Putting Your Team First: Tom Hunter of Juniper Village at Aurora
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
— Winston Churchill
With this sentiment we share the story of Tom Hunter, Executive Director of Juniper Village at Aurora. Tom’s commitment to continuous actionable improvement and servant leadership has helped PointClickCare customer Juniper Village provide high-quality care to residents and identify and resolve challenges.
Being a Caregiver was Tom’s Calling
Some may say caring for others is in Tom’s DNA. His parents were older and hearing-impaired, so he grew up contributing to the household – assisting with chores, errands, and interpreting for his parents. Now as an adult, Tom volunteers with the Alzheimer’s Association and Meals on Wheels in his free time.
“I don’t know anything except being a caregiver,” says Tom.
Tom has spent more than 30 years in the senior care industry. After serving as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), Tom worked as a housekeeping supervisor, activity director and a regional director of sales and marketing before joining the team at Juniper Village in 2015.
Juniper Focuses on Residents and Families
Founded in 1988 by President and CEO Lynne S. Katzmann, Juniper Communities provides senior living, assisted living, memory care and personal care across retirement communities in Colorado, Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Specifically, Juniper Village at Aurora provides award-winning memory care in and around Aurora, Colorado. The community offers a secure environment designed exclusively for individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease and other memory disorders.
As executive director, Tom focuses on ensuring the facility is following policies and procedures, state regulations, and helping staff members. He enjoys working at Juniper Village, a place he calls “both resident- and family-focused” and “built with [our] residents in mind.”
Tom is an early riser. He makes a point to check in with staffers on the overnight shift early each morning before they depart to see how things are going and how he can help. Tom then spends the next few hours behind his desk, answering emails, participating in meetings, and taking care of everything that has to do with the executive side of the job. He also spends time on the floor helping staff and taking care of residents. This ensures he is always abreast of what’s working and, conversely, what can be improved. Obtaining continuous feedback, being able to adapt to changing demands and ensuring staff have all the tools they need to be successful are core tenets of Tom’s leadership approach.
Tom believes that to be successful, you must model the behavior you want to see in others. When he identifies an area of improvement, Tom employs both group and individual training, and teaching sessions. He explains the reasons why they are doing the training. This ensures staff understand the bigger picture and why they are taking specific steps.
“Our residents are amazing. We are committed to doing everything we can to support them.” Adds Tom.
Tom is a big believer in being present. At Juniper Village, leadership is on site and available to support their teams each day. “At Juniper, leadership and mentorship come from the top,” he says. “Lynne and other members of the management team are always willing to jump in and lend a hand.”
Giving Back to the Community
Tom saw his own grandparents go through the transition into a nursing home. One of Tom’s favorite memories involves his grandfather’s transition into the nursing home when Tom was about 10 years old. “My grandfather wasn’t a very happy person – when he moved into the nursing home, they brought his smile back and his laughter back. I promised him that when I got older, I was going to make sure I give back.”
It’s clear that Tom is a man of his word. “You have to love what you do. I get no greater joy than helping people smile again and enjoy this part of their life, because it’s so important.”
To all of us at PointClickCare, that love is readily apparent. Thank you, Tom, for everything you are doing. You are an inspiration to many.
At PointClickCare, we are dedicated to serving the needs of our customers, the residents and patients they care for and the broader community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to come together and support employees at long-term care facilities who are helping to protect and care for our friends, family members and neighbors. We look forward to bringing you more stories of leaders like Tom who are going above and beyond for their residents, colleagues and communities.
July 27, 2020