Small ideas make for big change when partners come together

Innovation often comes from a simple idea ­­- one person wondering how things could be better and working with other innovators to find solutions. As ideas grow, so do partnerships and relationships and before you know it, a simple idea has grown into something that can really make a difference.

The RIA and Schlegel Villages work together taking simple ideas and turning them into programs, education and training to make life better for older adults. Barb Sutcliffe worked at Schlegel Villages for 23 years in various roles and was part of piloting these projects. Now as Senior Manager of Sales and Marketing at the RIA, she works to share them across Ontario and around the world.

“It’s those little chats over a cup of coffee where ideas really come from,” she says.  “Someone says ‘What if we could do something differently? What if we could do this in a way that would make life better for our residents?’ Conversations with the right people at the right time can lead to amazing things.”

There have been many RIA-Schlegel Villages partnership programs piloted right in the Villages. Living the Dementia Journey (LDJ), a training course for team members working with people living with dementia and Excellence in Resident Centred Care (ERCC), training designed for team members to build practical skills using a person-centred approach, are examples of Village-tested programs. At every step of the way researchers, team members and residents worked together to create innovations in elder care. These programs are now supporting older adults across Ontario, and some have gone even further.

The Culture Change Journey is one of those far-travelling ideas. It is a coaching service and guide book developed to help long-term care and retirement homes move towards a resident-centred model of care. The guide is based on the culture change journey Schlegel Villages started 10 years ago. The program was developed with input from residents and family members as well as team members of all disciplines including PSWs, housekeepers and administrators.

“It came from one of those coffee chats. A few team members thought there might be a way to provide care that put more focus on the resident’s wants and needs, not only their health,” says Sutcliffe.

Now, it’s getting noticed.

Four homes in Canada and one home in the United States have started their own culture change journeys with guidance from the RIA. The RIA partners with organizations through a series of workshops designed to fit their specific needs and build on their existing strengths.

Without the support of team members at Schlegel Villages this wouldn’t be possible.

The best part of working on partnership projects like these? “It’s seeing the end results” says Sutcliffe. “When you can see the transformations that happen. There is better job satisfaction for team members and a better quality of life for the residents. It’s incredible the impact these programs can have.”

This story was featured in the April issue of RIA’s Research Matters. Read other issues of Research Matters.