Turning the aging process into an aging experience (and a good one at that) requires determination, creativity and a lot of heart.
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The management team at Eskaton Village in Placerville has all three attributes. The village includes patio homes and condos for seniors who live independently, assisted living apartments and a memory care unit. Overseeing it all are Administrator Evelyn McGrath, Business Office Manager Gwen Dirks, Resident Care Coordinator Melisa Tiburcio, Sales Counselor Pamela Dallas and Activities Director Debra Williams.
With 100 percent of the independent living homes occupied (39 cottages are currently under construction with an expected completion date of May or June 2013) and the lodge housing assisted living and memory care 97 percent full, these women definitely know how to market Eskaton Village and keep residents happy.
“I think our staff is just great,” Dallas said. “We work well together and we really care about the residents.”
Eskaton has such a good reputation in the community, Dirks added.
So how do these women keep residents’ opinions of Eskaton Village high? Have fun, of course.
“Our residents say this is like living on a cruise ship,” Dallas said.
And they don’t have to worry about sea sickness. Eskaton Village activities range from Zumba exercise classes to Scrabble tournaments. The Hangtown Kennel Club brings tail-wagging pooches in for visits and residents also enjoy sing-a-longs and field trips to museums and the theater.
“Our job is to make the residents enjoy the day as much as they can, and then we enjoy it too,” Dallas explained, adding that safety is staff’s highest priority.
Happy residents = happy employees. Seems simple enough. Dirks, who recently started at Eskaton Village, said she’s worked at several places that don’t exactly subscribe to this philosophy. The California by way of Illinois resident said positive interaction and attitude is as important as the staff members’ other duties. “It’s nice to be around people who want to be here,” she added.
‘This is their home’
One of Dallas’ favorite things to do is listen to residents’ stories. From the resident who opened a post office in rural Alaska to the World War II pilot, Dallas said the seniors at Eskaton Village have so much to share.
From listening to stories to full-time care, the staff at Eskaton Village offers it all, but not in a sterile way, Dallas noted. “We’re not institutional in any way, shape or form,” she said. “This is (our residents’) home.” Residents receive custom care, as little or as often as they need it, and all staff members are trained to help residents at every care level, including those in memory care, she added.
The staff at Eskaton also encourages as much family participation as possible. They’re invited to activites and celebrations. A newsletter is sent out on a regular basis and residents even have access to Skype in The Lodge’s computer room and the Internet is available in the independent living homes.
Ensuring communication with the families, providing every level of care and organizing Scrabble tournaments — it seems like Eskaton’s managers have a lot on their plate. But the women have such a nurturing nature, Dallas said, they smile at the challenges. “We choose to do this because we care about people; we care about families; we care about the aging population in El Dorado County,” Dallas said.
Eskaton Village Placerville is located at 3380 Blairs Lane, Placerville. For more information call 530-295-3400 or visit eskaton.org/village-placerville.html.