Meet the Team! The Hearth’s Director of Community Life Shares Her Journey of Engaging Residents with Purpose and Joy
SEPTEMBER 4, 2020
Director of Community Life, Jessica Buck, has always had a special gift for bringing happiness and fulfillment to adults in their later years. In her role at The Hearth at Drexel, promoting residents’ physical and emotional well-being is more than her responsibility, it’s her source of motivation, and the reason she loves coming to work each and every day.
“I’ve always known that I wanted a career in helping people,” she says. It was Jessica’s benevolent ambitions that led her to pursue a degree in Therapeutic Recreation from York College several years ago. Originally thinking she wanted to work with children, Jessica chose to explore more options and completed her junior and senior year internships within retirement living communities. “I knew I would be happy in any healthcare field as long as I was helping people directly, but after working in these communities, I discovered that helping older adults was really my niche,” she reflects.
After graduating, Jessica worked at a local retirement living community for four years and greatly enjoyed the relationships she developed with residents on a daily basis. “There is an emotional involvement in this work beyond simply planning activities. It’s much deeper than that,” she explains.
Finding The Hearth…
While Jessica enjoyed her time in this community, she began seeking more opportunities to grow her career. It was then that Jessica found The Hearth at Drexel. Entering her role as Director of Community Life in December of 2016, Jessica immediately knew this was where she belonged. “I really appreciated everything that The Hearth stands for,” she says.
Between assisted living and memory care, Jessica’s commitment to ensuring fulfillment and purpose for residents in their later years has aligned perfectly with The Hearth’s core values. “My number one goal here is to ensure that all residents are being provided the opportunity to experience a meaningful life with personalized activities based on their interests,” she explains.
One of the things I enjoy most about my job is being able to brighten residents’ days even in the simplest of ways. I focus on reminding residents what they’re capable of. That’s something I’ve been passionate about since the start of my career.Jessica Buck, director of community life at The Hearth at Drexel
Jessica explains that within The Hearth’s close-knit community, residents have the opportunity to choose their unique lifestyle. “You don’t get that in a lot of bigger retirement communities,” she says. “Here at The Hearth, we create diverse programs based on each resident’s unique interests. Whatever the resident wants to do, I have the opportunity to provide that for them,” Jessica affirms. “There’s no cookie-cutter here,” she laughs. “We have personalized activities that build meaningful lives.”
Whether residents are participating in flower arranging classes, or exploring different facets of history with lectures led by professional historians, they certainly have plenty of options. With activities like wine glass painting, horticultural classes, music therapy, silk making, weekly exercise classes, and more, the opportunities to promote residents’ physical and emotional well-being are seemingly endless. And if there’s a new activity residents would like to try, Jessica and The Hearth’s team of staff explore how to make it happen.
Getting Creative Through COVID-19
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, The Hearth’s staff continue to go above and beyond to maintain opportunities for resident engagement. Facilitating their activities in new and creative ways that safeguard residents and staff, The Hearth has demonstrated their immense dedication to residents’ well-being and their resilience as a community.
This pandemic has really motivated our staff to think outside of the box, and it’s really advanced our creativity. We’ve utilized technology to explore a whole new world of entertainment.
Face Time and Zoom have helped our residents stay safely connected with family and friends,” she explains. Now that certain COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, residents enjoy connecting with family and friends during outdoor visits that follow proper safety guidelines and procedures. “Those interactions are so important for our residents, whether it’s on Zoom or outside together in the fresh air,” Jessica remarks.
The Hearth also utilizes Zoom and other technologies to maintain activities like music therapy and historian lectures, which Jessica says are some of their most popular programs. Looking ahead to the fall, Jessica says the community looks forward to planning outdoor entertainment including a festive Oktoberfest celebration. “We’re continuing to talk about how to execute these events properly while following all of the guidelines set out by the CDC,” she affirms.
As staff at The Hearth facilitate fulfillment and joy for residents throughout the community even through the most challenging of times, Jess says it is her team’s spirit of encouragement that continues to motivate her every day.
At The Hearth, we are all willing to work hard and we always put our best foot forward. We are open and always share ideas because at the end of the day we’re all doing our best to keep residents engaged and happy and to fill their lives with purpose.
There is always something new happening in the community!
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