Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your organization?
Michelle Martin is the Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Society Waterloo Wellington. Their organization provides support for individuals who are in the circle of someone living with dementia, including family members, friends, and neighbors. Alzheimer's Society offers a range of services, including sessions with social workers, support groups, and education on dementia. In addition to these services, the organization also provides therapeutic recreational programming, as a means of promoting a healthy lifestyle and social connection. In 2014, the society amalgamated with separate organizations in Guelph, Cambridge, and KW, allowing for greater resource allocation and standardization of services offered across the community.
What drew you to the Alzheimer Society originally? And how has Alzheimer Society changed since?
Michelle originally started her career in business but felt disconnected from the work and went back to school to become a social worker. She worked at another community support services agency before being offered the Executive Director position at Alzheimer Society. When she started, the team was struggling to integrate and work together effectively, so Michelle made it a priority to strengthen the culture and teamwork environment. She also realized that Alzheimer’s Society was not being recognized as a community leader, so she made efforts to form relationships with health service providers and other community support service agencies to ensure integration and collaboration. Their current vision is to work closely with all Ontario health teams and act as an ambassador for the community support services sector.
What do you like most about Alzheimer Society?
Michelle Martin appreciates the Alzheimer Society's ability to make a meaningful difference in clients' lives through their holistic approach to care. As a community support services provider, she believes that the well-being of a client's body, mind, and spirit is equally important to their health. This approach differs from traditional medical approaches, but Michelle believes that it is just as valuable. Michelle is part of the Alzheimer's Society and Community Sports Services agency, where she has the opportunity to provide meaningful interventions that improve the lives of those they serve. Clients have expressed gratitude for feeling empowered and equipped to support their loved ones, as well as improving relationships and family dynamics. Michelle believes that this approach improves emotional and mental health, which can help clients better handle medical interventions. She appreciates the beautiful approach that the Alzheimer Society takes to the client journey.
Can you tell us what your role is with the OHT?
Michelle Martin's role with the OHT, specifically the KW4 OHT, involves being a member of the team that provides collaborative and integrated care. With over 25 years of experience in healthcare, Michelle recognizes the need for better communication and alignment among healthcare providers. She believes that the formation of the Ontario Health Team was timely and provided the necessary push to align and integrate principles to provide client-centered care. As a member of the OHT, Michelle appreciates the back-office support and leadership that helps to move the work forward and make it more manageable. She recognizes that developing relationships with partners at equal levels, such as hospital CEOs, is crucial to getting great work done. Michelle is grateful for the opportunity and appreciates Ashnoor’s leadership in recognizing community sports services as a partner and paving the way for discussions and relationships to happen. She is excited to be part of the team and believes that the slow and steady approach will win the race.
How does your organization align with the values and goals of the OHT?
Michelle explains that Alzheimer’s Society exists to provide members of KW4 with the best healthcare and social services possible, and that partnering with the OHT has made it possible to provide more coordinated care to clients. She believes that the relationships formed directly out of the KW4 OHT have made a significant impact on the client's journey.
What do you hope to see in the near future with your continued partnership with the OHT?
Michelle Martin is excited about the opportunities for the Alzheimer's Society to partner with hospitals in the near future. She believes that hospitals are not the best place for people with dementia and sees an opportunity for the Alzheimer's Society or other community support services (CSS) partners to be part of the process. Michelle hopes to embed an Alzheimer's Society social worker or therapeutic rec person in the emergency department to help support people living with dementia. She also hopes to address the issue of ALC (alternate level of care), where 80% of people have dementia, and create a more dementia-friendly support system to prevent people with dementia from getting stuck there. Michelle believes that by having an Alzheimer's Society representative embedded in the hospital, hospital staff will feel more supported, and people with dementia will receive the support they need to navigate the healthcare system and return home safely.