Schlegel Villages has always chosen to invest in thought-provoking guest speakers to inspire attendees at its annual spring Leadership Retreat and the Operational Planning Retreat it hosts every autumn. This fall’s event, which celebrated 10 years of concerted effort to change the culture of aging, was no exception. In fact, not only did the organization welcome six key thought-leaders from the core of the culture change movement to the retreat, but it made sure their “Culture Talks” were recorded for posterity’s sake to be made available to anyone interested in the provocative messages shared within.
Dr. Jennifer Carson’s Dementia Emancipated urges people to consider that when an older adult living with dementia is forced to live behind locked doors, segregated within their community, they are living within a home that borrows more from prison system than it does the health care system. Like the concept of physical or pharmacological restraints, the idea of locked doors to contain people living with dementia should be cast aside Jennifer says, noting that this current system of forced segregation was made with good intentions that are now outdated. “What has been made, can be unmade,” she says.
Carmen Bowman used her experience as a Colorado state surveyor enforcing regulation compliance to guide her into culture change education. Her Culture Talk, titled "Non-Compliant" = Choice: Who is Non-Compliant Now? pushes past the barriers some feel regulations place upon making positive change in the long-term care sector today. She suggests the regulations that govern the health and long-term care system on Ontario should not be viewed as hurdles to jump through or a hindrance to a life lived well but instead, the regulations allow for “life, friendship and choice,” and these are the words we should focus on.
Nancy Fox has been immersed in the culture change movement for more than 25 years, often looking at the concept from a leadership perspective. In her talk, Becoming a Gardener for the Human Spirit, she uses the power of storytelling to suggest that one of the most important aspects of a care partner role is that of a nurturer of the ‘garden’ or spirit that defines us all as human. “There is no magic spell,” she says. “It takes hard work, commitment and patience to grow a beautiful garden.”
‘Resident Empowerment’ is a term often used when discussing improving the lives of those who live in LTC or Retirement settings. In his presentation, Resident Empowerment: Going Deeper with Well-Being, Dr. Allen Power pushes the audience to think of the concept in a different way, beginning with a quote from one of his influencers, Daniella Greenwood, who once said: “Much of what we call ‘person-centred care’ is simply bossing people around in a very individualized way.” Dr. Power has always pushed us to think a little deeper about acceptable approaches to the care of others, and he pushes us ever further with this discussion.
Karen Stobbe and Mondy Carter present the final Culture Talk. Using humour, their skill as improvisational actors and the very real and personal experiences they’ve had caring for loved ones through the progression of dementia, they inspire the audience to reflect on their own experience and reactions to life in the service of others. They vividly illustrate the importance or risk in a meaningful life, and through laughter and tears, they leave the audience with much to deeply ponder.