By Steve Moran
On rare occasions, I had seen the name Pomeroy Senior Living float past me. But I had no idea who they were or what they did.
While I love talking to, writing about, and interacting with leaders from the larger or more well known senior living organizations, I am delighted when I get a chance to talk with leaders who are not well known. And I often find they have amazing stories and are doing exciting things.
But then I saw the name Manda Ayoub pop up as attending a NIC conference session and suggested a conversation. She and they are doing some pretty cool stuff.
Her story is so classic, she started out as a candy striper with the Red Cross working in a little county hospital in Michigan. Her grandfather was very sick and ended up with a hospital stay pretty much every month. And because he spoke no English, family members took turns staying with him. As Manda took her turn, she saw some good nurses and bad nurses providing his care and decided she was going to be a nurse.
She then went on to work in an inner-city hospital, which tested every skill she had and brought out her very best.
She moved to long-term care because what initially got her into healthcare was her grandfather. Starting as a nurse, she worked her way up to director of nurses, in-service director, infection control nurse, then administrator. From there to VP of Operations and today COO of Pomeroy.
The other thing you need to know about her, that is really hard to convey in the form of the written word is her passion for what she does.
Pomeroy Senior Living
In the beginning, Keith Pomeroy owned a number of senior living communities but did not operate them. Manda was the administrator of one of those buildings. Keith watched her turn around a troubled building without any meaningful support from the management company. Ultimately they created their own management company to operate their buildings.
Today they have seven communities, all in Michigan, with a little bit of everything: independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and post-acute rehab.
I asked how they were doing with COVID-19. Their first community to have COVID was their Rochester skilled nursing facility. They were very upfront about it, put it on social media, notified families, and created several COVID wings.
The early transparency served them well, with family members saying things like, “Oh my God, I am so sorry” and “It’s going to happen to all of us.”
What Makes Pomeroy Tick?
Today, senior living largely has the goal of helping people to live as long as possible. This is not actually that great a goal, since everyone is going to die. The problem that we all know well, is that when prolonging life is the sole or primary goal we end up doing horrible things to those people who we keep alive.
Pomeroy’s approach is to give their residents the best possible last chapters. This might mean doing things that would be contrary to prolonging life but will give residents and their families the best possible life.
Their goal is to enable each resident to be the best version of themselves.
A Final Story
They have created sensory rooms for their dementia residents. In one of these sensory rooms, they had a bunch of activity tables all set up differently. There was an African American gentleman that never engaged, never used words, but he came every day.
And every day he went to the arts and crafts table where he used the crayons. Every day he would go to that table and color. Then one day, for no apparent reason, as he was sitting there coloring, he starts talking — after years of silence.
Everyone was completely blown away with the realization that he was alive inside the entire time he had been there.
What they came to realize was that before, he had no engagement and no reason to talk. If they had not created this sensory room and made it available he likely would have never shown up again.