Some of the finest leaders in any team setting have risen into their roles from within the ranks they serve. They were leaders before any title made it official, showing others what it takes to be strong through the example of their character.
This is especially true in long-term care and retirement settings, for there is a delicate balance of compassion and tireless dedication to be struck in order for a caregiver to excel. Recognizing this, Schlegel Villages is committed to filling 70 percent of its future leadership roles from within by identifying those natural leaders who already work as direct caregivers and nurturing their talents.
They are people like Lina Oliveira, one of the first people to step into the role of Neighbourhood Coordinator at The Village of Humber Heights when the position was created some 6 years ago. The position requires a deep understanding of both the residents living in each neighbourhood and the team members who serve them. The NC is the liaison between clinical teams and families – the sergeants of the ranks, so to speak, and the most successful NCs across Schlegel Villages have a natural ability to strengthen their teams by amplifying each member’s strengths.
During a recent “Village Traditions” seminar hosted by Humber Heights, where new team members from different villages gather to learn more about the Schlegel Villages philosophy of care, Lina shared the story of how she came to be in her current role.
She wasn’t in health care when she first came to Canada from Portugal via Brazil. She’d started her own business as a housekeeper, finding success through a hardworking ethic that has defined many a new Canadian for generations. One of her clients was Elsie Oliva, the mother of a judge who’d shown compassion to one of Lina’s close family members during a difficult time. The judge liked Lina right away as she spoke in favour of her loved one, and asked if she’d work for his mother. She happily accepted.
When Elsie had to move to the newly opened Humber Heights retirement suites after suffering a devastating fall, Lina continued to visit her. She immediately fell in love with the village, quickly deciding she had much to offer the residents who lived alongside Elsie. At Humber Heights, Lina found a calling to serve others with the kindness and compassion she’s always offered those around her, so she enrolled in a Personal Support Worker course and began working at the village not long after completing training.
“She is where she is today because she’s wonderful,” Elsie says, recounting how she met Lina and came to build a relationship that remains strong to this day. “She’s an amazing person and a very, very hard worker. She’s certainly come a long way, and I knew she would.”
“If a person loves what they do,” Elsie adds, “then they’re going to be good at it, and Lina loves what she does.”
It was the combination of work ethic and compassion that made Lina a strong fit to grow within the village, first becoming certified to administer medications before taking on the new NC role. Today she continues to love the village and the job as much as she did when she first walked through the door more than 10 years ago.
She encourages all new team members to follow their passion and “work with your heart,” for each resident deserves nothing less. Within the organization, she says, there is room for those with the right heart and dedication to become the leaders of tomorrow, creating an even better environment to work in and to live.