In its quest to continually enhance the care and support offered to the aging members of society, Schlegel Villages is guided by eight aspirations, one of which is to “connect research and innovation to Village life.”
“Our Villages are wellsprings of innovation, making small changes with huge impact,” reads the aspiration statement. “Research informs our practices, and Village life informs research. Residents, families and team members are engaged in the culture of innovation.”
This aspiration was again brought to life in 2022, as innovation catalysts from several Villages combined their experience over the course of months to tackle complex challenges surrounding skin health among residents in long-term care and retirement settings. While the efforts of this group are ongoing, they had the opportunity to share some of the results of their combined thinking when the catalysts anchored the first in-person Innovation Summit Schlegel Villages has held since 2019. What separated this event from the first iterations that began in 2015 was the singular focus one key issue – skin health and wound prevention – as opposed to a series of separate challenges addressed by different groups.
“It was a really nice experience to get the visions from every other Village, comparing it to my Village,” says Victoria Leger, a Personal Support Worker who has been with The Village at University Gates in Waterloo since it welcomed its first residents in 2015. Victoria says she got involved as an innovation catalyst so she can contribute to enhanced life quality for the residents she is eager to serve, but she also sees it as a learning and growth opportunity. The connections she has made in the Village over the past seven years certainly helped, for she was easily able to connect with residents, team members and families to ask about their knowledge or understanding of issues related to skin health.
“After a couple of months went by and I did my main interviews,” Victoria explains, “my main focus was educating the families on skin and wound health because they don’t get a lot of education on that until one of their loved ones gets a wound.” Preventative education for residents and involved families, she adds, is as important as education for team members because everyone is part of the care circle.
There were seven other aspects of skin health presented at the Innovation Summit this fall, each contributing towards the overall health improvement of residents who may be at risk of compromised skin health for any number of complex reasons. This “design-thinking” approach to seeking solutions is based on the premise that it’s better to seek the brainpower of as many people as possible than to rely on ideas from one or two people..
The innovation catalysts will continue to meet on a regular basis, always seeking additional input from people across the Schlegel Villages community and combining the best of ideas to propel care quality improvement forward.
For more information on the Innovation Catalyst initiative, please connect with Lora Bruyn-Martin, Innovation Specialist with Schlegel Villages.