In this special episode of Senior Living LIVE! we're talking about working in senior living. Join us as Edwin talks about his career from being a nurse to an executive director. Watch below or read the transcript of our conversation.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments, and we will be sure to answer them.
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Chris: Welcome to "Senior Living LIVE!" My name is Chris, I am your host. And I am joined today by Edwin. How you doing today, Edwin?
Edwin: I'm doing great, Chris. How about yourself?
Chris: I'm doing great. It's so good to have you on the show. So, you know, we're doing this series of episodes around the different roles, the different positions that people have at the Arbor Company. And it's very similar to other senior living. So we kind of look at this as, you know, twofold. Number one, it's an education resource for families and potential residents because, you know, you may be interested in the types of positions, you know, what different people do who work in the communities, but then also from a recruitment standpoint. So we wanna hire the best people that we can at the Arbor Company, like Edwin. And we wanna be able to bring them in, work in our communities and we feel like this could be a good way to share a little bit about what it's like to work with the Arbor Company. So I'm gonna talk to Edwin today about what it is you do. And he has a pretty unique...I guess, not a totally unique career path but it's kind of unique for us, I think. And I think it's pretty exciting. And I think you'll think that as well. And, by the way, if you're interested in working at the Arbor Company, just head over to arborcareers.com and you can find out more about working at the Arbor Company in our communities and see a list of open positions. So let's get started a little bit, Edwin. I'd like to talk about your career. So you are a nurse, right?
Edwin: I am a nurse.
Chris: Okay. And what type of nurse are you?
Edwin: I'm a licensed practical nurse, an LPN.
Chris: Okay. And so, just if you could, just tell me the story about how you got into being a nurse and then into senior living.
Edwin: Okay. So I became a nurse early on in my career. I was in senior living, let's say, since high school, I worked as a server for about like a little over a year in senior living. After that, I moved over to our...as a maintenance assistant, and I continued my education through high school. And then, as soon as I got out of college, I went directly into nursing school. And while I was in nursing school, I went to school to become a CNA so I can continue my education to get more into the healthcare realm in senior living.
Chris: And then, so once you got into that... Well, let's talk a little bit at the beginning. So you've been in senior living for a long time now and you've kind of done a lot of different roles, what kept you in this industry, in this position?
Edwin: I've been in senior living, let's say, for about 13 years in different roles. What kept me in this industry was the passion and just the deep connections that I was building with all our residents in our different communities, and just getting to know their life story and their history, and what they've been through in life.
Chris: Yeah, I mean, and we hear that so many times from people, it's about the deep connections. I mean, that's the language that we use here. But it's about getting to know people and learning their histories, and then being able to help them to live the best life that they wanna live. So thank you so much for doing that. So you were a nurse or you were in the resident care director position, and so now, you're an executive director. So tell me a little bit about what that transition was like.
Edwin: So transitioning from a resident care director to an executive director role has been something life-changing for me. It's something that I've inspired to be, an executive director, throughout my career. I know it's just been a passion to be able to lead a team, lead a community to excellence and being able to just build those deep connections, not just with my nursing team, my residents in our community, but with all departments and all department head leaders.
Chris: And in that leadership role of, you know, everyone in the community, you know, you have a busy day, there's a lot of things going on. So tell us a little bit about what, you know, a typical day is like as an executive director in the community.
Edwin: A typical day in a senior living community as an executive director, every day is a little bit different. There's never, let's say, a typical day that I would say...every day is interesting. You learn something new every day in your community, not just with your residents, families, co-workers, co-team members, partners...it's something that's very exciting because it's ever-changing.
Chris: And so, I guess, I asked the question wrong because I said, "What is a typical day like?" And you said, "Well, there's not really a typical day." That's a fantastic answer. So I'd like to talk a little bit about your role as the resident care director and then transitioning to an executive director. What has that meant for your career?
Edwin: Transitioning from a resident care director to an ED, has been something that, like I mentioned, I've been inspired to be an executive director. But as a resident care director, it's having those interactions with our residents, our families, like I was mentioning before, you get to know their life story.
Chris: And you feel like in that executive director role, you're able to get closer to residents that way and families or is it, like, maybe just different?
Edwin: It's been a little bit different because it's pulling myself out of, let's say, just being in the healthcare, the day-to-day operations of healthcare, but being in the day-to-day operations of the whole community.
Chris: Okay. And what's been most surprising about that transition and that role for you as an executive director?
Edwin: I think the most surprising has been just being able to...
Chris: And I don't wanna put you on the spot. But, you know, like, I think, we have talked to people before and they're like, "It was so surprising that I, you know... Well, I would say, like, you know, I thought that...I didn't know anything about maintenance and now I know about maintenance, and it's so cool." But you've worked in maintenance and you've worked in timing, and you've worked everywhere. So, I guess, what department have you not worked in, activities, maybe, engagement?
Edwin: Haven't worked in activities and engagement. But let's say through being a resident care director and executive director, we do these engagement activities throughout our...let's say, throughout the month, throughout the week with our residents and our staff. So that's been able to...let's say, I've been able to get into that realm a little bit more.
Chris: Okay. So let's think about other people and, you know, the other places that you've worked. You know, there could be people watching this who work at other senior living communities, or maybe you're interested... You worked for other companies prior to Arbor.
Edwin: I have. I've worked in other companies prior to Arbor.
Chris: Okay. And so what was it like working at these other companies compared to working at the Arbor Company?
Edwin: The difference from working with our company and other senior living communities has been... I think, it's more of the deep connections, not being just a number and being able to just have that support from your corporate leadership team, that whenever you need anything, need any type of support, you can always reach out to your corporate leadership team and they'll respond. They listen, they respond and they've been able to, personally, myself, change my life for the better, not just personally, but as a professional as well.
Chris: Well, that's a big...I guess those are big shoes to live up to as, you know, changing people's lives for the better, that's great. So as the executive director, then you have the ability to change people's lives and hiring them into roles. What advice do you have for someone who may be looking at coming into senior living? And if you were gonna be hiring them, what would you look for?
Edwin: The one thing that I do look for, for anyone that I'm gonna hire, is to have their heart in the right place and, let's say, have a great outlook on the senior living and being able to... I don't look for, let's say, years of experience or being a master in, let's say, nursing. I just look for someone to have the right heart and for them to be in the right place and have a passion for seniors.
Chris: It really is about the heart, right?
Chris: Okay. So, finally, I wanna ask you one final question. I try to do this whenever we have different staff members and folks in but we all have stories to share. And so do you have an inspiring or, you know, funny or some kind of story with a resident or a family that you'd like to share with us today?
Edwin: I do have a story, it's been very inspiring for me. I have a resident that...she is really religious, she has a support group in our community that she runs on a weekly basis. I typically will attend those support groups with her. It's just been very inspiring and touching for me. And she's been able to just inspire me and tell me that I will continue to grow as an individual, as a person, as a professional. And she just makes my day in our resident stay a little bit more, let's say, exciting and happy. That's just a great outlook that she has in life.
Chris: You know, it's funny how, you know, you're inspired all day long, every day by all of these residents and their stories and everything, but there's always just sort of one who kind of, you know, just hits your heart in a different way. And it's always fun to hear those stories. So, thanks, Edwin. So Edwin, to recap, has worked in, let me see if I get this right, dining, maintenance, nursing and care, and now as an executive director. Did I miss one?
Edwin: No. You actually had it all right.
Chris: Okay, good, got a good memory. And so, you know, that could be you. If you are interested in working in senior living, I would recommend you look at Edwin's story as a bit of inspiration because he, you know, kind of got into it. You probably didn't expect it to be your long-term career.
Edwin: I didn't.
Chris: And, you know, and here he is, and now it is a long-term career, and we hope that you'll stay with us for a long time. And so if you're interested in those types of jobs, you can find out more information at arborcareers.com and you can find more interviews that we have like this. If you're interested in "Senior Living LIVE!," the show that you're watching, you can find out more information there at seniorlivinglive.com. But with that, I'm Chris and this is Edwin, and we'll see you next time. Bye-bye.