Kera Redlack: a Personal Approach to Wellness

Kera Redlack, United’s new director of health and wellness, brings a wealth of experience to United’s residents. She has worked in long-term care, acute care and continuing care over her 12 years as a nurse. But working at United has presented Kera with a whole new way of looking at care.

Kera Redlack, United's director of health and wellness
Kera Redlack, United’s director of health and wellness

“I have found over the last 12 years that organizations that promote a person-centred approach to care don’t necessarily walk the talk,” said Kera. “What drew me to United is that they are literally transforming the experience of aging. Aging is a natural process in life and we help each resident maintain their wellness in their later years. The United approach is focused on each person within a social model of care rather than a medical model. That means that we see each resident as a person. They are the experts in their wellness. We focus on their strengths not their medical conditions, and the residents tell us how they want to live. We ask ourselves with each interaction how we can make their lives enjoyable and meaningful. That’s really special.”

Kera notes that as health care professionals, it’s important to recognize the value of the residents’ experiences. “It’s one of the most meaningful parts of my job. We learn from them just as much as they learn from us.”

She leads a wellness team consisting of resident care managers and registered nurses, who work directly with the licensed practical nurses and health care aides. As well, regular wellness meetings bring together the nurses, United Minds (cognitive care), food services, housekeeping, programming and fitness to contribute to a holistic approach that can help residents improve their quality of life.

Kera listens to residents about what's important to them
Kera and the wellness team listens to residents about what’s important to them

Working at United has been a completely new experience for Kera. “Instead of  working from a ‘top down’ point of view where the health professionals tell residents what is best for them, we engage with the residents and they let us know what is best for them. Decisions and process changes are made with resident input. That’s something that hasn’t been done before in my experience and it’s a breath of fresh air. I’ve been here only a few months so I’m still getting used to this unique approach. I came from a background where the medical side came first. Here, we think outside of what is the normal medical approach and think of what’s best for each person.”

Kera believes that residents know how they want to live and that the health care team can support them by providing choice and control over their lives. “Whatever condition you have, you’re still a person. Your condition shouldn’t define who you are. It’s our job to find out what you need to live a full, active life and help meet those needs. It’s all about helping residents live well rather than what is most efficient for the health care team.”

For instance, United doesn’t impose restrictions on the amount of time spent with residents. There is time to talk with them and get to know them. That approach can be a pleasant surprise for nurses who come to United from another community. Nurses at United always refer to the person by name. As well, nurses wear business casual attire, not scrubs or medical uniforms. Medications are given to residents in their suites to ensure privacy, dignity and respect.

Kera knows the importance of communication between employees and residents. She has started work on creating a communication system for each suite. “It might be something like an internal system where we post information using the televisions in the suites. It’s another way to promote independence.

“United has really improved the approach to care for older adults,” said Kera. “It’s something I’m very excited about. I love every minute being here!”

Photos by United Active Living. Videos by Sherana Productions.

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