New Executive Director Moved into Senior Living Community During Pandemic
ANAHEIM, Calif., – In April, as the COVID-19 global pandemic was taking hold, Emerald Court welcomed Patricia Gustin as its new Executive Director. Gustin was not new to Kisco Senior Living but was new to the Emerald Court community in Anaheim. It was a unique time to take a new position in another state, but Gustin was ecstatic to return to a company in which she had full confidence and jump in headfirst. Knowing it is critical for directors to know the team members they lead and the residents they care for, she decided to move into the community to live there among the residents.
Gustin understood that moving from her home in Fresno to Anaheim before her start date on April 13 was going to be a huge challenge – considering social distancing and other safety protocols already in place due to COVID-19. But she decided the best option was to completely immerse herself in the community and allow the residents and staff to get to know her as well. “It’s still difficult for some of the seniors to recognize me wearing masks all the time, but it has been beneficial to spend more time around them, and some residents are recognizing me perhaps a little faster than otherwise.”
Since starting at Emerald Court, Gustin has primarily focused on adapting her teams to meet high standards for new community procedures, revising responsibilities of team members to fill any gaps, and restructuring what her residents’ lives will look like in this new environment. She has also made a priority of making sure the residents know she’s around and supporting every facet of the community. Gustin carves out time between operational responsibilities to get to know her team members better, volunteering to do temperature checks, assisting in resident activities, and writing memos to keep in touch and become more familiar to residents and their families.
This unusual move wasn’t out of the blue for Gustin, but more of a long-awaited and aptly timed homecoming. Gustin’s experience with Kisco began years ago when she was an HR director for a community in Fresno, CA. Kisco saw potential in Gustin and gave her the opportunity to train into an executive director role. When Kisco sold the outlier community, Gustin stayed to ensure that the transition was smooth and that the residents and associate staff were safe and satisfied.
“Of course, I was very nervous when COVID-19 began spreading in the U.S. and companies started to close down. I had been wanting to return to Kisco and knew that this time I needed to make the move,” Gustin shares about her decision. “I’ve had more confidence in Kisco than any other company to take care of its employees, which is essential during a pandemic. That’s exactly what Kisco has done; they’ve made sure to keep the best interest in helping directors lead their communities through this. They trust and value their people better than other companies, and I believe in them.” The second Gustin saw an executive director opening in Anaheim for Emerald Court, she jumped on the opportunity.
This experience has been one that Gustin will never forget. “One of the beautiful parts about working in senior living is getting to really know the residents as well as their families when they visit, and because of safe social distancing I haven’t been able to have that interaction with family members. I am also not used to telling residents ‘no’ and I hate having to do it.” Gustin has been exploring ways to keep residents’ quality of life high and looks for ways to say “yes” again.
“It’s been one of the biggest challenges to juggle the priorities of the business while continuing to create ways to make every moment count for these residents,” shared Gustin. She attributes her success to the support and training she’s received from Kisco and to the associates at Emerald Court. Gustin raves, “I’m very lucky to have this team. This experience would be more challenging without each of them. I can’t have big staff meetings right now, so it’s good to know I can depend on my managers and that we’re all dedicated to improving the lives of these residents.”
Gustin believes that when people face adversity, they have two choices: to rise up or to hide under a rock. Becoming Emerald Court’s executive director has allowed Gustin to take strides outside of her comfort zone. “It has been greater than I imagined, and I hope the whole community will come out of this better than before. I’m not striving to be the best, but I will work my hardest to ensure everyone in this community is taken care of.”
ABOUT EMERALD COURT
Emerald Court, a Kisco senior living community in North Orange County, California, offers 148 independent and 104 assisted living apartments in a variety of floor plans with private patios or balconies, full kitchens and walk-in closets to meet the unique needs of its individual residents. A recent addition of 58,000 square feet provides residents with a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen, on-site restaurant, and cutting-edge wellness center with windows overlooking the courtyard as well as updated corridors, lighting, activity room, and salon. This premier community has provided a vibrant setting which caters to active living and socialization in a warm, secure and friendly atmosphere for over 30 years. Residents enjoy the family-like setting that they experience as well as the welcoming surroundings, including six beautiful courtyards throughout.
Emerald Court embraces Kisco Confidence, our unique approach and philosophy centered on giving residents and associates peace of mind knowing that our communities deliver on safety and security, trust and transparency, health and wellbeing and a 5-star lifestyle experience. For more information, call (714) 880-8161 or go to www.LifeatEmeraldCourt.com