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career in senior living Josh Bagley with residents and team members

Staff Stories - March 29, 2023

Choosing a Career in Senior Living

A Q&A with Josh Bagley, Executive Director of The View Alexandria

By Tessa Trosman and Amanda Ranowsky

Developing a career path can involve unexpected twists and turns. Josh Bagley started by making memorable and meaningful connections with older adults as a teenager. Today, he is executive director of The View Alexandria by Goodwin Living. His path held many surprises along the way.

With a passion for holistic care, Josh has found fulfillment in his career in senior living and healthcare. In this Q&A, he discusses his career journey, his experiences over nine years working with Goodwin Living and what he loves most about his new role.

How did you discover your career in senior living and health care?

I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. When I was 16 years old and a sophomore in high school, a group of my friends invited me to come to a neighborhood community for older adults. We sang hymns with the older adults living there. I did that for almost two and a half years during high school and helped to build a small choir of about 20-30 people. I grew especially close to a woman named Dorothy after about a year of singing with her. I would walk her to and from her apartment when we gathered to sing, and I would visit her separately in the middle of the week. She ended up moving to memory care, but she still remembered me.

That was my introduction to the concept of senior living. I had never thought of it as a career even through high school or my undergraduate program. I did know that I wanted to go into healthcare, but not in a direct care role. I didn’t really start considering senior living as a career until graduate school. The George Washington University offered an emphasis in long-term care as a certification. To me, that certification seemed like a really good blend of my passions for holistic care and caring for a group of people through population health management.

To see if working in senior living was really what I wanted to do, I pursued a job as an administrative assistant at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads in 2014. Shortly thereafter, I was accepted to the administrator-in-training program at Goodwin House Alexandria. I’ve remained with Goodwin Living ever since.

What guided you in your selection of undergraduate and graduate schools?

I didn’t know what I wanted to do; I just knew I wanted to go into the healthcare service industry. I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Utah, where I studied health, society and policy. That gave me a look at all the different pieces of healthcare.

For my master’s degree, I attended The George Washington University to study public health. After a semester of studies and working for a large organization, I realized public health wasn’t what I wanted to do. At the same school, they had a masters in health administration program, so in my second semester I switched my master’s program from public health to health administration, with a certification in long-term care. My high school experience had come full circle.

Following graduate school and obtaining your master’s degree in health administration, you completed your Administrator in Training at Goodwin House Alexandria, then stayed with Goodwin Living. What have you learned from working for a faith-based, not-for-profit organization?

I have learned that good healthcare done right means developing relationships with people. In this particular industry, when people can be at their most vulnerable period in their life, the majority of the work is knowing who they are: their experiences, their spirituality and their mental and physical needs. Working for a nonprofit organization has allowed me to always focus on people first. Money has always been a tool, and never an impediment, to providing personalized care.

Goodwin Living emphasizes the value of team members creating community to improve overall wellness. We practice a relationship-driven care model that has created healthier and more meaningful connections that leads to better outcomes for residents, members and the patients we serve across our home and community-based services.

If I were looking for senior living care, I’d seek out a care team who not only had the necessary qualifications, but who also took the time to get to know me, my family and my medical history over a period of years. Having care providers with whom I have a personal connection is essential, and that relationship piece illustrates who we are at Goodwin Living.

You are now Executive Director of The View Alexandria by Goodwin Living, following a period as Interim Executive Director. What do you enjoy most about supporting, honoring and uplifting the residents and team members of The View Alexandria and why?

I love my job because it gives me the freedom to make an impact on people’s lives. The most recent example is this: As I was finishing a tour of our two new meditation rooms, I was speaking to our director of facilities management and our director of life enrichment—one of whom is our chaplain (and a United Methodist pastor), and one of whom is a very spiritual Muslim. I asked them if we could come up with an interfaith ceremony to celebrate the opening of these new rooms. They got really excited about the idea. And so we did just that—we held an interfaith celebration to dedicate our new meditation spaces, which opened just in time for Ramadan.

I love being able to say, “Let’s make it happen!”

When I heard from one resident’s son that his mom loved birds, the next week we had bird feeders placed outside her window. The ability to be creative, to listen… it makes a difference in people’s lives. Not all senior living organizations focus on making a difference and empowering team members to do what’s right for those we care for. At Goodwin Living, it is the norm.

You often meet with older adults and their loved ones as they are considering moving to The View Alexandria. What do you tell them?

I always tell them why I love working here and describe why I’ve given nine years of my life to this organization. I tell them it’s because this is a beautiful community and the team members and residents here become family.

What excites you most about the investments that Goodwin Living is making in The View Alexandria?

Since the fall of 2022, I’ve been engaging with residents to start a resident council, which will help me to work with them and listen to what they want.

The first investment I made after I started working here was in the Health Care Center, where our most vulnerable older adults live. It needed some enhancements and love.

I also saw that there needed to be more intentional gathering spaces for residents to come together for a variety of reasons. There have been a lot of unused spaces across the campus. I’m trying to invest in those spaces so we can bring everyone in The View Alexandria family together. For example, we have just created an intergenerational recreation room to complement the existing children’s playroom. This new space is a place where older grandkids who want to come visit grandma and grandpa can meet and play, complete with ping pong, foosball and virtual bowling! We are creating intentional gathering spaces for everyone who lives in, works at and visits The View Alexandria. In all, Goodwin Living is investing $1,000,000 in The View Alexandria this year to enhance existing spaces and create new ones.

What do you love most about your new role?

I see part of my role as being the chief storyteller here. I am grateful to be able to be a part of such a strong team who are so passionate and have so many talents and are willing to learn and be there at my side. So many team members go above and beyond. There’s the dining services team member who went to the store overnight to get suspenders because they spotted a resident having an issue with his pants in the dining room. There’s the receptionist who does an Ethiopian tea ceremony and celebrates their culture. There’s the resident and team member who have the discussion about discovering God for the first time in their lives. These moments of connection, passion and sharing happiness create a feeling here that of home and togetherness. I love being able to share and celebrate these stories.

_________

Tessa Trosman is a senior at Marymount University and a Marketing and Communications intern at Goodwin Living for the 2023 spring semester. She assists the marketing and communication team in writing and editing blogs, planning and executing marketing campaigns and managing social media accounts. Before joining Goodwin Living, Tessa co-founded her own clothing company, where she gained an initial head start with experience in marketing. Outside of the office, Tessa plays volleyball and enjoys traveling.

As Marketing & Communications Specialist, Amanda Ranowsky partners with colleagues throughout Goodwin Living to tell our stories and raise brand awareness. From printed collateral to digital marketing, Amanda covers many bases. Before joining Goodwin Living, Amanda worked for a small, family-owned business where she gained experience in content marketing. Amanda’s creative expression extends beyond the office. She is an active member of community theater and chorus groups.

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