Leading Age Academy Provides Innovative Training for Fuller Village Team

Milton, MA –After working for more than 30 years in senior housing, including Vi Senior Living in Maryland, Sherburne Commons in Nantucket and Village at Laurel Lake in western Massachusetts, Andrea Doherty thought she had seen it all.  From skilled nursing and memory care to assisted living and, most recently, independent living at Fuller Village in Milton, she brings a wealth of knowledge to her position as Marketing & Operations Director at Fuller Village where she has worked since 2016.

So when Fuller Village Executive Director Deborah Felton offered Andrea the opportunity to apply for The Leadership Academy (TLA), a 10-month intensive program conducted by LeadingAge, which culminates with a “graduation” at the Annual Convention, Andrea was excited about the opportunity if she was accepted.

After just a few weeks into the TLA program, Andrea realized that while, in fact, she did know much of what was being done in senior housing, the TLA provided a much broader exposure to the gaps in the field of aging services, combined with learning about reflective leadership practices to learn how to have the most impact as a leader on Fuller Village’s management team.

When asked about the benefits of The Leadership Academy, Andrea said it was very impactful to be a member of the Academy during this unprecedented time of a pandemic. It provided a broad viewpoint of aging services as an industry across the country, not only for the clients we serve, but also all the front-line workers who serve our clients.   “It was a fabulous  opportunity and forum to be with other non-profit senior care providers throughout the United States to share ideas on how they approach serving seniors at all levels with the most advanced care and social programs during one of the most challenging times in recent history,” Andrea remarked. “While it’s important to be dancing on the dance floor, it’s equally important to see the bigger picture from the balcony,” she added. The Leadership Academy provided a forum for that “bigger picture.”

Deborah Felton feels so strongly about the importance of the work LeadingAge does for the senior living and aging services industry that she had two other Fuller Village staff attend the Annual LeadingAge Conference in Atlanta this fall with Andrea.

“To remain a leader in this industry and to provide the most innovative thinking and social environment for our residents, it’s important for members of our team to see and hear what other leaders in senior housing are doing around the country,” Deborah said.  “LeadingAge provides that perspective and insight that can’t be learned just by doing our jobs each day,” she added.

Joey DiGiano, Operations and Executive Assistant and Daniel McGarr, Project Coordinator at Fuller Village, attended the four-day conference in Atlanta with Andrea.  For all three, it was an opportunity for them to learn and see what other senior providers and communities in the United States are doing to meet the needs of today’s seniors and prepare them for future generations.   “There were discussions about the latest technology to assist seniors, the topic of ageism and its evolving role in society, and ways to attract and retain staff, so you took something away from every session,” Joey said.

“As a leader in the senior housing industry, we need to be more proactive and not just reactive to the needs of today’s seniors,” Andrea remarked.  Fuller Village’s involvement in LeadingAge, and our exposure to what other industry leaders are doing throughout the country by participating in The Leadership Academy, will help keep us in the forefront in the future,” she concluded.

Pandemic Pushes Hiker to New Peaks

By Elaine Cushman Carroll Milton Times staff

Milton resident Jennifer DeLeonardis knew she’d turned a corner when she printed out the official list of the New England 67 as COVID-19 was settling in.

While she has never been a list keeper, she admits she enjoyed checking off each of the 67 mountain peaks in New England that are over 4,000 feet tall that she had already climbed.

Then she set her sights on the remaining ones.

This fall, DeLeonardis said she has just one more to go: Mount Mansfield in Vermont.

She explained when she realized she had turned a corner.

“I’ve never been a list keeper but all of a sudden I’m looking at the list,” she said.

DeLeonardis is planning a trip with her life partner Robert Reenan in October to achieve the goal.

“It was a great way to spend COVID,” DeLeonardis said in a recent interview in a courtyard at Fuller Village where she works as director of aquatics and fitness.

DeLeonardis, who was once an owner of the former West Newton restaurant, Lumiere, said she did her first hikes when her son was four years old and she had a sense that it would be good for him as a person to connect with the outdoors.

That was 14 years ago and Christopher is now a senior at Milton High School.

They enjoyed the “gorgeous but small mountains”


Milton resident Jennifer DeLeonardis

DeLEONARDIS from Page 1

of Acadia National Park.

Christopher now sets too brisk a pace to hike with her, but they still sometimes tackle a mountain at the same time.

In 2015, DeLeonardis got a little more serious with a group of friends who took on a section of nine peaks in the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire.

Despite being gung-ho about the experience, life, jobs, and everyday things sidelined the best of plans.

During the COVID-19 restrictions, mountains were open, DeLeonardis said, adding that Reenan was also an inspiration.

“He keeps saying you could have done it without me,” she said, shaking her head no.

According to DeLeonardis, it was the natural beauty of the mountains that initially drew her in. She said what takes her breath away are vistas where contrasts exist, such as where a mountain peak meets a body of water or a valley of fir trees.

“When you see that contrast, you’re kind of blown away,”DeLeonardis said.

She loves the whole experience of hiking. including the times when you have to challenge your mind and your body just to take that next step.

“It’s frequently peaceful. It’s a way to remove yourself from the hustle and bustle. You know you’re not going to be able to answer your cell phone,” DeLeonardis said. She also likes the sense of community of hikers, although the recent increased usage of the trails has led to dirtier trails.

DeLeonardis said the pandemic also helped her get more active about sharing her passion with the residents of Fuller Village, an over 62 community.

She went to Fuller after she left the restaurant and had become a personal trainer.

DeLeonardis said she lucked into the job after agreeing to fill in for a person who went out on maternity leave a little over five years ago. The person didn’t return, and she was given the job permanently.

DeLeonardis said that in her job, she is often asked to recommend an exercise for someone.

“I tell them that the best exercise is the one you’re going to keep doing because you love it. That’s usually the best for you,” she said.

When a resident asks why he or she is not losing weight despite working out, DeLeonardis, who said she loves to eat cookies on the trail, said the truth is that it’s difficult “to out-exercise your fork.”

DeLeonardis said that during the pandemic, she was able to offer more outdoor experiences for Fuller Village residents including snowshoeing and hiking nearby at the Blue Hills.

“It was nice to transfer something I love to the residents,” she said. “It’s not for everybody.”

DeLeonardis said winter hiking is becoming her favorite since it bypasses two things she doesn’t enjoy: bugs and hot weather.

“The scenery is so different. It’s stunning,” she said.

DeLeonardis is drawn in by sights like frozen fog and sun shining on snow-covered trees as well as by the deep silence.

She said Mount Jefferson is one of her favorites in the winter, particularly an area that is like an open saddle in the mountain, where “it felt like you were crossing the moon.”

“Talk about quiet. It’s remarkably quiet,” she said.

DeLeonardis believes that while hiking, it is particularly important to find a pace that you can sustain and abide by the rule of hiking that the slowest person with you sets the pace.

She is currently hiking with a friend who is 71 and wants to hike the New Hampshire 48 again as a person over the age of 70 despite having knee and back problems.

DeLeonardis recommends that people who have never hiked before simply get a pair of good, sturdy shoes and “just go out and start walking. The more you do it, the better you’re going to get at it.”

“We’re lucky here that we have the Blue Hills,” she continued, adding that there are checklists of smart hiking protocols that people should follow for basic safety.

Those include always going with someone in case something should happen and bringing water, sunscreen, and bug spray.

She said winter hiking requires more planning and a day pack with supplies, a compass, a map, food, multiple layers of clothing, snow shoes, crampons, an ice axe, insulated hiking boots, and wool socks.

DeLeonardis said she found out first hand that hiking in snow can also result in a sunburn on the roof of your mouth so a neck gaiter is a must.

“Don’t rely on your phone for anything,” she said. “You really have to track the weather and be smart about your decisions.”

She recalled that she and Reenan, whose most recent goal is to climb the Northeast 111, which includes New York peaks, in the winter, had to turn around three times at the trailhead to a mountain on his list because of the weather.

“It would have been at some significant level of risk,” DeLeonardis said. “The mountains are not going anywhere.”

She said her favorite hiking quote is “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”

DeLeonardis said she has no interest in heading to a mountain like Everest and maybe some higher peaks in Colorado.

“I plan to go back to the ones here that I fell in love with,” she said, adding, though, that she has no plans to print out the list again.

Jennifer DeLeonardis at the summit of Mount Lafayette in New Hampshire, one of the 66 mountain peaks she has climbed in New England. (Photo submitted by DeLeonardis)

Fuller Village selects Best of Care Inc. as preferred home care provider

Milton and Quincy, Mass., December 27, 2017 – Family-owned home care agency Best of Care Inc. has been selected by independent senior living community Fuller Village as its preferred provider of private-pay home care services to Fuller Village residents. The agency began providing services at Fuller Village on December 18, 2017.

Fuller Village chose Best of Care because it offered a high level of quality service that its residents expect, according to Fuller Village Executive Director Deborah Felton. Best of Care’s onsite home care aides allow Fuller Village residents to add personalized assistance services as they wish, paying only for what they need, when they need it.

“We wanted to partner with an agency that would be responsive to residents’ diverse in-home care needs and in tune with our community’s values,” said Felton. “Best of Care came highly recommended; we’ve been impressed with their approach and philosophy.“

“We are excited to expand our private pay business into the Fuller Village community,” said Best of Care President and COO Kevin Smith. “There are many things that connect us: We are both local, independent, non-franchise organizations. Our personalized approach can support residents of the community at any stage in their continuum of care - whether it is arranging service upon hospital discharge, delivering 24/7 care or simply providing an hour of housekeeping.

“Best of Care is an on-site resource not only for residents of the Fuller Village community, but also their family members,” Smith added. “Beyond home care service delivery, we also plan to present an interesting series of programming including blood pressure clinics, wellness prevention initiatives and family caregiver support groups.”

About Best of Care

Best of Care is a family-owned and operated home care agency headquartered in Quincy, Mass. that has delivered home care services to Massachusetts communities since 1981. Best of Care provides an extensive array of home care services to over 100 towns and cities throughout Greater Boston, the South Shore, the South Coast, Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard – with offices in Quincy, Raynham, New Bedford, and South Dennis. Services include personal care, homemakers and companions, hospice care, nursing care management and specialty services as they relate to dementia, psychiatric and acquired brain injury care.  Best of Care Inc. was named a 2014 Family Business of the Year finalist by the Family Business Association of Massachusetts.  President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Smith serves as Vice President, Executive Committee Member, Board Member and Technology Committee Chair of the Home Care Aide Council of Massachusetts.  Visit www.bestofcareinc.com, follow on Twitter @bestofcare and Facebook www.facebook.com/bestofcare