Culture Change Leader is inspired at Pioneer Network Conference

Hilda Melbourne is filled with gratitude by the provisions made so she could attend

In the two years that Hilda Melbourne has worked at The Village of Riverside Glen, she’s demonstrated an innate understanding of the importance of relationships in the support of those living in a long-term care or retirement setting. She’s a natural caregiver who supported her mother as she lived through the dementia journey and currently helps her husband Howard in a struggle against cancer.  

Hilda and Howard (centre) with the team of Schlegel
ambassadors at the Pioneer Network Confernece in Chicago.

According to Jessica Luh-Kim, Schlegel Villages director of education and program development, Hilda is a natural “culture change leader in her bones,” and she was the perfect addition to a team of 22 ambassadors who attended the Pioneer Network Conference outside of Chicago this summer. Hilda quietly leads by example and this is why her attendance at the conference was important enough that Riverside Glen and Schlegel Villages offered to send Howard to Chicago as well so Hilda could continue to support him through the effects of his chemotherapy treatments.

She’s overwhelmed as she describes how grateful she is that the needs of her family were considered when she was chosen to attend the conference.

“It brings tears to my eyes that I was able to go and they made provisions for my husband,” Hilda says, her voice wavering through emotion. “It’s just so heartwarming that they went that extra mile, just so that I could go. It meant a lot to me. We saw the loving side of Riverside Glen and of Schlegel Villages on the whole because they took such good care of him,” Hilda says.

In gratitude, she’s determined to honour that faith that was put in her by continuing to promote the culture change values enshrined in the Schlegel Villages mission. As an ambassador for change, there is perhaps no better person.

The Pioneer Network Conference focuses entirely on a model of care in senior’s living that pushes aside the antiquated medicalization of aging and promotes a social model of living that sees every elder as someone with potential to live life fully, no matter their limitations. Genuine relationships between resident and team members are at the core of this approach, for in order to truly understand a resident’s potential and their hopes and worries, team members must take the time to know each person they support. 

Every year, Schlegel Village invests in the education of a wide cross-section of team members and residents at the conference to propel the organization’s own culture change journey forward. Hilda and her fellow ambassadors from this year and those that have passed are entrusted with the responsibility to learn all they can about the changing culture of aging and share that knowledge with their fellow team members.

Hilda says it was an honour to be entrusted with this responsibility and she brought home a simple yet powerful message to share with her fellow team members: time is one of the most powerful gifts one can offer a resident. Taking the time for true one-on-one conversations, even in the midst of the hectic responsibilities involved in the work itself, is of critical importance. Every team member, says Hilda, must put the resident’s needs above all else and setting aside a task for a conversation can mean so much.

“Our work can be so busy and it’s so easy to allow the work to become the major part of the day but it’s the residents that really should take up most of the day,” Hilda says. “It gives them such relief and such a happy feeling once you take that time for them. One simple thing can make a resident feel so good.”

Every team member, she points out, no matter the role they play in Village life, can make this time for residents and through her quiet style of leadership, Hilda will be proud to carry this example forward.

Learn more about our Culture Change Journey