Suzanne joins director of hospitality Karin Hirsch at Kirkland, Washington’s new MorningStar of Kirkland senior living community.
Karin is responsible for resident satisfaction, so she knows the families and residents to serve them best. She coordinates their move-in process, connects them with other residents, makes sure they’re happy, gets them involved in activities, and acts as their point of contact for any needs they have.
Visit MorningStar of Kirkland’s website or call 425-979-5626 to learn more.
View Episode Transcript
*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
Welcome to the answers for elders radio show. meet the trusted experts who will give you straight answers and we’ll help guide you on the path of later life care. Now here’s your host, founder, caregiver and CEO, Susanne Newman, and welcome back to answers for alders radio network. And we are here again in this beautiful, stunning community in Kirkland Washington. Morning starts senior living in the Towtam Lake area, just really close, like just almost across the street from Fred Meyer in Um Kirkland Washington, and it’s such a treat for me to be out of my little studio in my house and and be in the’s just such an incredibly beautiful community such as this. And to my left I’m sitting here with this lovely lady by the name of Karen Hurst. And Karen, you are the director of hospitality and so I’m excited to hear a little bit about what you do and what brought you in the morning star. Well, I love to tell the story of what brought me in the morning star because it’s kind of unique. I retired after twenty years at the University of Washington. I was so bored being retired and so I was looking for something meaningful where I could give back and I saw an ad on craigslist and I responded to the AD and when I drove up to this site I went, oh my gosh, this is providence because my daughter had gone to school on this very site for four years. Oh my goodness, there was a school called providence classical Christian school, and so in my mind, when I drove up, it was the providence of God that brought me back to the place called Providence where my daughter I’d gone to school. So when I looked around and I see the trees, I see where the playground was, and so I went from element school aged child, and then I just thought this is providence running here to senior living. I didn’t even know senior living was an industry. Well, and here you are, here I am, and I have never been happier in a job. I feel like my whole life has prepared me for this role. Well, that speaks a lot to the culture here and really specifically, Um, how you uh, you know, end up here, because it’s certainly been fun for me to experience working with Morning Star over the past several months. So tell us a little bit about what your job is when you say director of hospitality. Um, I kind of told their listeners right before the break that once somebody moves in or they decide I’m going to move in, they kind of work with you and that correct. Tell us a little bit about what that means. Well, my main role is described as being responsible for resident satisfaction. So I’m supposed to know the families and the resident and really seek to know them so that I can serve them best. So, as a part of that, I am after they meet with the director of community relations and they decided to move in, then I’m the moving coordinator. So I reach out to them and I tell them everything they need to know about what the moving process is going to be and I support them every step of the way. And then after they moved in, I work with them to make sure they’re happy. I try to connect them with other residents, get them involved in the activities and just be their point of contact for any needs they might have. Well, and that’s so important, obviously, because I know you’re making a huge transition you and you probably maybe moving from a square foot house and now all of a sudden you know, you don’t need all the stuff that you had at your other house. Your lifestyle is changing, so there’s gonna be a lot of things of you know. What do I bring? Um? You know what kind of activities do I need prepare for Um? Little things, and you probably have a lot to help them with that, don’t you? I do. Well, I’m a senior too, graduations. I can really relate to the downsize thing, the kids helping them, Um, just everything that they may need. Sure, and the other thing that I’ve noticed that I really love is some of the residents here might have a spouse in memory care, and so I really want to focus in on residents who have recently lost spouses, residents who have recently had to put their spouses in memory care, and so just being aware of those emotional needs. So it’s not just Oh, we’re gonna move and we have to downsize, but it’s also how are they hurting? And so I really want to be aware of that and I think I think one of the things you hit the nail on the head is too a lot of seniors they moved here from another city to be close to their children. So all of a sudden maybe there they have a child that works at Microsoft or something like that, and so they moved from Idaho or Florida exactly exactly and they don’t know anybody. So that’s really nice to start building a community like this and come into a scenario where all of a sudden somebody’s dialed into seeing you know who you are and and what you like and things like that. So I know you have all these amazing amenities in your in your community. Just so when somebody comes in and they start asking, how do you I guess poll out what’s most important to people just by asking questions like how active are you? What kinds of things do you enjoy? I try to point out what’s on the calendar. Our Life enrichmond coordinator does an excellent job of creating activities every month. We have a calendar with seven or eight activities a day. And all right, I might just say here’s what’s coming up. What you might what might you be interested in? I talked to lady in today that they’re going to see a movie tomorrow. Would you like to go? Oh, I didn’t know because she just moved in. So I pointed out the movie, got her involved, reached out to other residents. She’s coming, make sure she feels well. So you’re just a real social like the social coordinator. I love that. I left that. I just don’t want anyone to ever move in here and feel lonely. No, no, I must say that our residents here are amazing at welcoming new guests. In fact, they told us in the very beginning. We have made a vow that whenever someone moves in, we are going to welcome them and noble to the table and they’ll say hi, I’m so and so, we’re so glad you’re here and no one has ever felt alone or left out here, and that’s so important. And and when I start, Kirkland, you just open, like recently, etruary fourteen, yea Valentine’s Day. Yeah, so it is about love. It’s all about love. It’s all about love and about accepting one another and coming together as a you know, as a community and really Um, you know, finding ways in which people can celebrate who they are, and I think that’s the key thing. So in in this process, obviously your new residents are moving in all the time. What Um, what it comes I guess some tips that you have right now of people when they’re downsizing and coming in. What do you think are most important to think about? Well, that’s a tough one. Um. I don’t really help them with the downsizing as much as providing resources for them. Okay, so we have resources that they can call downsize, the experts, moving experts that work specifically with seniors so that by the time they get here they are ready to dis share in with what they thought. But we do have a lot of resources. More they often ask us for those resources. Yeah, and of course, you know, Um, there’s all types of ways, you know. As far as what I think of is you know your life is about to change for the positive in a million ways and sometimes you know at the same time it’s letting go of another chapter. So it’s that it’s that transition time. I think, to be gentle with yourself and think about ways in which you can carry some things forward. And I know that, Um, for my mom. When I moved my mom into senior living, I was so remembering of you know, how it was for her, you know, but she was able to still have her cat, she was able to still have, you know, her pets and and we brought, you know, furniture and put photographs up on the wall of family members and and I think we could have done a better job of kind of coordinating family visits so that she had some consistency. I think we all were there a lot in the beginning and then, you know, everybody did their own thing. I now, if I had it in retrospect, I’d say, you know, let’s make sure that we spread it out for the first month, that every week we have somebody coming to kind of help with that transition a little bit, and I think those are some things that we always tried to do. So in in you know, as far as you have a pool and you have different types of amenities, let’s review again what all that we have. What all do we have here? Well, after you walk in the front door, you’re going to take a right to the b stroke where we are right now. We have happy hours in here, we have games in here. We laugh a lot in here. We have the dining room, beautiful dining room, we have swimming pool upstairs. We have an art studio where they do Crofts, we have a hair salon, we have a beautiful theater where we watch movies and also church services in there. That’s awesome, awesome. And then and you know as we’re sitting. We are sitting in the Bistro right now and behind me you can see a little sign and it’s ice cream sandwich day. We are in the middle of August, or just beginning of August, I should say, in two when this is being filmed, and obviously we’ve been in for the northwest, we’ve just been through quite a heat wave. So it’s kind of Nice to have things like that, that you can have these resources and your dining room amazing. Tell us a little bit about your food. We all we have, what’s it called? MADE FROM SCRATCH? We have made from scratch menus. The menu was posted every day. Um, they can see it when they walk into the dining room and then when they sit down in the dining room they get a menu and they order off a menu just like they would and they can know any time they weren’t any time they want. It’s all day dining in the dining room. If we have wonderful, friendly, loving servers that treat them like that’s awesome. So if you sleep in in the morning, you can still get breakfast, can still get bread fist. I love that. So how do we reach you, Karen? Well, our phone number here at Morning Star Kirkland is four to five, nine seven, nine, five, six to six, and our website is morning Star Living, Morning Star see here living dot com. That’s awesome and for all of you that are listening, bear in mind this is a wonderful community that you just have to come and see. Um, I hope that each and every one of you that have even thought just remotely about you know what would it be like to come into and not have these headaches. I know that there will be a friendly face, they’re waiting for you and you can get a taste of a little bit of what it’s like and I bet they’ll even treat you to lunch if you come when Um, you know it’ll be a wonderful, wonderful time. So, Karen, thank you so much for coming and coming up next, everyone, we’re gonna talk to the concert air of morning star senior living, and that is lolly, and she’s coming up next. Right after this. We it answers for elders. Thank you for listening. Did you know that you can discover hundreds of podcasts in our library on senior care? So visit our website and discover our decision guides. That will help you also navigate decision making. Find US AND ANSWERS FOR ELDERS DOT COM
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Founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., Suzanne Newman proclaims often, “Caring for my mom was the hardest thing I ever have done, but it was also my greatest privilege.” Following a career of over 25 years in sales, media, and marketing management, Suzanne Newman found herself on a 6-year journey caring for her mother. Her trials and tribulations as a family caregiver inspired an impassioned life mission outside of the corporate world to revolutionize the journey that so many other American families also find themselves on. In 2009, she became the founder and CEO of Answers for Elders, Inc., subsequently hosting hundreds of radio segments and podcasts, as well as authoring her first book. Suzanne and Answers for Elders, Inc. have spent 14 years, and counting, committed to helping families and seniors along their caregiving journeys by providing education, resources, and support. Each week on the Answers for Elders podcast, Suzanne is joined by vetted professional experts in over 65 categories including Health & Wellness, Life Changes, Living Options, Money, Law, and more. Suzanne lives in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their two doodle dogs, Whidbey and Skagit.
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