It started with desperation. Livia Thompson joined the Avamere Family of Companies working night shift as a caregiver at Avamere at Bethany. She only meant to be there for a month. But she fell in love with the job and the residents. And now almost 14 years later, Livia is the Senior Life Enrichment Director for the same Avamere community.
A personal experience leads Livia to Avamere
Livia first got interested in the healthcare field when she cared for her husband Larry Thompson’s grandmother, Ethel, for three years.
As a mother of three young children, Livia certainly had her hands full. It was a time of challenge, learning, growth, and of course, good memories.
“I learned how important it is to maintain someone’s dignity and get as close as you can to normality,” she said.
Livia also realized how hard it is to care for someone on your own. She said each day seemed like she was just “winging it.” This experience helped her realize how important it is to have assisted living and memory care so there is a whole team to support seniors in need.
“They need our love, they need our care, and it takes a village,” she said.
Residents are an extension of family
Livia considers the residents as an extension of family. She uses a people-centered approach. She understands what they like and don’t like. She gives them freedom to make their own decisions. She provides the tools they need to achieve their goals.
“It’s our home-like environment that sets us apart from our competitors,” Livia said. “We treat every resident like they are one of ours – this is their home.”
Livia has a personal connection with many of the residents. One of these residents, Clarice, is a former teacher living in an independent cottage at 97 years old.
“She’s an amazing and intelligent woman,” Livia said. “I consider her my friend.”
Clarice is the Resident Council President, a group where residents share their ideas, address resident concerns, and advocate for change.
“She will step up with I’m not available,” Livia said. “Residents like taking guidance from her.”
Just as Livia has formed a personal connection with Clarice, she also enjoys getting to know her residents and their unique life stories.
“I’ve worked with people over the years who have amazing history,” Livia said.
One past resident received an Oscar from Gene Wilder, and another colored film for work. Another resident was the “salt of the earth” and worked the land.
“They all have amazing stories,” Livia said, “and getting to know them is one of the blessings of my job. I thrive after their interactions.”
The Thompson family is part of the Avamere family
Since Livia considers her residents family, it is only fitting that her children would get to know the residents too. Livia’s three daughters were just children when Livia started with Avamere, now Serena is 24, Kendra is 18, and Maya is 16. They have grown up with Avamere – with the residents.
“They have a respect for seniors, and they help no matter what it is.”
Her daughters have helped in many ways, from mopping the floor to hiding Easter eggs. Serena even worked for Avamere for a while as a server.
Creating fun for the community
Livia packs the activities calendar with activities to engage the residents. There’s truly something for everyone. The activities must meet key points according to state regulation: sense of purpose, spiritual needs, physically fit, intellectually fit, socialize, and succeeding at something.
Avamere at Bethany residents enjoy games, educational presentations, musical performances, exercise classes, outings, and so much more.
Volunteers from local churches give sermons each Sunday. One of their services is called Hymns and Hope, a sermon by a local church where residents learn and sing.
One of their upcoming activities is a presentation about the Pittock Mansion, a historical mansion in Portland, Oregon, followed by a trip to the mansion the next day.
Helping outside her community
Livia does so much for her community, but she shares her expertise with other Avamere communities too by training new life enrichment directors.
She assists the new hire with best practices, policies, and regulations for state activities. Livia teaches the director how to create a calendar with activities that hit all the required points.
“I love to help people feel empowered,” Livia said. “I also love meeting people who are like-minded. We want to make people’s lives better – to enhance their quality of life and give them something to look forward to every day.”
Livia’s true love for her job
One of Livia’s favorite part of being the Life Enrichment Director is teaching the residents something new.
“I feel blessed to have this job and to love my job,” Livia said. I ask myself if I will ever get tired of walking in the doors of my community because I’ve been here so long, and I never do. Every day is different.”
Editor’s note: The resident’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.