The Moments that Matter

In evaluating NTD, researchers reminded of the power of little moments

By Kristian Partington

“Little moments matter,” says Dr. Veronique Boscart as she reflects on many hours spent in different village neighbourhoods over the past few months assessing the effectiveness of the Schlegel Villages Neighbourhood Team Development (NTD) program. “Something very small can have a really profound impact on somebody else,” she says, and in this simple concept she’s able to illustrate the successes she’s witnessed as the neighbourhood concept continues to evolve in the villages.

Veronique and her team of researchers from the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) and partner universities are conducting an in-depth evaluation of the different ways neighbourhoods have implemented NTD since the program was first introduced in early 2014. In doing so, they hope to define the effect the program has on resident-centred care and help other organizations decide on the effectiveness on the decentralized neighbourhood concept, which emphasizes decision-making for smaller groups of residents as opposed to an entire home made up of hundreds.

Basically, Neighbourhood Team Development is an extensive, multi-faceted program designed to bring teams closer together by helping members better understand each other’s roles and the different personalities that make up the team. The expectation is that a stronger, more cohesive team is comprised of people who know each other and the residents they serve more deeply and are better suited to make the best decisions for those who live in the neighbourhood. In the early stages of the RIA evaluation, there are many signs of positive impact.

“What I see now shifting is that it’s not about team members, it’s about the residents,” Veronique says. “Most team members are really moving beyond talking about interpersonal relationships with each other as a team – the focus has shifted to the residents, which is awesome to see.”

She points to something she saw on a recent visit to The Village of Humber Heights as an example of the positive work she sees every day. It was lunchtime and a team member had made homemade pizza to share with a group of residents. They were a small group gathered together in the Country Kitchen sharing lunch amid the smell of fresh pizza and the sound of Italian music. Veronique simply watched as she helped with lunch in the main dining room, and she noticed afterwards that one of the residents was crying tears of happiness as the team member brought her out of the kitchen. She was from Italy, it turned out, and the simple meal brought back fond memories, Veronique believes.

Success at the neighbourhood level comes from team members and residents knowing each other and knowing what bit of kindness can be offered to brighten someone else’s day. They may be “pizza moments or singing moments,” Veronique says, but they are the moments that matter and they’re happening every day.