Marjorie P. Lee’s new social services coordinator is Katrina Traylor, who is already familiar to many residents and families because she has worked at the continuing care retirement community (CCRC) for about five years, most recently as an administrative and volunteer services manager.
She is valued as a leader and recently was chosen to co-chair the Young Professionals affinity group at Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS) to help provide mentoring opportunities for other younger colleagues across the organization.
We recently sat down with Katrina for a Question & Answer interview. She told us about her new job position, the amount of care that team members put into working with Marjorie P. Lee residents, and why she enjoys working with older adults.
Tell us about your career path.
I’ve actually worked in aging services for seven years in total. Before coming here, I worked in activities for a different retirement community for about two years. I had a friend who got a job here, and she recommended me for the administrative and volunteer services coordinator role. I really liked that, but I quickly realized that I missed having that interaction with the residents because I was going from activities – being with the residents all day, every day – and then I went to an administrative position where I didn’t have that anymore, because I was running the office, and I was dealing more with paperwork.
Then I told my supervisor that I missed interacting with the residents. How can I be more involved with them? So she put me on some projects, such as the ‘My Margie tablets,’ and she helped me become a SAIDO Learning® lead supporter to help me get more purposeful interaction with the residents. I could stop and talk with them before – nobody stopped me from doing that. And then, I realized that many residents were coming to me and asking me for more help than I could provide because I did not have the skills and I did not have the knowledge to help them with their challenges. And I wanted to be able to do that. That's when I started exploring getting my master’s degree in social work, which I started about a year and a half ago at Northern Kentucky University. And I have about a year and a half left in that program. Then I will become a licensed social worker.
What is it about older adults that drew you to work in this field?
Definitely the stories they have, and also the appreciation of older adults. They’re very appreciative when you help them. Unlike working with children or in programs that people don’t necessarily want to be in, older adults need the help, and they understand that they need the help. And they’re very appreciative when you’re able to give that to them. That’s all I’ve experienced here. I see them in the hall, and we’ll stop and talk about their lives, their families. They ask me how my school is going, and we ask each other about our families. So it’s very nice. It’s not like you’re coming in, doing your job, and going home. It feels more connected when you’re working with older adults.
I’m an only child, and I didn’t really have any other children that I grew up with. So I’ve always been around adults.
What does your job entail?
The biggest part is connecting residents and their families to resources, whether it’s within the building or outside of our community if need be. We have a lot of services in-house, though. We’re fortunate here at Marjorie P. Lee to have all levels of care. So it’s nice that people can transition as they need without having to leave. So that’s important.
I connect them with therapy right here in our building if they need therapy services. I have outside providers who come in, such as podiatrists or dentists, that come in to see people. I connect them with that if they need it. I can help them if they need to connect with hospice if it comes to the end of life, with home health aides, if they need a companion or a private duty. We all work together, the nursing staff, Marjorie P. Lee Health Services Administrator Anthony Williams, and I, in getting our residents what they need. That’s ideal because I’m still new to it. So it’s nice to have that collaboration. I’m basically here to support residents and families however they need it.
What’s a typical day like?
My goodness. There really isn’t a typical day. There wasn’t in my last role, either. It was just doing whatever needed to be done to keep things moving along. We have meetings regularly to review the activity on campus, what happened the day before, and what happened over the weekend.
What’s the best thing about this role?
Being with the residents. They’ll come to me with their ideas or questions, and I love sitting down and talking with them and getting to know them. I love that part. And I can’t let this interview end without saying I feel very appreciative of ERS and how supportive they’ve been with me in getting my degree and trusting me to do this job while I’m learning. Anthony has been a very big support for that.
Who has mentored you at ERS and helped you meet your career goals?
Anthony. I had been toying with returning to school and getting my master’s degree. He likes to have regular meetings with us. He and I have a regular monthly meeting where we check in. At that first meeting, I mentioned I was thinking about that, and he said, ‘However I can support you, I will do that,’ and he has not failed. So I feel very grateful for that. I’ll start my fieldwork soon because I have to get 900 hours of fieldwork for my degree. So I’ll be working with Shannon Braun (director of ERS’s Center for Memory Support and Inclusion).
Next year I’ll be working with Jenni Miller-Francis (director of resident and health services) in Affordable Living. They’re both social workers, and they have told me that their door is always open if I need anything or have any questions. Jewel Porter, our social worker at Marjorie P. Lee, has been great to bounce ideas off of and ask questions. I have signed on as a co-chair of the Young Professionals affinity group, but with my recent promotion, we have not met yet, but it is a goal for 2023.
ERS’s core values are relationships, integrity, engagement, inclusion, person-centeredness, and progressive thinking. Which of those core values speaks most to you?
Relationships, definitely. I enjoy my time getting to know the residents. Person-centeredness also, because, as I said before, I think about what I would do if it were my family member – if it was my mom or my grandmother that I was helping. You want to take their interests and desires – they’re the most important thing, so you want to see how you can meet that while also ensuring that they’re healthy and safe. Integrity, I try to do that every day, do what needs to be done, honestly. And I try to be trustworthy.
Katrina Traylor, left, with Ann Hunter and Joanie Thomas, two volunteers at the Corner Store.
I’ve probably already said it, but I feel very fortunate to be at ERS and at Marjorie P. Lee. This is my first social-work role, and I don’t think I could have asked for a better first experience or first role in just how supported I’ve been and that I’ve been here for five years. So I went into this role knowing the residents and knowing the families – granted, not in a social-work aspect. But I’d already helped them with things, so it was a smoother transition than it could have been if I was coming in cold turkey, not knowing anything. I didn’t have to learn a whole new organization – I just had to learn a new role. And I’m grateful they trust me to do this because I love it and I’m very happy. I feel like the last two months of this role have not been easy because I’m learning a new role. But I’ve loved every minute of it and getting to do what I love to do.
I don’t know everyone that works here at Marjorie P. Lee. But all of the people I know really care about what they’re doing, and they care about the residents. I would always recommend living here because you’re going to get great care, and you’re going to be interacting with people who – from team members working in the dining room to the nurses who are caring for you every day – all want what’s best for you, and for your loved one. And they do it out of compassion. So I think that’s wonderful.
What drives that? What’s the differentiator in our workplace?I think it’s top-down. In other places, you don’t have – I’ve said this before – a CEO (and president, Laura Lamb) who knows your name, and stops by, and asks how you’re doing, or sends you a card, or takes that time to get to know you, even though you know, she’s probably got five minutes for herself because of all that she’s doing. I think that definitely spreads when you’ve got an administration that loves what they do and has experience in retirement communities and aging services. When they care, it gets passed along. You care. So I think that’s why, and I think we do a great job of that here.
The continuum of care at Marjorie P. Lee
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