An integral part of how United’s Garrison Green community operates is by encouraging and supporting resident involvement. Through the resident council, the residents are directly involved in how they live, the programs that are offered, the menu and meal choices and other day-to-day details as well.
The council gives residents a focal point to discuss a wide variety of topics such as new programs, how the community functions and to contribute to the overall improvement of the community.
“The resident council is an important way for residents to communicate with our team and for us to understand what is important to the residents,” said CEO Kim O’Brien. “While daily communication is usually informal, and is always taking place, some residents like the idea of speaking with other residents about any issues they may come across. In our regular monthly meetings with the council it gives us a better perspective on what residents are thinking and creates a two-way dialogue that continually improves life at Garrison Green.”
Council chair Mary Fenwick moved into Garrison Green eight years ago. She has seen the many benefits that having a council has brought to the community. “I think that communication is the most important function of the council. It runs both ways. If residents have a question or concern, we work on it or pass it along to staff and administration. As well, if administration wants residents to be aware of something important, such as the availability of the annual flu shots, we spread the word to make sure everyone knows.”
Resident Jim Dolph also sits on the council. “I really like what the council is doing to continuously improve life in the community. Everyone has the best interests of the community at heart. It’s also interesting to see how departments work, and the whole process of keeping a community running efficiently. For instance, residents may not understand how food is ordered or any of the other processes and we can help explain that. We have to give a lot of credit to our chefs, Ryan Bourquin and Ryan Chisholm. We have seen a marked improvement in the food and service over the last few years.”
By its very nature the council is focused on concerns raised by residents, but also handles requests for programs, outings and other lifestyle requests. The results improve the operation and well-being of the residents. “Recently, we’ve been looking at safety, and educating residents about the proper use of elevators,” said Jim. “If there’s an emergency, everyone needs to know what happens to the elevators, and how residents who are less mobile get to the ground floor. These questions have been answered, so we help ensure that residents understand how the whole process works.”
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 via a suggestion box that sits in the bistro.
“Having the council and the regular town halls really focuses on what is important to residents,” said Kim. “This is our residents’ home and we want to make it as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. It’s also a great way to improve the overall communication and collaboration between residents, staff and administration. It helps to reinforce that Garrison Green is a community where everyone has a voice.”
“Residents don’t live in a vacuum. There is constant communication between us and staff and management. Being on the council, I know they really care about the health and well-being of residents,” said Jim.
“Garrison Green is truly a community,” said Mary. “It has that easy, welcoming feel to it. I’m a big fan!”
Photos by United Active Living, video by Sherana Productions
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To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.