The Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan recently hosted its 73rd annual conference in Moose Jaw with the theme Hope Floats: Serving in Health Care as People of Faith. It inspired me to look around the province to find a few hope-filled success stories of those serving in Catholic health care. I didn’t have to look too far.
I was reminded that Trinity Manor at Stonebridge in Saskatoon recently celebrated its second anniversary. On Oct. 8, 2014, Trinity Manor opened its doors — a two-year project of Emmanuel Care that culminated in creating a private residential retirement community in Saskatoon — offering both independent and personal care suites (174 in total). Today, they are at 100 per cent occupancy with a vibrant community that happily calls this place home.
What was the key to Trinity Manor’s success? I contacted Suzanne Turmel, Trinity Manor’s executive director, for a chat. First of all, let me tell you about Suzanne. She is personable, passionate and competent. A nurse by trade, Suzanne found her way into administration and ultimately leadership of a health region in Montreal before coming to Saskatchewan. It’s evident to me that one of the key reasons for Trinity Manor’s success is due to having the right person at the helm. I watched as amazing people envisioned this project, and then built the building, but the bricks and mortar are just that without the right person in place to build a community.
Suzanne takes little credit and points to a unique advantage they had from the outset — the sisters and religious men that were a significant percentage of the initial population from day one. What a gift to have those at the core of a community who come imbued with the mission of “loving their neighbours as themselves.” And no doubt, building a strong community was also the aim of the staff and other residents as well. Altogether, that intangible sense of culture and diversity was wonderfully mixed together. And it gelled.
Mission-mindedness is the next key to Trinity Manor’s success. You see it everywhere — in the way they plan programs and activities that tend to the body, mind and spirit; their attention to quality and security; and their intentional connection to the community at large. Interestingly, the mission of Trinity Manor is not simply prescribed to its residents, it’s held as a conversation with its residents. One practical example of how Trinity Manor has listened is the ways in which they tend to health care needs -they are attentive to when someone is transitioning from independent living to more assisted care, they make it a policy to always accompany residents to and from the hospital, and in an environment where medication errors can be a serious concern, they have added licensed nursing care to the team to help with monitoring.
Finally, Trinity Manor is a success because they are amazing bridge-builders. They know how to offer space and comfort for private independent senior living, and respectfully journey with people to assisted care and higher level needs of care. In a complex environment of publicly funded health care, and the often “bumpy ride” to acute or long-term care, Trinity Manor does its utmost to smooth the path for its residents. With Samaritan Place across the way (a sister Catholic health organization that is a publicly funded long-term care facility) many find comfort and companionship from their friends and community that are close by.
Of course, there is no straight (or magic “Catholic”) line for direct access to Samaritan Place. Saskatoon Health Region’s Client Patient Access Service (CPAS) oversees admissions to long-term care throughout Saskatoon, and admission to Samaritan Place is no different in that regard. CPAS employs an equitable process that must be adhered to, and that process determines who is admitted to long-term care facilities in Saskatoon, but the staff from Trinity Manor and Samaritan Place make it a priority to maintain open and strong lines of communication to make transitions as seamless as they can.
At the heart of any healthy community are good leaders, good listeners and good neighbours — congratulations to all those at Trinity Manor for your successes, and may God bless you in the years to come!
Kary is executive director for the Catholic Health Association of Saskatchewan.