Celebrating Long-Standing Dedication and Service for Women’s History Month

At Westminster Communities of Florida, we believe that our team members are our greatest asset. More than 500 team members have served our residents for more than 10 years. Two of those team members, Nay Robinson and Shirley Wilkenson, have a combined 47 years of service. We spoke with them about their experience as long-standing team members and learned what inspires them to contribute to our Mission.

Nay, a member of the Dining Services Team as an Assistant Cook at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, has been with the organization for 28 years, and Shirley has been with the organization for 19 years, caring for our residents as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Westminster Shores.

After all these years, they continue to be inspired by the people around them. “What I love most about Westminster is the environment of the facility, the residents that I work with, and the team members I work with,” Shirley said. “It’s just such a pleasant and loving place to work.”

For Nay, it’s not just about the relationships with residents and team members that she values, she also sees herself as a future resident, which also inspires her to provide phenomenal service to our residents.

When asked why Women’s History Month was important to her, Nay referenced the challenge working mothers face balancing responsibilities both at work and at home. Shirley said she appreciates that Women’s History Month offers another opportunity to recognize women that are excelling in leadership roles. She referenced Westminster Shores Executive Director, Gloria Hughes, as a great leader and how excited she is to see a woman leading the Life Plan Community in St. Petersburg.

While these two women find inspiration in the people around them, we find them and their long standing service to the organization inspiring. Their dedication to Westminster Communities of Florida’s Mission and the older adults we serve is what makes Westminster a national leader in senior living.

Celebrating Emerging Leaders for Women’s History Month

We’re proud to have strong, creative, dedicated and compassionate team members who contribute to the Mission of Westminster Communities of Florida. In celebration of Women’s History Month, we spoke with three emerging leaders and learned about the guidance they were given to succeed, how Westminster has supported their growth and what advice they have for women hoping to grow at any organization.

Jini McClelland joined Westminster Communities of Florida as Administrative Assistant at one of our Life Plan Communities, and she recently celebrated completing her first year as Administrator at Hugh Ash Manor, a rental retirement community in DeLand for older adults with low to moderate incomes.

McClelland noted that she has had many mentors and they shared a common set of traits. “They were all very confident and assertive,” McClelland said. “They knew how to balance assertive versus aggressive.”

Our emerging leaders echoed the challenge for women in leadership to balance those characteristics. Westminster Winter Park Executive Director Angie Layfield said her mentors encouraged her to understand that you can be all things as a woman in a leadership role. “You can hold people accountable while still being kind. You don’t have to be one or the other,” Layfield said. “I think it’s important to be confident, to ask questions, and not to back down or feel like you have any less of a role because you’re a woman.”

Layfield noted that having more women in leadership roles allows for a more compassionate, empathetic and family-friendly workplace – which also affects the residents we serve. “We want to be compassionate to our residents, and if we’re not compassionate, understanding and solution-driven for our team members, how are we expecting them to do that for our residents?” she said.

Melissa Paul joined Westminster Communities of Florida in 2016 as an Assistant Dining Services Director. Today, she is the Dining Services Director at Westminster Suncoast, and feels that diversity and representation in the workplace is an important part of innovation.

“If everyone is the same as you, and you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always gotten,” Paul said. “In order to be innovative and collaborative you need the whole spectrum to be represented and at the table.”

Paul utilized Westminster’s Tuition Reimbursement Program to take a certified dietary manager course, one of the components she needed to assume the Dining Services Director role. Over the past five years, Westminster’s Tuition Reimbursement Program has provided more than $115,000 in tuition reimbursement to team members throughout our organization, all for the opportunity for career advancement.

Paul noted that from the start of her career at Westminster, the directors she worked under taught her everything she needed to know to eventually become a director. “Westminster believes in good bench strength to promote from within,” Paul said.

McClelland has found similar support from leaders within the organization. “I’ve been encouraged from day one for educational and growth opportunities,” she said. “We have some really great leaders at Westminster and I’m really proud to say that a lot of them are women,” McClelland said.

She encouraged team members to reach out to leaders for any advice they might need on their career trajectory, opportunities available to them to help them grow. “A lot of leaders in the organization are really open to those discussions and can be very helpful,” McClelland said.

Paul said as a leader her goal is to support her team so they can achieve their goals, both professionally and personally. Professionally, she can recommend the tuition reimbursement and scholarship programs she benefitted from, and personally, she points team members to the resources available through Westminster, the state or even the local women’s resource center.

“I had one recent one where the team member had financial goals. They wanted to increase their credit score,” she said. “We have resources with the banks we partner with, as well as the Employee Assistance Program. I can give them tools to help them reach those goals,” Paul said.

Leading the team at our Life Plan Community in Winter Park and Baldwin Park, Layfield said her role is to inspire people around her to do the right thing, and that reflects on the lives on the people we serve.

“Largely what we have the privilege to do in senior living is to make people’s lives better every single day,” Layfield said. “If we can inspire people to do the right thing, then we can achieve our organizational goals, because all of those things run parallel to each other.”

Stay tuned as we share more stories and experiences in addition to our emerging leaders from just some of the inspiring women who contribute to the Westminster Communities of Florida Mission every day in honor of Women’s History Month.

Read our previous article for Women’s History Month about two refugee team members.

Seniors live longer, better and more protected from COVID-19 at Life Plan Communities, according to new studies

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for older adults. But new research from the National Investment Center shows that seniors who live in Life Plan Communities (LPC) were safer from the worst risks of COVID-19.

Residents of Life Plan Communities already live up to two years longer, according to research by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Age Well study conducted by the Mather Institute found that they are also healthier and more resilient.

New research from the National Investment Center (NIC), released Thursday, found that seniors who live in LPC were significantly safer from COVID-19 related deaths than older adults living in non-congregate residential housing at large. Read the study here.

So if you’re considering a Life Plan Community, you should know that making the choice to have a plan for life isn’t just a smart choice for your health and longevity. It’s also a choice that can help you live better.

The NIC study compared data on more than 2,200 Life Plan Communities across the United States. It found that residents in LPC were significantly less likely to contract COVID-19.

“When people talk about challenges safeguarding seniors during the pandemic, they are usually thinking about the experience of nursing homes,” said Raymond Braun, NIC’s president and CEO, in the report. “In reality, older adults weathered the pandemic differently depending on where they lived, their age, and their chronic conditions. Following the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines, senior housing settings were about as safe as living in residential housing in the community.”

This is likely due to a combination of factors. For example, Life Plan Communities typically have more staff per resident than other types of long-term care facilities, a higher rate of vaccination, and more socialization opportunities.

This research underscores the importance of having a plan for life. For many seniors, life in a Life Plan Community provides the best possible setting for meeting their long-term care needs.

There are many reasons living in a Life Plan Community could lead to a longer lifespan. These communities, like a Westminster community, generally provide their residents with social and recreational activities, which can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Additionally, Life Plan Communities often have on-site healthcare facilities, which can improve residents’ access to quality care. They also create a supportive community environment that can help residents feel connected and supported.

The HHS study’s findings are consistent with other research on the benefits of Life Plan Communities. Previous studies have found that residents of Life Plan Communities reported higher levels of satisfaction with their overall quality of life than those in the general population, and that residents of an LPC were more likely to report good or excellent health than those in the general population.

These findings suggest that having a plan for life could be a key factor in promoting longevity. If you’re considering moving to a Life Plan Community, know that you could be making a decision that could help you live a longer and healthier life.

The Age Well study by the Mather Institute also provides strong evidence that Life Plan Communities are a valuable option for older adults who want to age well and live a healthy, active lifestyle.

There are many benefits to choosing to live in an LPC, like a Westminster community. You can enjoy an active and engaging lifestyle every day, maintenance-free living inside and out, while knowing that you have a plan for your future in place. Plus, our My W Life program for personal well-being emphasizes wellness of mind, body and spirit.

If you want to live better and longer, research shows you should choose a Life Plan Community. To learn more about the exciting benefits of living at a Westminster community, contact us today!

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