2017 Excellence in Service Award Recipients for Northern California

Execllence-Service-logoThis week, CALA awarded the 2017 Excellence in Service Awards for Northern California. Three exceptional Assisted Living employees were cheered at the 2017 Spring Conference & Trade Show by a room full of their friends, family members, and co-workers.

Outstanding Team Member: Candice Nutting

Residents and staff describe Nutting, lead housekeeper at Eskaton Village Grass Valley, as “quiet and unassuming, never one to seek attention.” Yet her contributions to residents’ quality of life, the overall community culture, and the community-at-large are significant. As captain of the wellness committee, she helps residents, family members, and staff to get involved in healthy activities. In addition, she is an active participant in area fundraisers, helping to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure and the Relay for Life, among others.

But her biggest impact is on the lives of her residents. When Nutting first started at the community in 2006, one of the residents would sometimes become nervous when she arrived to clean. “The first time this happened, I gave him a hug just to reassure him. Thereafter, I always greeted him with a hug when I came to clean his room just so he’d know all was well.” This resident taught her how to care for the Koi fish that lived in a pond near his apartment. Now, more than ten years later, she continues to take care of the fish in his honor.

Outstanding Department Director: Penny Williams

According to Theresa Egurrola, executive director at Quail Park Memory Care, “Penny’s strength is her WOW factor.” Williams had 20-plus years of experience in early childhood development before deciding to change career paths and dedicate herself to caring for individuals with dementia.

In her role as Life Enhancement Director, Williams organizes events and activities that are fun, carefully planned, and above all, purposeful. Residents participate in fundraisers for local shelters and organizations, while a smaller group makes blankets year-round for those in need. As a former caregiver, she is also willing to help fellow staff members at a moment’s notice.

According to Williams, ““Big events are fun, but the day-to-day is what counts. It’s what we do with our residents and their families, how we interact, keeping them engaged and stimulated, and giving them a purpose every day – that is what matters most.”

Outstanding Executive Director: Emily Poon

Emily Poon began working at Aegis Gardens 14 years ago as a resident services director. In her first two years, she became known as a mentor to other care directors before being promoted to general manager.

Aegis Gardens is a community with a focus on Asian culture. Residents and family members appreciate how Poon and her team honor their cultural traditions while successfully balancing elements of Eastern and Western culture, cuisine and medicine. The activity program includes favorites such as afternoon tea, calligraphy, and Chinese chess. Exercise programs like tai chi at Aegis Gardens, have led to almost non-existent resident falls to the extent that these programs are now promoted company-wide.

Employees see Poon as an advocate and appreciate her fun approach to team building. Because of this, the employee turnover at Aegis Gardens is the lowest in the company. Poon is extremely dedicated to promoting Aegis Gardens’ unique community in the Bay Area. Under her leadership, Aegis Gardens has become a model for success for the company.

Congratulations to all three Excellence in Service winners! Your dedication, empathy, creativity, and hard work are truly outstanding. CALA members in Southern California, do you have an exceptional employee at your community? Check the CALA website for the Fall 2017 Excellence in Service Awards call for nominations!

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