How One Senior Care Facility Creates a Safer Workplace for Staff

When Canterbury Woods Williamsville and Canterbury Woods Gates Circle won a 2023 MEMIC Award for Excellence in Safety, it marked the success of efforts to enhance safety for over a decade. Founded in 1994, the MEMIC Award for Excellence in Safety is an annual award given to MEMIC policyholders who have deeply integrated workforce safety into their culture. Award criteria include an array of elements such as clear and consistent communication with employees about safety expectations, participation in safety workshops and on-site training, and investments that are proven to reduce injuries, such as providing personal protective equipment. Canterbury Woods’ efforts resulted not only in their winning this award, but also in creating a safer environment for residents and staff.

Read on to learn how Canterbury Woods sets itself apart with a strong commitment to safety and get insights on how to improve staff and resident safety in your own organization.

How Canterbury Woods Stands Out

David Darnley Lg

David Darnley, safety management consultant at MEMIC

David Darnley, safety management consultant at MEMIC, explains that MEMIC’s safety and claims departments have worked with Canterbury Woods for 12 of the last 14 years. “Canterbury Woods was selected for the MEMIC Award for Safety Excellence due to their exceptional, consistent results, and their work ethic and commitment to employee safety,” he says.

When it comes to workplace safety, Canterbury Woods stands apart from other organizations in numerous ways. “Safety is prioritized and insisted on from the top of the organization,” explains Darnley. “Goals are set to define and achieve success, managers from all departments work toward the same goals for an accident-free workplace, and outside business partners like MEMIC and Walsh Duffield, their workers’ compensation insurance carrier and agent, help them stay the course.”

Establishing a Focus on Safety

Rob Wallace, president & CEO of Canterbury Woods, explains that safety is a core principle and it’s regularly addressed with employees. “Upon hire, all new employees go through the General Orientation and in-service trainings, which include overall safety education, such as environmental safety and back/lifting safety,” he says. “But it is more than training and education. Creating and maintaining a culture of safety is foundational to our commitment to be a community of choice, for both residents and staff.”

Canterbury Woods has established a dedicated management team to focus on staff safety. The Employee Safety Committee includes interdisciplinary departments. “The committee now meets quarterly, and includes representatives from our insurance broker, Walsh Duffield, and MEMIC, our insurance carrier,” explains Nenette De Asis-Piddisi, human resources director at Canterbury Woods.”

Nenette De Asis-Piddisi

Nenette De Asis-Piddisi, human resources director at Canterbury Woods.

“We actively promote safety, which in turn contributes to overall positive staff morale,” says Wallace. Canterbury Woods focuses on promoting, maintaining, and sustaining a safe working environment. “This includes maintaining adequate staffing levels, including low resident-to-staff rations on work assignments, which is especially important in a care environment like we have at Canterbury Woods, as well as maintaining the supply and working condition of equipment and supplies for our staff,” says Wallace.

Additionally, the Workers Compensation committee continuously works to improve the organization as a whole, including staff and resident safety. “The committee focuses on residents but also influences staff performance and safety awareness,” says De Asis-Piddisi. “We utilize Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement measures and quality initiatives in both our skilled nursing facility and assisted living residence. When incidents and accidents do occur within the community, we carefully track them, along with trending and tracking the cause of any corrective actions in order to prevent future occurrences.”

Wallace notes that Canterbury Woods’ commitment to staff and resident safety is organization-wide. “In our nearly 25 years of operations, Canterbury Woods has been able to develop a dedicated team of individuals who share the same exceptional level of commitment to overall safety,” he says. “That collective buy-in and support makes all the difference.”

How Senior Care Organizations Can Improve Staff and Resident Safety

When it comes to improving staff and resident safety, De Asis-Piddisi highlights the importance of effective management. “Safety initiatives, and the commitment to implement and enforce them, has to start from the top level of management,” she says. “Leadership has to set the vision and the expectation. From there, the organization has to focus on key areas, such as overall commitment to safety and ability to communicate in all areas starting with general orientation and annual safety in-service training for staff.”

She notes that it’s also important to have regular meetings with Safety Committee members to discuss safety trends, incidents that have occurred within the organization, and actionable strategies that can help minimize those incidents.

She notes that several foundational elements are critical to Canterbury Woods’ overall safety success:

  • General orientation for all new hires
  • Annual in-service trainings related to overall safety, including environmental and ergonomics
  • Having regular department-level discussions and safety huddles focused on safety concerns and safety topics.

“Openness and accessibility are also key. We strive to make it clear that any team member, regardless of position or department, can bring issues to management’s attention to get resolution without fear of retribution,” she explains. “We all need to be accountable and dedicated to our residents and to one another.”

Topics: Executive Leadership , Featured Articles , Leadership , Operations , Staffing , Training