Meet the Executive Director for Vibrant Life’s facility for assisted living in Temperance, Michigan, Catherine Reese.
Catie has worked for Vibrant Life since 2016 when she was first hired as a staffing coordinator. Her experience and hard work quickly earned her a promotion to Human Resource Manager and then in 2018 she became the facility’s Executive Director.
Catie is also the Regional Director for Vibrant Life and meets regularly with the executive directors of our other communities, The Lodge of Durand, Superior Township (Ann Arbor), and New Friends in Kalamazoo.
Normally should would regularly visit each facility, but due to Covid-19 these meetings are now being held over Zoom.
In addition to her work experience, Catie is involved with The Michigan Center for Assisted Living (MCAL) which is a division of the Health Care Association of Michigan (HCAM). Catie completed their CALD program in October 2019 and is a Certified Assisted Living Director.
When asked why she chose the field of senior care, Catie said, “I really like working with seniors because I like to advocate for them. I want to ensure they have their rights, are treated fairly, and most of all I want them to be happy.”
Catie is a big believer in knowing your “why” for what you do. She regularly asks her staff what their “why” is. “My why is that I lost my dad and grandma in hospice. I felt like they weren’t treated fairly. I want to make a difference and be an example. When you find your why you work more passionately.”
When Catie isn’t working she enjoys painting and kayak fishing with her husband and two children. They recently moved from Monroe to Adrian and live on 2.5 acres with their two dogs and a cat.
A Day in the Life of Assisted Living in Temperance, Michigan
As Executive Director, Catie starts each day visiting with the residents. She inquires about their health and if they had any problems during the night. She stays updated daily with how each one is feeling . Then she meets with her staff and department heads. Catie’s duties also include communicating regularly and often with the families of residents.
“My main goal is to ensure families feel comfortable during this time and that they know they can ask questions.”
Daily operations also include budgets, project management, and providing direction and support to each department.
How has your job changed due to Covid-19?
As you can imagine, all four Vibrant Life Communities have been on the frontlines of combatting Covid-19. Catie shared what they are doing and how life has changed in assisted living in Temperance.
“The biggest changes are that residents are isolated to their rooms. They eat in their room and do activities in their rooms. We are keeping everyone separate. The staff all wear masks and we are not allowing any visitors. We do have window visits.”
As with all the Vibrant Life locations, the only visitors that are allowed are family members of residents who are in the process of passing on. In this situation we take every precaution possible and everyone involved is fully gowned and wear masks.
Each staff member is assigned to a specific building and no one is going between buildings. The staff are working with residents in their rooms to keep them physically and mental busy. This includes chair exercises, games, and activities.
“I think the hardest thing for the staff and residents is not being able to socialize in a group setting. Not having them out in the common areas is a challenge. And of course, no communal dining and visits with families.” Catie admits.
They have been utilizing phone and video calls and allow window visits with the windows closed.
“It is going really well with Zoom and in some cases families are communicating a lot more than they did before the lock down. We also moved some of the residents’ rooms around to provide for better isolation. They like their new rooms and it has perked them up a bit.”
A New Challenge in Memory Care
A new challenge during this time is felt deepest with the memory care residents. Because staff are required to wear masks at all times, many residents have a hard time recognizing them. It is also impossible to read lips, as many residents who are hard of hearing rely on this ability.
“We are going to start putting pictures of the staff on their gowns so the residents can see who they are talking to. I think this will help a lot,” Catie explained. The have also been decorating their gowns and keeping things colorful as a way to entertain and cheer up the residents and each other.
With the warmer weather the staff have been taking individual residents outside from time to time. They sanitize the porches between each visit.
When asked if the current Covid-19 protocol will inspire permanent changes in operations, Catie had this to say, “We will definitely keep a bigger supply of PPE items in stock. We will also be more cautious of how many people are in groups and will adjust our activities to smaller groups.”
The silver lining in this difficult time is the outpouring of support from the residents’ families and from many vendors and suppliers. Many have provided food for the staff and emotional support as well. The dining staff have been taking requests and making many favorite family recipes.
Catie lined the driveway with signs to encourage her staff to keep up the great work.
“I really appreciate the residents and the staff and am extremely blessed to work here. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.” Catie Reese, Executive Director, Vibrant Life Assisted Living in Temperance, Michigan.
Would You Like More Information?
Vibrant Life is providing Virtual Tours of all 4 of our locations. If you or a loved one is in need of assisted living, senior living, or memory care, we can provide the answers and resources to answer your questions.
You can visit our website for information on each community.
We are also updating our site regularly with any new information about coronavirus that is urgent or helpful to our staff, families, residents, and the community in general. You can find that information here.