From the Experts, Finding Life Harmony in Senior Living James Lee, Executive Director Specialist, Sagora Senior Living
Executive Director Specialist at Sagora Senior Living, James Lee, recently sat down with Bridge the Gap podcast’s Lucas McMurdy and Josh Crisp at the 2019 Argentum Conference in San Antonio, Texas. James shares how leaders in the senior living industry can find life harmony while also helping their communities be the best they can be for both associates and residents. Check out highlights from his interview below!
Q: How did you get started in senior living?
A: I’ve been in senior living for over 10 years now. I found it at a time when I was really at a crossroads. I was living in Austin and applying to law school when I decided I needed to find some form of work. I went online and found a position at a senior living community right across from where I lived. Being in college student money saving mode, the idea of walking to work greatly appealed to me so I took a position at the community as a front desk concierge.
As the weeks went on, I found that I began to really fall in love with this job. I looked forward to every shift where I got to spend time and build relationships with the associates and the residents. It felt right. I felt like I found a great purpose. I decided to leave the idea of law school behind and dive head first into senior living.
Even after all this time, I never have a bad day. I have tough days, but I never have a bad day at work.
Q: How do you find work/life harmony?
A: I’ve really learned and subscribed to the idea not of work/life harmony but of life harmony. All of the things that you do in your life – whether it’s work, friendships, volunteering – if those things are in harmony, you’re never needing to negotiate time between passions. You’re just living your life.
Every day I get to go to work and I feel purpose in the connections between the managers, associates and residents – that’s harmony.
Q: What are some successful leadership strategies you’ve implemented?
A: At the heart of our leadership strategies, we have to offer associates something more than just their pay – something that will advance them beyond their role. The way we deliver that is through education. We spend a lot of time on workshops and start with the managers. I focus on my group of managers and think about how I can add additional skill sets to their plate.
Q: How do you think senior living communities can best serve residents?
A: Fundamentally, the question we ask is, “what do seniors need?” We then all work together to find it, package it and get it in front of them. But the real question we need to ask is, “what do we need of our seniors?” When we ask this question, we’re creating services and solutions for them that they care about.
I recently met a resident at 84 years old who was looking for a job but didn’t have a clue how to get started. I realized then, what if the answer to “what do we need from our seniors?” is that we need them to continue to be productive and find purpose.
So then, instead of planning a calendar of activities that we think they might enjoy – what if we cared enough to ask those questions and say, “what do you want?” and let’s do what we can to enable that.
Are you ready to have a challenging career with purpose? Learn more about our Resident First philosophy, search our open positions at Jobs.Sagora.com and discover if Sagora is the right fit for you.