Shalom Village update: That was then, this is now

December 2022
Pat Morden

“No one can go back and start a new beginning. Always we can start today to create a new ending.”

Shalom Village as described by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) inspection report (reporting actions from earlier this year and late last year) and reported in the Spectator on Nov. 23 is not the Shalom Village of today.  It does not clearly appreciate today’s reality of an organization that has learned from all its experiences and is building on the strength and clarity of mission, dedication and the courage of its loyal staff, sound quality improvement actions, and the growing impact of solid informed leadership.  
In the past months we have done, and continue to do, the hard work to understand the root causes of these findings, acted to address those findings, and are already seeing visible changed outcomes and the evolution of sustainable practices. Families, residents, and staff are speaking of the changed lived experience at Shalom Village. We have come a long way and are energized by the visible impact of our hard work to do more.  
Our whole team is now working solidly together; dedicated, skilled professionals who are truly making moments matter at home at Shalom Village. We are confident with our current practices, reviewed weekly, that the next report from the MOHLTC will engender much deserved confidence in the care and practices at Shalom Village.  
When I spoke with Joanna Frketich, The Spectator journalist, I was very transparent about the past, while also being clear that we have made incredible progress. I invited her to visit us to see the current reality of Shalom Village, as it is today. The invitation stands, and I hope that someday soon, The Spectator will enthusiastically report the wonderful stories that unfold at Shalom Village every single day. 
I am proud to be leading such a courageous and dedicated team. They have reflected on the learnings from the past and are moving from that, leaning into the future.  My commitment to the staff and residents is to continue to be on the ground running with them, holding the vision,  so they are always clear where we are going, to be a sound and solid place to land, to plan and that helps them back up again. I will work with the board of directors to engage and recruit leaders whose passion, knowledge and leadership excellence match and can advance those of the A.T.H.O.M.E team, a team that thrills me each day in their growing capacity to make every moment matter at Shalom Village.  
The report spoke to five areas, with specific examples that did not meet the standards of the MOHLTC and, in truth, did not meet the standards of Shalom Village. In each of these areas we have taken significant steps:  
1. Care that was not acceptable.
Given the serious nature of several of the incidents directly tied to the behaviour of one staff member, we terminated their employment. We have reviewed with all our staff the resident’s rights and their duty to report when they see or hear interactions that are not acceptable. We have met with the residents and families involved, apologized, and done our best to demonstrate that this is a safe home, where they can live with an expectation of each staff member treating their choices with respect, listening to them and being transparent.
2. Infection Control 
We have acted quickly to isolate those who have tested positive for COVID and put measures in place immediately to prevent spread. We have fully and transparently communicated what was happening and what we were doing to all our collaborators. The result has been very limited spread, and often no spread. By working closely with Public Health, we were able to resolve these unavoidable cases of COVID in a timely manner. Our outcomes have reinforced the quality of the newly implemented procedures and expertise which we have put in place.
3. Individuals with dementia who respond in unexpected ways to others and their environment
We have created an experienced team, led by a senior nurse, that includes our social services worker to design and implement caring strategies to help mitigate the impact of their disease on themselves and co‐residents.  Additionally, the team will soon be further bolstered by specially educated personal support workers to help all our team members develop and consistently implement effective plans of care. Potential altercations between residents with dementia will continue to be an issue for all long‐term care homes, and we will work hard with our team to mitigate these. 
4. Hiring Practices
Our hiring practices were updated and changed prior to the last inspection and were in place at that time. They continue to be in place and are imbedded consistently into our practices.
5. Nutrition and Choice
Our dietary staff found the underlying Our dietary staff have reviewed and reflected on the incidents reported in the inspection. They have together found the underlying reason for the mistakes and implemented changes to ensure our residents get food that tastes wonderful, is safe and allows them choice in how they want to manage their own lives. Food is important to most of us, both from a nutrition point of view and from a personal perspective. Finding a balance between what is healthy and what soothes our soul, especially when we are ill is hard for most of us. We will continue to work on that balance with our residents.
These changes have been augmented by ongoing regular staff education, many fine new staff joining our teams, the revitalization of relationships with external partners and internally, the sprucing up of our living spaces, as well as idea sharing. We have developed and continue to refine a robust quality improvement process with regular reporting that will help us keep an informed eye on our outcomes and allow for early detection with regards to any standard that is not being met.