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Westminster-Thurber Community

Organizational Systems Transformations


The below "overall" organizational and staff transformations are based on the Organizational Systems table (displayed on the Assessing Impact page) and are those that will most likely affect staff and organizational outcomes. Examples are listed below each strategy. 

1) Create an inclusive community for staff that is constantly communicating and reinforcing a resident-directed focus through formal and informal educational opportunities and relationship building.  

  • A consistent finding in Pioneer Network case studies of culture change is the integration of resident-directed philosophy and expectations into the recruitment and interview process of new staff. Westminster Thurber utilizes Eden concepts to structure interview questions geared toward understanding new employee's openness to valuing resident autonomy and choice. Questions include: Give me three words to describe an elderly person; How would you make a new resident feel welcome?; What do you think are some of the challenges a new resident faces when moving in to a long term care community? Applicants receive a packet stating, "As a prospective employee of Westminster-Thurber Community, we want you to understand our culture. Eden is a definite change in the way we look at long-term care culture change. You, as an employee, play an integral part in our family."
  • The team developed a curriculum for an eight-hour culture change educational course. The compilation of material became known as World Makers, taken from Dr. Bill Thomas' reference that each employee, everyday, can change the world for our Elders. The entire employee workforce was trained with the World Makers curriculum.  The training instills the values and philosophies of Westminster's culture from the very beginning of an employee's tenure.  The trainings are now offered monthly for all new hires and anyone from the community who wishes to attend.  Training topics are extensive and include Dementia Caregiver Training, Eden Principles and Grief and Dealing with Loss. "We kept asking, how do we get this message [culture change] to everyone and how do we get them to hear the same information? So, that's when the Education Committee came up with World Makers. People are better informed and can speak to the whole vision, because they've all had the same information." - Member of Education Committee.

2) Through a flat organizational structure, employees feel empowered to help control quality, waste, and problem-solve throughout the community. 

  • "I communicate to staff that I'm a coach and a coach can't play all the positions on the team." - Assisted Living Coordinator.
  • Peers will take part in the new hire process by showing potential employees around the organization and talking with them further. Often, employees gain more of an inside perspective through these conversations and share candid thoughts with HR staff  (leading to ultimate hiring decisions).
  • "We used to be a very punitive society. Now, employees feel empowered to make a difference knowing that they have room to grow." - Member of Leadership Team.
  • Critical-thinking is valued and expected of employees. "They give me the freedom to do what I do best." - Westminster staff member.

3) Leverage the value-added potential of inter-disciplinary, cross-trained teams throughout the organizational structure to take advantage of synergies in the organization. 

  • To incorporate inter-disciplinary concepts in the Pathway Home, staff underwent extensive training including dining, cooking, laundry, housekeeping, nutrition, observation skills, maintenance, and activities.
  • Westminster-Thurber develops teams to respond to all types of operational processes, such as HRT = Human Resource team that brought together the leadership to deal with employee issues, FAT = Financial action team, to review operational fiscal soundness, CAT = Capital action team, to review campus needs and strategically plan for the future goals of the community.  The team rotates leadership responsibilities so each person has an opportunity to strengthen their leadership skills.
  • Westminster implemented peer evaluations as part of the formal HR evaluation process. "They are just getting use to being accountable to each other." - Member of Leadership Team.
  • "Relationships are built which is why we tried to make it cross-departmental. We wanted folks to get to know each other." - Member of Education Committee.

4) Leadership actively pursues engagement and supportive strategies with staff. 

  • The Westminster leadership team regularly writes thank you notes to staff as part of the culture change process. "One of the biggest things that we have pushed is recognition. We've had tremendous feedback from staff with the thank you notes and recognition of hard work. It's a very powerful tool." - Member of Leadership Team.
  • The leadership team relinquishes their control by incorporating peer interviews for new hires in each neighborhood of elders and care partners.  The team also developed and implemented a peer evaluation tool for employees to use in evaluating their peers, in turn helping each other to grow.
  • "Before culture change we had a regimented leadership style. Everything was systematic and black and white. Now, we try to look at the whole picture to make sure that we coach, counsel and educate." - Westminster staff member.
  • Westminster leadership sends representatives to various state and national professional meetings with the goal to identify new innovative ways of delivering better services.  They expose employees to best practices with the expectation that employees will challenge or inspire leadership to do the right thing.

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