The Good Samaritan Society

Committed to Helping People Lead More Independent Lives

For 67 years, The Good Samaritan Society has focused on people-helping-people by providing service and programs that offer care, compassion and commitment. Since their inception, The Good Samaritan Society (GSS) has found its core identity in the parable of the Good Samaritan that tells the story of the Samaritan reaching out to a stranger in a spirit of compassion.

As a leading faith-based, not-for-profit, registered charity in Western Canada, The Good Samaritan Society is a provider of quality accommodations, health, and community care services and programs to aging individuals in need. Their operational effectiveness and overarching culture of service and care make them the provider of choice for individuals and their families seeking a supporting place to call home.

Their Model of Care is resident-focused, ensuring individual care plans address each resident’s unique needs and input and components such as “self-determination” promote choice, decision making and quality of life. “We’re fortunate to have over over 3,900 employees and 2300 volunteers across Alberta and British Columbia, who are valuable partners in providing quality care and programs in our care homes,” says Shawn Terlson, President and CEO. “As well, spiritual well-being is embedded in our Strategic Plan, and our site based Chaplains, various community congregations and Pastoral Care volunteers support spiritual wellbeing in the daily lives of those we serve.”

Extending Christian Hospitality to those in need or at risk encourages the well-being of the whole person is the mission for GSS while providing access to spiritual care for all faiths. Their Pastoral-Spiritual Care model incorporates Chaplains as Spiritual Care Facilitators and Providers. They invite members from the churches to become volunteers and to be trained as Pastoral Care Visitors.

“We always look at partnerships through the lenses of our Mission, Vision and Values,” says Terlson. “We want to partner with other organizations that have similar values as us. It’s important to me that we work with people that are as dedicated as us to ensuring the best care and quality of life for the people we serve.

One of the largest challenges that GSS is seeing as a not-for-profit that is involved in healthcare, is the shrinking of dollars. “We’re finding that the cost of care is growing faster than the economy and so we’re always working with our funding partners to ensure we have enough care hours at the bedside so that our employees are able to spend more time with each resident,” says Terlson. Key partnerships are fundamental to GSS operations. “If you surround your organization with partners who want the best for the people we have the privilege to serve, it’s easier to overcome any challenges; we’re lucky to have some great partners.”

What also makes GSS unique is their Seniors’ Clinic at their Head Office. “This is a way that we can be reminded each and every day that we’re here to support the elderly, and that we are committed to helping people lead more independent lives”, says Terlson.

The Seniors’ Clinic provides both primary care and consultative services to the vulnerable, community senior population with complex medical, functional and/or psychosocial needs. “At GSS we also have Programs for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PPDD), which delivers services within the community, private homes, clients’ homes, or homes owned and operated by us,” says Terlson.

Currently, public funds largely go towards facility based care and a lot less to home and community living. “I think over the coming years, we may see a shift away from this, especially as labour demands continue to grow in the seniors care sector,” says Terlson. “I think not-for-profits have a huge potential to lead this change and to assist government with moving this forward.”

At GSS they are already thinking about how they can move towards a homecare environment. “We’ve already taken some steps with our Seniors Clinic’ and CHOICE programs, but we’re always looking at new ways to do that,” says Terlson.
“At GSS having a “line of sight” is always taken into great consideration so that the things that we do each day have positive effects and outcomes for our residents and clients,” says Terlson. “This is biggest benchmark for us and it helps ensure that we deliver on our Mission to extend Christian Hospitality through a continuum of care to those in need or at risk, regardless of race or religious belief.”

The Good Samaritan Society has played a key role in the development of new and innovative programs; ones that are considered industry standards throughout Canada. Innovation continues to drive GSS forward with new initiatives. “We have some exciting proposals on the table in both the Saskatchewan and the Edmonton region,” says Terlson. “We’re hoping to see growth in those areas, but we’re also looking at ways to make our current care homes and programs even better. As our Vision states, we want to grow in strength, excellence and creativity in caring for others.”

The proportion of people in Canada that are 65 and over is increasing, with the baby boomer generation moving into retirement. “The need for seniors’ care resources is going to increase, and we’re going to see a demand for more access to beds and home support services,” says Terlson. “ However, we have to be prepared for when the “silver tsunami” is over, so at GSS when we’re contemplating any new care homes, we’re always looking at ways we can integrate with the community so that when the time comes when our seniors population is lower again, those spaces don’t sit empty, but can be used for something else.”

“I am proud to be a part of this organization and The Good Samaritan Society family,” says Terlson. “We have a great team both at our Head Office and on our front lines. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without our compassionate employees and volunteers and our donors who continue to provide comfort and joy for our residents through their kind donations. When we say that The Good Samaritan Society is people-helping-people, we truly mean it.”