United’s Innovative Approach to Wellness Gets Boost with New Director
“Social innovation thrives on collaboration; on doing things with others, rather than just to them or for them.” – Geoff Mulgan, National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts
Innovation and collaboration are two important words in the vocabulary of United Active Living’s new director of quality enhancement and innovation. For Cheryl Crich, both are key to keeping United in the forefront when it comes to working alongside older adults.
Cheryl has taken over the position from Dianne McDermid, who recently retired. With Cheryl’s joining, the role of innovation was added. While United’s philosophy has always been innovative, creating a focus on it ensures that United builds its knowledge in the most recent developments in older adult lifestyles, wellness and dementia support.
“United’s philosophy of including those living with dementia rather than segregating them from the community is very attractive to older adults and their families,” said Cheryl. “It’s rare to find a community that does this, but other inclusive communities, particularly in Europe and the U.S. are developing and enhancing their approaches. We are part of that movement and can both share our experiences with them and learn from them.”
Cheryl, a registered nurse with certification in gerontology, was very excited to join the team at United. “The medical side of care is primarily focused on fixing a health issue, what I would call “doing for” someone. I value a broader focus on quality of life and wellness, or “doing with” someone. The difference is collaboration with residents and their families. It’s a person-centred approach that is at the heart of what United does. Our philosophy, values and holistic approach support residents to maximize their lifestyle, health and wellness.”
Cheryl’s background in geriatrics and gerontology has spanned the last 22 years of her career. She came to United from Alberta Health Services where she was a manager of specialized geriatric services. She had toured Garrison Green and was familiar with United’s approach. She was also a former student in Dianne’s gerontology classes at Mount Royal University, so when Dianne’s position opened, Cheryl was keen to apply.
“It was highly appealing to me to come here. For me, focusing on residents’ strengths and continuous growth are essential. The positive side of aging may often be overlooked in society, but at United, the residents are living that positive focus every day,” said Cheryl.
“The thing that struck me most about coming to United was the resident experience,” said Cheryl. “There is vitality and engagement in life here, a high level of happiness. My goal is to grow and build on the foundation that has been laid here. We have always been at the forefront of the wellness and inclusion philosophy and I can only see that expanding. I’ve been here two months and so far the whole experience has been so powerful and energizing!”
Photos by: United Active Living
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To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.