Beacon Hill at Eastgate Expert Series
Amanda Daggett, Director of Nursing at Beacon Hill at Eastgate, has been here for eight years and continues to strive for excellence every day. She says she was initially hesitant to accept a director position, but what convinced her to take the job was CEO Jeff Huegli’s palpable love for senior living, his goals for Beacon Hill and for the kind of retirement community it could be.
Being very goal-oriented herself, Amanda started planning for the future immediately – “I wanted to implement some changes that would get us to a higher level of care” at what was then called the Mary & Martha Center, now known as the “1845 Building.” With Amanda as the Director, the Center went from primarily long-term care residents with low clinical acuity levels to accommodating up to eight rehab patients with higher acuity levels and extensive clinical needs.
After the expansion of the 1845 Building, Amanda continued her and her team’s quest to provide the very best care for residents who live at Beacon Hill, especially those in Assisted Living, Memory Care and Skilled Nursing. Although not a stated goal, Beacon Hill’s Skilled Nursing achieved a Medicare/Medicaid Five-Star rating, a distinction that is held only by the top 10% of skilled nursing facilities throughout the country. “It is a big deal,” Amanda said, “and people pay attention to it, however, our goal is quality care and service because this is what we do all-day, every day.”
She stresses the individuality of the Beacon Hill residents and those individual traits and needs must be taken into account when caring for them. “We develop unique relationships with each resident. We want to know what’s important to that person and our goal is to provide it every time.” Even though Amanda understands the reason behind regulations and policies, she admits that she “sometimes despises them – I don’t like when the regulations bind us in a way that we must provide care to every resident in a consistent manner. Every resident has preferences that cannot be achieved in the same way.”
Then COVID came and changed everything, except the total commitment by the entire Beacon Hill team to protect the residents and each other. Recognizing the strict guidelines that curtailed visits and social gatherings could result in loneliness and isolation, Amanda gave the staff considerable leeway in caring for the residents. She urged them to come up with creative ways to meet their nutritional needs, to encourage mobility, and to prevent depression.
And they did. Snack carts came by residents’ rooms twice a day. Staff passed out puzzles, set up hallway games, doorway exercises and took residents for walks – even in wheelchairs. “Humans are social, and our environments were created for social interaction,” Amanda explained. “We had to come up with new ways of providing care to our residents while still containing and mitigating spread of the virus.”
Amanda said she did not limit her staff. “I gave them latitude to walk with our residents, to sit with them, read books to them, or play games.” She explained, “Residents weren’t allowed to see their families, so we became their family. We also used all types of technology to help them connect with those family and friends they wouldn’t otherwise see.”
It is not just all of us at Beacon Hill who recognize what a sterling professional Amanda is; last summer she received the 2020 Excellence in Nursing award by the Grand Raids Magazine in recognition of her and the other recipients’ contributions in creating a healthier community and providing superb patient care. Here’s what the article said about Amanda: “Her vision for quality care has mastered the art of turning a clinically-minded field into a model of success with a hospitality-driven focus.”
Still, for Amanda, it is all about the team she and the leadership at Beacon Hill have built. “They are exceptionally skilled with great hearts and compassion. I love the entire experience of working at Beacon Hill. It has such a family feel; we all care about each other and learn from one another.” And for that, “she is so thankful.”