Posted: July 31, 2020
Chris Miller, Executive Director of Clermont Park was recently featured in Morrison Living’s publication, “No Better Place to Be: The Faces of Senior Living.” The book asks the question, “What Does a Hero Look Like?” Chris has first-hand knowledge working with heroes every day at Clermont Park. Here is the article he wrote:
The pandemic has thrown a new kind of challenge to everyone involved in senior living. Beyond the need to respond to the immediate issues posed by COVID-19, we’re challenged to adjust our path in ways that continue to serve the long-term needs of our residents. So what are we learning – and where will this lead?
Protecting our residents’ emotional and physical well-being as they age requires that we provide our seniors with an empowering environment where residents have purpose, connection and autonomy. Clermont is an Eden Alternative community, so we place the highest value on maintaining a culture that allows everyone to participate and fully engage – as they choose. But our normal collaboration with them during this emergency has not been occurring. We’ve had to mandate restrictions on our residents who are accustomed to having a lot of input on their community and culture. Imposing these kinds of restrictions has been, for me, the hardest thing of all.
Strong relationships have been the key to navigating this time well. The relationship we have with the dining team gave us confidence to make these decisions, knowing they’d make the best of the situation. With open communication, we felt ready to act fast and take risks as we figured out wise next steps. I think our shared trust actually empowered our dining leaders to be more creative than ever. They’ve supported not just the residents’ dietary needs, but also helped ward off anxiety and depression by dreaming up all kinds of surprises. Our residents have been in the best place they could possibly be. They’ve been sheltered and cared for and very often delighted by a creative, tireless team.
Looking ahead, I have no doubt that senior living will be better for this. After immunities have been built, vaccines delivered and crisis plans updated, we’ll have new sensibilities about relationships, trust and the value of a hug or handshake. These will be the ingredients we bring to the table as we balance safety and independence, envisioning enduring models for supporting our elders in the future. This is a team forever changed and ready to work with our seniors to get back to the business of designing for the future.
Chris Miller, JD, NHA is the Executive Director at Clermont Park Life Plan Community, a neighborhood of Christian Living Communities. A graduate of Campbell University in North Carolina and Whittier Law School in Los Angeles, Chris worked in Christian ministry and practiced law before beginning his final career being a leader of senior living communities.