This month, we’re introducing you to Welbi’s Hero, Jennifer Nash! Jennifer is Director of Recreation at The Crofton Manor, a Revera retirement community in Vancouver, B.C.
Working in senior living had always been Jennifer’s goal.
“I always did want to work with seniors because I had really great grandparents growing up,” she tells us. “I was always around seniors. I volunteered in high school at a long-term care home, too.”
Jennifer got her start in the industry when she was hired from a co-op placement at a long-term care community. She has fifteen years of experience working in Revera communities, and she’s held her position at Crofton Manor for five years.
As a nature-lover, Jennifer tells us she was more than happy to move to Vancouver to accept the position at Crofton Manor. “I thought, why don’t I just live in the place I love to vacation?” When she’s not at work, Jennifer likes to spend her time in the great outdoors hiking, rowing, and paddleboarding.
As a Director of Recreation, Jennifer spends about half her time planning programs and the other half facilitating them. Her work keeps her busy — with volunteers to coordinate, entertainers to book, and an endless stream of emails to answer, there’s always something to attend to. It can be a challenge to keep up, but she’s happy to have a job that gets her out from behind her desk and spending time with the residents.
Jennifer’s favourite part of her career is finding programs that are meaningful to the residents. She loves to be a part of the incredible moment when a resident discovers a new passion or fulfills a lifelong goal. And in her profession, these moments happen all the time.
She tells us about the time a resident discovered his love for writing poetry at age ninety-nine. The resident joined the writer’s club the week they were learning about haiku and fell in love with the form. “Now he thinks and lives in haiku,” Jennifer says. “He just loves it!” At each meeting, the resident comes with a list of new haiku to share. He tells his fellow writers that he leaps out of bed to pen a new poem when inspiration strikes.
Another special moment that stands out to Jennifer happened on a trip that she and some of her residents took to ride the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, BC.
“One of the residents that came on the trip told me, ‘I waited ninety years to do this!’ She was just so happy that she finally did something like that. And that’s what we’re supposed to help them do.”
It is so inspiring to hear about older adults having incredible new life experiences. Thank you Jennifer for making such a meaningful difference in your residents’ lives!
Some of Jennifer’s favourite programs to plan and run at Crofton Manor are those that get her residents involved in the wider community.
“It’s really important for the residents to still be engaged in the community outside of Crofton Manor,” she explains.
One recent community project her residents undertook was a tie-dye fundraiser that raised over $600 for Habitat for Humanity. The residents made and sold tie-dye t-shirts. The program was so popular, Jennifer had to run eight tie-dye sessions!
Another way that the residents at Crofton Manor give back to their community is through intergenerational activities. Jennifer recalls the intergenerational Easter event she held this year, which she considers to be one of her best programs. The community invited preschoolers to join in on a socially distanced Easter egg hunt. The residents had their own egg hunt and made egg-shaped piñatas. They even had a visit from the Easter Bunny, who got some work done at Jennifer’s desk that day.
In the past, the community has also held an after-school program for preschool children. Jennifer says that her residents love to play the role of “grand-friends” by helping the children read. She looks forward to hosting intergenerational programming again at The Crofton Manor once it is safe for everyone to do so.
Welbi is proud to support Jennifer and her team in the incredible work they do! The recreation team at The Crofton Manor incorporated Welbi’s platform into their daily operations eleven months ago. We asked Jennifer to share what her daily tasks were like before Welbi.
“Our attendance system needed to be updated,” she tells us. The team at Crofton Manor was using spreadsheets to track how many programs their residents attended in a day. But they were not able to capture useful information, like which programs a resident attended. Resident assessments were done on paper and kept in a binder which made the data difficult to retrieve.
“Nothing was connected. Welbi is amazing because it connects everything together in one space. We can gather and analyze information to benefit residents” Jennifer says.
With Welbi, Jennifer now has everything she needs for care conferences with families right at her fingertips. “Family members often ask what participation is like for their loved one,” she explains. “It’s easy now to find that information.”
We asked Jennifer what she would tell someone who is considering Welbi.
“Everything takes time in the beginning when you’re learning something new. But Welbi is a very easy program to learn,” she says.
Thank you so much for your feedback, Jennifer!
To close our interview, Jennifer talked to us about the importance of accessibility. In her profession, she has to be aware of the barriers that prevent older adults from enjoying their communities to the fullest and do what she can to alleviate them.
“Vancouver is just stunning, so it’s easy to find places that are enjoyable to go to. But I know that there are so many barriers for this population,” she explains.
Jennifer’s residents love to explore the city, whether they’re visiting museums, checking out attractions, or revisiting places that are familiar to them to see how they’ve changed. But everywhere they go, seniors face barriers to participation like uneven terrain or a lack of seating that other populations may not even notice.
That’s why empathy is so important.
As Jennifer tells us, “Seniors are just people that have aged. Everyone is going to realize one day that we all age. We need to be as accommodating as we can to older adults. They appreciate it so much because you’ve made it so they can enjoy it, too.”
At Welbi, we’re inspired every day by recreation professionals like Jennifer who go above and beyond to create exceptional life experiences for older adults. 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.
If you would like to get support from Welbi in your everyday operations like Jennifer, chat with us or book a demo of the Welbi platform. We can show you first-hand how Welbi can save you countless hours on administrative tasks so you can focus on what matters most — spending time with your amazing residents.
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