Dennis M., Learning & Development Specialist, is the recipient of the 2019-20 Award for Innovation – one of the highest honours of Circle of Care’s employee recognition program, Champions of Care.

Educating Staff through Innovative Communication

Dennis M. has been innovating, adapting, and making connections since the beginning of his career.

When he completed his Bachelor of Education in 2012, he was looking forward to teaching kids in the classroom. Instead, due to a major surplus of educators entering the workforce, he was faced with the prospect of being a supply teacher for almost a decade before getting a permanent position. So he looked for another way to use his degree and passion for teaching.

“I took the tools I’d learned in school along with my skills and decided to apply them to a new opportunity,” says Dennis. “I started working as a facilitator in northern Ontario.”

After a few years working up north, Dennis relocated back to Toronto to complete a Master’s degree in Education in Adult Education and Community Development. This additional education gave him a good foundation of knowledge to start working with various organizations as a learning specialist.

In his current role, Dennis is responsible for building learning programs for corporate staff, as well as our 1000+ Personal Support Workers. These programs can take the shape of an in-person learning event, or online video modules. For every piece of learning and development material that Dennis puts together, he has to consider the best vehicle of delivery.

“The two words that come to me when I think about the work that I do are communication and dialogue,” says Dennis. “It’s about building bridges that allows Circle of Care to effectively communicate ideas to our employees, and to give managers the tools they need to introduce new ideas and information to their staff.”

Promoting digital learning long before the pandemic

Long before the pandemic made it necessary to provide learning online, Dennis and his team were working hard alongside the IT department to build and leverage digital avenues of communication.

“We were already beginning to position ourselves in a way that we have been able to pick up and continue our work right away. Since we have such a mobile-based workforce with our PSWs working out in the community, we had been building digital avenues of communication for many, many months.”

One such avenue has been to source and implement a product called WalkMe as a learning tool for Personal Support Workers to use in tandem with their mobile app. WalkMe operates as an onboarding tool, and guides our PSWs step-by-step on common tasks that they need to perform through their app, like checking their schedules or how to access the Request Center for IT assistance. Everything is easily accessible through a question mark icon on the phone screen.

Celebrated for his contributions to innovation

In May 2020, Dennis was awarded the Champions of Care Award for Innovation for his work on the WalkMe project.

The Award for Innovation is presented to an employee who is driven to finding better solutions in everything they do. The winner challenges conventional thinking to find solutions that result in new approaches to current issues.

“I’m honoured by this recognition,” says Dennis. “By highlighting our achievements, and recognizing their impact as connected to the values that guide us, we are creating a space within the organization that we can begin to raise the bar in what it means to be the leading organization in home and community care.”