The Gift of Being Present

To be present in the moment is one of the greatest gifts one person can give to another, for we feel valued when we are heard by another who truly believes that what we have to say is important. Within Schlegel Villages, Be Present is one of five credos that define the CONNECT the Dots Customer Service philosophy, guiding team members as they support residents and their loved ones in Village life.   

At Riverside Glen, Matilda is one of the team members  who is sure to always be present when she's with a resident.
At Riverside Glen, Matilda is one of the team members 
who is sure to always be present when she's with a resident. 

Hilda Melbourne teaches the CONNECT the Dots training program in The Village of Riverside Glen and she’s always aware of the moments when these credos come to life. Hilda works as a housekeeper, most often in Emma’s Neighbourhood where residents require much support because they are living with dementia in all of its many forms. There’s a team member there who often catches Hilda’s eye because she goes out of her way to ensure that she’s present in each and every interaction. Matilda is her name, and “she tries every day to make it a special day for the residents,” Hilda says.

Matilda almost always takes a resident to the café with her when she has a break, offering an opportunity to spend one-on-one time outside of the neighbourhood with that person.

“Watching her do this always brings tears to my eyes because I know how it makes the residents feel,” Hilda says.  “She is taking time to be there, really there, for them and being in the moment.”

Hilda recalls watching Matilda with a resident who almost always spoke in his native German – perhaps he had reverted to his earlier memories as dementia progressed, but few team members had ever heard him speak English.

One day Hilda could see he had much on his mind and needed to talk, and there came Matilda on her break. “She came right over and apparently he spoke to her in English for 15 or 20 minutes. He told her about his life story living in Kitchener and where his wife is buried. He said ‘I’ve lived a good life and I know the Lord is ready for me now as I’m okay to go.’ ”

This gentleman died a short time later, and as Hilda recounts the simple beauty in that moment he shared with Matilda, her eyes grow damp with tears.

“For me, it was striking about being present,” Hilda says, grateful to have seen Matilda offer this gift to residents. “When you’re present and allow the resident to speak and you’re there listening and soaking up whatever they want to say, that is an amazing moment in time.” 

These moments do happen often and as our customer service focus evolves, so, too, does our recognition of success. We invite residents, families and team members to now consider our new CONNECT the Dots Credo Awards and nominate any and all team members that embody the spirit of each credo.

Watch for details on the new awards to follow within your Village shortly..