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Blog Feature

By: Stephen Juliano on

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Kirkland Village Strives to Make New Residents Feel at Home


When you make a major move in your life, whether it’s to a new part of the country, a new job, or even a new grocery store, there’s usually an adjustment period. You don’t know where to go and you might not have any friends at first. It can be the same for the move to a senior living community. That’s why the staff at Kirkland Village in Bethlehem, PA, put together a process to help new Independent Living residents adjust, and create a better sense of community between new residents and existing ones.

Northwood_Exterior_KV.jpgKirkland Village opened the new Northwood Gardens building in 2016, and with it came an influx of new residents in a fairly short time.

“There was much trepidation among the existing residents, and yes even staff, on how we would mange to integrate the folks,” Liz Jensen, Director of Independent Living Services at Kirkland Village says.

In order to help residents feel a connection to the community and the staff that serve them, the staff at Kirkland thought up some innovative ideas.

Resident Ambassadors

One of the biggest initiatives that was implemented was the Resident Ambassador program. Staff had noticed that some residents were taking it upon themselves in an informal way to help new residents around the community, and they took that opportunity to make it a formal program.

With the new official Resident Ambassador program, the ambassadors would help new residents in a variety of ways, including:

  • Introduce to other residents
  • Physically provide tours around the campus
  • Share meals
  • Attend activities
  • Act as liaison with the Administrative Office
  • Assist with fire alarm procedures
  • And more

Of the 28 new residents who were offered a Resident Ambassador, 100% graciously accepted. The ambassadors are able to answer any questions they have, while providing them with a friend in the first few days of their move.

“The Resident Ambassadors have been hugely successful,” Jensen says.

Formal and Informal Communication

Friendliness and hospitality from other residents represents only half of Kirkland Village's new strategy. Staff also recognized that a positive and friendly relationship between themselves and new residents would be extremely helpful. For that reason, three separate types of visits between staff and the residents were set up, ranging from formal informational meetings to slightly more informal gatherings.

New Resident Orientation

New resident orientation is offered every quarter to any new residents who would like to participate. The orientations are structured programs that last 4.5 hours and includes participation from:

  • Executive Director of Kirkland village
  • Director of Independent Living Services
  • Resource Development representative
  • Community Chaplain
  • Community Life volunteers
  • Exercise physiologist
  • Director of Culinary Services
  • Maintenance/Housekeeping Manager
  • Director of Environmental Services
  • And many more

Each presenter gives a brief introduction to their department and how they can assist the new resident with their transition and afterwards. This is a major event for the community, and dates for the sessions are set a year in advance. Each presenter must also have a designated backup in case they are unable to make it.

Quarterly Floor Meetings

Much less structured than the New Resident Orientations, the Quarterly Floor MeetingsNorthwood front.png provide the residents on each floor an opportunity to get together for a floor meeting. These meetings take a resident directed approach, with a more hands-off approach from staff. There is still some staff participation, including quarterly staff reports, but for the most part these meetings are run by the residents. Topics covered can include a history of past meetings to catch everyone up on what’s happening now, to structural changes happening on each floor.

Bi-Annual Home Care Conferences

In an effort to address any changing health needs of the residents, individual meetings with a nurse from Kirkland Village's Wellness Office are scheduled twice a year. During this brief fifteen minute meeting, staff are available to evaluate needs, update emergency contact information, and answer any specific questions that the resident may have.

Part of the visit also includes updating resident information in the healthcare system, reviewing current medications, and making sure copies of Advanced Medical Directives and POLST Forms are accurate and up to date.


New residents have given glowing reviews when asked about their time so far at Kirkland Village, some even comparing it to being back in a college dorm again. Here is what a few of the residents are saying:


“We are impressed by the warmth and friendship of fellow residents and the staff.  The available activities keep us active, informed, entertained, and fit!”

--Pat and Bill Hoppe


“My first impression of Kirkland Village was the friendliness of everyone I met.  This as well as the excellent facilities was very important in my choosing Kirkland as my new home.  The friendliness and welcoming attitude of everyone was the most important strength for me”.

-- Marjorie Mosher

“Our move into Northwood Gardens was a welcoming that we never anticipated.  The day before, moving out of our home, I had asked our movers if they wanted me to order pizza.  “no, Mam” they said, “we get pizza five nights a week!”  But when we moved in to Northwood, at noontime a banquet arrived not just for us, but for our four movers:  turkey sandwiches, salad, drinks, and Tina’s homemade apple pie.  The movers were astounded and said they had never been greeted or treated so kindly.  Later, Lori arrived with food for us for a week full of breakfasts:  eggs, bread, butter, milk, juice, coffee!  We were flabbergasted and so very grateful because we were much too tired to find our way to the dining room.  Later nurses arrived to check on us; Staci Bell, our Kirkland designer checked on us.  It was a welcome to our new home, and we never looked back…this was where we would live, make new friends and find a life full of fun with many others who had made the same choice.“

-- Brenda Johnson and Robert McGovern

As part of our mission at Presbyterian Senior Living, we strive to provide compassionate, vibrant and supportive communities and services to promote wholeness of body, mind and spirit. Programs like this are just one of the ways we are able to do so. To learn more about how a CCRC can Enrich Your Life, download our free eBook below.

How CCRCs Can Help Enrich Your Life 

About Stephen Juliano

As the Social Media Manager at Presbyterian Senior Living, Stephen spends his day curating and editing blog posts, images, videos and other content to share on PSL's website and social media sites.

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