Interview With Life Enrichment Director Isabella Dean


Throughout June, communities are hosting open houses – see highlights from May’s events, and contact the community nearest you to learn about their event for June!

At Prestige Senior Living, residents enjoy creative, varied activity calendars that help bring joy and camaraderie to our communities.

From fashion shows to live music to Wii bowling, there’s always something fun happening for residents to enjoy; it’s why we like to say we’re Not Your Grandma’s Nursing Home.

Making that fun happen at each community is the Life Enrichment Director (LED). In this blog we’re interviewing Isabella Dean, the LED at Prestige Senior Living Huntington Terrace. Isabella started working in senior living right out of high school as a caregiver and went on to work in a variety of positions as she grew her career. After a few years at a different company, she’s now been with Prestige for three years and as the LED, oversees all the events and activities for the residents.  

What do you enjoy about working with older adults?

Isabella Dean: “I love learning about their stories. Something for me that I really take passion in with our residents is making sure they don’t feel forgotten… I really enjoy making a difference, and helping them come out of their shell is one of my favorite things. Seeing who they are from day one of move-in to 30 days later, 60 days later, 90 days later, being able to be a part of that transition and part of their life.”

How do you go about creating the monthly activity calendars?

“So obviously we have our staples, so we have bingo, exercise, happy hour, dog therapy. Something for me that I really love is I look at all of the national holidays for that month and I love to pair the national holidays with the activities… When doing my calendar, I also, a few days before I start working on it, meet with our residents in an activity planning meeting and I let them choose what they want to do. We go over the activities we’ve done for that month, what they’ve enjoyed, what they haven’t enjoyed, things they want to do for the next month.”

What are a couple of the most popular activities that you run at the community?

“One that has become really popular that I started doing is each month we do a staff versus management activity. So for National Whipped Cream Day in January, they got to use their Huntington bucks that they get for coming to activities and they got to throw a whipped cream pie in a manager’s face. We also have a dunk tank in the summer, and we have beanbag baseball. And it’s really just a time for them to spend time together and see them outside of the healthcare setting and get to know their personalities.”

How do balance scheduling popular activities and incorporating new ones to keep it fresh?

“It’s definitely a challenge sometimes because we have so many different ages here. We have residents from 102 to 65, so I really try to make sure they’re being heard and have activities for each. So our younger group, they like to go on outings, but also making sure that maybe our people that can’t ambulate very well, or those with cognitive challenges, we take them out on a bus ride for a country drive, taking them up to the mountain, things like that.”

Along with different levels of ability, you also have lots of different personalities, from extroverts to introverts. How do you make sure to serve everyone in that regard?

“I personally take pride in getting our residents out of their rooms. It’s a challenge that I’ve always loved to do ever since I was a caregiver. I think it’s such an important part of life. I feel like just getting to know them is a huge thing and knowing what’s going to get them out and how you phrase it to them.

As a caregiver for example, you’re not just going to go in to help give them a shower and say, ‘Hey, do you want to take a shower?’ They’re going to say, ‘Heck no, I’m ready for the day. I’m warm.’ You’re going to go in and say, ‘Hey, I had some extra time and I know you were saying the other day that your bones are really hurting. So I was thinking, let’s get you in a hot shower. Let’s get you lotioned up and dressed and get you some hot cocoa, or go outside.’

It’s all about how you present it to them when they’re in their rooms. And that’s something that I’ve always taught our caregivers when we have our new resident orientation is it’s always how you present it to them because they’re sitting in the chair, they probably don’t want to come exercise. Heck no, you’re going to draw a picture for them is what I always say. You’re going to create a scene for them to see.”

Is there a resident you can tell us about who you consider a success story? Where maybe at first they were reluctant to take part in activities, but came to really enjoy them?

“I was doing a new resident assessment and this lady had come from a different building and said, ‘I never did activities there. I am never going to do activities here. I just want to sit in my room and drink my wine, don’t even try.’ So getting to know her and within, I mean 30 to 60 days, she was coming to activities, she was coming to Bingo, I got to know her and made her feel safe and made her feel like she’s part of the community and part of the family.”

For more about life enrichment at Prestige, contact the community nearest you.