By Lola Rain

Caregiver burnout is at an all-time high. Healthcare workers and those serving older adults deserve appreciation and recognition now more than ever. Yet according to a study by Quantum Workplace, the healthcare industry ranks last in employee engagement. Research clearly demonstrates the critical role of recognizing and showing appreciation to your most valuable resource.

During Senior Living Foresight’s Virtual Tech Summit (referred to as Tech Foresight), Nate Hamme, President of non-profit Ceca Foundation (a Summit sponsor), discussed the importance of recognizing employees and celebrating their successes. Nate shared best practices for employee recognition and explained how technology can help organizations be more effective with their recognition programs.

Here are the four TOP takeaways from Nate’s presentation:

  1. According to Gallup and the Harvard Business Review, recognition is the most low-cost, high-impact way to increase engagement in the workplace.
  2. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” — that is, creating a culture of recognition that reflects your mission and values, and has the enthusiastic support of your leadership team, is essential to being a best-in-class organization.
  3. Partnering with a technology solution provider will increase efficiency, enable critical “social recognition” inside and outside your community, and provide program accountability to ensure your initiative stands the test of time.
  4. With “lack of appreciation” cited as the number one reason most Americans leave their jobs, the success of your initiative can reduce turnover while increasing resident engagement and improving satisfaction within your community.

Finding a passionate and dedicated partner for your recognition efforts will free up critical resources and allow your staff to do what they do best — care for your residents.

Gain access to Nate’s presentation as well as all 20 session recordings by registering HERE

To schedule an appointment to discuss how you can easily implement an effective recognition program at your community, please email [email protected] or visit

Tech Foresight Award Recipients

Powered by Ceca Foundation and made possible by sponsor Connected Living

On the third day of the Tech Foresight 3-day summit, judges deliberated over the dozens of stories submitted by attendees. Each attendee had the opportunity to nominate someone in their organization who went above and beyond to raise staff and resident morale during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meet the Award Winners

Warning: Have a tissue nearby. These stories contain tear-jerking moments.

Stephanie Lynn, Independent Living Life Enrichment Director, Village at Belmar – Nominated by Susie Finley, Founder & Principal, Village at BelmarStephanie Lynn

“Stephanie has always been a ray of sunshine for our independent living residents,” wrote Susie Finley on the nomination form. “Our residents would tell you that they live at Village at Belmar because of her.” The residents of Belmar appreciate her dedication and creativity. Stephanie is upbeat and energetic. Her positivity and smile are contagious to everyone around her. To maintain social distancing, Stephanie worked out of a garage. She designed programming using Zoom and created social distancing activities like happy hours in driveways and outdoor movies. “Stephanie is always full of ideas,” explained Finley. “She helped to deliver meals, run errands, do wellness checks, and anything else that was needed.” Stephanie has absolutely found her calling in senior living.

Ryan Nettles, Facility Maintenance Mechanic at Washington Veteran’s Home –

Nominated by William McElya, Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, Washington Veteran’s Home

Ryan Nettles

“Ryan Nettles has consistently gone above and beyond in his duties, assigned and otherwise, at the Washington Veteran’s Home,” wrote William McElya. Because residents and family have been unable to visit during COVID-19, Ryan was tasked with designing and fabricating visitor booths. Ryan spent over 32 hours racing to complete three visitation stations. He adhered to strict regulations set forth by his agency and the Department of Health.

“He delivered a tremendous product that allowed 28 family members to visit with their loved ones during the first week of visitations,” explained McElya. His expertise and attention to detail ensured the safety of our residents, while also contributing immensely to their emotional well-being.” Ryan continues to make improvements to the stations daily following suggestions from visitation volunteers, staff, and the residents’ family members. He provided detailed blueprints and instructions to other Veteran Homes in the state to aid them in building their own stations. “Mr. Nettles is an exemplary employee who has always put our residents’ needs and desires at the forefront of his daily work,” shared McElya. “His continued dedication and commitment to our residents makes him an incredible asset to our Home.”

Natalie Pena, LNA at Sante Hospice – Nominated by Debra Wertzberger, COO, Sante HospiceNatalie Pena

During Natalie Pena’s wedding trip she came down with coronavirus. The illness caused her three weeks off work. “Natalie is such a positive employee that staff donated PTO days to her so she was covered the entire time she was off,” wrote Debra Wertzberger. “Once back on the job, Natalie has taken on the nursing assistant duties for all of our COVID positive patients.” Natalie has become an outstanding spokesperson for the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE). “She takes extra time with each of her patients since so many of them live in places that will not accept family visitors,” explained Wertzberger. “In this time of lockdown, Natalie has become their family so that our patients are not alone at the end of their life.”

In Memory of Donald Griggs, Family Caregiver – Nominated by Cheryl Brown, Former California Assembly Member, USC Davis School of Gerontology Graduate

Don Griggs

Community activist Don Griggs, an only child, was the primary caregiver for his mother living with Alzheimer’s disease. On July 1, 2020, Don and his wife were not feeling well. Both were tested for coronavirus at different testing centers. His mother, who was also feeling unwell, was taken to a community site for testing.

Don was a very involved member of St. Paul AME Church Caregiver Support Group and USC Gerontology Caregiver Resource Center. “Three days before COVID took his life he attended our Zoom meeting,” explained Brown. Don told the group how worried he was about his mother, and the members encouraged him to call an ambulance. But the EMTs said she was not sick enough to be taken to the hospital.

On the Monday before Don’s death, it was confirmed that all three had tested positive for COVID-19. The EMTs were called again for his mother, and this time she was hospitalized. Don died a few days later.

“It is a perfect example of the caregiver dying before the person who is being cared for,” emphasized Brown. “His wife and mother have improved but his mother had to go into a nursing home. His wife is too weak from COVID to take care of his mother. I think this points to the importance of the work of caregivers.”

Thank you to everyone who nominated an employee for a Tech Foresight Award. And thank you to our independent panel of judges for taking the time to review all the stories and select those “Healthcare Heroes” who stood out. We know it was a tough choice.

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