By Kristian Partington
Reprinted from Schlegel Villages News
Among many teachings Ron Schlegel offered his three sons as they grew to eventually lead the organization he founded, he taught them to trust in the power of partnerships, but also to be sure to choose any partner in life wisely.
Schlegel Villages president and CEO Jamie Schlegel shared this insight as he spoke at the opening of the new Living Classroom satellite training campus at The Village of Tansley Woods in Burlington, developed alongside Hamilton’s Mohawk College.
“My dad has always reminded me and encouraged me to choose your partners in life carefully and make sure that those partners are aligned from a values standpoint,” Jamie said. “I can say without hesitation that we found such a wonderful partner in Mohawk College, that is aligned with our values and aligned with our objective and vision for doing the training of healthcare workers in a different and innovative way.”
The development of engaged teams that are driven by the concept of relationship-centred care is one the most important priorities at Schlegel Villages, which is why it invests in the training of new caregivers through its in-house Living Classrooms. This new campus, located within Tansley Woods, is the fourth of these innovative classrooms Schlegel Villages has developed.
This model, Jamie explains, “allows students to learn right in the environment they’re ultimately going to work in and the neat part about this arrangement is it allows the residents and our existing team members to be part of the learning journey, and it creates such a rich and deep and relevant learning experience.”
The feedback from students who have graduated from previous Living Classroom cohorts over the years at Wentworth Heights, University Gates or Riverside Glen consistently point out the superiority of the immersive experience that this model offers future caregivers.
Kim Hulme is a Personal Care Aide working in the retirement neighbourhoods at Tansley Woods, and she is also training through Mohawk College to be a Personal Support Worker. She says her clinical placement next door in the Long-term Care neighbourhoods has been invaluable, and she believes the Living Classroom model will only enhance the experience for future students.
“The people that I’m working with are wonderful,” Kim says. “Everyone works as a team; I learn something new every day and I’m very well honoured to be part of this team.
“What a great opportunity and it’s just wonderful that the Living Classroom is here in Burlington.”
As Mohawk College’s Chief Operating Officer Paul Armstrong reflected on the partnership, which began with the college’s first Living Classroom at The Village of Wentworth Heights in 2019, he also spoke of shared values. “In any relationship, there’s just something in your gut that tells you it feels right,” he said. “Everything I’ve seen and every opportunity I’ve had to engage with (Schlegel leaders), it is really clear where your values and principles and priorities lie and it’s in the same place where they lie for me personally and where they lie for us as Mohawk College.”
The first students will begin their training in the fall of 2023 and will have every opportunity to work within Schlegel Villages once their education is complete.