O’Connor talks about new Victory Centre
Updated: July 29, 2012 6:13AM
For today’s edition of our series “Have you met?” I’d like to introduce you to Pat O’Connor, regional director of sales and marketing for Pathway Senior Living, a company that specializes in senior living projects -- including the new Victory Centre of Vernon Hills.
Pat has a long history in senior housing and has served in many capacities during her 15 years in the field. Here is our cyber-conversation.
Q: What is the current status of the Victory Centre?
A: Fifty-seven residents now reside in the Senior Apartment building and 54 in the Supportive Living. We have many more apartments on hold with scheduled move-in dates, and applications that are in process with our Compliance Dept. The landscaping and driveway sealing, along with other exterior projects, are still underway and scheduled to be complete in time for our Grand Opening Celebration June 28 from 2-6 p.m.
Q: Having moved both my mother and my mother-in-law into Victory Centre recently, I’ve seen firsthand that Pathways personnel are experts at multi-tasking. Does a person need special training to prepare for all the demands this type of job entails?
A: This type of job requires Property Managers/Sales Managers who are committed to serving seniors, who are patient, empathetic and extremely organized. It’s a combination of aggressively “selling and marketing” the community, being a good listener and overcoming objections, while helping navigate the application and processing. In addition, we must help seniors and their families through a transition and move that can be stressful and emotional but also exciting and rewarding, all at the same time. The Property Manager also has to process the applications, unlike the Sales Manager in the Supportive Living community, so a background in Property Management and/or Tax Credit and Compliance is ideal.
Q: For many retirees, this type of move can be quite emotional, at least in the beginning. What do you think is the best part of living in a project like Victory Centre, especially for those who may be reluctant due to the often negative perception of senior residential facilities?
A: One of the best and most rewarding aspects of moving a senior into a community like ours is seeing them make new friends, try new activities and hobbies, take new trips and outings, and have new friends to dine with. One of the downsides to living alone is the cognitive decline that often occurs due to a lack of socialization and conversation. Many of our seniors have been living alone for a long time, with few opportunities to have contact with friends on a daily basis.
When they come to us, many of them have stopped cooking because eating alone is not very enjoyable. Their nutrition, hydration and overall health usually improves dramatically once they live in a community. We are able to overcome most fears and perceptions when we get a senior into our building for a tour. The building is so beautiful, inviting, clean and welcoming, as are the staff and current residents. Once they visit, they fall in love with the building and it’s a lot easier to explain to them the safety, security and socialization benefits. It can also help some who have doubts if we schedule a time for them to talk one-on-one with a current resident. They often open their apartments to new prospects and talk about how happy they are now that they here at VC. This is very beneficial because it’s coming from one of their peers and not a staff member.
Q: Once all residents are moved in, what activities might be offered to enhance their VC experience?
A: The Senior Apartment residents will plan their own activities, games, parties, socials etc and will take the lead in this. In the SLF, we have a Community Life Manager whose responsibility is to enhance the quality of life for our residents by insuring our award-winning VIVA! Programs are a part of their daily living.
The CLM plans activities, outings, entertainment, exercise and other classes, and transportation for the SL residents. She is the one responsible for creating, implementing and overseeing the programs and monthly calendar. Pathway has won two international awards for its activity programming for seniors and we are always looking to offer new, enriching opportunities for our residents to enjoy.
Send email to Pat Lenhoff at: email@example.com