How did your previous experience at Towne House prepare you for your role as executive director?
Towne House afforded me the opportunity to go back to school, so I got my nursing degree in 1997 and worked as a nurse, all different shifts, for a few years. I left briefly in 1998 to expand and get more experience in a hospital setting and also did some teaching at a couple of universities in town. That prepared me to take on a different position at Towne House, as its in-service director and staff development coordinator. I did that for about 10 years and in 2009 I took on the position of director of nursing and led the nursing team for about 6 years until I got my administrator’s license and my MBA.
What challenges are you currently facing and what opportunities do you see at Towne House?
Staffing has been a major focus for us and also enhancing our experience for people moving in to our community. Those are two of the biggest challenges. We have to be creative to figure out how we’re going to enhance our services to meet the needs and expectations of our seniors and also for the staff coming in. We’re improving resident care by providing more services on-site. For example, we bring in nurse practitioners and other practitioners, medical doctors and dentists in order to meet the needs of our residents so that they don’t have to leave our campus.
What are your goals in the next five to ten years?
We have a great reputation in Fort Wayne and the region, so I think the biggest thing is that we just continue that along with our long history of providing excellent care. But we need to think outside the box and be more creative and innovative, especially for the next generation of seniors wanting to move in. We’ve got to focus on what they’re looking for as far as lifestyle and their preferences.
What sets Towne House apart from other similar facilities/communities?
We’ve been in operation since 1965 and we are the only Continuing Care Retirement Community in this region. That means we have to meet a whole different set of standards above and beyond what the state requires. We have systems in place that show that we provide the best practices. That’s one thing that sets us apart. And we’re the only five-star retirement community in our region. It means we exceed certain benchmarks related to our health inspections, staffing and quality measures.
As baby boomers age, there is a greater need for retirement communities. How do you plan to meet the need?
We belong to BHI Senior Living, and we are one of only four communities in Indiana that belong to that company. One goal of our organization is to expand and broaden that a bit, so you may be seeing other communities tied underneath our parent company. Aside from structurally, we also need to look at it from a service standpoint and what we can do to meet the needs of those people coming in who are going to want completely different things than our current population wants. I think of my own parents – they’re baby boomers – and if they were to come into a community and live, their expectations would be completely different. It goes back to being more creative and innovative in planning for the future. We’ve been practicing person-centered care for quite a number of years, and that means that we need to ensure that we’re meeting their individual preferences. We want to focus on nursing care and programming and what residents want from a food service standpoint or from a design standpoint. That’s how we’ll ensure that they’re having the experience they desire.