Tom Crump is a warm, affable man who has just the right voice for storytelling: soft, steady and sure. And after 40 years of working in the health care industry, he certainly has many good stories to tell.
On Feb. 20, Crump was awarded the Ed Helfrich Long Service Award at the fourth-annual BC Care Awards, hosted in Victoria, but the event in itself becomes a tale.
His grandson was among his family in the audience that night, and was the picture of calm and quiet, until, of course, his grandfather took the stage to accept his award.
“Through the first three presentation, Jackson was just groovy, he was smiling. His grandfather gets up, says ‘thank you very much’ and he just goes ‘WAH!’” he says.
“I couldn’t help but say, ‘thank you, Jackson, I appreciate your comments.’” He laughs.
Crump was honoured for his work over the past 40 years, and much of that career was dedicated to helping the residents of Cloverdale. He’s been in his current role as general manager of Bethshan Gardens since it opened in January 2009. Before that, he looked after Zion Park Manor for 14 years.
“I felt humbled and amazed to receive the award,” says Crump. “I was just blown away.”
“Health care doesn’t usually do a good job of recognizing accomplishment, we usually do a better job of recognizing when you’ve done something wrong,” says Crump.
He reflects on his forty year career in the health care industry and shakes his head.
“Yes, I went through a graduate course that taught me how to run a hospital. But as the years went by, there were things that happened that left you feeling like ‘they never taught me this in school, where’s the book on this one?’” he says.
“It’s been quite a ride,” he adds.
Thinking outside the box
“My approach to problem solving has not been traditional,” he says. “Sometimes that’s been welcomed, many times that’s been opposed greatly.”
Crump goes on to paraphrase Albert Einstein, saying, “The thinking that gets us into a problem isn’t the same thinking that gets us out of the problem.”
If his non-traditional approach to problem-solving wasn’t always appreciated in the moment, it certainly has been in after the fact.
On their website, the BC Care Providers Association heralds Crump as a “strong and tireless advocate for residents, families and care home administrators on many fronts,” stating that he was recognized with the lifetime achievement award because of his commitment to propelling the health care industry forward through new initiatives and care models.
The BC Care Providers Association—which is, incidentally, also celebrating its 40-year anniversary in 2017—credits Crump with having an unfaltering work ethic and an “exceptional ability to navigate through the jungle of administrative and regulatory obstacles that faced us over the years.”
When asked for an example of his non-traditional problem solving, Crump offers up an anecdote from his time working as general manager at Zion Park Manor. One of the residents from Zion Park Manor was admitted into acute care at a nearby hospital, and Crump insisted on bringing an eggshell mattress to the hospital to make her more comfortable.
When the hospital pushed back against the idea, Crump settled for making sure a staff member stayed with their resident every day.
Each of the examples he gives on his out-of-the-box thinking is another moment of kindness and patient determination.
Starting the next journey
What’s next for Crump, now that he’s won the award of a lifetime?
Not retirement, that’s for certain.
Crump is moving into the next phase of his life—he won’t call it ‘retirement.’ He’ll continue to work for organizations and initiatives that serve a “good, fulfilling purpose.”
Although he’ll be leaving his position as general manager of Bethshan Gardens in March, he’ll continue to serve as chairman of the board for the Elim Housing Society, to work to build a dementia care facility in Sarnia, Ontario, and to work alongside his son to develop local real estate.