Leadership Program Helps Fan the Flames of Change

Coleman Care Centre’s Erlinda Tallim shares her insights

By Kristian Partington

Throughout much of 2015, Erlinda Tallim, the director of food services at Barrie’s Coleman Care Centre, was among a group of more than 20 Schlegel Villages team members who took part in the Leadership Program for Long-Term Care and Retirement Living. The program, developed in partnership between the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA), Conestoga College and Schlegel Villages, offers participants new insights into leadership philosophies and strategies to inspire the teams they support.   

Erlinda leaning down with an arm over a female resident who is sitting at a table with three trays of food in front of her
Coleman Care Centre's Erlinda Tallim says passion is one 
of the greatest traits of strong leadership.

Erlinda is no stranger to leadership. In all her experience, looking back to her time working as a public health nutritionist in the Philippines to her present day role, she’s seen examples of both fine leadership and flawed. In her mind, passion is the most important thing a leader can offer their team and when she speaks about Coleman Care Centre, her passion for the residents and team members she serves stands out.

“We are a small village,” Erlinda says. “We are small, but we are mighty because of our caring people from each discipline.” These caring people, she points out, long ago put themselves on equal footing by eliminating any titles upon their nametags. When a visitor approaches a team member, they read only “care partner” as the title under the name. Each person, no matter if they are a nurse, a dietary manager or a housekeeper, has a direct impact on those they support in the home and this simple idea reinforces that reality.

“Everybody pitches in, with no job titles,” Erlinda says.  “Everyone’s hard work and dedication pays off.”

Erlinda began working at Coleman Care Centre nearly five years ago, right around the time that the home came into the Schlegel Villages family. Since then, she has come to see just how aligned her personal values are with those of the organization, and her time in the Leadership Program just made it all the more clear.

“This program really opened the direction towards resident-centred care,” Erlinda says. “It’s the social living as opposed to the institutional way of living.” This is the model that Schlegel Villages has supported since she began working at Coleman Care Centre and it’s the model that will lead to positive change, not just within this organization, she says, but in the sector as a whole.  

This is perhaps the greatest strength of the Leadership Program; it is not designed with one specific organization in mind but instead, it offers anyone working within the long-term care or retirement living sectors a new view of what leadership can do to change the culture of aging.

Telling the story of the program’s success, Erlinda says, “is like a flame that keeps us going,” spreading throughout the entire sector.