Schlegel Villages and RIA bring research and practice together in two-day summit
By Kristian Partington
When a core of team members from the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) and Schlegel Villages began planning a two-day Innovation Summit that kicked off June 24 in Guelph, they modestly hoped for 80 participants.
Schlegel Villages team members gathered with those from support office,
along with RIA researchers, residents and family members, to discuss
creative innovations to meet the challenges of the future of aging.
They were obviously pleased to see registration flow in from across Schlegel Villages and when the morning of Day 1 began, more than 140 people had gathered together, all eager to discuss research and innovation in the world of healthy aging. These were team members from across Schlegel Villages - everyone from direct caregiving personal support workers to general managers – sitting alongside RIA researchers, village residents and family members.
After greetings from Schlegel Villages president and CEO Jamie Schlegel, participants were treated to a keynote address by the vice-president of quality improvement (QI) with Health Quality Ontario (HQO), Lee Fairclough. In terms of improving the quality of care people receive in the province from all levels of the health care system, Lee is one of the leading minds in terms of what’s working well and what needs to be done to continue to improve.
Among many facets of QI, Lee was excited to discuss trends HQO is watching that indicate the province’s leading organizations aren’t satisfied with basic QI plans and are raising the bar ever higher. “ ‘Lets not aim for the average, let’s aim for excellence,’ ” she told the audience, describing the encouraging sentiment she’s hearing from such organizations. “ ‘Quality has no limits and really, as an organization, we want to achieve excellence.”
She commended Schlegel Villages and the RIA for committing to this idea of continually striving to be better, pointing to the Innovation Summit itself as an example of this commitment in action. “What an organization you’ve got, that actually makes space and time for doing this.”
The future will hold many challenges, she said at the end of her presentation, particularly as the complexity of needs in an aging population increases. In order to meet these challenges, the public at large must engage in their health journey and throughout the entire continuum of care, collaboration will be crucial to driving innovation. “It’s going to require us to push ourselves creatively to figure out how we’re going to manage, how we’re going to support people and how we’re going to work with people differently.”
This was one of the key intentions of the Schlegel/RIA Innovation Summit: to empower everyone within the organization to think creatively about enhancing life quality for those who make their home in a long-term care and retirement setting. The 16 breakout-sessions spread out over these two days were meant to inspire this creativity by showcasing research-initiated and team member-led innovations, inspiring 140 people to take their new tools and ambitions back to their respective villages. From there, the limit to quality improvement truly knows no bounds.