Laurie Coffman, the concierge at The Hearth at Drexel, has been with The Hearth for almost five years, and for the last year-and-a-half has filled a role that has become an incredible resource for residents and their families. As Laurie ensures the best living experience possible for residents throughout the community, her daily engagements and the many friendships she has made continue to motivate her each and every day. Here is Laurie to share her story.
Prior to coming to The Hearth at Drexel, my career was spent in various roles in healthcare that were customer or employee-facing, whether it was early on in administration, sales, or later in my career when I led human resources for an organization that managed 17 senior communities. After many years, the senior care organization I had worked for was sold. While I had many opportunities presented to me to continue down the same path, I decided to find a new career that would fit with what I wanted at this stage in my life.
I grew up and still live in the neighborhood surrounding The Hearth at Drexel, so when they were looking for a front desk receptionist, I knew it was an opportunity that would fit what I was looking for – a position that would keep me working in an industry I knew and loved, before retiring.
The Hearth has wonderful staff and leadership who are supportive of one another. Dana O’Donnell, our Executive Director, is always giving everything she can to the residents and our team. My current role as the concierge is a new one that was developed around some of the things that Dana noticed where I had skillsets that fit the concierge position. In this role, I have an opportunity to help our residents and their families, while also continuing to manage some of the community’s administrative needs. As we are an assisted living community with memory care services, this can mean a variety of aspects.
Like a concierge in a hotel, my role is to do anything I can to ensure the best experience for our residents. Our residents, most of whom are from the Main Line area, have specific expectations. I do whatever I can to meet and exceed those expectations. One of the biggest parts of this is the relationships I have with the residents and their families. Being from the area, we may know a lot of the same people or know some of the same stories which has helped me relate with them. Some of the residents even like to say to me “we go way back.”
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My days vary based upon the needs of the residents. My door is always open, and many residents just drop by either to talk or with a request. When I get in, one of the first things I do is walk around the community to touch base with residents and staff. I find that this is a good starting point to know if there are any issues or needs that I can help resolve before I begin my day.
When the pandemic started, like everyone, I was scared but I have to say that our team, and especially Dana and Paullita Moore-Hall, our Director of Nursing, made us feel very safe within the community. It was very clear early on that The Hearth and Liberty were acting quickly and doing everything they can to keep residents and the staff safe. I don’t say that lightly. Having been in this industry, I have worked for organizations that had similar philosophies and know that not every organization shares Liberty’s proactive view. It was impressive and very reassuring.
Like many people, I am trying to be very aware of where I go and who I see during the pandemic, particularly with my mother who is 91. The Hearth has been my “bubble”, and I mean that positively. The staff have been so supportive of one another. They have become like family and it’s very comforting.
Life has changed at The Hearth since COVID started in March. We are doing everything we can to keep residents engaged while keeping them safe. As the concierge, I know I can’t replace their family, but I try to do whatever I can to spend time with residents and to help them feel safe. For instance, some things I have helped residents with are setting up personal Facebook portals and teaching them how to use the device so they can speak to their loved ones.
Additionally, scheduling and assisting residents during their vestibule visits, FaceTime calls, telemedicine, or just helping with fixing their television, computer/printer issues, shopping, or small activities that family members haven’t been able to do.
I try to be an advocate or a liaison for our residents while being the eyes and ears of family members. For instance, I have been working with a resident and their family to set up and use ViewClix, a portal device to make video calls. I could tell that the resident really wasn’t comfortable with that level of technology and found it confusing. After several attempts, I discussed with the family to give a vestibule visit a try.
They were very reluctant and concerned that the resident would not understand and would be upset. I convinced them to give it go and they could tell the resident was much more engaged and happier when speaking to them in person, even if it was through the window.
As long as I can satisfy the residents and family members I am happy. It’s the old adage, “the customer is always right,” and I try to do what I can to say “yes” and accomplish what residents are requesting. I am grateful to work in a community where the team holds those same values. They’ve been a source of hope. I am so impressed by those who work here and I am happy to be part of the team.