By Nikki Deckon
Remaining 6 feet apart, a few Friendsview staff from different departments began to gather in the Manor Dining Room, most wearing yellow ribbons. Others signed a poster titled “Yellie for Ellie” earlier in the morning. Ellie, a Dining Services team member had just found out her spouse was diagnosed with a life threatening illness. Even though no one could hug her due to social distancing, everyone wanted to show their love and support in a quick meeting. One of the supervisors announced, “We’re here for you, Ellie. And a resident would like to pray for you right now, if that’s okay with you.”
Many teared up as the resident, who is also an employee, prayed. It was a moment that truly displays the mission and values of Friendsview held dear by residents and staff alike. We are not just a group of strangers, but a community who cares for one another during the “sticky” seasons of life.
We already know that living “in community” matters. It can reduce depression, anxiety and a variety of physical concerns common in seniors. But what exactly is it about living around people with similar values that makes such a difference? In the Age Well Study of Life Plan Communities conducted by Mather’s Institute and Northwestern University, they concluded that, “Residents who form strong bonds within their community tend to have better overall health.” Those strong bonds include the ones formed with employees.
What Employees Say About Bonding with Residents
“We care about residents and residents care about staff. Why? Because we are all members of this community. Most staff cite residents as their primary reason for working at Friendsview,” said Nisi, our Human Resources Director. Nisi is right, employees stay because of the residents and even their fellow co-workers:
I have no fear of what lies ahead because I know I am in the best possible community during these difficult times. I am surrounded by coworkers and residents who value each other, advocate for each other, and who emulate Jesus on a daily basis. I am so blessed to be a part of such a loving, caring and supportive community.
~ Jeana, RN Resident Care Manager
Friendsview has introduced me to my life passion… I love that this community has allowed and encouraged me to grow into different roles as my passion deepens. It is a stunning experience to be surrounded by such unending wisdom, and love. The residents here are what make this a truly unique place…And, easily my favorite part about being a part of this community.
~ Amelia, Resident Care Coordinator
I am beyond thankful to be working here at Friendsview, especially during this pandemic. Even though it can be overwhelming at times with all the changes and figuring out new systems I am proud to see so brightly each of my coworker’s skills shine through. We care deeply about the residents who live here at Friendsview. It’s evident to me that that we all take Friendsview’s Missions and Values to heart and live it out.
~ Corinne, Residency Planning Associate
Friendsview staff and residents help me learn more all the time. I have completed certification through Cornell, taken online classes for retention and get to attend the Leading Age Annual Conference every year. That shows me that everyone is invested in my future as well.
~ Kimberly, Dining Services Coordinator
Residents Advocate for Staff
It’s not just Friendsview salaried leadership that is invested in the future of employees—but residents do a lot to show their support too. Not long ago it was the residents who advocated for pay increases. Also, there are two interest groups run by residents that provide staff recognition. One is dedicated to appreciation. Their goal is to appreciate the employees of Friendsview and provide the residents a way to say “thank you” by donating to the Employee Appreciation Fund. These funds are used to purchase gift cards from a local store and distributed to employees two times a year.
The second group focuses on scholarships. The goal of the Friendsview Employee Scholarship Program is to help employees achieve their educational and professional goals. A lot of the funds come from The Market Place, our general store in the main lobby. It is completely staffed by resident volunteers so that sales go straight to scholarships.
It’s clear to everyone that residents go out of their way to bond with employees—and the staff has noticed! From daughters and mothers, to husbands and wives and even family members of residents—several in the community encourage their loved ones to apply for work at Friendsview. Laura, the Assistant Administrator for Care at Home summed it up this way, “People always ask me if it is difficult for Todd and me, as spouses, to be in the same line of work. We don’t really know any better because we have always shared similar work and responsibilities. However, the difference with Friendsview, is that when I am home I am home and when I am at work I am also home.”
Home Sweet Home
We recognize that for residents, this is their home. We work in their living room. We serve in their kitchen. More than anything, we strive to respect their home. It is our mission to be good stewards of the financial, human and natural assets entrusted to our care. For us that includes a commitment to supporting staff to the best of our ability so that resident well-being remains a priority, even more so during a pandemic.
Todd Engle, Friendsview Executive Director recently shared, “This season of Covid-19 has been like nothing I have ever seen. Hard times like these really test your grit. I am proud to be part of a community that has come together to fight this virus. No shrinking violets here. Co-workers are coming out of the woodwork to find ways to help. I think we have all transformed ourselves and our work several times over. To me, it looks like community.” And community equals home.
As you consider where your next home will be we encourage you to look beyond the concerning media headlines and dig deeper into what makes Life Plan and Independent Living Communities strong and vital. Many have flourished for decades guided by grounded missions and values that nurture relationships, build trust and ensure the safety of both residents and employees. And if you want to hear more about what it means to live in a community like Friendsview, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nikki Deckon has been on staff at Friendsview since 2018 in various roles and in long term care for several years. Before working with seniors, she wrote/produced hundreds of talk radio programs and vignettes; was published in a couple of editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul and other print publications including The Oregonian, Kids NW, The Sun and more. After twenty years of marriage she feels that she’s still in the “honeymoon” phase and is enjoying raising her teenage boys in Newberg, a mere two miles from Friendsview.