When residents live in a community it’s important that they have a voice in how they live, the programs that are offered, the meals and the other details that make up their new home. United’s two communities were created with a commitment to supporting Resident Councils. The council at United’s Fish Creek community gives residents an opportunity to share in how the community operates, and provides a focal point to discuss new programs, how the community functions and contribute to the overall improvement of the community.
“We are committed to working collaboratively with the resident council,” said CEO Kim O’Brien. “It’s an important way for residents to communicate with staff and administration. I sit in on the monthly meetings, and it gives me a better perspective on what residents are thinking and creates a two-way dialogue that continually improves life at Fish Creek.”
Council chair Linda Bolton, who moved to the Fish Creek community a year ago, said she joined the council because she wanted to be involved in all aspects of her new home.
“The council is in regular contact with Kim and others in the administration so if there are concerns or questions, the residents know they are being addressed,” said Linda. The council looks at issues big and small from building maintenance and food services to programs and care services.
Council member Con Irving, who moved to Fish Creek 20 months ago, says that by its very nature the council is focused on concerns raised by residents, but the results improve the operation and well-being of the residents. “Being on the council gives us a much better understanding and appreciation of how departments work and the day-to-day issues that departments face in running a community like this. While a complaint may be valid, there also may be circumstances we aren’t aware of that give us a fuller picture. For instance, the delivery of a certain food item may have been cancelled by the supplier, or delayed. That necessitates a last minute change in the menu, which can be complicated by dietary needs of the residents. While it might be annoying, we know the staff is working to rectify the situation.”
Con says one of the benefits of having a council is that he and the others on the council can act as a voice for the residents of the community. “We have quite a few people living with dementia so it’s important that their voices be heard, so we speak to administration on their behalf plus on behalf of others who may ask us to raise an issue for them. I have to say that the staff is very good at getting things done. We won’t just complain about something. We spend a lot of time thinking through the details, building a business case if its needed so we can show the benefit of making a change.”
Linda noted that one of the changes that was quickly addressed was a routine one, but still annoying. “A family of Northern Flickers found one of the buildings at Fish Creek to be an ideal home. They are woodpeckers so it was quite annoying, especially if your suite is next to them. Management worked with a contractor to apply a woodpecker-proof material to the top edge of the building, which will hopefully solve that issue.”
Along with the Resident Council, which meets once a month, residents are welcome at a general town hall meeting where administrative departments provide updates and residents ask questions. As well residents are encouraged to make suggestions for new programming or other areas of the community’s operation.
“When a resident passes away, some of our residents asked to use the community bus to transport them to the funeral, which is being done,” said Linda. “As well, we’ve started holding Celebrations of Life at the community, which is very nice for those who can’t always get out. Another suggestion was to have a doctor come into the community regularly rather than the residents having to make the trip out, so a number have signed up for that service.”
“Having the council and the regular town halls really focuses on what is important to residents,” said Kim. “This is their home and we want to make it as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. It’s also a great way to improve the overall communication between residents, staff and administration. It helps to reinforce that Fish Creek is a community where every person has a voice.”
“I’m a big supporter of what United is doing. It’s a great place with wonderful staff who really work hard to look after us,” said Con. “Being on council is a terrific experience and I would absolutely encourage residents to serve on it. It’s a great way to see exactly how things operate, meet everyone who lives here, and make the community an even better place to live.”
Photos by United Active Living, video by Sherana Productions
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To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.