows the patient back into the community,” says Carey Lucki, CEO, Circle of Care and VP, Sinai Health System. “This warm hand-off ensures hospital staff feel confident about their discharge plan, and the likelihood of a return to a crowded Emergency Department or hospital readmission is reduced.”

In fact, since the program began, over 90% of complex patients who had involvement with Shuster have remained at home. Data collection is ongoing as we continue to evolve and develop this role.

Chief Executive Officer, Circle of Care and Vice President, Sinai Health System

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Carey Lucki, CEO Circle of Care and VP, Sinai Health System

Carey Lucki assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer, Circle of Care and Vice President, Sinai Health System on December 5, 2016. Prior to this, she held the role of Interim President/Vice President of Client Services at Circle of Care, Sinai Health System.

Carey’s health care background spans 27 years in both acute and home/community care settings. She began her career in clinical front line care as an occupational therapist, followed by various operational, administrative policy and programming, project management, quality and risk, and strategic planning roles. Carey led a three year candidacy initiative for Best Practice Spotlight Organization (BPSO) designation for the Registered Nursing Association of Ontario and has co-led and participated in many sector initiatives across hospitals, Community Care Access Centres (CCAC) and Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN).

As Chief Executive Officer of Circle of Care, Carey will be the operational leader responsible for delivering timely, efficient and safe care to over 13,000 clients, including oversight of all CCAC/LHIN contracts and home services programs including the Holocaust Survivors and Adult Day programs, centralized transportation services, Assisted Living, Meals on Wheels, Volunteers and Family Caregiver Respite/Crisis Intervention programs. Carey will also have oversight of Quality and Risk and Operational/Process Improvement for Circle of Care.

A key aspect of the mission of Sinai Health System is to provide exceptional care in hospital, community and home, focusing on the health conditions with the greatest impact on the overall health of the population. Carey, in her role as Vice President of Sinai Health System, will play a crucial strategic role in accomplishing our mission by providing guidance and leadership on integration of care in the home and community sector.

A graduate of the University of Toronto, Carey holds an Honours Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy as well a Masters of Business Administration with Distinction, from the Edinburgh Business School, Scotland. She is a member of the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario, the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists and the Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists.

Please join us in extending congratulations to Carey as she assumes this new role for Circle of Care and Sinai Health System.


Welcoming Pet Therapy to the Hospice Program!

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Welcoming Pet Therapy to the Hospice Program!

Circle of Care is pleased to have Corinne and her dog Teddy join us as volunteers. Corinne and Teddy are part of the St John Ambulance Pet Therapy Program and will now be visiting Hospice clients for Circle of Care.

Studies have shown that pet therapy can offer immediate physiological and psychological benefits, including lowering blood pressure, stress & anxiety in many patient populations, including those in hospice, the elderly and those with behavioral health issues.

Below is a portion of an article from the Visiting Nurse Service New York’s Hospice that reinforces the benefits of a pet therapy program as part of a Hospice program.

The Power of Pets

Gail Sirota, who manages the VNSNY’s hospice volunteers, enumerates the benefits she sees week after week when dogs are visiting their hospice clients.

1. The Power of Touch

When a hospice patient reaches out to pet the dog, or when the dog offers a gentle lick or lays his chin on a hand or forearm, the physical connection reverberates in many ways. “The warmth of touch is so important,” says Gail. “Touch validates that you’re still living, that you’re still a person worthy of love — and there’s nothing better than unconditional love. The dog doesn’t know that you’re sick, that you don’t look like what you used to look like.”

2. The Power of Memories

Whether or not the patient or family members want to pet or cuddle the dog, often the mere presence of an animal will start the memories rolling. “I used to have a dog, Alfie, oh, she was the best dog,” says Gail, offering a typical example. “They start talking about the pets they used to have, and it helps them open up.”

3. The Power of Diversion

“For the family members,” says Gail, “the dog provides a momentary break from their constant fears and worries.”

For more information or interest in volunteering, contact Lisa Rae at 416-635-2900 ext 284


Harvesting our Knowledge

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Robin Piccolo-Scarpetta

When people think of “fall,” there are typically a few key attitudes that individuals adopt to describe the season. You get the person that sees it as and ‘end’ – an end to summer, end to the nice weather, or a period of death and dying of all the luscious green foliage that once consumed our colourful flowers, plants and trees. Read More

Autumn Harvest Foods

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Trevor Heer

Warm up this season with these two tasty dishes!

Autumn is not only a time for family get-togethers, sweaters and colourful leaves, but it also provides us with some delicious seasonal foods. Apples, pears, squash, pumpkin, parsnips, brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes are all in season and ready to be enjoyed. Try these two healthy dishes and enjoy some of the delicious food that autumn has to offer! Read More