Imagine having to consider moving your elderly parent for the third time in as many years. Perhaps a change in their health status requires more specialized care than what the Homecare program can provide, or perhaps the residence where your parent lives is unable to provide it due to a lack of resources. This is the reality for an increasingly number of seniors and their families.
“People’s needs exceed what is currently available in our communities, challenging us to find real solutions to bring the right care and services to the right place, at the right time, and by the best team,” says Micheline St-Hilaire, CEO of Actionmarguerite. “We now need to look at innovative ways to move the long-term care sector forward to better meet needs, particularly in preparation for the aging baby boomer generation.”
Last spring, spontaneous conversations between senior executives of long-term care residences prompted the idea of attending the Ready to Impact conference in Pittsburgh, presented by Pioneer Network and The Green House Project. This conference focused on exploring different models of long-term care residences, such as the American Green House (GH) model. The GH model is a trademarked model with structural, procedural, and philosophical components based on three values – a real home, a meaningful life, and empowered staff. These values are established through the creation of small, residential-style houses located in community neighbourhoods.
Micheline St-Hilaire then approached Réseau Compassion Network’s CEO to talk about the conference and the U.S.-based Pioneer Network, a national leader of the culture change movement. They are helping care providers transition away from a medical, institutional model of elder care to one that is life affirming, satisfying, humane, and meaningful. This gave rise to an organic coalition of network members that includes Actionmarguerite, Dr. Gendreau Personal Care Home, the Winnipegosis & District Health Centre, plus Villa Youville, the Riverview Health Centre, and the Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre.
“Our coalition’s mission is to leverage the powerful and committed leadership of our collective organizations to implement quality housing solutions and a person-directed living environment to better support our aging community,” says Daniel Lussier, CEO of Réseau Compassion Network.
For Micheline St-Hilaire, the interesting thing about this coalition is that, while its “members” may have different clients, needs and approaches, they share the common goal of finding solutions. “We are committed to sharing information, and even implementing pilot projects together, to demonstrate the benefits of innovative models to meet needs,” she says. This includes combating loneliness, improving existing environments, addressing the transition of young adults into the community, exploring culturally appropriate home care services, improving supportive housing, and finding innovative models of community support. “It’s a long list, but it’s time to focus on deinstitutionalizing our long-term care system and moving it towards a model of living that is driven by individuals and their needs,” says Ms. St‑Hilaire.
Together, the coalition is joining forces to make a difference. “The pandemic showed us that there is strength in unity, and that we must continue to build on the relationships that were created during the peak of the pandemic within our sector,” says Micheline St-Hilaire. “Leadership isn’t about power, it’s about unity. The coalition organizations are moving forward together; we’ve applied for joint funding to create meaningful connections, we’re looking at creating an annual conference in Manitoba, and we’re working to identify what needs to be changed in our sector to make environments better.”