Liz Brown has worked in almost every health care setting. As a master’s-educated nurse, she’s worked in hospitals, community health, and home health. But there’s something special, she says, about senior living.
“There are a million nursing jobs,” says Brown, who also teaches community and public health nursing at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. “I’m glad I have one where I get to know people long term. I love being with my residents, listening to them, and living their lives with them.”
Joining The Ivy Family
In February, Brown became the newest member of The Ivy at Watertown family, joining the assisted living community as its Resident Care Director.
Executive Director Jason Rieger says Brown captures the three essential elements of an amazing Resident Care Director: “She’s an extremely talented clinician, a strong leader and mentor, and a compassionate and thorough communicator.”
What attracted Brown to the company was the fact that’s it’s a family-run business.
“I like the idea of a larger family-run company that has a lot of support but still has a family feel to it,” Brown says.
Another thing that attracted Brown to The Ivy was that it was different from other assisted living facilities in the area.
“The Ivy is a very vibrant community of active people who are enjoying living,” says Brown, who stopped by The Ivy at Ellington to get a feel for what The Ivy is all about. “The residents look happy and healthy. It’s a high-energy place.”
Being a Guest in a Resident’s Home
As the Resident Care Director, Brown’s job is to make sure everybody who moves into The Ivy at Watertown feels supported and welcomed and has access to all the amenities and services the community offers.
By developing personal relationships with the residents — learning their preferences, habits, and individual needs — Brown helps the residents improve their health as much as possible through diet, exercise, medication, and physical therapy while she empowers them to take care of their own health.
Here’s how Brown describes her philosophy of care: “I keep it as individualized and resident-centric as I can. I get to know people and understand where they want their care to go and how they want to drive their lifestyle. Then I fit in any patterns of health and wellness that I can to that.”
Brown says it’s important for assisted living care partners to remember that they are guests in the residents’ home. “They’re not in a hospital bed,” she says. “I’m coming to them in their home. I want it to be as comfortable for them as possible.”
To do that, Brown adapts her approach to best fit each resident. “It really comes down to their own preferences,” she says. “I can be very flexible with how I approach a situation. For example, I might approach someone who is very analytical, say someone with an engineer’s mind, very different than I would someone who spent their life as a poet.”
Building a Community from the Ground Up
Brown is also excited about being part of a new community. “I was intrigued by the opportunity to open a new building and build a community from the ground up,” she says.
One of the first things on Brown’s to-do list is to hire a team of nurses and resident care assistants. She’s looking for caring and compassionate people who will be champions of The Ivy’s mission.
“I can teach you how to make a bed our way and make sure you’re providing care appropriately,” Brown says. “But I can’t teach you how to be a kind person. So we start there.
Being a good care partner is centered around your ability to be kind and to empathize. I’m really looking for people who are kind — toward the residents and their co-workers — and who have the ability to be supportive but also to still let the individual be as independent and make as many choices as possible for themselves.”
Looking for an Assisted Living Community?
For families who are searching for assisted living or memory care for their loved ones, Brown offers this advice: “Ask a lot of questions and start as early as possible. It’s good to have a plan in place when you need it and not be searching for a plan in an emergency situation. So visit multiple times. Visit multiple places. And just keep asking a lot of questions.”
If you have questions about The Ivy at Watertown, its family-first philosophy, and the really important stuff — like what the food tastes like and how much it really costs — schedule a tour today!