Inspiring cultural commitment

When I joined Southlake Regional Health Centre (Southlake) four years ago, it was the incredible passion of the staff to provide people centred care that drew me to the organization. After joining the team, it was evident that there was something deeper about Southlake. For anyone who has ever visited Southlake, it is felt through each and every interaction and something that has become an integral part of the Southlake experience.

“It” is defined as our culture, something we like to call The Southlake Way. It is characterized by the way we interact with each other; the way we think; the approach we take to problem solving; and our commitment to living our Core Values, each and every day. It’s a culture that encompasses the qualities of compassion, innovation, excellence, and the ability to create opportunities out of seemingly impossible challenges.

Speaking Up

Deeply rooted within our culture is our commitment to living and breathing our Core Values. Organizations, like anything, evolve over time, and while our Core Values have served us well over the years, we saw an opportunity to evolve. This past year, we introduced a new corporate value. Speak Up is one way in which Our People can speak up respectfully, listen up carefully, and respond appropriately to the input of others without fear of reprimand to ensure the safety and protection of our patients, our community, and each other. Speak Up also empowers our patients and their families as well as our partners to share their perspective on their Southlake experience.


Many may wonder what Speak Up means in a practical application? It means that if you see someone approaching a patient without cleaning their hands, you stop them and ask that they perform hand hygiene. It means that if you notice inefficiencies within the Hospital, you tell your supervisor so that we can work together to find a solution. It means that every member in our Hospital Family – from patients and front-line team members to those in management positions – has the ability to provide valuable feedback and improve any given situation.

Integral to installing Speak Up into the Southlake culture is empowering our staff to view their roles as part of a larger team – a high functioning, interprofessional team that has a responsibility to protect and promote the best interests of the patient and make Southlake its best. By working together, every team member is accountable for the role they play in making this a reality, and are expected to bring forward attitudes, actions and behaviours that are aligned with our corporate Values.

Southlake is on a journey to deliver shockingly excellent experiences to patients and families while incorporating best practices to be a leader in safety and quality. To do so, we must ensure that we are embracing every opportunity to proactively address serious issues. We’re already seeing examples of Speak Up emerging within our culture at Southlake. These “speak up” moments are inspiring change throughout the organization. Our People are invigorated and inspired to realize they play an integral role in ensuring the delivery of safe, quality care and in creating an environment that they are proud to be a part of.

Garnering buy-in for our new Value was an important element to ensuring our success. In keeping with The Southlake Way we took an innovative and edgy approach to introduce this new value across the organization by launching our very own music video. We re-wrote a popular Taylor Swift song and created “Speaking Up” – a fun and catchy video outlining what Speak Up means and how it inspires us in our everyday work.   The reaction from Our People was astounding and has provided everyone across the organization with an unforgettable reminder of why speaking up is so important.   (If you haven’t seen it already, check out our YouTube channel at

Creating a Performance Culture

Speak Up is already becoming an important element of Our Culture. And it is through Speak Up that I’ve heard from many members of the Southlake team about the pressures and challenges they feel and their ideas on how we can work together to improve the experience for our patients, their families and just as importantly, the experience for our own people.

Working in healthcare can be a very rewarding, yet challenging career. Spend just 10 minutes in any Emergency Room in the Province of Ontario and you’ll have a sense of the increasing demands on our healthcare system and the workers who support it.   That’s why our culture has become such an important element of our success here at Southlake.

We want Our People – staff, physicians, and volunteers – to feel good about coming to work each day; to be a part of a team where they can thrive despite the challenges and the pressures they may face; to feel they have the tools, resources and the supports to be able to provide their patients with the very best.

Part of creating that culture is identifying opportunities to recognize and celebrate the contributions of Our People, whether it is through our annual Recognition of Excellence awards, our in-the-moment recognition with our Shockingly Excellent forms, or through our annual celebration events, such as our Summer BBQ, Holiday Party and our monthly 3C Rounds, which stand for Culture and Conversation with the CEO.

This year, we introduced our first-ever culture book. Contained within the book are tales from and about Our People, as well as a condensed history of Southlake. Each story is unique; yet a common theme of pride and commitment emerge throughout. Our culture book celebrates the unique passion of the Southlake team, and through its words and photos, allows us to reflect upon where we have come, where we are today, and where we are going the future.


When I came to Southlake, I came into my role with my own beliefs about what culture means based on my varied work and life experiences. Through my time here, I have shared those experiences with our team and we have learned to grow our culture, to evolve every day, in meaningful ways inspired by those who live and breathe it. I am thrilled with the strides we’ve made as an organization and am excited to lead an organization with such passion and commitment to high quality people centred care. The Southlake Way is a journey I am proud to be a part of.

Culture Book – hyperlink: