Seniors Care — Saeideh Khakshour
Alumna Story — Saeideh Khakshour
When she moved to Canada from Iran in 2007, Saeideh Khakshour put her computer engineering degree behind her and enrolled in a nursing program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. After graduating, she worked as a nurse at Lion’s Gate Hospital in North Vancouver and at Crofton Manor, a long-term care home in Vancouver. When one of her managers approached her to see if she was interested in taking on a management position, her initial response was hesitant. “I had no knowledge of how to be a good manager!,” she says. However, she decided to try out the position for a few months, and has not looked back since.
Taking on increasing positions of seniority in her five years at Crofton Manor, Saeideh ultimately rose to Director of Health and Wellness. She learned about the Master of Health Leadership and Policy (MHLP) in Seniors Care program from the Regional Director of Health and Wellness at Revera, the company that owns and operates Crofton Manor along with other long-term care and seniors housing across the country.
“She told me that if I wanted to do a master’s program, this was the one I needed to do,” says Saeideh.
“I took a look at the MHLP in Seniors Care and saw it was a great choice if I wanted to continue working in management. I liked the idea of combining nursing and business classes, and I really liked that it was a one-year program.”
Enhanced nursing knowledge
She says that all of the nursing courses were valuable, noting in particular that a class in the first semester on Enacting Philosophies of Care was exceptional. For her, it affirmed the value of the Person catered care approach to care that was used at Crofton Manor, which sees care as a collaborative partnership between caregivers and receivers.
Saeideh also enjoyed a class that explored the environmental and social aspects of care, looking at how even small changes in the physical and social environment can make our care homes and communities more elder-friendly, something that will become increasingly important given Canada’s growing population of seniors.
Challenges and growth as a leader
“The business classes were challenging,” says Saeideh, “and fortunately I love a challenge.”
A course in the first semester on organizational leadership spurred her to think about her different styles of leadership and the importance of emotional intelligence. This led her to reflect on her past approaches to managing staff and to think about shifting her leadership style to ensure that each member of her team is satisfied and engaged in their work.
Students from all of the MHLP and Master of Engineering Leadership programs come together for the business classes, which make up about 30% of the MHLP courses. Many of the business class assignments and projects are group-based, requiring students to work with engineers and health-care professionals from many different industries and backgrounds. Although Saeideh says this initially took some adjustment, it allowed her to deepen her group work, leadership and communication skills.
“It was a strong reminder that everyone brings their own particular skills to a project,” she says. “When you start by identifying those strengths and using them properly you can get great things done as a group that you couldn’t achieve on your own.”
Skills that stand out
Saeideh began looking for a new position in September, updating her LinkedIn profile and letting people know she was seeking work. Contacted through LinkedIn, she was asked if she’d like to interview for a position at the German-Canadian Benevolent Society of BC. She was offered a Director of Care position and began working for the organization in January 2020.
“This long-term care home embraces the Eden philosophy of care, which is important to me,” says Saeideh.
“Although I think I could’ve been hired into this position without the MHLP, I know that I am much more effective in my work because of the degree. Every day I am applying the knowledge I learned – particularly around management and leadership. And with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for our facility, team and residents I can’t imagine how hard it would be without my new skills.”
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