Position: Executive Director
Organization: Emerald Court
What role does your nominee have in senior care and senior care issues?
Carole Bush is more than an Executive Director at Emerald Court, she is truly a Senior Hero. Before getting involved in Senior Living she had a successful career in retail and suddenly her father had a stroke, was unable to live alone and lost his desire to continue living. Not knowing anything about senior living options, she had to quickly become an expert and was able to get her dad placed in a community where his basic needs were met, but he was not thriving.
In 2008 her house was damaged in the wild fires and Carole and her family moved to northern California while her home was being repaired. Carole decided to volunteer in the community her dad was living and found her true passion. Shifting gears, Carole got her RCFE license and took a position as an Assistant Executive Director. Very quickly she was promoted to an Executive Director and moved back to Southern California. When Carole started working in a community she gave her dad the choice of moving to her community or staying where he was. When he came to visit her he quickly decided that he wanted to move, as her community was much more vibrant and had lots of fun things to occupy his time.
Now after being at Emerald Court for a few years, not only does Carole have happy residents, she has happy associates! Her first year with Kisco she won the Most Improved Associate Engagement Award and has held the top honor at Kisco for the past four years! NRC Health, the independent research company that conducts these surveys, ranks their company participants; her community scores in the top 10% of the United States!
Why should this person be nominated
Carole has always said she wanted her community to be the Disneyland for Seniors, the Happiest Place on Earth! Following that mantra her community is very unique. Visitors always comment there is a positive, welcoming energy that people feel the moment they walk through the doors! A Veteran’s wall pays tribute to the residents and fallen hero’s honoring their service and sacrifice to our country. Her Veteran’s wall is so unique that the parent company has used her model as the prototype for the remainder of the company to follow. When questioned about her community, Carole will say, “I want our residents to be proud to call this their home, and we find many ways to do that. In their home they would have pictures of themselves and things they are proud of as part of their decor. She has created a “Ladies of Emerald Court” wall that has glamour pictures of the female residents between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. There is even a separate wall for the Amazing Men. Pets are an important family member to many of our residents and we have pictures of residents with their dogs - Carole made sure her community was pet friendly - and a separate wall for the residents with cats. She has created a whole hall of “Artists in Residence” that incorporates art the residents have created and includes a short bio with the resident’s picture.
Having had personal experience with a loved one giving up on living, Carole wanted her community to be special, “I want residents to go to bed at night and say, wow I had a fabulous day today and what am I going to do tomorrow?” Although given the choice each time, whether to stay or move, Carole’s dad always chose to go to her new community. She says, “I feel so blessed that I was able to have my dad live in my community and to tell future families that their parent would be treated no differently than my dad!”
Meandering down the hallways is truly an adventure - you may find yourself in Africa, Paris, Alaska, the National Parks, a Disney wall or even their very own Man Cave! (The original Man Cave received an ICAA Award for Innovative Programming at her last community and she recreated at Emerald Court) Although an admitted workaholic, when Carole is not in the community she is actively searching for ideas or artwork to recreate these wonderful reminders of former travel destinations of many of the residents. She is now putting the finishing touches on their newest addition, The Bark Park for the community's furry friends.
And Carole makes all the holidays extra special. An annual tradition Carole started was setting up Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving night after the residents have gone to bed. Eighteen separate Christmas trees, each with their own theme, along with countless other holiday decorations. Residents wake up Friday morning and feel like they are in a Winter Wonderland! Since new residents aren’t aware this will be happening, every year residents comment how we brought back their childhood and how special this was to them. Carole has creatively and carefully chosen each theme and every year the residents have a difficult time deciding which is their favorite tree.
Carole also believes in giving to others less fortunate and her community has been involved with many philanthropic projects such as the Spark of Love, Catarina’s Kitchen, annually hosting the Holiday Dinner for the Buena Park Senior Center, delivering teddy bears to skilled nursing hospitals and many other projects. She is truly a Senior Hero and strives every day to make a difference in Residents, their families and associates lives!