The following message was sent to Covia employees by Kevin Gerber, President and CEO, on Sunday, May 31. You can download the PDF version here.
I write to you as my home town of Oakland is in turmoil. All of us were already tired after weeks of shutdown and fear of illness. And, with the death of yet another Black man at the hands of police, another burden has been placed on our African American residents, employees, and neighbors.
I am writing with two messages today. One is to stay mindful of our guiding principles. We say that we have been shaped by our values of welcome, inclusion, social justice, and grace. We will do our utmost to demonstrate those values in all that we do. We say that we will respect one another and treat one another with dignity at all times. Black lives matter, and we resoundingly refuse to give in to racism, hatred, fear and violence. We say that we reflect, celebrate, and foster the diversity of those who live and work within the Covia family and society as a whole. We commit ourselves to supporting our African American residents, employees, and neighbors and to working with our greater communities to build a just society for everyone.
My second message is this: be kind and gentle with one another in these very difficult times. Recognize the burdens that those around you may carry, and help how you can.
In September, Canterbury Woods received the Award of Excellence for Food Safety from the Environmental Health Bureau of the Monterey County Health Department – the only senior living community to receive this honor.
“All operating food facilities meet regulatory food standards. Those who excel are recognized with our Gold Seal and those food facilities who have consistently demonstrated excellence in providing safe and secure food will be honored,” said John Ramirez, Director of Environmental Health, in a press release shared by the County of Monterey.
The Award of Excellence program began in 2016, and recognizes 3 locations every year as part of National Food Safety Education Month. This year, Nepenthe Restaurant and Sun Street Center were also honored along with Canterbury Woods.
The Monterey County Department of Health inspects over 2000 food service facilities throughout the county. The unannounced quarterly inspections review all aspects of food safety, from food sourcing, to employee health and hygiene, to safe storage practices. Facilities that meet or exceed health standards based on state laws are awarded the Gold Seal. Of those Gold Seal facilities, inspectors nominate 25 that demonstrate excellence in food safety year over year for the Award.
“We have received the Golden Seal at every inspection since I have been here,” says Robert Kershner, Director of Dining Services at Canterbury Woods. “Morrison Community Living prepares us and supports us in the best ways possible to set us up for an award like this.”
“This recognition is a big deal,” he adds. “It confirms to me and our staff that our efforts are focused successfully on maintaining a safe environment for our residents. Credit is really due to all of the department staff for their undying dedication to food safety.”
Earlier this year, Covia was certified for a second year as a Great Place to Work. This certification, based on a Trust Index that includes over 60 evaluated elements, considers not only organizational culture but also each team member’s experience.
“We like to get feedback from the organization to see how we’re doing,” says Prab Brinton, Vice President of Human Resources. “Are we meeting our objectives? Is everybody engaged with their current roles? And, most importantly, are there areas to improve? At the end of the day, we want to build a strong culture and the only way that we can do that is by getting employee feedback.”
The Great Place to Work survey revealed a lot of exciting insights about Covia. One of the things that was made clear in these results is that employees are proud of their work. 89% of respondents indicated that they “feel good about the ways that Covia contributes to the community” while 87% feel a sense of pride about what they have accomplished. The people stand out at the top as one of the main reasons employees enjoy their work, especially in their interactions with staff and residents.
“The work that we do truly makes a positive impact in people’s lives,” says Lizette Suarez, Well Connected Español Program Manager. “I am surrounded by a great team who is dedicated and committed to making a difference in the world.”
The Great Place to Work survey not only highlights successes but also serves as a great tool to pinpoint areas of improvement within the company. Based off of the results of the survey, each community has identified specific goals that will be their focus over the next year. These goals range from managers more readily including employees in important decisions to working quicker to adapt to changes.
Beyond these individual goals, there is one company-wide goal, which is centered on creating a great culture. Over the next year, Covia will focus on developing a hiring culture that is both fun and effective with the goal of bringing in more candidates that are a great fit. This will include becoming more transparent and creating a New Hire Orientation and Onboarding process that does a better job of orienting new hires within their particular community as well as with the company as a whole.
These goals will be evaluated through pulse surveys sent out to employees periodically. Based on these surveys, the entire company as well as each community will be able to determine if they are moving forward or if more work is needed to reach their designated goal.
“All of the work that has gone into identifying these goals and tailoring them to each community is intended to better the experience of every employee,” says Brinton. “There are always places to improve and the Great Place to Work survey has provided a great jumping off point from which to evaluate and enhance Covia’s employee experience.”
The Village People, Spring Lake Village’s entrant in the Sonoma County Wine Country Games (commonly known as the Senior Games), won their first medal on May 31, 2019, taking third place in the bocce tournament. The team included Capt. Sue Guerra, Don Allison, Brenda and Butch Dippel, Pete Guerra, and Barbara Ware, all residents of Spring Lake Village, a Covia Life Plan Community in Santa Rosa.
The Sonoma County Wine Country Games, a program benefiting the Council on Aging, encourages healthy activity and social engagement for anyone 50+ through education, connections, and the spirited competition of sport, inspiring all to take an active role in determining the quality of their aging experience. Along with bocce, events include basketball, cycling, pickleball, tennis, volleyball and more.
In the bocce tournament, teams competed with each team playing three 50-minute games. If teams did not finish in 50 minutes, the existing score at the time was used. At the end of the three games, four teams were eliminated from competition based on number of games won and point count. The two remaining teams with the highest point count played each other for first and second place. The two other remaining teams played for third place.
In the first round, The Village People beat a team from Oakmont called Varenna #2, lost to Fountaingrove (another Oakmont Team), and beat the Collectiballs, a Santa Rosa league team, giving them enough points and wins to progress to the second round. After defeating Varenna #2 a second time, the Village People squared off against the Go Getters for their chance to win the bronze medal.
Congratulations to the Village People for their third place win!
Interview with/Entrevista con Lizette Suarez, Program Manager/Coordinadora de Programa Well Connected Español
To learn more about Well Connected Español, visit our webpage at https://covia.org/services/well-connected/bien-conectado/.
Para obtener más información sobre Well Connected Español, visite nuestra página web en https://covia.org/services/well-connected/bien-conectado/.
For those who don’t know, what is Well Connected?
Well Connected is a phone and online program offering activities, education, friendly conversation, and an assortment of classes and support groups to older adults accessible from the comfort of home.
|Para los que no saben, ¿Qué es Well Connected?
Well Connected es un programa telefónico y en línea que ofrece actividades, educación, conversación amistosa y una variedad de clases y grupos de apoyo para adultos mayores accesibles desde la comodidad de su hogar.
|Has Well Connected had groups or classes in Spanish or any other languages before?
Yes, Well Connected has offered classes in Spanish and Russian over the years, but without designated staff who spoke those languages it was hard to gain traction. With designated Well Connected Español staff we are better equipped to connect Spanish speaking older adults with programs they can enjoy.
|¿Ha tenido Well Connected grupos o clases en español o en otros idiomas antes?
Sí, Well Connected ha ofrecido clases en Español y en Ruso a lo largo de los años pero sin personal designado que hablaba esos idiomas era difícil ganar terreno. Con personal designado para Well Connected Español, estamos mejor equipados para conectar a adultos mayores que hablan español con programas que puedan disfrutar.
|Why did Well Connected decide to offer a program in Spanish?
There has been expressed need from service providers and from within the Spanish-speaking community. With the support of Navigage and Metta Fund, Well Connected Español was born. We hope to be able to offer Well Connected in more languages in the future.
|¿Por qué Well Connected decidió ofrecer un programa en español?
Se había expresado la necesidad de los proveedores de servicios y de la comunidad latina. Con el apoyo de Navigage y Metta Fund, nació Well Connected Español. Esperamos poder ofrecer Well Connected en más idiomas en el futuro.
How did you hear about this project, and why did you decide to get involved?
I heard of this posting via Indeed.com, from the moment I read the listing I knew it was a project I wanted to be a part of. I grew up very close to my grandparents and older adults all throughout my childhood. As an adult, that did not change much. I am amazed by their wisdom, their life knowledge and experiences. The more I am exposed to them the more I have access to information I wouldn’t learn otherwise because it is stored and unique to them and their personal stories.
|¿Cómo se enteró de este proyecto y por qué decidió involucrarse?
Me enteré de esta publicación a través de Indeed.com, desde el momento en que leí el listado, sabía que era un proyecto del que quería formar parte. Crecí muy cerca de mis abuelos y adultos mayores a lo largo de mi infancia. Ahora como adulta eso no a cambiado mucho, estoy asombrada por su sabiduría, su conocimiento de la vida y sus experiencias. Cuanto más me expongo a ellos, más acceso tengo información que no aprendería de otra manera porque está almacenada y es única para ellos y sus historias personales.
Have you talked to any Latino elders about this program? What do they think?
Yes, I began promotion of the program both locally in the Bay Area and through virtual trainings to reach Latino elders across the country. I have done presentations at senior centers and at senior housing facilities. The biggest challenge is getting people to understand this new way of thinking about community. Once people understand the concept, the feedback has been positive, with and lots of excitement.
|¿Has hablado con algún anciano latino sobre este programa? ¿Qué piensan ellos?
Sí, comencé a promover el programa tanto a nivel local en el Área de la Bahía como a través de capacitaciones virtuales para alcanzar personas mayores latinas en todo el país. He hecho presentaciones en centros para personas mayores y en instalaciones de vivienda para personas mayores. El mayor desafío es lograr que las personas entiendan esta nueva forma de visualizar comunidad. Una vez que las personas entienden el concepto, la retroalimentación ha sido positiva, y con mucha emoción.
What are you going to offer for this first session?
For the first session we will be offering the following activities;
|¿Qué vas a ofrecer para esta primera sesión?
Para la primera sesión estaremos ofreciendo las siguientes actividades;
Apreciación de Arte
Introducción al Tejido Basico
Serie de Viajes Desde el Sillon serie;
Peru, Mexico e Italia
Como Vivir Una Vida Saludable
¿Sere yo Co-dependiente?
Día de la Madres
Estado de Well Connected Español (Foro Comunitario)
How can people sign up to join?
They can register the following ways for the program;
|¿Cómo pueden las personas registrarse para unirse?
Pueden registrar de las siguientes formas para el Programa;
Teléfono: (877) 400-5867
Correo Postal: 881 Turk Street | San Francisco, CA 94102
WhatsApp: (415) 602-9518
What if people want to volunteer? How can people get involved?
People can get involved as a facilitator for activities, as a member of the advisory council to advise program manager or as a volunteer helping promote and or send birthday and thank you cards out. To get involved, you can call me, Lizette, at (877) 400-5867 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|¿Qué pasa si la gente quiere ser voluntario? ¿Cómo pueden involucrarse las personas?
Las personas pueden participar como facilitador de actividades, como miembro del Comité Asesor para asesorar coordinador de programa o como voluntario para ayudar a promocionar y / o enviar tarjetas de cumpleaños y de agradecimiento.
Para participar, puede llamarme, Lizette, al (877) 400-5867 o envíe un e-mail a email@example.com.
What else do you want people to know about Well Connected Español?
Well Connected Espanol is a program by and for Latino elders. This program is only possible with the participation and volunteerism of the community. Together, we put together a great selection of classes and facilitators to make the experience very enjoyable for participants. We hope people participate, consider volunteering, and help us spread the word that Well Connected Español is launching and is here to stay!
|¿Qué más quieres que la gente sepa sobre Well Connected Español?
Well Connected Espanol es un programa de y para personas mayores Latinas. Este programa solo es posible con la participación y voluntariado de la comunidad. Juntos, organizamos una gran selección de clases y facilitadores para que la experiencia sea muy agradable para los participantes. ¡Esperamos que la gente participe, considere ser voluntario y nos ayude a difundir la noticia de que Well Connected Español se está lanzando y está aquí para quedarse!
The Well Connected and Well Connected Español Spring Session begin Monday, April 8, 2019.
La sesión de primavera de Well Connected y Well Connected Español comienza el lunes 8 de abril de 2019.
The Covia Foundation’s 8th Annual Celtic Cup golf tournament, dinner and live auction takes place Monday, April 29th at the historic Berkeley Country Club. Funds raised by the event will support affordable housing and programs to reduce social isolation, provide for immediate needs and emergencies, and improve food security for seniors. Registration is now open.
The Berkeley Country Club, located in the hills above the Bay with three bridge views, has a personal connection to Covia: Mike Westall, the President of the Board, resides with his wife at St. Paul’s Towers, a Covia Life Plan Community in Oakland, California.
The golf course, designed by famed architect Robert Hunter in 1920, was fully restored in 2011, receiving the first ever Award for Excellence from the prestigious American Golf Architects Association.
This year’s Gala Dinner and Live Auction will be hosted by Liam Mayclem, Emmy Award-winning Co-Host of CBS Eye on the Bay and the KCBS Foodie Chap. He and his partner recently opened Noe’s Cantina in San Francisco.
Liam recently visited Oak Center Towers, a Covia Affordable Community, to see Covia’s services in action. “In a short time, Liam was able to meet several residents, some of whom recognized him from his media work. I can tell he’s going to bring a really personal touch to the event,” says Julie Hoerl, Covia Foundation Development Manager.
Mayclem is also contributing personally to the live auction. “He told us that he loves to do auction items that bring donors together with the mission,” Hoerl says. “In addition to providing a private event at his restaurant, he offered to host a dinner at a Covia Affordable Community for auction winners and seniors who live at the community. He’s even going to provide the recipe for his family’s Shepherd’s Pie.”
Other Live Auction items include a Hawaii getaway, Wine Country weekends, and hard-to-come-by sporting event tickets.
The gala dinner and auction will take place in the Berkeley Country Club’s English Tudor-style clubhouse, a historic building fully restored in 2002, with panoramic views of the Bay.
Funds raised from the event support Covia’s Affordable Housing and Community Services programs, offering housing and services for low-income or isolated seniors. In the past, funds raised from the Celtic Cup have helped open new Market Day locations, supported needed life-safety improvements in Affordable Senior Housing, and provided emergency funding for low income seniors.
Golf registration is available for individuals and foursomes and includes the evening reception, dinner and live auction. Evening-only tickets are also available. Individuals or foursomes can register online. Space is limited. For more information, visit CelticCup.org or contact the Covia Foundation at 925.956.7448.
We are pleased to announce that Covia has been recognized as one of the 50 Best Workplaces in Aging Services in a new list published in Fortune. Covia ranked 29th among senior housing organizations nationwide.
This is the first time Fortune and Great Places to Work have created a list for the Aging Services industry, which includes both senior housing and at-home care. According to Fortune, the list was developed by analyzing survey results from more than 162,000 employees working in both aspects of the industry.
“We are honored to be recognized in this list of organizations in Aging Services,” says Kevin Gerber, President and CEO. “We are especially proud of all the incredible Covia employees who help us live out our mission and guiding principles every day. Their excellence, compassion and camaraderie are what make us a great place to work.”
“Making the list is a huge accomplishment,” says Prab Brinton, Vice President of Human Resources. “Although we have room to grow, I’m very proud of what this recognition says about our organizational culture.”
The article in Fortune Magazine can be found at http://fortune.com/2018/09/27/best-workplaces-for-aging-services-2018/
Covia’s organizational profile is online at http://reviews.greatplacetowork.com/covia
To observe National Assisted Living Week, Laura Darling, Senior Director of Communications, talked to some of our staff to explain more about this misunderstood part of community life.
LD: What do you wish people knew about Assisted Living?
Barb Fischer, Director of Resident Health Services, St. Paul’s Towers: Many people think that Assisted Living refers to a nursing home. I want people to realize that Assisted Living communities are just like Independent Living communities, except assistance of different levels can be provided in their apartment and staff are available 24/7.
Lucy L. Ascalon, RN, Assistant Director of Resident Health Services & Assisted Living Manager, San Francisco Towers: I wish people knew more about Assisted Living, how we take care of people and what other services we provide as a whole.
Charmaine Verador, Director of Resident Health Services, Los Gatos Meadows: One question that always comes up is “Do I have to share a room?” Our assisted living residents, just like independent living residents have their own apartments that they enjoy privately.
Our assisted living residents mingle and socialize with independent living residents because really, there is not much difference. They have the same apartment settings, go to the same dining room and activities as they can tolerate. Residents in assisted living are only getting assistance so that they can continue with their daily lives.
In Assisted Living we do not take over everything. We personalize our care according to what they need. For example if the resident is still able to shower but will need medication management, then we encourage their independence on the shower task and assist with their medications.
LD: My sense is a lot of people are afraid of moving from Independent Living to Assisted Living. What would you like people who feel that way to know about Assisted Living?
Barb Fischer: This is totally true! I always joke about our independent living residents hiding when they see me coming down the hall as they are fearful I want to move them. I really don’t have that desire at all! I want the residents to stay in their apartments as long as possible and have help there if they need it. That is the great thing about the whole community being licensed, which allows residents to receive care or assistance in their Independent Living apartment just like Assisted Living. It gives us the ability to provide assistance in their apartment for longer periods of time.
Lucy L. Ascalon: I think the reason basically that they are afraid of moving to Assisted Living is that they believe they will give up being independent. But I would like the residents to know that we also can extend their being independent by assisting them and keeping them safe and sound, by having somebody 24/7 that checks with them all shift.
Charmaine Verador: Residents feel like they are losing their independence when they move to Assisted Living. But when a resident needs assistance, it is because they have a hard time safely completing some but not all of their activities of daily living. Most of the time, it takes all their energy and effort to accomplish one task that in the end they are no longer able to do anything else for the day because they are too tired. For example, I have a resident that took 2 hour showers because he had a hard time reaching over, getting in and out of the shower, and picking his clothes from the closet. When he moved to Assisted Living, it seems that he had more energy walking to the dining room for meals, and he gets his shower done faster and more efficiently. He is able to go to activities and has thrived well in Assisted Living – better than when he was in Independent Living. He now also appears worry free and is enjoying more activities.
LD: How do you support people who make the move from Independent Living to Assisted Living?
Barb Fischer: In the event the move to Assisted Living is necessary, we always look at the pros and what the benefits are to living on a floor with staffing 24 hours a day. Sometimes it makes more sense for the resident to reside in an Assisted Living apartment based on their needs.
Lucy L. Ascalon: We give them our 100% support in any way we can.
Charmaine Verador: Although it is not required by licensing, we have a nurse 24 hours that checks on the residents when needed. Once they move to Assisted Living, the nurse would visit them more frequently in the beginning just to make sure that their needs are met and that they are settling well. I also visit them during the first day or first few days to see how they settled in.
We have continuity of care meeting every week and we talk about the care of the resident that has just moved to Assisted Living (i.e. are they adjusting well, etc.). During monthly meetings, the staff contribute their feedback and observation about new resident in Assisted Living and we come up with an action plan if there is a need. If needed, we follow up with a care conference. We also check in with the family and see if there is anything else we can do.
LD: What else would you like to share about your work or about Assisted Living in your community?
Barb Fischer: I believe the key to creating a happy assisted living community is letting the residents be involved in their care, keep them as independent as we can for as long as possible, and consistent communication with families. For the families, it’s all about the details. As long as we get the details right and our resident feels safe and secure, we are good!
Lucy L. Ascalon: For me I love what I do, I love serving people and I feel productive every day knowing that I am able to help the staff and the residents.
Covia (pronounced co-VEE-a) is not a word that you will find in any dictionary. It’s not an acronym, but it still stands for something. Covia is a name that emerged from deep consideration about who we are and what we stand for as an organization.
The “co” of Covia comes from our belief in the importance of community, of connection, of companionship, of compassion. The “via” comes from two sources: both “via” – the path, and “vita” the Latin word for life.
At Covia, we come together on the path of life. We hope you’ll join us on the journey.