Life at the Episcopal Church Home offers all the comforts of home with the high standard of care found at continuing care retirement communities. If you’re researching senior care for an elderly loved one, you likely have questions about what their day-to-day life would be like in one of our neighborhoods.
To answer these questions — and introduce you to one of our incredible staff members — we recently sat down with Assistant Administrator Chris Just to discuss his role and his perspective on life at ECH.
Q: Can you describe your role at ECH?
CHRIS: As Assistant Administrator I serve the Dining Services, Social Services, Billing Office, Environmental Services, IT, Maintenance and Security teams at ECH. I see my role as teacher, mentor, servant, and guide.
Q: How has your experience as a Nursing Assistant and a Nurse influenced your career in senior care? Were there any skills that you learned while working in healthcare that you use now as an Administrator?
CHRIS: Absolutely. Starting my career as a nursing assistant taught me humility and the meaning of true caring and compassion. When I became a nursing assistant, I had never been exposed to senior living (I had never even stepped foot in a nursing home). Up to that point, my exposure to seniors had been my Grandparents and seniors at church but, never in a caregiver role.
Learning to care for and about people that I did not know taught me how to be a better son, better grandson, better sibling, better Christian and overall a better human being. As I progressed and became a nurse, I learned true patience and developed the ability to see the whole of a person. Learning to see a person not just as a resident or old person but, as a former young person who had a family, had a career, had a home, had friends, experienced great joys and great sorrow and loss, and finally as the beloved senior I was entrusted to care for has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Realizing that my resident had not only a past and present life but also a future made the biggest impact on my life and career.
It is the ability to see the past, present, and future of the residents in my care that shapes every decision I make as an Administrator. Every life is precious, regardless of age, ability, cognition, financial status or any other factor and it is my goal in life to always promote the precious nature of life in all those I encounter.
Q: How would you describe the atmosphere at the Episcopal Church Home?
CHRIS: I have been in the Senior Living Industry for nearly 30 years. I have worked for non-profit and for-profit organizations, but I have never experienced anything like ECH.
The love and acceptance I have been wrapped in since my interview process is beyond words. Most organizations have the “mission statement” written in fancy script on fancy paper in a fancy frame on the wall but they are just that, words on a piece of paper. That is not the case at ECH or ERS. The words on our “piece of paper” are truly lived and felt in everything we do. I am proud beyond measure to be a part of the ECH family.
Q: How does ECH create a home-like environment?
CHRIS: Since my first day working in this industry I have been told: “we work in the Resident’s home.” Like with mission statements, some organizations adopt that mantra merely for “lip-service” — in reality, every aspect of the Resident’s life was according to the schedule that managers created.
Again, ECH is different because we strive to maintain the lifestyle and routines the resident was accustomed to before coming to live at ECH. Let’s face it; no senior living community is going to be like home because it is community living. But, by honoring the Resident’s choices, lifestyle and routine we strive to make ECH the next best thing to living at home.
Q: What is dining like at ECH? Do residents eat in their rooms, or together in the dining hall? What food options are available?
CHRIS: In my previous experience as an Administrator, the number one complaint I received was food. Whether the complaint was the food was too cold, too hot, too bland or just plain bad; I have heard them all. That all changed when I came to the Episcopal Church Home.
Dining at ECH can be whatever the resident wants it to be. If they prefer a casual meal in their room or a fine dining experience in Canterbury Court; we make it happen. I routinely eat here and can attest that the food is excellent. Everything I have eaten here rivals the quality of anything you would order at a fine restaurant.
Q: Do residents leave campus often? If so, what for? And what transportation options are available to them?
CHRIS: Yes, the Life Enrichment and Dudley Square teams schedule frequent off-campus activities. Off-campus trips have included going to the Humane Society to see puppies and kittens, lunch at a local favorite restaurant, tea at a historic mansion, and viewing Christmas lights in the underground cavern below the city. Residents at ECH stay busy on and off-campus.
Q: Do service staff (i.e., housekeepers, bus drivers, servers, etc.) have much interaction with residents?
CHRIS: Absolutely. Second to Resident Assistants, Housekeepers spend the second most amount of time with residents of frontline staff.
The old adage “It takes a village…” is so true. It truly takes every team member working together towards the same goal for ECH to achieve the highest quality of care for our residents and our families. We lost a long-time resident a few days ago, and her family was so thankful not only for the love, care, and compassion shown to their loved one but to the entire family that was gathered for her passing. The Resident’s daughter, a Nurse Practitioner, stated she had never experienced love, care, and compassion in a healthcare setting like she experienced here.
Q: What do you like most about being the Assistant Administrator at the Episcopal Church Home?
CHRIS: Well, first let me say, I love everything about ECH. But, specifically related to my role, I love the folks who I am blessed to work with. I really do not refer to us as a team. We are so much more than that. The selfless love, care, and compassion this group of professionals exhibits daily is beyond words. The way we rally together when faced with adversity, the simple ways we show our genuine affection for each other and the ways we strive to improve the lives of all those we are entrusted to care for is truly a gift from The Creator.
If you’re interested in learning more about life at the Episcopal Church Home, we’d like to have you visit. You can schedule a tour by calling our Director of Community Relations, Joanie Lepping Gillis, at (502) 736-7816. To learn more about Joanie, as you did in this interview with Chris, be sure to check out our interview with her too!