Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Outstanding Assisted Living Caregivers Earn National Distinction

The National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) Yesterday announced the recipients of the 2018 NCAL Awards Program, which recognizes exemplary assisted living caregivers and programs. The four award winners represent the best of the assisted living profession, a sector of long term care that fosters choice, dignity and independence.

The 2018 NCAL Awards Program recipients are:

NCAL Administrator of the Year: Sahar B. Edalati, Executive Director at Sunrise Villa Culver City in Los Angeles, Calif.;
NCAL Assisted Living Nurse of the Year: Amanda Garcia, RN, Wellness Coordinator at The Kensington in Fort Madison, Iowa;
NCAL Noble Caregiver in Assisted Living: Margaret Morton, Recreational Therapist at Trezevant Episcopal Home in Memphis, Tenn.; and
National Assisted Living Week® Program of the Year: The Chelsea at Fanwood in Fanwood, N.J.

“Sahar, Amanda, Margaret and the whole team at Chelsea at Fanwood demonstrate how new approaches and continuing edification can reap tremendous rewards,” said NCAL Executive Director Scott Tittle. “What’s truly promising is that the three individuals the NCAL Awards Program is recognizing are relatively young in their long term care careers, and already, they are bringing forth innovative ideas and inspiring their colleagues. We hope they motivate more people to discover their calling in serving our nation’s seniors and individuals with disabilities.”

Sahar B. Edalati, NCAL Administrator of the Year

Edalati earned his bachelor’s in aging and a master’s in gerontology from the University of Southern California. During his practicum, he lived in an assisted living community where he was known as “the youngest resident.” Now, as one of the youngest executive directors at Sunrise Senior Living, Edalati has led Sunrise Villa Culver City in attaining high employee engagement scores, as well as the Bronze—Commitment to Quality award through the AHCA/NCAL Quality Award Program. Beyond improving the residents’ quality of life, Edalati contributes to the community’s social activities with a monthly poetry class for residents. He also expanded Sunrise Villa Culver City’s efforts to offer affordable housing to eligible seniors in the larger community as part of a joint partnership with the Culver City Housing Division. Edalati was nominated for this award by a third party.

Amanda Garcia, NCAL Assisted Living Nurse of the Year

Garcia has been a registered nurse and The Kensington’s wellness coordinator for the past eight years. She is tireless in furthering her education in long term care and then sharing her knowledge with others. When Iowa created a model of the National POLST (Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) Paradigm, Garcia was the first in the county to become a facilitator and instructor to help ensure residents’ end-of-life choices were being honored. As a Virtual Dementia Tour® facilitator and certified dementia care practitioner, she helped train staff at the local hospital and Iowa State Penitentiary. In 2017, The Kensington earned the Silver—Achievement in Quality award through the AHCA/NCAL Quality Award Program, and Garcia received the Distinguished Director of Nursing in Leadership Award from the Iowa Center for Assisted Living. She is the current president of the Iowa Council of Nurse Leaders.

Margaret Morton, NCAL Noble Caregiver of the Year

Morton is credited in developing a unique activities program to maximize socialization, independence, functionality and quality of life for the residents of Trezevant Episcopal Home. Specifically, she organized a 10-week equine therapy program for five residents from the memory care unit at a local equine therapy center. While equine therapy primarily serves children and teens with intellectual or developmental disabilities, Morton showed it could also be beneficial to older adults, and the five residents living with dementia saw noticeable improvements in their strength, gait, and speech. She also introduced art classes, sewing classes, and family support groups for loved ones living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Additionally, Trezevant Episcopal Home is certified as a MUSIC & MEMORY® location thanks to Morton.

The Chelsea at Fanwood, National Assisted Living Week® Program of the Year


The staff members of The Chelsea at Fanwood put together an enriching National Assisted Living Week (NALW) program for its residents in September 2017. The community embodied last year’s theme “Family is Forever” by holding a family barbeque on Grandparent’s Day, painting an outdoor family tree mural, hosting a family talent show, and creating a cookbook with passed-down family recipes. The Chelsea at Fanwood also embraced community involvement by holding fundraisers for the Fanwood Fire Department and Rescue Squad and the Alzheimer’s Association of New Jersey. Additionally, children from a local daycare/preschool visited to participate in a scavenger hunt to unearth inspirational messages from one generation to another.

The award winners will be recognized at the 69th Annual AHCA/NCAL Annual Convention & Expo in San Diego, Calif. held October 7-10, 2018.

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