Since 2004, Atria’s rigorous Quality Enhancement program ensures life at our communities reflects the highest standards in the industry.

Quality – or “Q” awards – are conferred to high-performing communities; employees receive special recognitions and can earn financial bonuses for their achievement.

Ironwood Estates, an Atria Retirement Canada community, recently received a Q Award for exceptional performance. General Manager David Blackburn and Community Sales Manager Eldon Gammon provided insight into the workplace culture behind their success.

How does your team approach quality enhancement? Is it a topic that’s discussed daily?


If quality isn’t front of mind, then you’re going to miss something. For this team, we put a lot of emphasis on first impressions. We always want the community to present well and to put our best foot forward. Once you achieve that, many of the other processes start to fall into place.

The review process – in particular, the indicators assessed – is always evolving. How do you make sure your practices reflect those changes?


There are always changes. We anticipate them. It’s beneficial that we’re in a strong region with lots of people experienced in senior living. Between Atria communities, after one has a review, we’re on the phone sharing knowledge and what we learned through the process. It’s nice to have that resource to collaborate on focus areas.

What leadership style have you cultivated over your career?


I’m certainly hands-on. I like to be involved. I always have the QE standards visible and ready – it helps to communicate what expectations are for everyone on the team. Our team has been together. We’ve grown in understanding how we each prefer to operate, and it’s gratifying to see that hard work pay off.

How does the staff react to winning the award?


We’re thrilled. You never know when a review is coming but you do sometimes have a sense or a feeling. So, the QE audit was a constant topic in our daily standup meetings – we talked about our processes, how they’ve grown, and we viewed it as an opportunity to showcase our growth.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your career?


It’s the people. You need to love people to have success in senior living, and we serve truly remarkable residents. But additionally, I’m a problem-solver by nature. I enjoy the variety in my day-to-day work. Each day presents different opportunities and challenges, and I look forward to them. In my role, I know that if I’m not busy, then I’m doing something wrong.