Two years ago, Revera approached Northridge Long Term Care resident Bill Jarvis with a question: would he be willing to take on a newly created role as Innovation Ambassador?
For Bill, the word “innovation” was something he was used to thinking about, having spent decades in leadership roles for companies including Gartner Canada, Labatt Breweries and as co-founder of his own IT management firm.
“I know the value of innovation, but I didn’t know how serious Revera was about making it a priority,” says Bill, who came to Northridge in 2013. “I quickly came to realize how much they value my voice, and in turn, the thoughts and opinions of the residents who live here.”
There’s an untold wealth of experience and knowledge here
As Innovation Ambassador, Bill acts as the voice, eyes and ears of Revera residents – and by extension, seniors in Canada – by offering insights into everything from program design to menu to the effectiveness of new technologies, including offering guidance to the entrepreneurs who come to Revera as part of the Revera Innovators in Aging program
. “It’s something that makes a real difference in people’s lives,” says Bill. “It’s my job to ask, ‘Are the needs of residents being met?’ ‘Will this technology improve seniors’ lives?’”
Recently, Bill helped advise a team of entrepreneurs developing a piece of wearable technology designed to help with incontinence. “It’s just something that alerts a nurse when it becomes wet,” says Bill. “It may sound mundane, but it makes a big difference to some people, both in terms of their physical and emotional needs.”
“Sometimes people make decisions without considering the larger impact,” adds Bill. For example, there was a recent proposal that included physical changes to an area of the residence. “The plan included some carpeting in a hallway, and although it may have looked nice, it would affect mobility,” says Bill.
Such wide-angle thinking seems to come naturally to Bill, a former captain in the Royal Canadian Airforce. “I like the challenge, and this role gives me a renewed sense of purpose,” says Bill, who retired in 2000, but now keeps monthly office hours at Revera’s head office, in Mississauga, Ont.
“I get a lot of questions about what it’s actually like to live here, and I’m able to provide a perspective that’s unique,” says Bill. “People book time with me, and I’m able to make a real difference.”