It only takes a few minutes of conversation before you understand why the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) bestowed their highest honor on Elmcroft Executive Director Donna Hester this spring. The 2015 recipient of the ALFA Leadership Award, Donna is exactly who you would want to care for someone you love as they grow older. The gregarious leader has been with Elmcroft Senior Living for nearly seven years. Her career began as a Community Relations Director. Within the year, she had transitioned in to leading the team at Elmcroft of Sherwood in Arkansas.
Part of Donna’s success as an Executive Director comes from personal experience. She has walked the path families take as they find their way to Elmcroft. While working full-time, she was also a family caregiver for a great-aunt who lived with dementia. She knows how difficult it can be to juggle tasks such as medication management, meal time, and finding reliable in-home caregivers. That experience helps Donna set the tone for her community. It can be described as compassionate care in a supportive, family-oriented environment. “We love our residents every day they are here” explains Donna. Clearly the culture and commitment work. Elmcroft of Sherwood has repeatedly been named the “Best of the Best” by the local Sherwood, Arkansas community.
Donna will tell you her day begins with residents waiting outside of her office for her to arrive. They compliment her on what she’s wearing, ask about her family and are genuinely glad to see her each morning. A feeling she wholeheartedly reciprocates. She knows each of the residents and their stories. Some were judges and teachers, while others picked cotton in the fields. Donna also knows their families and what worries them. Her hands-on approach to resident care gives families peace of mind. They know she is one of many staff members who pay attention to the smallest details. She can tell if a resident’s color looks off, if their ankles look a little swollen or if their behavior has changed a bit. All signs that allow for the early intervention needed to prevent small problems from becoming big ones.
Experienced, successful Executive Directors have many career options. If you ask Donna what keeps her at Elmcroft besides her love for her residents, she will tell you it is company pride. For her, Elmcroft’s forward thinking leadership team helps the company always be on the cutting edge with both technology and services. That means an Executive Director can relax and focus on the matters of the day. Like helping a resident figure out a problem with their new iPhone or enjoying the fact that Elvis is in the building for a special event that afternoon.
Elmcroft Senior Living is dedicated to enriching the lives of the individuals who live and work with us by repsonding to the unique needs and unviversal desire for dignity and respect.