Capital Senior Living is about family. Our employees are our family. Our residents are our family. Their adult children are our family. It’s that sense of family that makes us different and helps us rise to the top in the senior living industry. While none of us may be related by blood, it’s our passion, our dedication and our loyalty that have bound us since 1990. Whether you are a past, present or future member of our family, we want you to feel like a part of it right now. In the coming weeks, you will meet just a few of the many people who embody our spirit of family. It’s what makes us unique. Discover the difference with Capital Senior Living.
Washing dishes. Making beds. Waiting tables. When it comes to being the best that Sondra Marshall can be, the wife, mother and caregiver will do whatever it takes to make her family members happy — all 124 of them under one roof.
Sondra’s title may read Executive Director of The Waterford at Ironbridge, but she wears many hats as the leader of the Springfield, Missouri senior living community she calls her second home and her husband jocularly teases that they should move into. Her residents freely roam the Independent Living property and lovingly call her by name as if she were their daughter — with an occasional Susan or Sharon thrown in as tiredly parents sometimes do. After all, she is the one they entrust their lives with for three square meals a day, quality care 52 weeks a year, and myriad recreational and social opportunities today, tomorrow and beyond.
“We are working in their home, so it’s important for me to listen, first and foremost, to their needs,” Sondra says. “Everything from what’s being served for dessert to bigger issues that affect their health and mobility are important to seniors. Those are the details we have to hone in on and pay attention to as their providers.”
Sondra takes great pride in providing patience for her seniors, understanding for the adult children she interacts with on a regular basis, support for her staff or loyalty to her employer. Sometimes it’s all of that and more in any one hour. Oftentimes it’s all of that and more in any one day. “I come into work early and try to tackle my have-to-do list first while finding time for the want-to-do list in between.” If that means staying late to attend to a resident or staff member who needs her attention, Sondra graciously complies. If that means answering a phone call on her personal cell phone from an adult child who has questions or concerns about the care of their loved one, Sondra’s ear and heart are always ready.
There are always the necessary duties — budgeting, hiring, managing, and problem-solving — that come with Sondra’s leadership position, one that she grew into over the course of a few years. After seeing an ad in the newspaper about The Waterford recruiting for new jobs, she reached out and was quickly hired as the property’s activities coordinator, designing programs with a goal to enrich the lives of residents by providing an environment that is physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally stimulating. It was a skill she was very familiar with using, only on a much smaller and younger scale. Her employment for 10 years prior focused on pre-school-aged children. When the Executive Director position opened down the road, she knew she’d be a perfect fit for it — and so did her colleagues and company.
Sondra’s appreciation for rising through the ranks transcends to every aspect of the hiring process when she’s searching for her next housekeeper, dining room server, chef, receptionist, coordinator or director. Patience and kindness are the key qualities she seeks. And when she finds them, she believes in retaining quality employees and quickly points out that many of her team members have worked with her for years. “They are such a great group of people.”
She’s even successfully tapped into the college ranks to recruit part-time servers, a job she calls “a good deed and strong experience for young people who might want to see if the senior living field is for them.” One of her many successes was the hiring of her current Activities Director, who started as a server and worked in reception and as a coordinator before earning the leadership role. “There’s nothing better than promoting from within. It’s easy for the residents since they are already familiar with the face and it offers a sense of pride for our employees to know we are watching out for them professionally.”
When focusing on the satisfaction of her residents, all of her other responsibilities — including budgeting — simply fall into place. “Above all, my door is always open, and I encourage anyone to come and talk with me directly. I can’t fix something, solve something, without knowing about it. That’s why I’m here.”
She’s also “here” to help seniors begin a new chapter. “They worked all of their lives for the things they wanted and needed at home. Then they come to The Waterford and end up with a lot fewer things. That has had a huge, humbling impact on me. We have to win them over, let them know they’ve got new friends and new social activities.” She loves watching seniors blossom and get better health-wise once they see the benefits of residing at her Capital Senior Living community.
Before wrapping up each day, Sondra runs her interactions through her head and hopes that she’s made a difference. “If I am able to touch someone’s life in a good way, then I have done a good thing. I start every day with that as my goal.”
When it’s too hot or too cold in an apartment, they dial John Jagours. When a light is out in the activity and game center, they contact John Jagours. When new sheets or clean laundry are required — stat — they phone John Jagours.
But what happens when they need a friend to sit and talk with or a shoulder to cry on? They sometimes seek comfort from that same John Jagours, who lives less than 10 minutes away on any given day.
“Someone is always calling me,” says John, the maintenance director at Stonefield, an Assisted Living and Memory Care community in McKinney, Texas. “As I’m walking through the dining room to start my day, it’s ‘John, John, John’ from the moment our residents see me.”
John has been on call 24/7 since the moment he started at the senior living facility just about a year ago, and life has not been the same for him — or his residents — since. The retired City of Plano worker and son of a preacher started off as a part-time driver for the 62 seniors at the property before taking on the even more active role he now holds. “I missed interacting with people and enjoy being around seniors, so applying at Stonefield made sense and fit with my schedule.”
His agenda was simple at the time: Chauffeur residents to and from Choctaw Casino, their favorite local restaurants, and anywhere else that made them happy. He quickly grew into a trusted confidant and a respected full-time employee who seniors and colleagues alike now count on for daily laughs, joyful words of wisdom, pristine living spaces, and so much more.
“This kind of job and business is about caring, not about me or the chores I do for the seniors. If not for our residents, I wouldn’t have a job.” And if not for that job and for John, residents wouldn’t have someone to listen and respond to their maintenance concerns, keep up the housekeeping for their rooms, keep their surroundings immaculate for visits with friends and loved ones and ensure their dirty laundry — literally — isn’t aired but instead washed to their liking and high standards. There would also be fewer jokes, fewer stories and moments of prayer.
To many, prayer has the power to heal. The power to comfort. The power to soothe a soul that knows that time is precious and potentially short-lived. That’s just one of the many reasons residents seek out John while he’s present. While the senior living community offers regular church services as part of its many amenities, it’s John’s presence that sometimes supplements the experience.
“It makes me feel good that you are here” and “thank God that you are here” are just two of the phrases you’ll hear John proclaim — his presence bold and voice booming through the halls of Stonefield. He speaks from his heart, and that is very evident when he tells the story of a resident who recently died of cancer. He checked in on her regularly, prayed with her while doing maintenance work in her room and aimed to put a little joy back into what remained of her shortened life. He said that over time, she confided in him that she had not had in-depth conversations with anybody else about her condition and that she appreciated his compassion, respect and discretion.
“I kept telling her that there were more things to do on this earth. I helped her feel comfortable in her surroundings as much as I possibly could. She ended up passing while receiving the highest quality of care here.” There’s a long pause before John continues …
Care goes into every aspect of the growing duties John is responsible for. Whether he’s calling bingo in a space that he well maintains or “sneaking an extra ice cream” from the on-site parlor to one of his many senior friends, he says the most rewarding part of coming to work each and every day is being able to answer the call of his residents.
“When you love what you do, it’s easy to talk about it. It’s an honor and a privilege to work with a company that makes sure my residents are well cared for.”