At LCB, our primary goal in resident engagement is to provide ongoing opportunities for growth and learning that are driven by residents’ interests. Seniors who’ve spent their lives going to the theater, for example, or as avid sports fans, are encouraged to continue these pursuits – and discover new ones – free from logistical hassles. We recently caught up with Angela Rosado, Resident Engagement Director at the Residence at Valley Hill Farm, who shared with us a little bit about her position and what it feels like day to day.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? What brought you to this position at LCB?
I have been in senior living for about 19 years. I started off as an RCA in college and fell in love with assisted living – you could say I grew up in it! I worked for another senior housing company for most of those years (17 in total) as a lead aide, med tech, scheduler and weekend supervisor. After transitioning to programming director, I eventually became Memory Care Director. While I’m happily the mother of four beautiful boys, when the opportunity came up at LCB to engage residents in a vibrant new community, I simply could not pass it up.
What are your goals when you come to work in the morning? How do you define a successful day?
My goal is to be able to give residents opportunities to do what makes them happy, and that looks very different day to day. I’m grateful that LCB supported my completing Tai Chi training that I was able to take back to the community and adapt to my residents. Some are already telling me they feel the difference. That feels like success. Some of my residents know that I’m a Certified Dementia Practitioner and come to me with questions on dementia or to talk about a struggle with a friend or family member. I am never happier then when I can make someone feel better and know that they are not alone. That said, there are days I feel successful after a rousing round of Bingo!
Can you walk us through a typical day at your community?
We start every morning with a quick stand-up meeting to plan out the day. I then make the rounds to see that all of our areas for engagement are in order. Some days I am doing the morning exercises/daily chronicles/brain fitness; on other days, my assistant Dana takes over. I check the transportation book to plan out the week with Johan (our van driver extraordinaire) regarding museum trips, resident lunches out, doctor appointments and the like. We then break for lunch and set up for the afternoon. Residents love the wine and cheese hour we host before supper in the bistro Mondays through Fridays. I close out the day confirming entertainers, printing flyers for upcoming activities, and stocking snacks for our resident-run movie program.
Have you ever seen certain programs that were unexpectedly popular or that especially resonated with residents?
We recently brought in belly dancers for National Alzheimer’s Awareness Week who were all seniors themselves and shared their stories of being able to continue their dance life despite various challenges. The residents loved the message and went crazy for the dancing. Every resident I spoke with afterwards said they had a fantastic time!
Do residents ever give you ideas for new activities?
Yes — all the time, and I love it. I don’t want to do a calendar full of activities that might look good on paper but don’t hold people’s interest. We want residents to have a say in what is going on, whether they’re interested in learning a new language, watching documentaries, or starting a book club. And there’s nothing wrong with the occasional game of Bingo and a glass of wine!
Can you think of an interaction or experience with a resident that has stayed with you that you could share with us?
About 6 years ago I wanted to do a big end of the summer trip for the residents that was oriented to seafood and fun, and so I decided on our sister community in Plymouth, which was near the sea and easy to partner with. Residents enjoyed a lobster bake at Woods Restaurant, followed by entertainment at the sister community and an ice cream party to finish the day. Probably one of the best trips I have ever done.
But I had another reason to go to the ocean that day – one that I’d kept to just one resident and me. She had lost her son to cancer three years before, and had had him cremated with his ashes dispersed in the ocean. She’d never been back to the ocean since. So, while everyone else was busy eating, she and I snuck over to the pier so that she could say hello to him. We hugged and cried a little – but she was so happy to have this precious moment, and one that I will never forget.