The goal at Camellia Place, a senior living community built in a home-style environment, is to make each resident feel at home, with friends and staff members who care about them.
The emphasis on making each resident feel loved, important and an integral part of life is at the core of the Live WHOLE program, led by Director Chelsey Heinz.
“I am passionate about the residents and their well-being. I aspire to bring purpose to the lives of our residents and create opportunities where they can become involved and engaged in the community,” she said. “I lead programs that encompass the mind, body and soul, to give our residents a meaningful and fulfilling experience.”
Situated on 8 acres, the community resembles a neighborhood of six Southern-style cottages — three devoted to assisted living and three to memory care. Each home has up to 16 residents, who share a living and dining space that opens to a front porch and back patio. The cottages maintain a comfortable, homey feel, with large windows drawing in natural lighting, and gathering spaces. A total of 96 apartments are available for residents living on campus.
The community house, the main hub for programs and events, is an easy stroll from the cottages; the clubhouse has a large gathering room for residents to come together for family events and engaging programs. The design of Live WHOLE promotes community and purpose for all who visit — not just residents.
“Team members, family members and visitors join residents in gatherings on Grandmother’s Park, barbecue cookouts, music, laughter and even some friendly sports team rivalry on football Saturdays,” said Mark Reisman, CEO and founder of Empower Living, which purchased Camellia Place in May 2022. There always is something new and creative to experience, even if it’s just enjoying the simplicity and comfort of a sunset with friends from the front porch.
Active, Meaningful Living
Since Chelsey joined the staff as the Live WHOLE director in December, she has worked diligently to plan meaningful daily programs to help residents avoid isolation, which can lead to a decline in physical and mental health.
“Connectedness is the opposite of isolation. Our Live WHOLE team ensures that, everyday, we address the WHOLE person,” she said. “We get very creative, and communicate with residents, learning about their personal goals and interests.”
If a resident hesitates to participate in group programs, Chelsey makes sure they still can take part somehow. One resident who is an artist was shy about painting in front of others, so Chelsey brought art supplies to her room, where she could continue to enjoy her favorite hobby.
As she serves the residents, Chelsey also spends time networking, and informing local residents and businesses about opportunities to volunteer. Just as she’s trying to bring the community to the residents, she’s working to take them out on adventures, starting with reinstating pre-COVID-19 outings, such as trips to nearby restaurants for lunch.
“The Live WHOLE program is successful because our entire team at Camellia Place is dedicated to bringing the program to life,” she said. “It takes all of us working here to make sure everything happens. We are continually learning from residents and teaching others.”
On a recent visit, Mark said he met a resident who, for the first time since she’s been part of Camellia Place, came out of her room, participating with a smile on her face. The program itself is individualized and, at the same time, addresses the community as a whole.
Mark is part of a team from Empower that has more than 30 years of experience in senior-living management. In addition to him, Rose Saenz is Empower’s president and chief operating officer, and Kiley Webb is on-site as Camellia Place’s executive director. The health services director is Mabel Libosada, RN, and Kristin Lowery is the community liaison.
Chelsey said the help of her co-workers is invaluable.
“We’re giving (the residents) the tools they need to join the programs, feel confident and be a part of the community. Stimulating your mind is so important,” she said. “We want our residents to constantly gain something, whether it’s happiness, knowledge, a new skill, a new friend. We’re proud of the program that’s unfolding.”
Live WHOLE Program Director Chelsey Heinz builds a full schedule each month, incorporating residents, family members, community businesses and civic groups. Here are a few examples:
- To celebrate National Thank a Mail Carrier Day in February, residents made care packages to give to UPS, USPS and FedEx employees who make frequent stops at Camellia Place.
- There was a packed house for a Valentine’s Day Celebration attended by residents and their family members. It especially was sweet for Linda, a resident who was crowned Camellia Place Valentine Queen and shared the moment with family members, including her great-grandson.
- Members of the Art Club meet routinely and contribute decorations for special events.
- St. Patrick’s Day festivities included a performance by cloggers from PowerTaps.
- The Sixes Garden Club made themed table decorations for residents to keep and use for their St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
- Every Friday, residents gather for happy hour and enjoy live entertainment.
- Everyone was a winner and enjoyed lots of laughs when Trinity Hospice held a riveting game of “The Price Is Right.”
Nancy Ancitano says
So proud of you, Chelsey Heinz! You seem like the perfect fit for this group! Keep up the good work.