Purposeful, Interactive, Authentic: The Importance of Engagement

As we prepare to gather in a couple weeks for Engage, the CALA 2017 Spring Conference & Trade Show, we’re thinking a lot about the concept of engagement. What does it mean to be truly engaged in what you are doing? How can you foster engagement among your community of residents and team members?

In the Winter 2017 issue of CALA News & Views, we turned to three CALA members to get their views on the nature of engagement and its importance in our models of care. Here are their thoughts on what the word “engagement” means to them:

Mander Farrell, Personal Expressions Manager, Carlton of San Jose:

Engagement has two different meanings to me. One would be how I engage myself in what I do for our residents and the other is how I engage the residents in what they do or possibly can do. When defining engagement for myself, two words come to mind: dedication and commitment for a particular purpose. My purpose is to engage the residents in enriching experiences. Providing the residents with purpose and joy is a true form of engagement for me. My commitment to the residents and their families means ensuring that their experience while living with us is not only engaging but also enriching and purposeful.

Melissa Gill Hausz, Activities Director, Casa Dorinda:

I believe that one of the most important elements of engagement encompasses interacting with the world at large as well as being involved with your local community, to the degree with which each person is interested. Engagement with regards to activities also means having the opportunity to voice how you would like to spend your time, in your environment. With many activities, we have come to follow the lead set by our residents. This brings a higher degree of engagement through participation, leading to a greater sense of satisfaction and enthusiasm for life, which in turn leads to a continuation of engagement and participation. It has a cyclical effect!

Mindy Creson, Life Engagement Director, Mercy Retirement & Care Center:

I believe that engagement is enjoying the freedom to bring our authentic selves to the community that we inhabit. Hobbies and activities do not define who we are as much as our relationships do. When we bring our authentic selves to our relationships with elders, we connect with them as human beings in non-hierarchical relationships, allowing them to be who they truly are in the moment. I am passionately committed to helping create a community where residents, family members, care partners, and other staff are engaged with one another in relationships that bring joy, purpose, and spontaneity to our life together.

What inspiring words as we prepare to join over 700 members and supporters at the Spring Conference & Trade Show in Burlingame this June 5-7. If you haven’t yet, there’s still time to register…we look forward to engaging with you!

This post was excerpted from CALA News & Views Winter 2017: Engage. Click here to read the rest of the interview. 


2 thoughts on “Purposeful, Interactive, Authentic: The Importance of Engagement

  1. Thank you all for this interesting article. I am a retired psychotherapist and live in an assisted-living residence in Woodland Hills, CA. Living here was quite an adjustment for me and I brooded about it for far too long. I’ve found my purpose in writing a blog at I keeps me intellectually alive and excited to get to work each day.

    Several other the residents have their own meaningful projects. One woman designs T-shirt, is learning computers, and speaks on community groups about retirement. She’s a feisty lady of 87.

    Life is what we make it, isn’t that true.

    Jonah Steinhaus

    • Jonah,

      Thank you for the comment, and thank you for sending the link to your blog. I am excited to take a look. It’s wonderful to hear other stories about people who are pursuing meaningful purpose in their lives. It gives meaning to your sentiment…life is, indeed, what we make of it.

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