Planning to Meet the Demands of the Future

Developing a highly engaged workforce a key priority for Schlegel Villages

By Kristian Partington

When a core group of the leadership team members from Schlegel Villages’ support office began developing the organization’s five-year strategic plan, they first looked at the expected realities the health and long-term care sectors would face in the near and distant future.   

Female care giver assisting a male resident with a walker
Developing a highly engaged group of team members will continue to
be a cornerstone of Schlegel Villages' strategic plan in coming years.

The number of older adults living in Ontario is expected to double in the next 20 years, for example, and their expected average lifespan will rise from 81 years today to 87 by 2036, while the needs of this aging population will grow ever more complex. Today more than 60 per cent of long-term care residents live with Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia; those with a dual diagnosis are increasing at a rate of 11 per cent a year and more than 93 per cent are living with at least two chronic diseases.

To meet future demand, the province’s health care budget will need to increase by 50 per cent by 2030 to some $24 billion annually – a number many would describe simply as unsustainable. Beyond these realities is the fact that the workforce needed to care for this aging population is growing thinner so, with an ever-focused eye on innovation to get ahead of the shifting needs of society, Schlegel Villages aims to continue to be the employer of choice among those entering the caregiving workforce, even as the organization continues to expand and evolve.

Schlegel Villages chief operating officer Paul Brown says creating an environment in each of the villages where team members thrive will ensure residents do so as well. A strong focus on servant leadership while developing the strengths of all team members through education will go a long way toward developing dedicated and committed team members.

“For the past five years we’ve just been figuring out how we can get better and better at serving and supporting people,” Paul says. “Then we added strengths-based leadership into the equation and tried to figure out how we recognize that we all have strengths and ask, how do I maximize my strengths and minimize weaknesses and how do we utilize each other the best we possibly can?”

As he scans the room filled with leadership team members from across the organization during the annual leadership retreat at the end of April – many of whom worked their way through internal advancement as he did – he sees this commitment paying off.

“What we’re doing in the next five years is deepening our commitment to really highlighting what the key attributes are in a Schlegel Villages leader,” Paul says. “Our leaders over time will be able to handle a scope and complexity that happens on a day to day basis that’s much more advanced.”

Developing these leaders, he says, will continue to be a top priority as the organization begins to roll out it five-year strategic plan.

“Our leaders of tomorrow, if we keep going on this path, are going to become people who are building and creating self-directed work teams that are making the minute, very important day-to-day decisions closest to our residents, and our leaders of tomorrow are going to become more strategic in making decisions at the neighbourhood and village level.”