When some 200 people come together at a Kitchener conference centre in Mid-October, it’s an opportunity to revisit Schlegel Villages’ commitment to quality improvement in the service of its residents and celebrate a spirit of innovation to benefit all older adults in our communities.
Though this is the 7th iteration of the organization’s Innovation Summit, co-hosted alongside the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging, it’s the first fully immersive two-day event held since 2019. The beauty of the Innovation Summit is in the make-up of presenters and attendees; some of the world’s leading researchers in the realm of aging combine with team members who are the closest connections to the residents of Schlegel Villages, as well as residents and family members. Within this combination, practical solutions to enhance the lives of older adults are blended with the imaginings of what could be, and the hunger for innovative solutions in a rapidly-changing demographic landscape is celebrated.
“It’s in our DNA, this value of being creative and innovative to try and come up with these passions and interests that create a better life for all,” says Paul Brown, Chief Operating Officer with Schlegel Villages as he welcomes attendees. “The Innovation Summit takes a spark of an idea or a research question and turns that into a flame, spreading into a fire where not only our Villages can benefit from it but we spread it beyond our walls to others so all older adults can benefit from those improvements.”
The topics were varied, ranging from RIA researchers presenting the latest understanding of true dementia progression versus natural memory loss to a Village leader’s experience with creative team member scheduling to maximize direct hours of care for residents.
Jamilly Bandeira is a recreation team member from Toronto’s Maynard Nursing home attending the summit for the first time. Following a presentation from a fellow recreation team member, Shannon Miller from The Village of Aspen Lake, Jamilly shares her perspective on the importance of sharing ideas.
“I came because I want to learn more about what I can provide in my work,” says Jamilly, who began working in recreation in the latter part of 2022. “It’s a really nice opportunity . . . and it’s nice to meet different kinds of people from different Villages and to learn from everyone.”
Shannon points out that she’s been working in recreation for 27 years and is always on the lookout for creative ideas, many of which comes from the front line of care and support.
It is in these team members that Schlegel Villages finds its Innovation Catalysts; as the 2023 Innovation Summit concludes, the call goes out for the 2024 cohort in this unique program who will use a design thinking framework to identify, build and test solutions for a specific challenge area. These catalysts will take part in a unique growth and learning opportunity as they contribute their experience to one of many quality improvement initiatives.