Building Trust with Your Staff in Times of Change

with Tina Sandri,

CEO, Forest Hills of DC

This week on the Art of Aging, host Michael Hughes welcomes Tina Sandri, CEO of Forest Hills of DC. During this episode, Tina discusses her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. She shares her organization’s approach to encouraging staff vaccination through diverse communication strategies and understanding different decision-making styles. She emphasized the importance of trust, empathy, and providing transparent information without political influence. Tina also reflects on the ongoing challenges in senior living, the role of technology, the need for caregiver support, personal insights on aging, and more.

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Highlights from this week’s conversation include:

  • Building Trust with Your Workforce at Times of Change (1:55)
  • Tina’s Passion for Senior Living and Aging Services (2:44)
  • Overview of Forest Hills of DC (4:29)
  • Challenges of Operating in Washington D.C. (6:20)
  • Tina’s Approach to COVID-19 Communication and Education (13:44)
  • Understanding Different Learning Styles (16:10)
  • Addressing Workforce Concerns and Decision-Making Styles (18:08)
  • Implications of COVID-19 Vaccination on Workforce and Community (20:26)
  • Creative communication strategies (23:46)
  • Achieving herd immunity (24:40)
  • Approach to education and decision-making (26:38)
  • Values and crisis management (28:53)
  • Preparing for the future (32:53)
  • Honoring frontline workers (35:09)
  • Personal growth and purpose (37:39)
  • Inspiring resilience (39:45)
  • Connecting with Tina and Final Takeaways (42:51)


Abundant Aging is a podcast series presented by United Church Homes. These shows offer ideas, information, and inspiration on how to improve our lives as we grow older. To learn more and to subscribe to the show, visit


Michael Hughes 00:07
Hello and welcome to The Art of Aging which is part of the Abundant Aging podcast series from United Church Homes. On this show, we look at what it means to age in America and in other places around the world. With positive and empowering conversations that challenge, encourage and inspire everyone everywhere to age with abundance. Today, I am so pleased to have Tina Sandri on the show with us. Tina is currently the chief executive officer for Forest Hills in DC, which is a multi-site community offering a continuation of seeing a continuum of senior living services in our nation’s capital. That’s Washington DC for our listeners, including assisted living memory care, long and short stay skilled care, respite and hospice care. And this is a role that she jumped into right during COVID In May of 2020. And we’re going to talk about that. Tina is an amazing leader. She integrates values for compassion, respect, integrity, inclusion, growth, mindset, and sustainability into her teams and the organization that she serves. She has over 30 years of professional experience as a licensed nursing home administrator, and has successfully worked in CCRCs as continuing care retirement communities assisted living nursing home and memory care environments, with both for profit and nonprofit organizations list of accolades as long as your RM most notably, including the Midnight’s Women of Distinction award for 2023 to Oh, not an easy thing to get. So congratulations, Tina. And on top of this she is just such a strong believer in just holistic care of holistic models of health. She’s a certified yoga instructor, and has so many of the things that she does in her life really to support the idea of positive aging. So, so happy we grabbed you for the show you are very busy. Tina, welcome.

Tina Sandri 01:51
Thank you, thank you very much. You’re too kind. Thank you,

Michael Hughes 01:54
Thank you. And the topic of this podcast, I’m going to call it building trust with your workforce at times of change. And, you know, in thinking about this and unpacking the subject, I couldn’t think of anyone better to interview that you, Tina, because you’ve just got such a great kind of case study, in effect of really building trust with workforce at an extremely challenging time for our industry, which is during the pandemic. I mean, the pandemic impacted everyone, but we just really just got broadsided with it in senior living. So we’re going to talk about that. But I want to kind of open up with a question that I asked a lot of our guests is that, you know, you’ve done a lot in your professional life. But you’re choosing this area of service, you’re choosing this career, what drives your passion for senior living and agent services.

Tina Sandri 02:44
Key to that question, Mike, I am Chinese. And so one of the core values that I was raised with was care for the elders. And I explained this to people who live in America. I was born and raised in America. So I am American, but I’m also the child of Chinese immigrants. And I think we talked about the value of freedom in America, meat was a value that regardless of your diversity, where you come from, where you live, it’s a value that we as Americans can gather around and have a common belief that freedom is important. It’s part of our national fabric of who we are, freedom to choose the freedom to love that we have to work, all those types of things, freedom of speech, religion. And I think, if you were to take that sentiment, and look at what is sort of the apex vibe in China, it would be respect for elders. And so that’s the way I was raised. And originally, my dad wanted me to be a doctor, and I didn’t really want to be a doctor. So the great compromise with Bo to your parents, but you can kind of tweak it. So I said, Okay, I will go into healthcare, but I really was more interested in the business management, leadership side and the clinical side. So that’s kind of how I found my path in high school. And I’m one of the few people that decided intentionally without Greek sports background that in high school, I decided this is what I wanted to do for my career. And when I was Christian, the whole time. I was just, that’s,

Michael Hughes 04:14
you know, to be to choose that. So so so early in life is kind of remarkable, but it’s just a testament to where you are today, just having that as a through line in your career. Tell us about where you work today. What is Forest Hills of DC

Tina Sandri 04:29
Forest Hills, a DC is 134 year old organization. We’re a nonprofit located in the nation’s capital, and we have a long standing contiguous history of serving our elders in the city, that we provide skilled services, assisted living, security, assisted living memory care services, hospice services, respite services and short term rehab services. So essentially, it’s the CCRC continuum with The memory care component minus the Il. And so what we have is sort of like the health care side continuum, cross and very happy to have the service level here. And it’s, I think, one of the things that makes us unique here in DC aside from our 30 134 year old contiguous mission, and our five star status, one also silver awarded and the Ultra Rich quality boards. But really, what I hear that makes us what we are and why our residents choose us is because we have a home-like, every home-like feeling. So we’re not a hotel, you don’t get the hotel feeling. We’re not a club feeling we are very home like if people choose us for that reason, our building that we’re in right now, we’ve only been here 98 years. And we were at some other campuses prior to that, but we’ve been on this campus for 98 years. So like, like, like some old bodies. This building also has its quirks, because it is 98 years old, but it also has the charm level palace as well.

Michael Hughes 06:05
I love that. I love that. And also kudos to you for attaining the five star rating the silver Baldrige Award SaaS, I mean, this is a tough place to operate a licensed care facility, right?

Tina Sandri 06:19
It is a tough place, there’s about 18 nursing homes. And so we have our very, our survey team have plenty of time to come around and visit as compared to other states where you might have 100, or one nursing home. So it is a much smaller community. Everybody knows everybody and again, double edged sword. But it also does have a very professional sense, a sense of community because we are small because we don’t have representation on the hill. One of the things that makes us unique is that we have to self advocate for our needs, we don’t have a congressman to go to to say I need you to help you get this change for us. So we work directly within our association, collaboration in DC to go to the Medicaid office to the DC government to the department of health issues. Don’t have an intermediary per se. So it does require just to have a little bit more direct dialogue and cohesion and sense of community treating providers. In some way, you have to band together, which

Michael Hughes 07:25
are rolling, but you’re always on your toes. Right. And that’s what you know, you’ve got it. You’ve got auditors that could probably come by more frequently, the standards are tough. I mean, you can’t slack off. And you know,

Tina Sandri 07:35
but I would say nobody can slap, right, you know, within the Senior Living industry, it’s a tough place to be from a regulatory compliance standpoint, your listeners are going to be aware of that as well. I think what makes DC a little more unique is because it is a high cost area, the nation’s capital. You know, one of our challenges is that our workforce generally can’t afford a two bedroom apartment in Washington, DC. And so most of our workers commute in from outside of DC, which provides a whole different set of challenges outside of this context, but for example, they grant funds that support workforce initiatives in DC. But if they’re not a DC resident, they don’t mind so most of our workforce can’t get to that. Those kinds of funds, and then the rest jurisdiction issues being a small place. If something’s happening in Maryland, or Virginia, it’s going to impact our workforce as well. Yeah, interesting competition. So we’re not just competing with Starbucks and hotels, we’re also competing with Maryland, which is, you know, four miles away from us. So it’s an interesting dynamic. And workforce

Michael Hughes 08:39
is just the lifeblood of everything. And nothing works unless you have a workforce. And, you know, this is what we’re talking about today, you know, building trust with your workforce, and building trust first during times of change. And here you are, you chose to become the CEO of Forest Hills in May of 2020. Knowing full well, the COVID was in full swing. And I would say that you managed to do this far better than others in your space. And I’ve got to tell our audience that this is something Teens and her team have received international coverage and recognition for. You know, You’re too modest to say this, but I’ll say I mean, you were a New York Times cover article and you were interviewed by the BBC. I mean, were you surprised by the attention that you got? Yeah,

Tina Sandri 09:23
It was definitely surprising in the beginning to get the attention. It started because a journalist from the New York Times was looking to do coverage. As you know, the index patient for COVID in America came out of a nursing home on the West Coast. And so nursing homes were getting a lot of negative press to be honest, in the beginning with regards to COVID And what was happening in their shilling people and so forth. And I know that we ran a top notch program, I’m very proud of what we do. You know, one of our principal values here is integrity. It’s doing the right thing when nobody’s looking at And I have beliefs that our team is doing well. So when we got asked if we would showcase what we were doing and give the New York Times access, we were the first nursing home in America, to give the New York Times access to our community over a three month window. So they wanted to come and look at our vaccine clinics, talk to our employees, talk to people who were vaccine hesitant to talk to people who didn’t get the vaccine, to understand why. And at that time, there was a lot of fear, a lot of confusion, a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of lack of knowledge, a lack of trust. And so we thought about it, and I said, Sure, you can come and take a look at what we were doing. And over that three month window, because we were the first to give them that kind of access, they kind of learned about our community, our philosophies, what we were doing to work with our employees over that time period. And we shared some of our practices, which then became, in part, in this article that was in the New York Times. And then I got a call from CNN wanting to understand what was in the article. And from there, it just sort of mushroom had the opportunity to educate the United States Chamber of Commerce, of which Google and Yahoo and those other types of business belong to on how to work with your workforce to encourage them to get the vaccine. So it was definitely a mushrooming opportunity. And our mission here is to create a supportive community that inspires and engages seniors and their caregivers. And so for us, the idea where we could be an inspiration to others to practice COVID safety to get to those numbers with their workforce was in part fulfillment of our mission and to care for their caregivers. So it was consistent with who we are as a nonprofit. Yeah, I

Michael Hughes 11:49
I mean, I know you did remarkable stuff, you know, during the vaccinate, initial vaccination period. And we’ll talk about that. But, you know, going back to when you first landed at Forest Hills, you’ve taken the job you’ve accepted, here I am brand new CEO of Forest Hills, it’s May of 2020. And your staff has gone through two months of craziness or even more up to that point. How do you start off on the right foot in that situation? What do you think that you did? Or what did you want? What did you intend to do as you started to kind of build that trust and be that leader? Well,

Tina Sandri 12:24
for us, as you’re extremely different, because everything was on lockdown, you couldn’t really, it was don’t go around to places you shouldn’t be in to minimize exposure and contacts. And so typical rounding wasn’t happening as much in that scenario. And when we talk about COVID situation as a case study for us. I arrived in May, and we have vaccines by the end of the year, around the last week of December. And so for us leading up to that vaccine window. We did about eight weeks of communications with our team, we knew the vaccine was being developed. And we knew it was coming. I’d be honest, I was the first one to say let’s mandate it, because we already mandate flow. Let’s just add it to the mandatory list. And the department heads and our administrator were saying no, that’s not going to work. People just won’t go with it. And for all the reasons that we already talked about why they wouldn’t go with it. So the regrouped, you know, listening to our department heads, is that okay, well, where do we start from? And so we looked at our values, and looked at our values of respect and passion for the fear of compassion for the overworked status, and passion for the mistrust. And it’s when you feel and you empathize with someone who’s feeling and then you’re going to take action to somehow alleviate that stressor, we decided, okay, if they’re coming from this space, how can we alleviate their fears. And also, a core belief in working in senior living, I’ve always had is that our staff are pretty smart. And most people are trying to do the best thing and the best way that they figured it out with the knowledge they have at the time. And I believe that to be the case with most humans, in most industries they are trying to do the best job they can. That way they got it figured out today. So we figured our workforce hadn’t figured it out since really, they’re focused on resident care. They weren’t spending their time doing the research and the studies. So being created basically an eight week outreach outreach program to communicate. And my background is also in communication. So looking at what we need to teach about things like what is Mr. Ma? That fake vaccine because it is a mimicking of a traditional vaccine, so people didn’t understand. Is that fake? Is it plastic? Is it what ‘s going on there, then they want to know how it was invented? Who invented it when? Who was profiting from this invention? Whose pockets were they lining? What was inside the vaccine? What are the components of the vaccine? Is it stuff I’ve already had in my body? Is this new stuff? Is it coming from? Is it manufactured? It is that nature. And then there was a real lack also understanding what are side effects versus immune response being something typical that you would expect, like the fever and the sore arm. But, and that would be a good sign that your body’s furnace was turning on to cook the way the germs, right, but side effects, which then become, you know, warning labels on drugs. That’s a different ballgame. And so we needed to educate our workforce on all these different components. They were more than just giving you some examples. But to kind of think about what were the concerns and questions that people had about the vaccine itself became the subject of what we wanted to educate. And then we realized that we wanted to catch people in their best and strongest learning method. We have some people that are auditory learners, and listeners have shorts that are listening to this podcast, other people might prefer to read books about the topic, have visual learners, and then you have the tactile learners who have to experience it, right. So you can tell me how to get from here to record a drugstore down the street, you can show me on a map, or you can walk with me. Right? So we all learn in different ways. And so we catered to the answers to the questions that I just told you in terms of different learning methods. And then we also did something that I would say, I like to call it eight arrays, what are the eight ways that you communicate. And when we push out content to folks, there’s lots of different examples. So you can do an email, you can do a text, you can do posters, or flyers, you can do huddles, and stand ups, you can do one to one, you can do videos, you can do photos, right a picture’s worth 1000 words, it’s where a mural is on the street, you can do return demonstration. And now we have social media as another outlet for communications, right? Phone calls, robo calls, live calls. So there’s lots of different ways. And I always tell our teams that if there’s something important that you want to get across, don’t think because you sent an email with a return receipt, it means it went out and people digested it. Not, you know, certain generations or an email, some are on their phones, some on either, and then you’ve gotta catch them in person. So we felt that these communications could be repeated out in different ways. Then you have people’s decision making and how they stick to the data that you give them and how they value sorting that information. So if you’re saying, hey, we want to, we want you to take the COVID vaccine, those people that are relational, I took the vaccine because my mom was a transplant patient. She’s immune compromised for the rest of her life. And so I want to protect her that that would be a relational choice that you make, then you would have the people who are data driven, who wants to know, of the how many people were going to put before me? Am I a guinea pig? And what were the sides? How many people had side effects? Right? How many people got fevers? How many people dropped dead from it? These are things that people who are data oriented want to know. And then you had your process, they heard you had to get over that hurdle with them. So for a process thing, or it might look like why did this get approved so quickly, compared to other vaccines that take years to get in? We’d had to answer. It’s because the people who wear business suits, like me, will have to give their stamp of approval on each step along the way, moving a lot faster than usual. It’s not because the people’s lab coats cut any steps along the way. And so we had to be able to share the stories around that and the information around that, or that this was developed in part by my workforces 95% Like an African American, and Islanders. And so we have to explain Oh, did you know that one of the inventors is African American. And so that would help us get over objections to testy Tuskegee, and Henrietta Lacks experimentation, knowing that Hopkins is just down the street from us. That history of misusing an African American woman’s cells was a very local concern, I’m sure a national as well, but particularly local because it happened that we had to overcome with our workforce as well. And so having these addressed head on along with understanding that people want to hear from trusted resources. So We would say, here’s the information we’re sharing with you. Take it to your church, take it to your family, take it to your friends, digest the information, think about it. Come back, if you have any questions, we intentionally left politics seven out of it, there was nothing about the President says democratic says Republicans says, We just left it to the scientific data, and intentionally left out politics, the wider implications in the community, because what made this vaccine different was its implication on someone’s life. And when you think about work issues, a lot of people handle work, and then they go home, and they can put on their home hat, mom, partner, whatever. And in the context of COVID, you couldn’t because it affected your social life, and who could be on route ? Did you have a vaccine part approved, so you got a movie theater, or you were invited to the neighborhood, wedding or funeral because of your vaccine status. So there were implications outside of life. But we intentionally didn’t address this, we just talked about the science of the vaccine, and said, We know that you are an intelligent person, and you will make the right choice for you and your family. And in the end, our workforce actually did make the right choice for themselves. And then I’m sorry, in terms of thinking styles, the other type of thinker is your creativity out of the box. CEPR. Right. You’re one of those, Mike, you, you’re always thinking about new ideas. And so people in those areas are looking at the vaccine kind of looking for oh, you know, mRNA, it sounds like the new sexy vaccine, because it’s the first time it’s being launched on a big scale. And yet, it’s development, if you’re a blue process they are in the makings for 20 years, right, you’ve been used in terms of looking at Ebola and other issues around the world. So this was the first launch for COVID. But it wasn’t complete. And also, educating people that COVID While this species of COVID was deadly, and a new thing if you went and looked at your Lysol bottle. So like they were reprinted, Lysol for years has had on their bottle, it’s effective against COVID, there have been other COVID, it’s just not as widespread as this one. And so it’s just all those kinds of things, educating the workforce, and that what was inside the vaccine, you’ve already gotten into your body through living your life, you’ve already been exposed to all the components of it, there’s nothing new in it that you’re not seeing, per se. And that was the idea of whatever life enrichment aids he has, he was talking to his peers. He heard that their objection was wondering what’s in it. So he went and found out what was in it, and then found out where those ingredients are being used in your everyday life already. And he created these little fliers, he took them around the building and gave them to coworkers. And we saw that as an opportunity that there was a self made champion for the cause of getting vaccines. And so we said, “What can we do to support you?” And we had him elevated to participate in a town hall for the black community that included folks in the White House and other people. And he was essentially the provider’s rep on this call, and this is our activities aid. And you did a wonderful outstanding job of advocating so it doesn’t just have to come from leadership, the fact that you can recognize it in the building, when you have a natural, a person with natural talent towards whatever your challenge is that you can see and elevate that talent, give it a platform and give them the voice and resources to have that fulfillment of work, that engagement that goes beyond the job description. So for all those reasons, we were able to think about how people learn, right? The auditory, visual, and tactile learners have eight different ways to communicate the various different points, like we did spend a week on what mRNA is. And we push it out through social media, we push it out through flyers, we push it out through huggles. So we will take those eight ways to communicate by multiple ways to push the message a week out into different formats. We had giant screens in the lobby that were running videos with Tyler Perry on. We had a little fortune cookie slip saying catch because it was like a 20 minute video he did. And staff were coming in and out and said, Here’s a slip, you can watch the rest of it on your phone. Or you can watch it at home and so they would help them. I literally was helping employees pull it up on YouTube and things and get it started and say here, you can just press play and watch it later. And that’s not traditionally how we educate our workforce. But we had to find lots of different ways to do that. So in doing so we were able to get our group towards basically herd immunity before the words mandated vaccine were even on the table nationally. I was

Michael Hughes 24:57
worried what you weren’t, you were just in the volunteer mode right now, and the stakes are incredibly high for your business, very high. So you are able to basically with all these, I mean, I love this as a case study, because I’m thinking about a business leader out there that needs to merge two companies together, or needs to divest of something, or launching a new business line or things that just generally mean, change, and an environment where the workforce is utterly valuable. I mean, especially during that time, I mean, oh, hey, yeah, I’d love to wake up and apply for a job at a nursing home today, during the middle of COVID. That’s a great idea for me, you know, so it’s, there’s all these I mean, I love what you’re unpacking here. And I can see that through the line between things like recognizing the different ways that people consume information. And then just but you must have had just enormous pressure on yourself just to get this message out and do well. I mean, this is a full court press, right? Yes,

Tina Sandri 25:55
it was. And it was, yo, if you were watching the news at the time, it was life and death in many places, and a lot of nursing home residents were dying from COVID. So on top of having a really great team that does infection control, the cleanliness, the nursing care, and all these things as we were educating our workforce as well. They were seeing that we were coming from a place of you must, you could, you should, in fact, those were words we were telling people not to use and part of the education, we will not be prescriptive, we will not be suggested that we really took a neutral stance and said, because it wasn’t mandatory at that point. We took a neutral stance and said, make some decisions and figure it out. We also very intentionally, so it was to provide information. And there was no pressure, per se. And then we also very intentionally took a stance of no bribes. There were some states at the time that were giving away cars or giant gift cards. I think I saw one or two models that give away college tuition, to encourage our troops to get vaccinated. But we felt that for a decision that is important if we were saying you’re smart enough to make this decision, that it would cheapen the information that we were sharing, to put money on it. Because then it would become Why do you have to pay us? Is it a good thing for me? Why would you have to pay me to do that? So then that would generate mistrust. Oh, there’s,

Michael Hughes 27:28
there’s just, I’m sorry, if there’s a I could listen to you all day, because this is just fascinating. I’m just sort of thinking about all of this. In my mind, I’m just thinking about just your relationship with people and your workforce. Me. And I just keep hearing again and again. This is during a time where a lot of people would say, oh, my gosh, why? First of all, why aren’t you getting the vaccine, right? It’s so important to my business, don’t you see? Then you have this tendency to get angry at people that just want to get the vaccine. And I’m just talking about what we’ve seen in other places, right? I mean, there’s, and then you fight tooth and nail and people resort to bribes and all of those different things. I mean, how many staff members are we talking about?

Tina Sandri 28:09
It’s about 200.

Michael Hughes 28:10
Okay, that’s not a small number of people. I mean, you know, the average size of a business is under that. So, again, it’s something new. So let me ask you another quick question, right? I mean, in business, there are things that you plan for, I’m going to merge, I’m gonna have a new product, I’m going to divest whatever it might be. And then there are just crises and surprises, right price communication. The founder passed away. I don’t know what hostile takeover or asteroid hit the factory, or something like that. Did you always have kind of did you in the market? Were you ready for this? As a crisis? Were you ready for a pandemic? Was there a playbook that you kind of went to as this or? Well,

Tina Sandri 28:52
I think having an extensive background working in nonprofits, we start with values, we start by listening. And when there’s a decision to be made, that impacts the residents. And it can be a complicated one. My first thought is, how are we serving the residents? How does this tie to our mission? How does what we have to do with the task at hand, whether it’s COVID, or vergers, or emergency disasters? How do we fulfill our mission to serve our residents using work on because that is, that’s what keeps you pulling the boat rowing in the same direction together, and everybody has a different oarsmen position in the boat, but we’re all rowing in the same direction and the direction is in fulfillment of the mission and service to the residents. What do we do? And how do we do it? What is the attitude? What are the values that impact our choices that we make? Three parts? And so I think when you start there, you can’t go wrong. One of my predecessors I went to school with I Mining, shout out there, she would always say, start with the resident, it can never go wrong. Right. So that in part is some of it. But when you ask if I’ve seen this before, and I had a playbook I’ve been around long enough to see AIDS. And back when AIDS was out, it’s the same thing. It was a new illness that people didn’t understand nurses were afraid to touch patients. And so I think I had the life experience to kind of go, Okay, I’ve seen this before, you know, people who are afraid to touch people afraid to care, because they’re afraid not on the scale that we saw COVID, but I have seen it on a smaller scale. And, you know, if you studied public health, you know, about Ebola, you know, there are, these illnesses do pop up around the world, it is part of biological evolution, that sometimes something evolves that’s not so friendly to the human species. And, and so it does happen. And I think, when you live life and Nelson, you work with emergency preparedness, you one of the quirky things you’d asked about where he thinks about breached Washington working in Washington, DC, is that this is the home of the president United States, we are always prepared for disaster management in Washington, DC. And I think we have a superb, citywide health care, emergency coordinated response networking system that practices communication, drills, and education on a regular basis. And so having that practice, perhaps, that helps to go through. And the thing is, I’ve started the GE change management process, which is rapid change while you’re holding your organization together. So there are different models that can be borrowed, and the Baldrige quality towards those comes from cross industry. So there is the opportunity to look at cross events, right? different sectors, you can look at emergency preparedness, you can look at mergers, like we were talking about earlier, but borrowing those lessons, you can look at other illnesses that have happened. You can look at the lessons learned and sort of extrapolate what the gems the nuggets out of those that we can take forward into COVID grand or the next is time. And accessibility.

Michael Hughes 32:21
Let’s talk about the future a little bit, you know, I mean, so now we are, I mean, COVID has not ended for our industry, and you’re still dealing with it. And and also, you know, we’re in a business where I mean, people do have changing wants and desires. And I think that the image of our types of your safety services, our types of services has been affected, obviously by the mindset of COVID. How are you? I guess? How are you? Where do you see things going with foreign sales? How are you still preparing for Hills for the future?

Tina Sandri 32:53
When I think of the future, I think the biggest thing is an opportunity and challenge. The Chinese word for crisis is the same as opportunity. And we look at the shrinking workforce, not just in senior living, but everywhere, just because of the aging demographics, the fact that we have to learn how to do more with less people. It’s almost the opposite of after World War Two when people came home, and we had the GI Bill and people got educated and all of a sudden women were getting educated as well, we had a boom in the workforce. And so we had to find jobs, we found extra jobs, and women entered the workforce. And even in recent years, you can find greeters at Staples, you find, you know, ways that we can involve people, we’re almost going to have to start backing that down because of the aging grooming demographics of how we do more with less people. And certainly technology will play a role. But innovation can be technology, but it can also be through small process changes. You can read through your job descriptions and say, this is nice, this is a must , this is extra. And no. Where do you cut if you have to make that cut? In reality, we do have to figure out how to do more with less people. Robotic Systems, certainly people extender technology and computer software’s that people extender. I was just talking to someone who has a product that does, essentially the bent weight scale is embedded into the head. And it can also tell when residents are turning over so that you understand, you don’t have to go check every two hours during the visit because the electronically knows that the residents are already self-turned, things like that they need more and more of that. And I think that’s where the real opportunity is in creating those types of systems, as well as making the supports and systems to those who work in are the backbone of senior living providing them more support, not just economically, socially. In the search for social determinants of health, but also as a society, the way we value our school teachers, who sometimes don’t make a whole lot more money than our frontline caregivers, either, but they are losing, because you’re taking care of my baby. And we just don’t have that same amount of reverence for our frontline workers and senior living, as we do for school teachers. And I would love to see that more. And so what are the changes that we can do to create that? Being Asian when I was in Japan , before the start of COVID, I went to come visit and I had my little Google Translator, and I went, I went to find a nursing home. And he said, I’m from America. And I want to see how you guys do things. Will you give me a tour? And they said, Oh, yeah, sure. And they walked me around. And it was interesting, on a number of fronts, this integrated model, where staff are eating and living their daily life with the residents, as opposed to serving the residents, they really were living together is the best way I could sum it up. You know, the daycare residents are getting their rehab during the day so that the home paid during the day. So when they go home, the caregiver at home doesn’t have to deal with it as much. But their ratio in Japan, where I visited was three to one, nursing. We don’t have that anywhere in America, you know, because out there, it’s a reasonably paid job. So it’s an honorable job to care for the doctors. So I think the opportunity for us in the future is to be the tipping point. Like we’re having conversations today, when we talk about ageism, when we talk about recognizing creating awareness around ageism, then how do we actually create workable solutions and evidence based solutions, that we are agreeing to make a change towards making it an honorable profession?

Michael Hughes 36:59
I just love that. I love the concept of an honorable profession. And I fully support you in getting there. And I tell you, we could have a much longer podcast and all the things you’re saying, Tina, we have a ton of questions here. We didn’t even get to ask, but we have to cut it off at some point. So we do like to ask our guests though, we have three questions about aging. And we’d like to ask all the guests on the show. Are you okay, very first questions with you. Okay. All right, three questions about aging. The first one is Tina, when you think about how you’ve aged, what do you think has changed about you or grown with you that you really like about yourself?

Tina Sandri 37:39
I think I like that I am willing to take more risks than when I was younger. I like that I know my purpose. My purpose is to do good, create abundance and have some fun along the way. I die. And somebody says that’s what Tina was about, I’d be very happy. And there’s comfort and groundedness. And understanding what is my purpose? Why do I get up in the morning, not just Tuesday, but every day of the week? And I liked that I’m unashamed now to say I’m looking for a splash of fun one way.

Michael Hughes 38:13
I love that. I absolutely love that. And then as well, that’s actually question number two is like what has surprised you the most about you, as you’ve aged?

Tina Sandri 38:23
I think. And I asked this if I actually asked this of somebody else the other day, and he hadn’t seen the answer, which is that it’s very common that I don’t feel, look or act my age. That I think just one generation ago. People would think so I think as we’re aging, we’re able to identify our stressors, address them. And there’s more of a freedom now that, you know, I can wear Barbie pink. At my age, I don’t have to be a teenager. Even my children have noticed. No, I was older when she was your age. So it’s not. It’s not that it’s not that it’s that we don’t have to act our age or we can be timeless in whatever way you want it to be. And it’s not chasing the fountain of youth. It’s understanding who you are in your skin at that point.

Michael Hughes 39:24
Yeah, I absolutely love that. I absolutely love it. I love that sentiment. Okay, and then our third and final question for you. Is there somebody that you’ve met or been in your life that has set a good example for you in aging, something that inspires you to age with abundance?

Tina Sandri 39:45
Yes. So one of my former directors in nursing, her name is Janice Johnson. When I first met her, I said how you always have this, this shine, this energy, this light that comes out of you all the time. And I sat down and had a one on one conversation with her. This was probably about five years ago. So I’m lucky that I got this lesson around then. She shared with me a very dark part of her life, her only child, her only son committed suicide. And she had decided, without going into that whole story that she could wallow in it, view herself as a failure, as a moron grieves the rest of her life, her only child, and so forth. And then she dug deep and intentionally found the meaning of the experience. And it was able to give her purpose in life, to choose to live an abundant life. And it is well known in the literature that the worst loss, the worst sense of loss we can all experience in life is the loss of a child. You’re supposed to lose your parents, you might lose your partner, you might lose it. But to lose a child, that’s unnatural, because we’re supposed to miss. And I think to know that someone I know personally, has experienced the worst refund loss you can possibly experience in life. It’s worse than someone who dies suddenly in a car accident, and be able to find the graciousness to go on. Not to put it aside, but to find new space in one’s heart and soul, to be able to live abundantly is usually inspiring. And it makes me realize on the worst of my days, someone can do better. And that’s inspiring to me.

Michael Hughes 41:45
I think that’s just amazing. And I’m just, I’m trying not to get a little choked up here. But I’m thinking, Tina, thank you so much. I just, I’m so glad that we had you as a guest on the show. We know you’re extremely busy. And to find this time and to share these sentiments and thoughts. It’s just so gracious of you. And we thank you. And, you know, I’m just full right now, sort of a motion to put the whole thing just especially given your last story. But thank you so much for giving your time to be a guest on the show, Tina. Thank you to our listeners. Thank you for listening to this episode of The Art of Aging, which is part of the Abundant Aging podcast series Reena church homes, and we want to hear from you what has changed about you, as you’ve aged that you like, what are your techniques to inspire your workforce? What are things that you might have gone through that have been challenging that you found, you know, the courage and resilience and please visit us at www that abundant aging I also encourage you guys to check out the Ruth Frost Parker Center UnitedChurch And then Tina, if somebody wants more information on Forest Hills yourself, where can they find that?

Tina Sandri 43:04
They can find us at Forest Hills They can also find me there and I’m on LinkedIn as to Sandri and happy to catch you as well. I’m AT T Sandry at Forest Hills DC was

Michael Hughes 43:21
Awesome. Well, Tina again, deep thanks for your time today. Thank you so much. Thank you to our listeners. Thank you for tuning into this episode of The Art of Aging and we will see you next time.