Mary Ann Bertucio is Country Meadows’ Executive Director of Community Life. She has worked at Country Meadows for almost 10 years, initially in human resources (HR) and for the last few years in community life. Before coming here, she recruited professionals for positions in long-term care and therapy services. However, she began her career in therapeutic recreation in rehab hospitals and nursing homes and is grateful for the opportunity to return to her professional roots.
Why did you accept a position at Country Meadows?
Our family moved to York, PA, and I was looking for a position in my field, which was then health care HR. Country Meadows has such a warm, inviting environment, and it appealed to me that it is family owned. I felt I could make a difference for the residents by recruiting co-workers who shared the company’s culture and values.
What is your vision for community life at County Meadows?
Community life here is much more than activities on campus—there is a big community outside Country Meadows. We strive to integrate residents to the wider community as well as our own at each campus. By providing residents with a broad variety of social experiences, we help them form new friendships.
What are some activities we would find at Country Meadows Retirement Communities?
Wow—where to start? At every retirement community, we plan active senior living programs that fall into these categories: Purposeful Service, Lifelong Learning, Intergenerational, Socials/Outings, Nurturing the Spirit, Bodies in Motion and Social Awareness. Here are a few examples of each:
- Purposeful Service – harvesting our gardens, preparing meals for homeless shelters, making blankets for children in need, serving as orientation ambassadors to new residents, working in our gift shop, campus pet care
- Lifelong Learning – educational presentations by speakers, cooking and baking, healthy living presentations, countless arts and crafts, plants and flowers, trivia questions, musical programs and choirs, book groups,
- Intergenerational – quilting blankets with Girl Scouts, building horseshoe pits on campus with Boy Scouts, reading to students in classrooms, creating “getting to know you” books with second-graders, playing games with middle-schoolers
- Socials and Outings – off-campus concerts and shows, day trips, country rides, high school musicals, local baseball games, casinos, holiday parties, happy hours, groups for games/cards/puzzles, entertainment by visiting performers
- Nurturing the Spirit – mindful walks, guided meditation, yoga, Bible study, devotions, worship
- Bodies in Motion – fitness and exercise classes, bocce ball tournaments, line dancing, walking groups, corn hole, mini golf, Wii bowling, bicycling, balloon volleyball
- Social Awareness – recycling, park clean-up, composting, gleaning produce for homeless shelters, fundraising for nonprofits
Do the residents have any input regarding the active senior living programs you offer?
Yes, they do, and we solicit and receive their input in several ways—through surveys, during resident planning committees and while interacting with them on projects and activities. Sometimes, residents see a new idea for an activity in a newspaper or magazine and suggest it to us. Interests can vary from campus to campus. At one, residents might request a cooking or baking club while at another, they might like a card club. Residents also suggest off-campus activities like dining at a specific restaurant, going to a casino or taking a boat ride.
What does your staff do to assist residents of Country Meadows?
Our community life directors and associates meet regularly with the memory care and restorative care teams to plan active senior living programs a few months at a time. These activities often follow a theme. For example, in August, campuses are using a county fair theme. Residents will enjoy campfires with s’mores, outdoor games, outings, speakers, movies and even cotton candy! At one campus’ fair, residents are taking shots at staff in a dunk tank, while at another, residents are painting kids’ faces.
Our community life associates know what our residents like to do and are really creative and enthusiastic. They bring a blend of talents and interests and form a well-balanced team. Some have musical talents while others are more talented with arts and crafts. They love working with seniors and are great at modifying programs as needed. For example, they may adapt Wii bowling for a resident in a wheelchair. They really are experts at what they do.
Have any Country Meadows residents taken up hobbies or activities that might surprise us?
Yes, several exceptional examples come to mind. A few years ago, one of our residents celebrated his 90th birthday by skydiving for the first time. Another has been a competitive runner and swimmer at the Senior Games. At one campus, a resident who is a former fireman was honored by the local fire company with a lift onto an aerial ladder.
We encourage these unconventional activities. We don’t tell residents, “No, you can’t do that.” We say, “How can we make this happen for you?”