Category / Share My Story

Share My Story: Cheers!

October 7, 2019

We love when our team members share their stories, especially when it shows growth within their career at Presbyterian SeniorCare Network. Read about Annette Hart and why she has stayed with us for over four years.

“The reason I started working at Oakwood Heights is because of my mom. For five years I took care of her at my home. One day she just became so ill I could no longer do it. I’d heard good things about the Oakwood Heights community, so we brought her here. I was here all of the time with her. I joked, ‘I should get a job, I’m here so much!’ So, I did. When she passed, there was no reason for me to stay. Except, that I loved my job, my co-workers and mostly my residents. We have our ups and downs, but I love everything about Oakwood Heights. I believe that all of my life, God has prepared me for my job.”

Annette is currently the Dining Services Manager at Oakwood Heights.

“There are so many memories. I’m very outgoing so I love to get out there and just have a good time. Today I ran into a lady outside of the kitchen. She asked where I had been as she noticed I hadn’t been out to talk to anyone lately. I told her that I missed her too, but that I have been busy and working different shifts. That made me realize that the residents enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs. I told her that I will get back into the habit of going out at meals, no matter what I have on my desk. She said that she would hold me to that. It’s kind of like the television show Cheers, when I walk in they all say my name. I love that.”

Like Annette, do you have a story about Presbyterian SeniorCare Network that you would like to share? Share My Story is a fun way for team members, residents, and family members to share their personal experience about a moment with our organization that has touched their heart. To share your story, visit www.srcare.org/moments.

Share My Story: Going Above and Beyond

September 13, 2019

We love when our team members share their stories, especially when it shows the passion of our team towards their work.

Read about Carrie Karns and why she has stayed with us for over three years.

“This past Christmas Eve I was able to adjust the schedule to send one of my team members home early, knowing that she was behind on her Christmas preparations. Since we are a small department, that left me to complete the tasks for the day. After returning from a Walmart run for supplies, I had planned to deliver the mail for the day and start my vacation early. Planning to leave at 2 pm, after several interruptions and last minute things happening, it was quickly 4 pm and I had not delivered the mail yet. I went to the main office to discover several packages and 40+ holiday cards that needed delivered. With a small sigh, I began to separate the mail by neighborhoods and started my delivery. I helped several residents open packages and had nearly all of the cards delivered when I came to the last envelope. It was a larger envelope that I could tell had pictures in it. I asked the resident if she would like me to open it and help her read it. With excitement she said, “Yes, I’ve been expecting something from my brother in California.” Upon opening the envelope, I saw a folded up piece of paper, front and back, typed in small print. It was a “year in review” from her brother’s family. I have to be 100% honest, at this point I looked at my watch…’after 5 pm?!’ was what went through my mind. As I began to read I noticed right away how much this Christmas Eve package meant to her. The letter told of their travels abroad and updates on her grandchildren. There was also a hand written note from her brother. As I read the words, so elegantly written to his beloved sister we both began to tear up. She then asked to read it again herself. I sat 10 minutes before desperately wanting to run for my car to enjoy my own Christmas Eve. I now found myself at a loss for time, not worried about MY plans and what I was late for. As I rushed to make it to Christmas Eve service I thought about how I was called to stay late that night, and how much that resident needed me for those 20 minutes. It’s moments like that which define what we do at Presbyterian SeniorCare Network and I am blessed to share my story.”

Carrie has been working at the Oil City campus for over three years as the Director of Lifestyle Engagement. She has found that one of her favorite parts of her work is building connections with the residents at Oakwood Heights.

She says, “I got very close to a resident on our Gardens neighborhood who was withdrawn and spent most of her days reading in her room or sitting in the corner of the lounge doing a puzzle. I’m not sure how, or why, but I started sitting with her every day. Sometimes it was five minutes, sometimes thirty. If a day went by that I didn’t stop over she would send a team member to check on me and make sure that I was okay. She even said to me one day, “I don’t know how we became friends, but we are.” She passed away about 8 months after we became friends. The pastor who did her service spoke about her love of puzzles and made the statement, “It’s not about the puzzles, it’s about the people.” I couldn’t agree more.”

Carrie said that she enjoys making sure that each residents feels special and appreciated by the team members at Oakwood Heights.

Like Carrie, do you have a story about Presbyterian SeniorCare Network that you would like to share? Share My Story is a fun way for team members, residents, and family members to share their personal experience about a moment with our organization that has touched their heart.

To share your story, visit www.srcare.org/moments.

Love What You Do

August 14, 2019

We love when our team members share their stories, especially when it shows how much their work means to them. Read about David Rearick and why he has stayed with us for over 5 years.

“Was it just answering an ad? Honestly, that’s how it all started. Was it perhaps the best ad I ever responded to? Most definitely! As a steel worker for 30 years, I finally retired and got the opportunity to become a licensed embalmer/funeral director. In truth that is all I ever wanted to do. For many, working with the deceased in not their idea of a dream job, but for me it was an honor to make the person look their very best for the last time. Working closely with families at the worst time of their lives was challenging, but rewarding knowing you had made the entire process just a bit easier for them. Unfortunately, I had no family in the “business” so the decision was made to move in another direction.

I had some knowledge in various maintenance aspects and SeniorCare Network needed a maintenance technician close to my home. While being a tech allows for some resident contact, I always envied the manager having a closer relationship with residents and their families. That is what I would strive for with SeniorCare Network. I was very fortunate that someone took that chance and promoted me to the assistant manager position where I not only learned the manager’s responsibilities, but had the opportunity to interact with the residents too. Now as a manager, resident interaction and satisfaction keep me coming back for more! I have made many new friends all of which have one common goal: to be a part of a resident’s life as they age in place.”

David started his career with us as a maintenance technician for one and a half years and worked his way up to becoming a property manager at Forward Shady apartments in Squirrel Hill.  

He has enjoyed his time as a property manager saying, “There have been many rewarding experiences while working here. Speaking one-on-one with a resident who knows they may need more help performing activities of daily living, and seeing their contentment and happiness when reassuring them they can continue living in their apartment. One of my favorite things is that there is a very diverse group of residents at Forward Shady. I learn something every day about Russia, which is where many of the residents are from, or the Jewish religion or the Holocaust. If you take the time to speak to the residents, they will amaze you with every story they relate to their lives.”

Like David, do you have a story about Presbyterian SeniorCare Network that you would like to share? Share My Story is a fun way for team members, residents, and family members to share their personal experience about a moment with our organization that has touched their heart. To share your story, visit www.srcare.org/moments.

Creating New Memories Everyday

July 16, 2019

We love when our team members share their stories, especially when it shows growth within their career at Presbyterian SeniorCare Network. Read about Nicole Bichsel and why she has stayed with us for over five years!

“I wish that I could narrow things down to a particular story, but it is nearly impossible, for the story is still being written. Each new day is an amazing opportunity to make someone’s day. I am so grateful to be a part of our resident’s lives. Their life experience overshadows my own, and the lessons that I have learned from these individuals are priceless. My story has yet to reach its end, and today is another page. This is just the beginning of my story, and these beautiful people make each chapter more interesting every day.”

Nicole has been an employee with Presbyterian SeniorCare Network for five years and currently works at The Willows as a Lifestyle Engagement Assistant II.

While talking about her favorite memories with residents during her time here, she had a hard time picking just one. Nicole then explained how she tries to find a connection with all of the residents.

 “It is so hard to pick one event, but one that has really touched me is from a resident who rarely leaves her room. I visit her often, in fact even assist with her activities of daily living at times. She told me the other day that she knows when I am in the building because she can hear my laugh. She said that even though she doesn’t leave her room, she takes comfort in knowing that I am there and it makes her smile. Working with residents every day is what keeps me going, even when I am having a bad day, seeing them smile makes it all worthwhile. When I started in this position, I made it my mission to meet with every resident in my neighborhood, to get a feel for what their interests are, what they used to do for a living and what makes them happy. These wonderful people have seen it and done it all! I love hearing about their life experiences. Sometimes, a resident is difficult to connect with, but I keep trying! We all have SOMETHING in common in some way. We may not know what it is right away but eventually we get there.”

Like Nicole, do you have a story about Presbyterian SeniorCare Network that you would like to share? Share My Story is a fun way for team members, residents, and family members to share their personal experience about a moment with our organization that has touched their heart. To share your story, visit www.SrCare.org/moments.

My Neighborhood

May 15, 2019

“My time with Presbyterian SeniorCare Network has been ever evolving. I remember the day I interviewed to work here! I sat across from Kathy Hammar, who is now the Administrator here at Westminster Place. I remember how scared I was! She asked me why I wanted to work here, and I thought long and hard about my reasoning. I was inspired by my own mother who has been an RN for over 40 years! Growing up, I lived in a primarily elderly neighborhood. My parents took it upon themselves to give my brother and I exposure to our wonderful aging neighbors. I remember each of them fondly.

Here is where I gave my reasoning: I told her that I loved seniors and found them to be inspirational! My neighbor, Mr. Johnny next door, would have us over to sit on his porch until we were exhausted talking about the “good days” and when times were different. He was the kindest soul, he always called me “sweetheart.” My brother, Jonathan and I, had special permission to go into his garage and get out the extra lawn mower wheels from the shelf and race them down his hilly sidewalk on the side of his house, whenever we wanted! His neighbor, Mrs. Betty, was a lovely woman with white hair who lived alone. She was a joy and delight to talk with. She attended my birthday parties as a child. We didn’t sit too much on her porch, but she did invite me in and played piano for me. We also sat in her kitchen and talked for hours about her grandchildren and her kids. I loved listening to her speak about “the old days.” Across the street lived Mr. and Mrs. Jim and Cres. Two spunky individuals who I remember fondly. They drove a giant purple Cadillac and I don’t think she ever cooked a meal because they would invite us into their house and she always said “Let’s get you something special from the oven.” The oven was full of Lance sandwich crackers. On certain nights of the week they would be dressed in matching outfits to go square dancing! I loved seeing what outfit they would be wearing. These folks taught me a lot about life in general. And finally the last person who was the biggest influence in life, my Grammie. She played the biggest roll in raising me and I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her.

I have stayed at Presbyterian SeniorCare Network for 10 years because of all of the people! Fellow team members, residents and family members have made a huge impact in my life. We have a resident who I care for currently, whose daughters hug me every time they see me! That is heartwarming to me! It makes it easier to get out of bed to come to work. This is my neighborhood and these are my neighbors. I must say my most cherished memory is getting to know all of the residents who I have had the pleasure of knowing and they will meet me again one day.

Like Emily, do you have a story about Presbyterian SeniorCare Network that you would like to share? We would love to hear it! Click here to visit our web page. Once there, please click on the button, Share My Story.

Once you have submitted your story, you will automatically be entered into a random drawing to win a $50 Visa gift card! Winners will be pulled the first Monday of every month.

Helping to Shape Our Culture

April 23, 2019

We love when our team members share their stories, especially when it shows their 31 year journey with Presbyterian SeniorCare Network!

Read about Dawn Kauffman, a CNA at The Willows, the skilled nursing community at our Oakmont campus, and how resident care has evolved throughout her career as a CNA.

“I have worked at Presbyterian SeniorCare Network for 31 years and have seen so many positive changes. When I first started, I worked in the "Presbyterian Medical Center," which is now "The Willows." Just the name change shows how we have changed to a person-centered culture, caring not only for the medical needs, but the whole person. Back in the 1980s, we cared for everyone exactly the same way, so when we first started talking about changing our culture, I was very doubtful as to how it would turn out. But it really has changed for the better for all of the residents in our care, and I'm proud to have been a part of that change!”

Like Dawn, do you have a story about Presbyterian SeniorCare Network that you would like to share? We would love to hear it! Click here to visit our web page. Once there, please click on the button, Share My Story.

Once you have submitted your story, you will automatically be entered into a random drawing to win a $50 Visa gift card! Winners will be pulled the first Monday of every month.

A Nurse's Journey

March 13, 2019

We love when our team members share their stories, especially when it shows growth within their career at Presbyterian SeniorCare Network. Read about Kathy LaVan, Director of Nursing at Oakwood Heights, our Oil City campus, and why she has stayed with us since she became a nurse 22 years ago!

“I started at Presbyterian Homes (now Presbyterian SeniorCare Network) in November of 1995 as a graduate practical nurse. I never dreamed that over 22 years later, I would still be here. Those first few years, I was as scared as can be! I had patient teachers and even more patient residents as I learned to be more competent in my nursing skills. The residents I provide care to became part of my family, and watched me as my family grew to include three beautiful children. Through the years, I have sat with residents as they passed away, held hands with family members and provided comfort to families, residents and team members during difficult times. I had wonderful nurses who mentored me and coached me when I needed it. My hope is to pass my knowledge and experience on to the next generation of nursing to instill in them the art of caring for people.

I think one of the most remarkable things I have watched as a nurse has been the evolution of the long-term care world. When I came here in 1995, we had posey vests, lap buddies, four-point restraints, set meal times and horseshoe tables in which to feed multiple residents at the same time. We have grown from the institutional setting of the 1980’s to a community where we care about each resident as an individual with their desires in mind. I am very proud to work here and could not imagine working anywhere else.”

Like Kathy, do you have a story about Presbyterian SeniorCare Network that you would like to share? We would love to hear it! Click here to visit our web page. Once there, please click on the button, Share My Story. Once you have submitted your story, you will automatically be entered into a random drawing to win a $50 Visa gift card! Winners will be pulled the first Monday of every month.

Puzzles and Friends

February 28, 2019

We love when our team members share their stories, especially when it shows their love for our residents!

Read about Rachel Ellis, a CNA at The Willows, the skilled nursing community at our Oakmont campus, and how putting together a puzzle blossomed into a friendship.

“I've been working at Presbyterian SeniorCare Network for five years. At first, I was as a team member at Westminster Place, our personal care community, for a little over a year before I decided to become a CNA and work at The Willows, our skilled nursing community.

Before I had changed positions, I met a new resident at Westminster Place while she was doing a puzzle. I decided to take a little break and join her to talk while we both worked on the jigsaw. Just the other day, I was working at The Willows and my “puzzle friend” had transferred from Westminster Place, so I found myself taking care of her. It had been about three to four years since I had seen her, and to my surprise, she remembered my name and the puzzle! She even remarked on how much she loved that I would make time to talk to each resident and care for them as family. It's so exciting when you make such a positive impact on someone's life. It makes my day to put a smile on someone's face!”

Like Rachel, do you have a story about Presbyterian SeniorCare Network that you would like to share? We would love to hear it! Click here to visit our web page. Once there, please click on the button, Share My Story.

Once you have submitted your story, you will automatically be entered into a random drawing to win a $50 Visa gift card! Winners will be pulled the first Monday of every month.

A Nursing Career Inspired by MASH

January 24, 2019

We love when our team members share their stories, especially when a childhood dream becomes reality!

Read about Chris Plyler, a RN Neighborhood Manager at Oakwood Heights, our Oil City campus, and how her favorite TV show led her into nursing.  

“I always wanted to be a nurse. As a young child, the television show MASH was big. At the same time, my uncle went into the Marines—the perfect storm happened! I connected with Margaret Houlihan, “Hot Lips.” So my story begins. I would play hospital and I was always the nurse. If you watched the show, “Hot Lips” was tough. In the scary times, she took control, orchestrated the work in the OR and worked hours upon hours. She took time to hold the hands of the wounded. The expectation of myself is to be strong as needed, but gentle at the same time. My experiences are vast from starting at a nursing home as a CNA to being a nurse in a 1000 bed hospital ICU, then making the circle back home to Oakwood Heights. I get to hold hands and make memories with some of the most beautiful people in the world. I feel as part this team, I make a difference.”

Like Chris, do you have a story about Presbyterian SeniorCare Network that you would like to share? We would love to hear it! Click here to visit our web page. Once there, please click on the button, Share My Story.

Once you have submitted your story, you will automatically be entered into a random drawing to win a $50 Visa gift card! Winners will be pulled the first Monday of every month.

All Ages Make a Difference

November 28, 2018

Submitted by Haley Chiusano, dining services aide at Longwood at Oakmont

I have been around older adults my whole life. When I was born, my Mom was the Director of Recreation at the Presbyterian SeniorCare Network Oakmont campus. When she would go to work on the weekends or on a holiday, I would go with her. From summer picnics to trick or treating at Halloween to Thanksgiving dinners and of course, Christmas caroling, I was right there enjoying my time with the residents. Being that I was little, I did not understand what was actually transpiring or why my Mom took me with her, but I was having fun so I didn’t mind.

My favorite memory from when I was little was every Fourth of July, the band Dr. Zoot would play outside before it got dark enough for the fireworks. I would stand in between the band and the residents and do cartwheels and flips until I was so tired I could not stand anymore. To this day, which is about 12 years later, when I walk through the halls, there are still a few residents that know me as “the little girl who did the flips.”

When I got older, my Grandma moved into Westminster Place at the Oakmont campus. Anytime I was home with my Mom and she had to go into work, I would ask to go along to visit with her. I would spend hours in my grandma’s apartment playing Sega and pulling YouTube videos up on her computer, singing and dancing around the room for her. When it was time to go to dinner, I loved going with her. She lived right across the hall from the café, so as soon as she opened her door and the other residents saw me, they all got very excited. Whoever was there that day would sit at my Grandma’s table because they liked when someone new was there to talk to (especially someone as young as I was). We would sit in the dining room for hours after dinner, just talking about what I did for fun and how school was going. My Grandma and I always dreaded the “time to go home” phone call from my Mom. It came too soon every time.

When I turned 12, it was a big deal. I was finally old enough to volunteer! I had this project in school called the “Pay It Forward Project.” The project meant that I was supposed to do something good for someone, and then that person was supposed to something good for someone else and so on. So I decided to make this project a bit bigger. Instead of just me going to volunteer, I took some friends with me. That summer, myself and four of my friends would go all day every Wednesday and help in the Recreation Department. We did things such as rewrite special events on the whiteboards in the resident neighborhoods and take residents to the Corner Store. Our favorite thing to do was B-I-N-G-O! Sometimes, we would host three different Bingo games in one day. There was one resident in particular from The Willows who just loved us, and we loved her too. She never missed one of our bingo games. She would help us set up and take down, and she would even bring snacks for us and the other residents attending. Every time, right before a game would start, my friend Shannon would say “Okay, we are going to get started, is everyone ready?” And she would say, “Ready for Freddy!” We do not know where “Ready for Freddy” came from, but it made us laugh every time she said it!

When I started sixth grade, my Mom became the Administrator at Woodside Place of Oakmont, a specialized dementia care community. I remember being a little nervous to go help out there at first because I was not used to interacting with residents living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. My Mom and I talked about the disease and she reassured me that I would be fine with my social skills, and as soon as I walked in, I was. The Woodside Place residents soon became some of my favorites.

In my ninth grade Civics Class, we had to have at least an hour of volunteer work each nine weeks. All my friends would ask to come with me to Woodside Place to get their volunteer hours completed. They were nervous at first too, but I told them they would be fine, just like my Mom did for me. They all ended up loving the residents right away, just like I did.

Right after I turned 17, I applied for a job as a Dining Services team member at Longwood at Oakmont, the Presbyterian SeniorCare Network independent living community in Plum. Working three to four times a week, and spending an hour with them every time, the residents started to remember my name. This was a big deal to me. Whenever I would volunteer and hear a resident call a nurse or an aide by their name, I would get a little jealous because I always wanted them to remember my name too. But, being there only once a week and not seeing all of them every time made it hard. Now, at Longwood, most of the residents know my name, because after they have finished eating, we will have conversations while I clean up. We talk about anything and everything. One resident told me about how he and his wife started a business. That business did so well that when they retired they were able to travel the world together. Every night at dinner he tells me a different story about the incredible adventures they went on. He reminisced about their long nights in Brazil and their hot days in Cairo. It is amazing to me how he can recall any detail from any city. I look forward to these stories and it is still one of my favorite parts about my job.

I believe that intergenerational partnerships are so very important. Even though we have different lifestyles, we can still enjoy things as simple as sharing a conversation. I have learned so much from our seniors over the years, and I’m sure I have taught them quite a bit too. I enjoy going to work to be with my residents every day, and honestly, isn’t that is what it’s all about?

If you are like Haley, and want a career where you can spend your days bonding with our residents, explore careers at Presbyterian SeniorCare Network! 

 
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