After working in a state-run nursing home in Massachusetts at age nineteen, Susan Kent swore she’d never return to the long-term care scene.
Over the following years, while “trying to find [her] way,” she worked as a grocery manager, machinist, bartender, secretary, and an accountant—in both accounts payable and receivable. These fields of work interested her to a certain extent, but ultimately drove her to pursue new opportunities.
Seven years ago, Kent had reached another point of transition in her life, when she encountered Osprey Point for the first time. Still wary from her first experience with long-term care years ago, she said: “When I came here, I was very reluctant to fill out an application, but the facility was clean, there were no odors, and everybody seemed so happy, so I decided to give it a try. And I’m still here, so it must have been where God wanted me to be.”
Kent accepted her first role at Osprey Point in the dietary department, where she learned the importance of residents’ daily dietary needs, and managed to express her care and compassion for them through cooking and serving. However, she still wanted to connect and become acquainted with them further, so she moved to a housekeeping position, where she grew closer to residents and their families. From there, Kent manned the reception desk, and when an activities director position eventually opened up, jumped at the opportunity, taking the necessary classes and earning her national certification.
Now she pours her passion into this role as activities director, consistently striving to curate fun events for the ever-shifting age group of residents at Osprey Point.
Kent explained that she believes in the importance of starting out anywhere you can get your foot in the door, and then continuing to advance your career until you find the right fit. Since it truly takes a village to run a care center smoothly and successfully, it’s important to walk a mile in the shoes of all different staff members, learning all the various aspects of the big picture.
Often times, glimpsing the many inner-workings of a machine changes how you view the entire apparatus from the inside out. Switching roles in any professional field, moving from various positions and climbing up the ladder, can—unsurprisingly—cause empathy and compassion to take root even deeper, benefiting everyone involved.
These qualities of compassion, empathy, (and more) surface clearly in Kent’s actions towards her co-workers and residents.
In the closing line of her CHIRP nomination letter, Marcia Sanborn, Human Resources Coordinator at Osprey Point, wrote that Kent’s passion, integrity, and compassion are “amazing,” and that Kent “so deserves to be recognized for all the love and devotion she gives!”
On the Osprey Point community, Kent said: “The people here are just so authentic. You just love them the minute you meet them. It’s a big part of my life.” So much so, that for Kent, it’s even “hard to leave the building sometimes. . . They enjoy seeing me, they miss me when I’m not here, and I miss them when I’m not here. It sounds kind of corny, but I do miss them, even when I’m at home.”
Kent makes it a priority to listen to residents when they want to talk and need a listening ear, especially if something’s bothering them—often staying later than her punch-out time in the evenings.
She shrugged it off, saying, “This is their home, and it’s important that they have someone they can speak with.”
While Kent has since departed from her original role in Osprey Point’s dietary team, she hasn’t fully strayed from those roots, and continues to use her culinary prowess to extend love and compassion for residents.
In Sanborn’s words: “Susan does an incredible job of baking for the special events she creates for the residents. All baked goods are from scratch—never a box! She makes some sugar-free, and they’re still delicious! Pumpkin breads, zucchini muffins, strawberry shortcakes, cheesecakes…. all from her own recipes!” She added that throughout the years, Kent has been “acutely aware of each resident’s dietary, physical, and emotional needs,” consistently taking the time and effort to accommodate each individual. Kent expressed her concern over what her residents consume, never giving into store-bought goods, because she worries about the preservatives and processed foods.
At the end of the day, Kent emphasized her true satisfaction within the Osprey Point community. She’s the real deal, and understands the importance of joining this field for the right reasons. “If you don’t have compassion for [the residents] and what they’re going through, then I don’t think you’re going to be staying in the industry. Without compassion, they’re just a number. . . For people who work in the industry, it’s not all about the money. . . If you can just keep the money part out of the position you’re working in, and just care about the residents, then your attitude will be better. It’s not about the Benjamins. If you can live comfortably on what you’re making in this industry, then what you’re doing should fill that little gap of the money that you’re missing. . . Don’t base your work on what you’re getting paid.”