NCAL announces 2017 award winners

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A cardboard Justin Timberlake makes a guest appearance in Brandywine Living at Pennington's video for National Assisted Living Week.
A cardboard Justin Timberlake makes a guest appearance in Brandywine Living at Pennington's video for National Assisted Living Week.

The National Center for Assisted Living announced the recipients of its 2017 awards Thursday.

The winners will be recognized at an Oct. 15 ceremony during the 11th annual NCAL Day, held as part of the 68th Annual AHCA/NCAL Annual Convention & Expo.

Named Administrator of the Year is Erin Jones, executive director of Emerson House, a 55-bed memory care community in Portland, OR.

In her position, according to NCAL, Jones has implemented culture change to the satisfaction of the residents, staff and the state survey agency. She has worked in long-term care for more than 20 years, starting her career in a skilled nursing center while still in high school. Jones helped make Emerson House an ongoing host to medical residents as part of Oregon Health Sciences University's Medical Student Learning Collaborating on Cognitive Impairment program. In 2016, she was named Administrator of the Year – Community-Based Care by the Oregon Health Care Association.

Honored with the Assisted Living Nurse of the Year award is Esther Nederhood, RN, of Belle Oaks Living Center in Lake City, MI.

A registered nurse for more than 40 years, Nederhood shows her value of ongoing educational opportunities by possessing credentials a certified assisted living director, certified dementia practitioner, certified assisted living nurse and certified gerontological nurse.

In 2003, she opened Belle Oaks Assisted Living Center to help meet the elder care demand in the Lake City community. Since then, the community and Nederhood have earned numerous awards, including in 2013, when she received the very first Ethel Mitty Scholarship from the American Assisted Living Nursing Association. Earlier this month, Belle Oaks was one of 27 assisted living communities across the country to earn a Silver – Achievement in Quality Award through the AHCA/NCAL Quality Awards Program.

Receiving the Noble Caregiver in Assisted Living award is Lauri Morris, life enrichment director of Prestige Assisted Living at Kalispell in Kalispell, MT.

Despite being in her current position for only two years, Morris already has created memorable and impactful programs for the residents, according to NCAL. One of her recent initiatives is called “Celebrate Your Neighbor,” where each month, Morris works with a select resident to share his or her life story with other residents, family members and staff members. Part of the initiative also involves Morris searching for acquaintances to surprise the resident at the sharing event.

Additionally, Morris has integrated technology to enhance activities and has organized a monthly volunteer activity for the residents to give back to the local community.

She is a certified cognitive stimulation instructor.

Winning for National Assisted Living Week Program of the Year is Brandywine Living at Pennington in Pennington, NJ.

The NALW program that staff members planned for residents in September embraced last year's theme, “Keep Connected,” by linking residents to good causes, such as Christine's Hope for Kids and the Breast Cancer Resource Center. Residents also explored new technology by video-chatting with distant family members. Additionally, staff and residents shot a music video to the tune of Justin Timberlake's “Can't Stop the Feeling” that was revealed to residents during NALW.

Another Brandywine community, Brandywine Senior Living Princeton, Princeton, NJ, had won the same award in 2016.

“It takes a special person to work in assisted living, but Erin, Esther, Lauri and the entire team at Brandywine Living at Pennington take it to a whole other level,” said NCAL Executive Director Scott Tittle. “NCAL is privileged to recognize these individuals who consider it their life's work to serve seniors and individuals with disabilities.”

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