Leading with compassion

Bahar Karimi ’06 found her calling and has dedicated her career to long term care services.

By Emmett Steele ‘22

Compassion is one of the most powerful forces out there. For Bahar, her compassion has driven her through an impressive professional and educational career with several degrees, diplomas, certificates and experiences in many leadership healthcare roles.

Bahar’s path into healthcare started at Mohawk College, where she got her first taste of the field in the Personal Support Worker program before diving right back into the Practical Nursing program. “I worked as a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) for a few years before I went back to school to obtain my Bachelor of Science in nursing,” said Bahar. “Right after that I studied and got two master's degrees from University of Toronto, one in nursing and one in health sciences and health administration.”

After her extensive educational journey, Bahar joined the workforce in the healthcare field, spending years gaining experience in the industry. In her current role as the executive director of long-term care services at Thrive Group, an umbrella organization for long-term care and community support services organizations, it’s Bahar’s responsibility to oversee the care of residents, it’s Bahar’s responsibility to oversee the care of residents, ensuring they receive the help and support they need. She also serves as the chair of the Centre of Excellence, recently established at Thrive Group.

“In my position as the executive director of long-term care services, I am responsible for the operation of one of our long-term care homes—Idlewyld Manor. I'm the administrator there, and I oversee the long-term care services under Thrive Group, which includes two long-term care homes,” she says. “I also oversee St. Peter's Residence at Chedoke, bringing both organizations together, aligning all we do to ensure that both of our homes are providing the best care and services possible to our residents.”

When describing Bahar’s other role at Thrive Group, she explains, “I’m a founding member of the Centre of Excellence, helping to establish the center and building multiple partnerships with academic partners including Mohawk College, McMaster University and other academic institutions. There are over 600 long-term care homes in Ontario and many community agencies in Ontario, but there's only a handful of Centres of Excellence.”

The Centre of Excellence at Thrive Group uses applied research to determine the best ways to improve services used to interact with clients in the long-term care community. “We’re working on taking away barriers that the sector has experienced when it comes to research, specifically research and education within long-term care community services and the care of seniors and people living with disabilities anywhere,” Bahar explains.

Her team works diligently to support efforts to research and apply best practices for clients. “Our focus is to lead and promote research, education, innovation and quality improvement within these sectors,” Bahar says. The Centre of Excellence is focused on five pillars of excellence: ‘Education and Teaching; Best Practice Implementation and Quality Improvement; Innovation: Promising and Emerging Practices including Technology; Research; and Partnerships and Collaboration.

When discussing her research, Bahar shares that “Our research priority areas include sustainability of the workforce and healthy work environments, quality of life and care of the persons served, and specialized clinical research.” Her team is co-leading the development of multiple research projects, including a study on the health of the workforce within long-term care community settings, and the impact participating in care conferences can have on personal support workers' job satisfaction. They are also co-designing a research agenda for adults with physical disabilities.

Looking back on her career and education Bahar’s advice for students is to be sure that you’re following your heart and your passion when it comes time to decide your future.

“I always recommend to those who are planning to go to school to find something that they can be very passionate about because if [there is] a natural passion towards something, it makes the work so much better.”

Bahar has found her passion in helping others, and she lives every day making sure she has a positive impact on the lives of those in need, whether it’s by helping her clients directly in a care role or indirectly in a research role. No matter what the future holds for Bahar, there is no doubt her passion, leadership and genuine care will touch countless lives.