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Health Care 2014: Shepherd's Care Foundation

By COS staff

Shepherd's Care Foundation is the gold winner in the health care category for the 2014 Canada's Safest Employers Awards

Creating a culture of safety often requires a commitment from the top, and as a long-time proponent of safety initiatives in Alberta’s long-term care sector, Shepherd’s Care Foundation president and CEO John Pray ensures it is always on the agenda.

“You need a board of directors that believes that health and safety is critical and you need the CEO and the leadership team that believe in that. And we’ve had that here for 15 years,” says Pray.

Shepherd’s Care employs a full-time health and safety manager, Jag Atwal, although the 750-employee organization is likely one of the smallest to do so, says Pray. This move, he says, has not only saved the organization money but also helped engrain safety into its culture.


Under the watch of Atwal, Shepherd’s Care is streamlining health and safety at its six Edmonton-area locations through standing agenda items at its manager’s meetings and health and safety committees, and by communicating any lessons learned throughout the organization.

Incident investigation has greatly improved in recent years, says Atwal, with a shift of mindset towards determining the root cause of injuries, rather than focusing on the specific incident itself.

“I think that’s probably one of the biggest wins for us. Now, we’re able to actually determine the root cause of an injury (and) all 45 of our managers have gone through an incident investigation training session.”

In response to a concern that staff are not overly familiar with hazard assessments, Atwal has also created a standard script for use throughout the organization.

“Managers at each site now, as part of their department meetings, would go over the hazard assessments and communicate those hazard assessments to the individual members so now everybody’s getting the same message at the same time,” he says.

Shepherd’s Care is also enrolled in Alberta’s Continuing Care Safety Association’s Take Care to Give Care safety awareness campaign at one of its sites. The program is designed to increase front-line employee awareness of health and safety risks within the work environment and communicate the organization’s position to diminish those risks.

The organization also recently became a partner in the Alberta Partnerships in Injury Reduction program, which requires it to create yearly goals and objectives that are reviewed by Alberta Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour.

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