The power of teamwork is embedded in the Noble culture, and in a recent conversation with Riga housekeepers Cynthia Curran and Heather Fresca, it is clear that teamwork is the secret to Noble’s strength.
Cynthia Curran lives in Pine Plains, NY, and has always loved working with seniors. She had been doing private in-home cleaning for 10 years when her mother-in-law Janet, a former Noble Horizons housekeeper, suggested and encouraged her to look for an opening at Noble. It would combine her skills of cleaning with her love of seniors.
Taking on a full-time housekeeper position at Noble would mean giving up work in private homes but Cynthia welcomed the gratification of being around seniors. “Once Covid hit, I knew I made the right decision. Noble is much safer to work in because of its robust COVID measures including employee testing. With private homes, I just didn’t feel it was a safe environment and I knew how careful Noble was."
Cynthia appreciates the added safety and her predictable schedule but what she values most is spending time with the residents and building relationships with them. During one of her daily conversations, she learned that one resident had worked at a farm where her son shows cows. “You are in their home and you learn their nuances – what they like, what they don’t.” It’s no surprise that her favorite part is the interaction with the residents.
Heather Fresca joined the Noble Horizons’ family as a kitchen aide, where she worked for about a year. Noble was a natural fit as she had worked with seniors since she was a teen. She loved interacting with the residents in the dining room and has a multitude of stories to share. “One resident who generally kept to herself motioned me over one day and I asked what I could do for her. She whispered, ‘I just wanted to talk to you.’ This completely made my day.” Heather has learned that the key to developing bonds with the residents is to listen.
While working in the kitchen she would learn a resident’s meal preferences and loved giving them extra servings of their favorite foods. She also often drew smiley faces, affixed stickers, or wrote messages on the residents’ placemats, just to brighten their day. The residents would then write notes back to her, all of which she has saved in her over-stuffed Hug Notes envelope! Inside are drawings, thank yous, and everything in between.
Once Covid hit and meals were no longer served in the dining room, Heather found that she missed the resident interaction and left the kitchen for the Housekeeping Department. Like Cynthia, she relishes opportunities to talk with the residents and to hear their stories; she plans to continue in housekeeping even after the dining room reopens.
Heather and Cynthia both agree that being a housekeeper at Noble is extremely rewarding and about much more than cleaning. The residents need them and appreciate them – and make them feel that they are making a difference. “We aren’t housekeepers. We are homemakers,” reflected Heather. On one occasion, a resident told Heather that the red sweater in which she was dressed clashed with her pink shirt, so “I helped her choose a different color that better matched her blouse. She was so happy that I took the time to help her.”
Working at Noble Horizons isn’t just a job, they insist, it’s being part of a community. It’s the homemade meatballs that Bill Pond, Noble’s Administrator prepares for the staff; the support, understanding and flexibility of Department Heads like Laurie Frey who accommodate the needs of families; the free meals Noble gives staff to take home to their families and the meals donated by grateful resident families. “It’s just so amazing how appreciative they are of everything Noble does for their family members”, marvels Cynthia.
Heather and Cynthia are grateful to the Noble team as well; the alterations staff have made to their lives and the lengths to which they go to keep residents safe are major reasons why Noble residents have remained COVID-free. As Cynthia and Heather so ably and naturally demonstrate, teamwork is the magic ingredient.