The world is changing before our eyes as communities in every corner of the globe manage the COVID-19 crisis and work to protect those at the greatest of risk. This situation is unprecedented and in every Schlegel Village, teams are working tirelessly to support residents in every way they can.
It is a monumental challenge as the organization develops and implements precautionary measures following the guidance of top public health officials as the situation progresses. These measures mean some team members are in self-isolation, while all non-essential visitors and volunteers are unable to join the residents who rely upon them.
In the face of these great challenges, however, there are countless examples of the teams and residents coming together to support each other, and that is the true beauty of a Village.
“I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to each of our Schlegel Villages team members who have been matching these exceptional times with exceptional effort and commitment,” said Schlegel Villages president and CEO Jamie Schlegel in a message to all team members. “Your work is challenging under normal circumstances and has been made even more challenging during this outbreak.
“I also know that all of you are providing extra love and support to residents during this time of long-term care and retirement home visitor restrictions, including finding creative ways to keep our residents connected to their loved ones.”
Residents are pitching in wherever they can, as well, and Village of Arbour Trails General Manager Heather Hyland said she is inspired by the way they have offered to support their neighbours and the team members.
“All of our teams are going above and beyond, making extra calls, going for extra walks and spending that additional personal time with lonely residents,” she says, “and they are delivering family drop offs of toilet paper, Lysol, hairspray, bananas and flowers, to name a few things.”
The Village of Wentworth Heights is not only supporting residents within The Village but also looking for ways to support those in the community outside with individualized care packages.
“We are always looking for ways to not only help the community, but more importantly, the senior population,” says Director of Lifestyle Options Nicole Andreatta, noting that it is this group of people that is most at risk right now. “We wanted to be able to deliver basic and essential foods so seniors do not risk leaving their home. We have many people who are willing and able to help here at our Village, so we wanted to do everything we can to spread kindness and love in a time of fear and distress.”
They hope to start delivering packages soon, and General Manager Vanda Koukounakis says this is simply an extension of the community vision Ron Schlegel had in mind when he founded Schlegel Villages. “We have always been encouraged by Ron and family that our organization mission extends beyond the walls of our Villages,” she says. “Regardless of whether you live in one of our Villages or not, we are passionate about supporting all seniors and vulnerable people in our community.”
Tammy Roberts, the General Manager at The Village at St. Clair, shares a simple message of gratitude as she thinks of her team, even as she works 18- or 20-hour days to support her Village.
“The team has been working through this as if we didn’t have a pandemic going on,” she says. “They have come to work proud and are nothing but amazing; I am so proud to be part of such an amazing team.”
At Waterloo’s Pinehaven Nursing Home, which has always carried an immense amount of pride in the family connectedness of everyone who lives and works there, General Manager Luke Denomme has the same sense of pride.
“It seems as though when Pinehaven is faced with adversity, we only get stronger and work better together,” Luke says. “We’ve had a few challenges with staffing but have been able to work through them with the creativity and ideas of our team.”
Across the Villages, as in every community across the country, people are preparing for things to continue to grow more difficult as the COVID-19 illness threatens our most vulnerable citizens and places immense strain on our health-care system. In the face of great adversity, however, some of the greatest stories of strength and resilience emerge, and we must never forget to shine beam of light upon them.