The Connections that bring a Social Model of Living to Life

In early March, Schlegel Villages was the platinum sponsor of the third incarnation of Walk With Me: Changing the Culture of Aging in Canada. Cohosted by the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging and Alberta’s CapitalCare Foundation, the event is the only conference of its kind in the country, and Schlegel Villages chose to invest heavily in the event simply because, as chief operating officer Paul Brown said, “we invest in what we believe in.”

“We believe in putting living first,” he said, “and this conference provides a huge opportunity for us to learn from, as well as network with, like-minded people who are not only aligned but serious about building communities that create a social model of living.”  

The #ElderWisdom campaign brought seniors together 
with people throughout their communities through conversation.  

Reflecting back on an extremely busy 2018 for Schlegel Villages marked by several successful education seminars and conferences, exciting announcements of growth and development and continued leadership in the long-term care and retirement living sector, it’s important to take Paul’s words to heart. The “social model of living” is the root of the Schlegel Villages philosophy and throughout the year countless examples of the connectivity that binds this model together emerged.

The Schlegel Olympics brought residents, team members families and community partners together in the spirit of friendly competition. As part of the larger Wisdom of the Elder signature program, which recognizes that a person’s will to compete or share their passions, knowledge and wisdom doesn’t fade simply because they’ve moved into a long-term care or retirement setting, the Olympics felt like two big family reunions drawing loved ones together. Months later fond memories of these events remain vivid.

The Wisdom of the Elder program also connected the villages to their wider communities through the wildly successful #ElderWisdom campaign during the month of June. With a green bench strategically placed in locations across Ontario, village residents connected with their communities and reminded their neighbours of the value seniors offer in countless ways.

“When younger people get past the stereotypes that come with getting older and just sit and talk with an elder, those ageist barriers break down so easy,” said Ted Mahy, who helped coordinate the event. “That’s what makes the #ElderWisdom campaign so special and it’s amazing to see the conversation spread.”

We saw Villages come together to raise funds to support loved ones in need and others supporting neighbours in their community. Once again, the sense of service to others that is so much a part of the Schlegel Villages identity fuelled a donation of $40,000 to support struggling families in Haiti, thanks to a successful Hand up Fore Haiti golf tournament.

The value of connectivity is seen one-on-one most often: in the resident who finds strength he never thought he’d possess again thanks to his team in the Program for Active Living; it’s in the organic friendship between a visiting medical student from Austria and a Winston Park resident more than six decades older; it’s in the quiet embraces offered from resident to team member and vice versa whose significance is only felt between those two people in those brief moments.

This year’s Operational Planning retreat centred on the idea that people can create happiness in their lives and in others’ by giving voice to gratitude each and every day. There is much to be grateful within the Villages and throughout the year examples shone brightly in countless ways.