Reaching for New Heights - Village of Wentworth Heights

Village of Wentworth Heights staff member, Christine Legacy wears a t-shirt with Reaching for New Heights Aspiration statements on the back during an education day in 2012.

The Village of Wentworth Heights is a Schlegel Villages long-term care home located in Hamilton, Ontario. Schlegel Villages is comprised of 11 communities providing services and supports to approximately 2500 residents across southern Ontario.

The Village of Wentworth Heights is unique in that its Appreciative Inquiry journey was undertaken as part of a larger corporate initiative within the Schlegel Villages organization. At an Appreciative Inquiry summit, the whole organization moved through the phases that the Partnerships in Dementia Care (PiDC) Alliance would characterize as 'Dawn, Discovery and Dream'.

As part of their corporate culture change process, Schlegel Villages have pioneered Village Advisory Teams. These are similar in scope and function to Culture Change Coalitions. Comprised of representative residents, family members, team members from all levels, departments, neighbourhoods, and shifts, the Village Advisory Teams aim to collaboratively promote and advance Schlegel Villages' aspirations as they pertain to their annual operational goals. The Village Advisory Team at the Village of Wentworth Heights is called "Reaching for New Heights." 

The Schlegel-wide aspirations statements include:

Promote cross-functional teams

In our Village, all team members are engaged with every aspect of resident life by fostering collaboration through leadership, coaching, mentoring, education and critical reflection within each neighbourhood.

Create opportunities for meaningful and shared activities

Life purpose is achieved in each of our Villages through daily life filled with meaningful and shared activities. Our residents, family members, team members, volunteers and community partners engage in a vibrant Village life through mutual experiences and learning. We recognize that the most natural activity can provide fulfillment and growth. We create opportunities for meaningful and shared activities by giving permission to each other to explore new activities with our residents. We also educate everyone on the importance of community living and support residents in defining what activities are meaningful to them.

Connect research and innovation to Village life

At our Villages, we effectively communicate with all Village stakeholders (residents, families, team members and policy makers) the results and implications of research on aging through various channels including weekly communiqués to Village team members on topics affecting our residents, face-to-face presentations and electronic and digital resources. Our research communication plan engages the Villages in the research process by integrating research results into Village policies and practices. At the same time, it integrates research results into professional development programs for staff and into College and University curricula. This research communication plan increases the profile of the Villages to government, LHINs, prospective residents, the research community and the general public. As a result, residents, families and team members are informed, involved in, and excited about the culture of innovation within the Villages.

Offer flexible living

At our Villages we offer flexible living for each resident. Flexible living means the freedom for residents to choose what they want, when they want it, and how they want it, whether it is a bath, a recreational program or any other aspect of daily life. Our commitment to flexible living is made possible through educating all staff about the importance of promoting and respecting individuality. Residents are supported to make self-directed decisions regarding all aspects of daily life. As such, our systems and practices literally flex to support residents in achieving their individual preferences.

Foster authentic relationships

At our Villages, authentic relationships begin by knowing each other personally and are fostered through mutual respect. Authentic relationships occur when Village members are present with each other, and they flourish when we honour the unique personalities, contributions and life stories of every Village member.

Honour diversity in Village life

Our Village is a recognized community of acceptance. Everyone is consulted, included and respected in their spiritual, cultural and lifestyle choices. We offer a full range of programs and services for achieving individual life purpose within our diverse community.

Promote resident empowerment

Our Villages understand that empowerment is a fundamental human right. Our empowered residents are supported by team members and families in fulfilling their life purpose. This is supported by education, knowing each resident as an individual, listening, learning and unconditionally supporting our residents’ right to choose. Our residents are our leaders.

Offer flexible dining

Our Villages are celebrated as industry leaders for our flexible dining program. Our flexible dining honours the residents’ abilities to make choices regarding all aspects of dining including mealtimes and food choices. Our flexible dining invites the broader community to the table, ensuring plenty of room for families, friends, visitors and team members to share in the ritual of eating together. Our homemade and fresh baked meals are tailored to honour individual preferences, and our dining services are offered with care and dignity, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience for each person.

Reaching for New Heights has selected three of these aspirations to work on as their key operational priorities:

1) creating opportunities for meaningful and shared activities;

2) offering flexible living;

3) and offering flexible dining.

Eventually, each Village will work to promote each of Schlegel Villages' aspirations.

Reaching for New Heights is currently in the Delivery phase of Appreciative Inquiry, working to identify actions that will support the new aspiration statements they collaboratively developed in the Design phase.