In the fall of 2017, Schlegel Villages welcomed Daniella Greenwood to its annual Operational Planning retreat in Niagara Falls. Using her gifts as a speaker and performer and her experience with Australian seniors living provider Arcare Aged Care, Daniella inspired the gathered team members and village leaders to consider that authentic, reciprocal relationships are key to offering people continued meaning in their lives after moving into senior’s living environments.
“It’s about moving beyond that professional distance, especially in our relationships,” Daniella suggested, “and bringing that humanness to work with us.”
One of the greatest successes Arcare had in supporting team members with the freedom and permission to develop genuine relationships and offer the best of themselves to those they serve, was in creating dedicated support teams to work regularly among small neighbourhoods of residents.
As opposed to rotating team members floating in and out of all neighbourhoods, these dedicated teams consistently worked with the same residents, allowing a new sense of trust to form and bonds to grow. Through the pilot process, the results were closely watched, and the Arcare team interviewed residents, teams and families before the pilot began and after it had ended.
“I was just happy that the clinical benefits didn’t go downhill because this is what our staff wanted and it’s what our clients, customers and residents wanted,” Daniella said. “Basically, people do get to choose what’s important to them . . . and as our residents said, ‘we want as few people as possible having access to our naked bodies.’ ”
Dedicated support teams are designed to meet this need, and the results were incredible within the Arcare environments. They saw a drastic reduction in the total number of people helping any one particular resident. Take Margaret, for example, who before the implementation of dedicated teams had roughly 28 different people with access to her naked body in a 30-day period. After dedicated teams were implemented, that number dropped to five.
“ ‘No one wants every Tom, Dick and Harry muckin’ around with them,’ ” Daniella recalled one resident saying. “ ‘You get in a relationship with one or two and that becomes normal; after a few months, it becomes normal.’ ”
While the emotional and personal connections between dedicated support team members and residents improved, so too did the physical health among residents, with significant reductions in incidents of pressure wounds and skin tears.
Schlegel Villages as a whole was struck with the overall concept and in certain Villages, small teams have been finding similar success with the dedicated support model. In April, the support office team announced that Daniella will continue to work closely with Schlegel Villages as it plans to expand its effort to make dedicated support a reality for residents throughout the villages. Daniella visited several villages prior to the April announcement to offer initial advice and gain a better understanding of life in the neighbourhoods. She was thoroughly impressed by the words she heard from team members when they were initially surveyed for their views on dedicated support.
“I think they’re amazing,” she said of the team members she’d met. “Even just to read the sophisticated and amazing things they wrote on their questionnaires - you don’t know just how far ahead you are.
“Dedicated support,” said Daniella, “looks like normal people spending normal time together – not like experts and staff members – just people hanging out and living life.”
Across Schlegel Villages, this style of life will only continue to gain traction as the concept of dedicated support expands.