Embedded sense of teamwork at Aspen Lake

Two new team members on the cross-functional approach to orientation

By Kristian Partington

Driel Parker and Victoria Ashimolowo are in the community centre at the Village of Aspen Lake helping recreation team members prepare hundreds of village newsletters for distribution on a mid-November morning. As personal support workers, the task is somewhat different than what they might expect in their typical work routine, and that’s the point. As newly hired team members at the village, they’ve spent a good part of their two-week orientation process working in every corner of every neighbourhood, learning what is required of team members in all departments in the service of neighbours at the village.

The process offers a glimpse of what life is like for their fellow team members and creates a sense of cross-functionality that both women say is refreshing in a care sector that often isolates people in their roles and tends to put task before person.

Their time working with Shannon, for example, one of the team members who takes care of laundry, was eye-opening.

“She is so busy,” Victoria says. “You have to keep moving. She is just one person, but she knows what she’s doing, and you have to be fast.”

“It’s like she’s got little jet packs on her, or something,” Driel adds.

This coming from two PSWs whose role demands efficiency through the course of a shift as they ensure the needs of residents are met. Driel says working with Shannon gave her a new appreciation for the impact they can have on teams working in different departments.

“You can tell that what we do with our laundry definitely would affect them down there,” she says. An extra few minutes for a PSW sorting personal laundry from linens or cloths, for example, can make a big difference for Shannon and her team.

“How they do their job affects our job and how we do our job affects other people’s jobs as well,” Driel says. “You definitely have to work as a team.”

The idea of embedding cross-functionality into the team dynamic at the village is much different than either Driel or Victoria experienced in their previous jobs, Driel in a retirement home and Victoria in a home-care setting. Both say they felt isolated at times in those positions but within two weeks at Aspen Lake, they both already feel an organized sense of cooperation, with the neighbours and residents as the number one priority.

Both Victoria and Dreil know now that support is available among their team, regardless of what a job title might suggest, and the orientation process has helped foster that sense of security. They can rely on other team members while others can rely on them, and at the end of the day, they can both go home comfortable in the knowledge that the neighbours are well looked after.