Developing our Strong Community Connections

Answering the needs of our neighbours with the services we already provide

By Kristian Partington

One of the founding principles of Schlegel Villages is that each village is not only a comfortable home for those who need the support of long-term care or retirement living but also a central hub of activity serving the community around it.

As it stands, there are many ways that each of the villages within Schlegel Villages connects with its neighbours. People who live near Taunton Mills are used to walking down the village’s Main Street on Family Day, for example, where a petting zoo of exotic animals will be set up or a fun fair for the children. The Village of Sandalwood Park has a great relationship with the school down the street and students are often in the village learning from and teaching residents. Coleman Care Centre has a similar relationship with an area high school, as do several other villages.  As another example, Winston Park has enjoyed much success with the Memory Clinic operating there, which serves anyone in the community and has helped reduce the time it takes for people facing memory loss to see a specialist.

These examples illustrate but a few of the many possibilities that exist in terms of community connections and looking forward, there are sure to be many more. As Schlegel Villages director of community integration Mike Schmidt says, the organization as a whole will be much more intentional about developing partnerships and creating opportunities for the outside community to utilize the space and services offered within the villages. This effort, Mike says, falls directly in line with the province’s approach to health reform, which effectively suggests that that the infrastructure that already exists in long-term care and retirement communities should be used to support the majority of older adults who remain independent within the community. The reality is only one in eight people over the age of 75 live in a long-term care home o retirement community. The question is: How do we ensure everyone else is supported?  

“We have the bricks and mortar,” Mike says, “so it’s a matter of using that infrastructure that already exists. We have to think about all of the services that we provide, whether it’s primary health care or long-term care and try to compartmentalize it so we’re not wasting all these resources. People are reaching far and wide to get things that they should be getting within their communities.”

People sometimes refer to the aging population as a tsunami, Mike points out, but he prefers to think of the demographic shift underway more like a glacier, and as we look to the future, it’s imperative that community hubs are established to meet the needs of this ever-growing aging population. Schlegel Villages is in a strong position within all the communities it serves to be a strong example of what’s possible, Mike says, and he’ll be working closely with the Local Health Integration Networks to begin shaping these community hubs.