By Lola Rain

“It’s very important for us to take care of our associates,” said Mary Underwood, vice president of Memory Care Services at Artis Senior Living. “Taking care of associates is taking care of residents.”

This is why Artis Senior Living invests in the more than 80 life enrichment staff members at 27 memory care communities in Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, and Massachusetts. While Mary’s employees have specialties in art, wellness, and even yoga, they also have unique strengths that she wants to tap into. Mary prioritizes the ability of each staff member to use their strengths in their day-to-day jobs. She finds their superpowers through profiling and getting to know each associate as an individual.ff

Watch Evolve 2022’s Case Study: Activating Resident and Staff Purpose to learn about the impact purpose has on their personal lives, teamwork, and enrichment programming strategies. Presented by Anna Hall, founder, The Purpose Equation, and Caren Silverlieb, assistant executive director, Colony Retirement Homes. All Evolve videos are now available on-demand. Click here to get access to the video library.

About The Artis Way

The for-profit company was founded as a family business in 2012, and Mary joined in 2015 as they were developing their management company vision and mission. Mary explained the owners wanted to create something unique that took person-centered care to the next level. “The company’s name is Artis Senior Living, and we really wanted to define who we are, so we turned Artis into an acronym,” said Mary. Artis is not a philosophy of care, she said. It’s a philosophy of interactions. “It’s how we want leadership, associates, and residents to interface with one another.”

All of the Artis residents and staff have a voice and a vote. “Employees have a say in policies and things happening in the community,” said Mary. Each person is respected, not as an associate or a resident, but as a person with different relationships. “If our associates love to bake, that will be part of their job even if they are a care partner or a housekeeper,” Mary explained. “It allows them to be happier coming to work with us.”

Artis Senior Living focuses on keeping relationships alive and well. They do this through blood drives and barbershop quartet, for example. If a resident was an advocate for blood drives or a singer, they will continue that relationship even if they are no longer to fully participate like they had in years past. Artis Senior Living values integrity by doing the right thing. “Integrity is truly the backbone of who we are.” Mary points out that doing the right thing might be “pretty straightforward but not always the easiest.”

Director of the Artis Way Experience

“Once we developed our philosophy, and who we are and what it meant, we needed someone to own it.” That’s when Mary and the leadership team at Artis came up with the job description for Director of the Artis Way Experience. This position is designed to “make sure the philosophy infiltrates all the other departments,” said Mary. The directors ensure meals come out the way residents want, for example. “The resident gets the culinary experience the way they want it.”

“Same with housekeeping, life enrichment, health, and wellness,” said Mary. It’s not just about the shower or when it takes place. It’s about the direction they are facing in the shower: Face towards water or away. Directors make sure the small things don’t fall through the cracks.

Success and Recognition

Mary encourages her team. We want everyone to feel successful.” They need to feel they matter and have a purpose. “We believe in recognizing everybody. We want to celebrate every possibility we can. Every little success is a big success in our world.”

Mary believes life enrichment people deserve recognition, so she took the time to nominate several of her directors during the call for Evolve 2022 Foresight Awards. Senior Living Foresight searches for staff who go above and beyond and demonstrate excellence in the industry. Two Artis Senior Living employees were recognized. (Read their stories here.)