As leaders within the Schlegel Villages community look forward to a future of expansion and growth, they realize around 1,000 new team members will be required in the next three years to meet the organization’s growing needs.
And they want to attract and retain the best team members, those who place residents at the centre of all decisions and strive to make strong relationships the foundation of care and support in each neighbourhood. Attracting and retaining these team members can only be done when village leaders are at their best, inspiring others through their example while pushing for constant improvements in how care and support is offered in long-term care and retirement settings.
The annual Operational Planning retreat in Niagara Falls in September offered an opportunity for leaders to examine how they can create village environments where the culture thrives and their passion for the work flourishes. Think of a great day you had as a leader, they were asked. What made it so?
During a panel discussion, Kim Sutherland from Riverside Glen spoke about a carnival the village hosted to kickoff Caregiver Week in May. It was special because the event wasn’t focused on the team members or residents specifically, she said, as many other successful events in the past had been. This was about the entire village.
“Team members were bringing residents out and they were having fun together on the swings,” Kim recalled. “Spouses were coming with residents and they were having fun together; we were acting like a bunch of kids and it was such an enjoyable, meaningful day for everyone.”
“It was an amazing day at the Village because it was a natural shared experience that everyone was enjoying.” Genuine, shared experiences go so far towards integrating all village members, Kim pointed out, and it creates a true sense of belonging for all involved.
Sutha Vinayaga from Erin Meadows spoke about the opportunity he’s had to work with struggling high school students, helping them earn certification towards their diploma while inspiring them to consider possible careers in the caregiving sector. One young woman told Sutha how her time at Erin Meadows inspired her to push harder to succeed in school. “It made her realize she could do anything she wanted to do,” Sutha explained. “It made me feel like my work is valued and I have made change, not only in a resident’s life but I’m reaching out to the community as well.”
At the Village of University Gates, kinesiologist Christine Hames was inspired by one of her early encounters with a resident named Richard, who lives with Parkinson’s disease and had been confined to a wheelchair for eight months before she met him.
“When was the last time that you got up and walked?” Christine asked upon their first meeting. “Back in January,” he replied.
“I saw no reason why we couldn’t grab the walker and get him up,” Christine recounted, “and right there in that moment, we got him up and standing and he walked across the room.”
The team spent time every day thereafter walking with Richard, she said, “and it made me feel so proud and so happy. I still hold on to that feeling, because it wasn’t difficult to get him standing, it wasn’t difficult to help him walk; it was the fact that we hire kinesiologists and team members that give residents the opportunity to stand up and walk across the room.”
Each of these stories describes scenarios above and beyond simply going through the motions of completing certain daily tasks, as so often is the case in typical long-term care settings. The stories are grounded in empathy and compassion and they illustrate how freedom to push beyond the status quo is encouraged in each village; this freedom is what inspires countless team members each and every day.