Village vision comes to life as neighbours share their experience
By Kristian Partington
Guests, dignitaries and team members gathered together with the neighbours who call the Village at St. Clair home to officially mark the village’s grand opening on Oct. 15. It was fitting that more than a year has passed since the village began welcoming residents (whom the village prefers to refer to as neighbours) because it provided the opportunity the hear from the neighbours themselves about the lives they lead in the 256-bed long-term care home.
And first and foremost, this village is a home. Following a speech by Ontario’s associate minister of health and long-term care, Dipika Damerla, who spoke of transforming the future of the long-term care, and another by St. Clair College president Patti France highlighting the unique relationship between the college and the village, guests heard from Dorothy Harrison and Virginia Hutflesz, two of the neighbours in the village.
They both spoke of the importance of truly feeling they are at home in the village. Dorothy recalled an ad she recently saw in the newspaper with a caption that read: ‘It takes a community to call a place home.’
“Well I would call that place our village,” she said in the slight Irish accent she retains in her 98th year. “I love the fact that we, as neighbours, have the choice to participate in outings so that we can get out into our community.”
She pointed to an art gallery tour and dinners out and the recent “Culture Change Campout” where team members and neighbours stayed in an overnight campground. “There were many team members available to assist with any needs that we had and we also got to share in conversation, relaxation, and fun,” Dorothy recalled. “At the end of the evening we enjoyed music around the campfire and it was the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time.”
Virginia spoke of how she and her husband were welcomed warmly when they first visited St. Clair and how she immediately noticed the way the team seemed to function like a family, not just as staff. They’d found their new home and once they moved in, she was greatly impressed with some of the simpler things in life – the food quality, the range of activities and entertainment, and the spiritual connectedness nurtured there.
“In these beautiful surroundings, there is a sense of peace and safety,” she said. “Our physical, emotional and spiritual needs are being met every day.”
The grand opening was an exciting day for many, highlighting the innovation and vision that continues to drive Schlegel Villages in its quest to reshape the way people imagine a long-term care or retirement setting. The wonderful partnerships with the province, the City of Windsor and the college next door were spoken of in glowing terms, but as far as the vision goes, it was the neighbours who spoke from the heart that captured the magic of the village. The genuine pride in their voices is something the entire village and all its partners can take to heart.