I know we have spoken a few times and I may have already shared a compliment or two or three about Allyson Katz. I find myself compelled to write so that everyone both locally and at your corporate office know how fantastic Allyson is and how essential she has been in helping my parents make a successful transition to assisted living.
I find it appropriate to start at the beginning. I began talking with my parents about moving to assisted living in late 2019. They finally agreed to look at a property in January 2020. They thought the property was ok and they had many reservations about giving up a good amount of their independence. Before COVID-19 hit the fan and based on a recommendation, they visited your facility in Parkland. They raved about the property and, of course, Rita Armstrong is fabulous! They began to get more comfortable with the idea after seeing the numerous options available to them for food and activities. My dad was the most apprehensive, but he knew he needed more help with my mom.
They finally settled into the Inn at Aston Gardens mid-August of this year. It was obvious from the start that Allyson was playing a big role in helping them acclimate. She, and Kathy, brought my mom into scheduled activities and made her feel so welcome. Allyson is always smiling and cheerful. I realize this is her job. That said, she does so much more. My mom’s short-term memory is fading and between her memory and her mood swings she can be difficult at times. Allyson has shared with me that my mom fits right in with the other ladies and no one even notices her repeating. Hearing firsthand how she is doing gives me an incredible amount of peace of mind.
When I talk with my parents now, they are so glad they made the move. They feel their experience is much more than they could have anticipated. The reservations they had are gone. As I mentioned before, my dad was the most apprehensive. Not only were they leaving their own home, they gave up their car as well. There are things she has helped him accomplish that go well beyond her day-to-day responsibilities. For example, my parents at one time asked for her help to get someone a special tiramisu cake for their birthday. I had brought one in for my dads’ birthday and they really wanted to get one for a friend they had met at Aston Gardens. Allyson talked to the chef and had something made for them. I know these things may sound small. They make a huge difference in people’s lives. Because of Allyson’s attitude and approach to what she does my mom has made friends and spends time with them away from my father. My mom is aware of her memory issues and tends to stick to my father’s side. For my dad to get an hour or two a day alone to have a mental break is fantastic.
If Allyson is not in the middle of an activity, she welcomes me when she sees me come in. She tells me stories about my parents and their experiences. She has even emailed me pictures of them a few times. I cannot express enough how knowing my parents are happy gives me great peace of mind. I have wondered if I pushed them into assisted living too soon or if I should have found a way to let them stay in their home longer. From what I have seen at your facility and their own experience, I can honestly say it was the right decision for them and the right place for them to be.
I try to visit my parents as often as possible, so I get to see a good amount of different people during the day. All the people I have met coming and going from their apartment have been friendly, smiling, and interact with us (my mother cannot let anyone come and go without the –Have you met my daughter speech). No matter how many times they have heard it they acknowledge her and exchange a few words.
The last specific person I would like to acknowledge is Lillian at the front desk. She is another amazing individual. She can juggle multiple tasks like no other. And always with a smile. There is another woman who fills in when she is off and does not even come close to filling Lillian’s shoes. I appreciate someone who can juggle the door, the phone and do everything with the right amount of acknowledgment to the human factor. It is easy to work a door and not take a moment to engage with people. You can see Lillian is all business when she needs to be and still makes you feel like she has acknowledged your presence.
Sue, I know all of this would not happen without the right management. Hiring the right people, providing the right working environment and structure to create an overall culture is a tremendous undertaking. I have been incredibly impressed with my family’s experience and wanted to say thank you to you, Allyson, Lillian, Rita, and everyone who makes that possible.