The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) have announced the individual and group winners of their annual awards.

Edgemoor Distinct Part Skilled Nursing Facility
Not-For-Profit Program of the Year

Sarah Langmead

Edgemoor District SNF
Nearly two years ago, Edgemoor DP SNF in Santee, Calif., created Sierra Stroll, a multidisciplinary therapeutic behavioral activation program. Five days a week, Sierra Stroll enables residents to engage in social and physical activities outdoors, like walking, listening to music, dancing, or playing cards.
Many Sierra Stroll participants suffer from dementia, mental illness, apathy, or aggression. The program was designed specifically to address these populations, and since it started, staff have seen great improvements in their residents’ attitudes and behaviors.
“This program has sustained the interest and positive engagement of residents with severe behavioral problems and has served to enhance peer-to-peer interaction and to decrease aggression and other negative behaviors,” said Alfredo Aguirre, director of the Behavioral Health Services Division of San Diego County, in his nomination letter.
Specifically, Edgemoor DP SNF reported that Sierra Stroll has resulted in psychoactive medication reductions, improved behavior and tolerance, reduced aggression, and improved staff skills, as well as staff fitness.
“Sierra Stroll is special because it adapts more traditional outpatient behavioral activation to [skilled nursing facility] residents with significant cognitive, physical and interpersonal limitations,” said Walter Hekimian, Edgemoor administrator. “We’re so proud of the positive impact we’ve had on our residents.”
Richard Brown, president of the Volunteer Association at Edgemoor, agreed.
“I have seen the change in [the residents’] behaviors,” he said. “They are more relaxed, less stressed, less confrontational and combative, smile more often, and seem interested in their surroundings. This is a program that takes place a couple times a week so that the residents can count on outings.”

Lorraine Oakes
Adult Volunteer of the Year

Sarah Langmead
Lorraine OakesLorraine Oakes has been a celebrated volunteer of Kindred Healthcare, Elizabeth City, N.C., a short-term rehabilitative and long term care facility, for the past 22 years. She enjoys sitting with residents and getting to know them each on a more personal level. Oakes has created and significantly impacted multiple programs at Kindred. Fifteen years ago, Oakes played a major part in developing the facility’s thriving dining assistance program. She also created a popular Bible studies program.
“Lorraine is truly dedicated to our residents,” said Tonia Bryant, executive director of Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation - Elizabeth City. “Her cheerfulness and generosity make her a true asset to our facility.”
Though Oakes currently serves as the volunteer coach at the facility, advising all volunteers, her passion for serving others extends outside of Kindred Healthcare: She is also an active volunteer at local assisted living facilities and elementary schools.
“Lorraine always has a kind word to say to everyone she meets,” said Bryant in her nomination. “We’re proud to have her as part of our team!”
Described by many as a “fireball of energy,” Oakes volunteers nearly every day of the week. One resident’s family member said that “her compassion and love for the elderly is unmatched.” In an environment where many residents have few or no visitors, Oakes is always there to offer encouragement and hope, a smile, or a simple prayer.
“She adopts families and helps them out however she can,” said Lori Chepan, activities director, in her nomination of Oakes. “She remembers birthdays and special occasions of staff and family members, as well as residents. You never know when she might pop in with a trinket of some sort and say, ‘this reminded me of you!’ Those little things make residents feel so special.”

Josh Sosebee
Young Adult Volunteer of the Year

Sarah Langmead
Josh Sosebee
Though only 16 years old, Josh Sosebee has been a notable volunteer of Life Care Center of East Ridge, Tenn., a 130-bed long term care facility, for the past four years. During his time at Life Care Center, Sosebee has cultivated strong relationships with residents and has developed several programs to better address their needs.
Sosebee created Canning for a Cause, a weekly program to can vegetables and other items to raise money for organizations that residents support. He also formulated a men’s discussion program and organizes activities like poker and model car events. Residents particularly enjoy helping with the local animal shelter’s adoption events through Sosebee’s Pet Adoption Program.
“Josh’s intention is to better the lives of men and women who may feel as if society has passed them by,” said Beecher Hunter, president of Life Care Centers of America, in his nomination of Sosebee. “He acknowledges the residents’ importance by his gifts of time, attention, compassion, and kindness. He is a builder of intergenerational bridges.”
Sosebee has impacted the volunteer pool at Life Care Center of East Ridge. Whenever the facility holds a special event, he brings a friend, and more often than not, those friends continue to volunteer. “Josh contends that his ‘pay’ is delivered to him in the encouragement of folks who have endured hardships along the way, but who assure him the journey is worth it,” said Hunter.
In addition to volunteering approximately 20 hours per week, Sosebee maintains excellent grades in Advanced Placement and Honors classes and works a part-time job. Despite a busy schedule, he continuously prioritizes his time with the residents and their families.
“There is no one better than Josh at sitting one-on-one with residents,” said Ben Zani, LNHA. “We will often send him in to speak with our more difficult residents, as he can reach them in a way that no one else can.”

Helen Cherry
ID/DD Hero of the Year

Sarah Langmead
Helen Cherry
Helen Cherry’s dedication, innovative thinking, and compassion are just three reasons why she was selected as the 2013 Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities Hero of the Year Award.
Cherry is an active employee of New Hope Services, a division of Medicalodges in Pittsburg, Kan. New Hope Services provides community living options and supportive services for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“Since joining this challenging yet rewarding field 22 years ago, Helen has helped to forge meaningful relationships between her clients and local businesses,” said Cindy Luxem, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Health Care Association. “She has successfully developed her clients’ skill sets and facilitated their integration into various work and social environments where they can not only contribute, but thrive.”
Cherry has created several programs for her clients, including the New Hope Bulldogs Special Olympics team, which, with 56 coaches and 124 athletes, is one of the largest Special Olympics chapters in the state of Kansas.
“Helen has made extraordinary contributions to the lives of the clients at New Hope,” said Fred Benjamin, chief operating officer at Medicalodges New Hope in his nomination. “She builds her clients’ self-worth, dignity, and their inner spirit to strive to be the best they can be.”
Cherry founded Extremely Outrageous Creations—a business designed to offer job choices to adults with intellectual challenges. She also instituted the Legacy Fitness Center and the BIKE 4 LIFE program that together have positively impacted hundreds of special needs athletes in Pittsburg.
“Helen always begins by asking prospective clients and families, ‘What are your dreams?’ She then sets about making them come true,” said Benjamin. “With her encouragement, clients live, work, and participate in their community on their own terms. Based on a client’s dream, she organized an annual ocean cruise that now serves 30 clients per year.
“Helen’s giving spirit and positive attitude radiate and motivate our entire company to face the challenges in their lives with determination and a brave heart.”

Helensview High School
Group Volunteer of the Year

Sarah Langmead
Anne Frank once wrote, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Students at Helensview High School in Portland, Ore., not only understand this adage, they live by it.
Since 2009, Helensview, an engaging environment designed to help students with needs that have not been met in other educational settings, teamed with Porthaven Care Center, a 99-bed long term care and rehabilitation center, to create a volunteer program.
Students in the volunteer program enjoy playing board games and making crafts with residents. Recently, the group proposed, developed, and implemented a special design area in the facility to display resident art projects.
“Not only do the students come on their volunteer day, but many found time in their busy lives as young single parents, working and going to school, to drop in on the birthday of their ‘buddy’ and surprise them with a card or balloon,” said Porthaven Administrator Sarah Murk in her nomination of the group. “One student organized a birthday party for a resident who was in hospice care. The resident described the day as his ‘best birthday ever.’”
Porthaven staff have noticed that Helensview students have assisted in improving resident behaviors, as well.
“One resident said, ‘These kids are so special, and they treat me like I am special,’” said Jodi Burroughs, Porthaven activities director, in her nomination.
“This resident has developmental disabilities and a serious seizure disorder, which presented some challenges. After he began participating in activities with [the students], he not only developed confidence in himself, but his behaviors improved!”
“It’s so exciting to watch our student volunteers connect with Porthaven residents,” said Kris Persson, principal at Helensview High School. “We hope that this program inspires students to continue volunteering throughout their lifetimes.”

Robin Moran
Noble Caregiver in Assisted Living

Lisa Gluckstern
Robin Moran
Robin Moran, recreation assistant for The Chelsea at Tinton Falls, N.J., makes it her life’s purpose to get to know each resident as well as possible. That desire is one of many factors that led to Moran being named the recipient of the 2013 NCAL Noble Caregiver In Assisted Living Award.
She loves getting to know each resident and becomes a trusting friend to the residents. In one recent instance, a resident confided to Moran about his memory lapses and asked if his repetitive questions annoyed her. Moran reassured him that they did not, explaining that he wasn’t the only person with this condition and telling him, “This could be me some day, and I hope people will be kind when that day comes.”
Moran’s kindness is demonstrated through visits to residents who have been hospitalized. She reaches out to residents who are shy or unhappy and is often rewarded with a smile and newfound friendship.
She recruits her own friends and acquaintances to give talks to the residents on a variety of subjects. For example, she convinced her husband to give a lecture on the Hindenburg event and then a 10-week series on “The Pacific.” She arranged for people to arrive in costume on Halloween to deliver treats to residents. She runs the book club, bakes cookies, brings her pets in, and takes residents to monthly events at her church.
Moran was hired by the community four years ago.
“She took to the role like a duck takes to water,” wrote Kathie Deak, executive director of The Chelsea at Tinton Falls. “Her outgoing personality, love of people, strong nurturing skills, and a positive outlook on life had an immediate effect on residents, families, and co-workers alike.”
Whenever anyone in the community is going through a rough patch, she uses her spirituality to give them strength, and she has set up a quiet area in the community’s sun room where someone can go to reflect, said Deak.
“She is a very modest unsung hero who loves what she does and makes what she does look easy,” Deak wrote.

Julie Taylor
NCAL Administrator of the Year

Lisa Gluckstern
Julie Taylor
Julie Taylor, administrator of Gilman Park Assisted Living located in Oregon City, Ore., is not afraid to clean, dig, paint, or do anything she asks of others.
The pride she takes in the assisted living community is contagious to her staff members. She encourages them to make their own decisions and trains them to take care of resident issues in a timely fashion. Those are just a few of the accomplishments of Taylor, who is the recipient of the 2013 NCAL Administrator of the Year Award.
Her support of staff members encourages the delivery of person-centered care to residents. In her five years at Gilman Park, she created an awards program for the community’s volunteers and reduced staff turnover while increasing census. Last year, Gilman Park won four company awards at Frontier’s annual meeting, among them was having the highest average occupancy. In 2012, Taylor was named Frontier Management’s Executive Director of the Year.
But that’s not all. Taylor also raised the profile of Gilman Park Assisted Living to the surrounding community. For example, she created the ABC Award pencil program for the local elementary school. Every quarter, 500 pencils with the words “I AM Brilliant” or “I am Awesome” are distributed to students who earn good grades or do good deeds.
Then, once a month, Gilman Park residents go over to the school and become lunch buddies to a group of school children.
Four years ago, Taylor created the Volunteer of the Year Award for Oregon City, which recognizes a senior who worked on behalf of others in the city. Every year the assisted living community hosts an award ceremony. The mayor attends and makes the presentation.
Taylor stays busy with projects. She is currently designing and planning to build a koi pond for the community after designing, planning, and building Gilman Park’s dog run, which allows residents to be outside while their dogs roam freely without their leashes.

Cheryl Hopkins
NCAL Assisted Living Nurse of the Year

Lisa Gluckstern
Cheryl Hopkins
Cheryl Hopkins, RN, resident care manager at the Kansas community Vintage Park at Paola, personifies the community’s mission: Make a difference, every day, every time.
The 2013 NCAL Assisted Living Nurse of the Year is described as compassionate and committed. Hopkins’ leadership inspires staff and conveys concern and great care to the residents and their family members.
For an example of her dedication and personal commitment, her nominator Christina (Tina) Dick, Vintage Park director, cited how Hopkins works long hours to make sure a resident who is close to the end of life is “not alone” and is comfortable. “Cheryl displays integrity and a high standard of ethical behavior by leading staff to standards, which she sets above and beyond expectations. She rolls up her sleeves and works side by side with the staff, teaching and reviewing their skill competencies,” she said.
Hopkins has led the community to deficiency-free surveys for the past five years. In 2010, she guided staff to achieving Silver in the AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award program.
Not resting on her laurels, she helped reduce resident hospital readmission rates, and employee satisfaction ratings of excellent rose to 70 percent.
She has been resident care manager for the past six years and has a total of 25 years of experience in long term care.
“Cheryl takes great pride in the communication between her and the physicians, family members, and other stakeholders,” said Dick. “She will not leave until she is satisfied that all is going well with the residents, staff, and family members.”

Summer’s Landing of Warner Robins
NCAL National Assisted Living Week Programming Award

Lisa Gluckstern
Summer's Landing of Warner Robins
The team at Summer’s Landing of Warner Robins in Georgia planned events based on the 2012 National Assisted Living Week theme, Art for the Ages, with the Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creative, and Emotional (SPICE) needs of the residents at the forefront of their programming design.
This was a winning strategy that created engaging and fun events for residents, staff, families, and the surrounding neighborhood community. The Summer’s Landing team: Kim Pitsenbarger, executive director, Allison Gatliff, senior living advisor, Melissa LaFave, human resources, and Lany Puckett, dietary director, are recipients of the 2013 National Assisted Living Week Programming Award.
These four individuals designed programming that celebrated the creativity of everybody, inside and outside the assisted living community, such as a nearby daycare center, a local elementary school, and experts who conducted interactive presentations that helped empower residents to create art either collectively as a group or individually.
The highlight of the week was the Summer’s Landing Art Gallery, which contained work created by residents, family members, and staff, who displayed their ceramics, needlework, woodworking, oil paintings, and puzzle art in the dining rooms and the halls of the community. The team also posted various creative works of art from across the globe, along with facts about them, throughout the community. User-friendly cameras were available for residents and staff to take candid photos of life in the community, which were then displayed in the lobby.
One of the residents taught a class on the Art of Flower Arranging. And a local expert taught residents about Japanese Ikebana—the art of creating elegant beauty with ordinary objects found in nature.
The Art of the Spoken Word was celebrated by having a resident recite from memory the Frank Stanton poem, “Keep A Goin’ ” during a wine and cheese social. The Landing’s food and beverage team shared their knowledge of wine production, and a local bluegrass band performed original music, as well as country and Western music.
The Art of Dining Well included four dining rooms decorated with flower and Ikebana arrangements and filled with carefully drizzled plates of julienned vegetables and Atlantic salmon; for dessert, flaming peaches jubilee.
A local photographer instructed residents about the composition elements of taking photos and shared his stories and prize-winning photos taken while traveling.
The Art of the Everyday featured a rotating art gallery of puppets made by the daycare center children.
Finally, The Art of Thankfulness featured a photo contest and a Tree of Gratitude. The residents and staff members each wrote one good thought on a paper leaf and attached it to a tree drawn on an oversized poster board. One leaf contained the following touching thought:
“Thank you to all of you who keep us going and make us feel like we belong.”