Meadowlands Retirement Community
VIVA Retirement Communities
Meet Dawn McKirdy, a Lifestyle Manager at Meadowlands, a VIVA Retirement Community in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada. Dawn has always had a natural connection with seniors, which she discovered at a young age while interacting with her mother's clients as a hairdresser. She recognized her mother’s clients as amazing people and loved how accepting they were of her.
Her first role in Recreation was as a Full-time Recreation Coordinator in Cobourg, Ontario. Dawn was brought to VIVA’s Meadowlands location as the Culinary Coordinator and Part-Time Recreation Assistant. Within 3 months, Dawn was the Full-Time Recreation Coordinator, and then merged into a manager role after about 5 years.
Dawn's favourite memory of working in senior living was when a 95-year-old resident submitted a wish to ride a horse side-saddle in full English-style costume. Seeing the happiness on the resident's face when they brought the horse in for an afternoon was very impactful for everyone in the home, and it gave the resident a chance to be seen and heard.
One of the things Dawn loved about her job as a culinary manager was creating menus, connecting with residents in the dining room, and encouraging them to interact with each other. She is a natural, outgoing person who loves interacting with residents and finds it very rewarding to bring smiles to their faces. Dawn says that at VIVA retirement communities, each department strives to provide residents with a great quality of life. Their goal is to make sure that residents have all the fun and comforts of home so they can have a smooth transition when they move in.
One of the most challenging aspects of Dawn’s career is that it demands a high level of emotional intelligence. She says that it’s important to be able to “read the room” and respond to how residents are feeling. Dawn has strengthened this skill through twenty years of experience, and she tries to pass on what she has learned to new team members. She encourages her team to empathize with residents, especially when they may be having a bad day and make negative comments about programs.
“I tell the team to ask themselves, what can you get out of that critical feedback? Is there something in their comments that you can improve on? Don’t let it derail your day, but there’s always something that you can take from negative feedback, whether you change your approach, add more content, or don’t do it again if it’s not successful. But if it’s only one person’s opinion, you have to remember that there’s twenty or thirty other people who thought that it was a fabulous event.”
To help plan her program calendar, Dawn uses the recurring programs feature in Welbi to quickly add in all the activities and outings that the team runs every month. She also uses Welbi’s easily accessible program data to make sure the team is hitting all their targets when it comes to the dimensions of wellness.
“In our policies and procedures, there’s expectations that we’ll have a certain amount of physical programs, occupational programs, emotional programs, and so on. On our old platform, unless we went through and counted manually, there was no way to know if we were capturing the right percentages. Being able to pull that data in Welbi is a huge time-saver.”
Dawn is very excited about all that Welbi offers and looks forward to working with Welbi’s team to help continue to build relationships at Meadowlands Retirement Community.
Dawn is a dedicated and passionate Lifestyle Manager who loves working with seniors. She finds her job very rewarding and enjoys creating a positive impact on the lives of the residents she works with. She is committed to delivering high-quality services to the seniors at Meadowlands Retirement Community. At Welbi, we’re inspired every day by recreation professionals like Dawn who go above and beyond to engage their residents. Thank you all for the remarkable work that you do! Recreation professionals play an incredibly important role in senior living communities keeping older adults safe, healthy, and living life to the fullest. Your hard work deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated.
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