The word ‘growth’ springs to mind while reflecting upon the past decade at Schlegel Villages, for it’s a word that describes many aspects of the organization at the opening of the 2020s. In sheer numbers, the new Villages that have opened, expanded or been welcomed into the family is a visible symbol of that exciting growth.
“A moment or highlight of the decade?” repeats Ron Schlegel when asked for his reflections. “I can't really think of one specific thing, rather the openings of many new Villages including the second and third phases and The Ruby restaurants.” He also points to the progress achieved within the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging, “and the global notoriety which it has achieved,” as a major point of pride. “It's the only such institute which exists in the world along with the Villages which serve as ‘living laboratories’ for real time translation of knowledge to practice.
“All of the Villages are satellites as sites for incubation, acceleration, or mobilization, which is an amazing configuration.”
In many ways, however, the most significant growth is found in the philosophies that guide the organization’s approach to the care and support of its residents, and the dedication team members hold for the idea that living can come first within the neighbourhoods. This has been a central focus over the past decade as a conscious effort to change the culture of aging has inspired this positive evolution.
The LIVING In My Today dementia philosophy; the CONNECT The Dots customer service training; the Neighbourhood Team Development program, the Wisdom of The Elder events; all corners of every village are touched by the progressive ideas found within each of these concepts, and our residents and team members are all the better for it.
Joanne Potts, who has grown from a general manager in 2012 with the newly opened Village of Aspen Lake in Windsor to the vice-president of operations supporting nine villages in Southwestern Ontario today, recalls the Schlegel vision brought to life one particular day in 2018. “There are so many great moments to celebrate,” she says, looking back over the past ten years, “but the one that sticks close to my heart is the Schlegel Winter Olympics for the west villages hosted at Winston Park.”
She remembers “residents competing with all their heart; I can still see their faces with determination and joy. There were beautiful moments in the day when a village gave up a space in an event to allow another to compete. The teams were working hard and putting the residents’ experience first in countless ways – supporting their athletic endeavours, ensuring their physical needs were met, sitting and sharing moments throughout the day.”
“Ron’s vision was alive and well that day,” Joanne continues, “with hundreds of people enjoying every square inch of the village. As I drove away from that event, I was struck on so many levels by what a blessing it is to be part of Schlegel Villages, part of this amazing team and to have been just a little part of that day.”
Some of the most memorable moments have been just that: a moment. They arrive in a smile and greeting along Main Street, or in the comforting hand of a resident supporting a team member through difficult times. They are the moments that make up Village life and will define the next decade and beyond, and they are the moments that inspire pride.
Please feel free to share your moments of memory from the past decade, either in the comments below or on your favourite social media platform. We'd love to hear from you!