Trailblazers for Culture Change Awards

Coast to Coast initiatives that are changing the culture of aging in Canada 

The Trailblazers for Culture Change Awards recognizes changemakers across Canada who are contributing to changing the culture of aging through initiatives, programs or day-to-day practice. This could include any individual, team or organization involved in senior care or support across the continuum of care, such as long-term care homes, retirement homes, day programs, community centres, and other programs encouraging engagement in the community.

Top Trailblazers 2024

Kim Schmidt - iGen Program

The Grade 6 Intergenerational Program (iGen) is a unique partnership between the Sherbrooke Community Centre Long-Term Care home and the Saskatoon Public School Division grade 6 class. This is the first program of its kind in Canada and has been running for 10 years. Students spend the school year learning in various parts of the LTC home and create relationships with the residents that nourish the mind, body, and spirit of all. This program challenges stereotypes, builds empathy and understanding, and enhances personal growth for both students and residents.

The Grade 6 Intergenerational Program (iGen) is a unique partnership between the Sherbrooke Community Centre (a long-term care facility that follows the Eden Alternative® Philosophy of Care) and the Saskatoon Public School Division grade 6 class. Students spend the school year learning in various parts of the home and interacting with residents in meaningful ways. The students learn important life lessons centered on empathy, compassion, and respect from their relationships with the residents. The students provide so much energy, joy and spontaneity to our community. The home is thrilled to see residents continuing to grow and pursue their passions through their relationships with students. You can see the body, mind and spirits of both residents and students nourished and enriched through intergenerational relationships. This is the only program of its kind in North America and is inspiring long-term care homes and schools worldwide. 

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Mary Beth Wighton and Dawn Baxter

Mary Beth, a person living with dementia, and her life partner, Dawn Baxter, have transformed their personal journey of caring for and living with dementia into a powerful advocacy mission. They openly share their experiences in speaking engagements, dementia inclusive roundtables and advisory boards, research, dementia related education and service development projects, and the Behavioural Supports Ontario team exemplifies their dedication to creating impactful change within the healthcare landscape. By openly sharing their challenges, triumphs, and insights in various forums, they continue to shape a more compassionate and informed society that embraces and supports individuals living with dementia.  

Since being diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, Mary Beth has transformed her personal journey into a powerful advocacy mission. She is a founding member and chair of Ontario Dementia Advisory Group (OGAG) and Dementia Advocacy Canada, where she has a pivotal role in shaping dementia-related policies and initiatives. Her life partner, Dawn Baxter, also a passionate advocate, shares her insights as a care partner. Together they serve as Lived Experience Co-Facilitators within the Behavioural Support Ontario (BSO) team. Their lived experiences serve as a catalyst for positive change, influencing the development of services and supports for individuals and families touched by dementia.

 

Over the years, the dynamic duo’s involvement in speaking engagements, dementia inclusive roundtables and advisory boards, research, dementia related education and service development projects, and the BSO team exemplifies their dedication to creating impactful change within the healthcare landscape. By openly sharing their challenges, triumphs, and insights in various forums, they continue to shape a more compassionate and informed society that embraces and supports individuals living with dementia. Mary Beth and Dawn’s advocacy journey is not only a testament to their resilience but also a source of inspiration for the broader community. By openly sharing their challenges, triumphs, and insights, they continue to shape a more compassionate and informed society that embraces and supports individuals living with dementia.

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Carole Estabrooks - Translating Research in Elder Care Program

Carole Estabrooks is a health services researcher and Canada Research Chair in Knowledge Translation in the care of older adults. She is the Scientific Director and co-founder of the pan Canadian longitudinal research program, Translating Research in Elder Care (TREC). TREC’s mission is to develop sustainable practical solutions and tools to improve the quality of care provided to older adults, enrich the work life of their caregivers, and enhance the effectiveness in residential long-term care. Carole’s research has expanded from the western provinces to the east coast of Canada. In recognition of her dedication to research in LTC, Estabrooks has received several awards/distinctions including the Order of Canada (2016). 

Carole Estabrooks is a health services researcher and Canada Research Chair in Knowledge Translation in the care of older adults. She is the Scientific Director of the pan Canadian, longitudinal research program, Translating Research in Elder Care (TREC). TREC’s mission is to develop sustainable practical solutions and tools to improve the quality of care provided to older adults, enrich the work life of their caregivers, and enhance the effectiveness in residential long-term care. TREC consists of an international and interdisciplinary group of approximately 50 researchers, and over 20 trainees from across Canada, US and Europe. TREC collaborates with 30+ highly engaged policy makers and a renowned international scientific advisory committee. Carole and Dr. Janice Keefe (MSVU and senior TREC researcher) co-founded  a partnership with VOICES (Voices of Individuals, Family and Friend Care Givers Educating us) that allows for the integration of perspectives from those served by the LTC sector and gives them voice within the research team.

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Ruth Watkiss - Music Therapist

Ruth Watkiss has been a full-time music therapist at Alzheimer Society Peel (ASP) for twenty years. She helps clients, team members, and community members to live life to the fullest through music. Ruth has created various initiatives from an intergenerational program with highschool students to developing a partnership with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, Ruth helped ASP to become the first Music Care Certified organization in Canada, and trained over 20 team members in integrating and sustaining music across the organization. Ruth hopes to expand this and train more workers from ASP and the community. 

Ruth Watkiss has been a full-time music therapist at Alzheimer Society Peel (ASP) for twenty years. She helps everyone live life to the fullest with music, and makes sure that the wider community is well connected to ASP clients. She has engaged high schools for intergenerational music programming, and has partnered with the Toronto Symphony musicians to tackle social isolation in the wake of Covid-19. Her and her team also engaged in a research project to optimize the soundscape in 4 different care sites.

 

Ruth had a vision of equipping her team with musical skills. Through her oversight and support, ASP has invested in training over 20 staff in standard Music Care Training, to integrate and sustain music in the organization. Because of this initiative, ASP has become the first Music Care Certified organization in Canada. Ruth blazed the trail for her team to be certified GOLD, the highest achievement in this innovative program which includes 5 quality drivers including leadership, music-rich environment, professional practitioner, continuing education and music care action research project. Ruth hopes to expand this expertise from community services to BSO services, training even more workers. All of these initiatives highlight how Ruth is a culture change agent within ASP and beyond.

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Bryce McBain - General Manager

Bryce has an innate enthusiasm for people, no matter their age, and he inspires his team to look at each resident as someone with goals, dreams, and ambitions – some grand and some modest, but all worthy of attention. Bryce and his fellow leaders encourage the village team to balance acceptable risk to support residents making the most out of every day. A culture where residents’ life choices are not only honoured but celebrated is the foundation of Village life, and there are countless examples where we see that autonomy thrive: mechanical bull rides, hot air balloon rides, camping trips, conferences, and even skydiving.

Bryce has an innate enthusiasm for people, no matter their age, and he inspires his team to look at each person they serve as someone with goals, dreams and ambitions – some grand and some modest, but all worthy of attention. Bryce and his fellow leaders encourage the village team to balance acceptable risk to support residents making the most out of every day. Today, a culture where residents’ life choices are not only honoured but celebrated is the foundation of village life, and there are countless examples where we see that autonomy thrive. Bryce and his team have helped a resident with limited mobility on one side from a stroke to experience his dream to ride a mechanical bull. They have also taken residents on hot air balloon rides, annual camping trips, tobogganing and wall-climbing, which are all experiences fuelled by resident desires. Most recently, a resident living with advanced multiple sclerosis, was able to check sky diving off of her dream list, something she never thought would be possible on her journey of wellness.

One resident shared that Bryce is one of a kind. He is passionate about his job, brings smiles and laughter to all, takes time to chat with everyone, and his door is always open. This resident is thankful that Bryce has given him the opportunity to “spread my wings by attending the Ready to Impact conference, the Schlegel Operational Planning meeting and the Innovation Summit.  “We don’t feel like “old people”” a resident explained.Bryce and his team continue to challenge stereotypical views of aging and focus on residents living life to the fullest.

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Nominee Recognition

Tracy Bablitz

Intergenerational Activity Patio – CCS

Dr. Katherine Chubbs

The Good Samaritan Mentorship Program, & Being & Belonging Model of Care

Breann Hall

Home and Community Care

Punnapa Hartley

 Heritage Night-Diversity Appreciation & Talent Show 

Jane Hu

Cycling Without Age Canada (CWA)

Tamara Jankura

 Neighbourhood Coordinator

Rachel Jeffery

 HJ McFarland Memorial Home

Shauna Kessler

Youth Connections Program –
Kipnes centre for veterans

 

Metzie Lacroxi

Director of Clinical Service and leader of their Palliative Approach program

Lynn Lake

The Village of Riverside Glen

 

John Patrick Maglalang

CHOICE South

Angela Malcolm

The John M. Parrott Center

 

Rachid Marrakchi

Actionmarguerite End-of-Life Team

Danielle Preston

The Club

 

Margaret Russell

Film & Lunch program

 

 

Dana Schnepf

Director of Care, Citadel Care Centre

 

Narine Dat Sookram

Social Work Project Manager, Private Practice

Award recipients will receive:
Top 5
  • Recognition at a national conference: Opportunity to highlight and showcase their contributions. Featured as a Top 5 Trailblazer for Culture Change at the conference (May 1-3, 2024 in Ottawa, ON) and on the Walk With Me 2024 conference website. 
  • Complementary conference registration: Receive one free conference registration (*for 1 person if submitting as a team).
  • Complementary ticket to the evening dinner event at the National Arts Centre.
  • Certificate of Recognition: Receive certificate of their “Top 5” achievement.
    Eligible Nominees:
    • Recognition at a national conference: Mentioned as an award nominee at the conference (May 1-3, 2024, in Ottawa, ON) and on the Walk With Me 2024 conference website.

    Certificate of Recognition: Receive a certificate congratulating person/team on their nomination.

    Eligibility Criteria 

    Applications should exemplify at least ONE of the culture change values: 

    • Demonstrate that personhood of individuals within the program/service is high level priority; 
    • Outline how individuals are maintaining primary authority of his or her life and personal choices are respected and supported; 
    • Demonstrate how the focus is on living life to the fullest is a a major component of the service or program;
    • Show how accessible and enabling environments are being supported as well as continued engagement and connections in community; 
    • Show how the body, mind and spirit of each person is being nourished; 
    • Demonstrate how close relationships and authentic partnerships involving collaborative decision-making are at the core of service or program as part of a compassionate communities; and 
    • Indicate how care partners are provided/have the knowledge and information, skills, resources, authority and accountability to provide respectful, flexible and life-affirming care and support.

    Examples: 

    • An educational program that supports team members to focus on relational, person-centred care.  
    • An individual or team that exemplifies authentic partnerships with older adults. 
    • Communities working together to share knowledge and make decisions.
    • Organizations offering resources/products/services that support older adults to live life to the fullest.
    • Creation of accessible and enabling environments or systems of support.

    Application Process

    Application must include:

    • Name and contact information (phone and/or email) of nominator
    • Name and contact information of nominee (must have 1 person represent the award, please include their organization, job title, city, province)
    • A description (500 words maximum) that includes the details of the program/initiative/practice, how the nominee exemplifies at least one of the culture change values listed above, and how it has created a positive impact in the community.
    • 1 letter of support from a client, care partner, or others from within the aging community sector.
    • Declaration that the nominator has permission from the nominee to make the nomination and the details included are accurate.
    • Consent to having this information shared publicly on the Walk With Me website, in social media, and/or at the conference.
    • Declaration that person, program, or organization is in good public standing with a positive reputation in the community.
    • Links to more information about their program/initiative/practice if applicable.
    • Top 5 awardees will be given a free conference registration and a free ticket to a dinner at the National Arts Centre where they will be recognized for their achievement. We strongly encourage them to attend both the conference and the dinner event.
    • Walk with Me is pleased to accommodate individual needs in accordance with the Accessibility of Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) within the application process. If you require accommodation at any time throughout the application process, please contact carrie.briscoe@the-ria.ca.

    Selection Criteria

    A person, program, or organization must be in good public standing with a positive reputation in the community.

    Criteria:

    • Demonstrates alignment with at least one culture change value.
    • Show how the initiative is addressing a concern related to the culture of aging.
    • Describe the initiative in detail of the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, why).
    • Provides evidence of active engagement of older adults.
    • Show how the initiative is “Trailblazing” as an inspiring, forward-thinking idea and applicability to practice that is new to the aging community sector and/or new to the region they are part of.
    • Shows how the initiative will sustain and make a positive impact on the community for a duration.
    • Application must be presented with Quality, clarity, and thoughtfulness (e.g., coherence, logical flow, grammar/spelling, etc.) of submission.
    • 1 letter of support from a client, care partner, or others with experience in aging communities.

    • Self-nominations will not be considered.
    • A total of up to 5 applications will be chosen as the Top 5 Trailblazers for Culture Change. All eligible nominees will be recognized (see above).
    • The selection committee is composed of members from the 2024 Walk with Me Conference Partnership and Advisory committee, culture change champions from across Canada. Representatives will include residents, family members, providers, associations, and partners.

    Online Application Form

    The 2024 Walk With Me conference is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion within its community and organization. We recognize that racism and discrimination have and continue to result in disparities within research and health systems for equity-deserving communities. We strongly welcome and encourage applications from Indigenous Peoples, racialized persons, women, 2SLGBTQI+ people, persons with disabilities and people from other equity-deserving groups.

    Any issues or questions please contact carrie.briscoe@the-ria.ca 

    Nominations are now closed

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