Meet the Family: Linda Fera of Wesley Heights
What makes a house a home? It's not the fancy furniture or shiny chandeliers, but the family who gathers there. At our senior living communities, our staff members are one of the main reasons why our residents feel so at home! Not only do they create a warm family atmosphere, they also understand the challenges faced by families caring for older adults. By fostering caring relationships, staff play an essential role in helping our residents navigate the journey of aging - from the very first visit, to the day they move into our community and every day after that! Read our "Meet the Family" spotlight below to see how Linda Fera makes our residents' home such a special place....
Meet Linda Fera!
Activities Director, Wesley Heights
I was born and raised in Norwalk, CT. After I married, I lived in Rocky Hill, CT before moving to Shelton, CT where I currently reside. I have four children – two boys and two girls -- and two granddaughters. I attended CCSU for one year after high school and went back to college after my children were grown. I was awarded an Associate's Degree from Housatonic Community College, a Certificate in Deaf Studies from Northwestern CT Community College and a Bachelor's Degree from UConn. When not working, I enjoy the beach, a good book, walking/hiking, and traveling.
I have visited many of the states in the USA. I visit my youngest daughter in California regularly. I’ve been to Ireland twice in the past few years (and hope to go again soon!). I am active at the Irish Heritage Society of Milford where I serve on the Slainte Board and as also as the chairperson for the Cultural Activities Committee.
I started my career at UMH in 1993 when I took a job as the nursing secretary at Bishop Wicke Health and Rehabilitation Center on the Wesley Village campus. I later became the administrative assistant at Bishop Wicke and then Executive Assistant to the Executive Director of Wesley Village. Approximately nine years ago, I became the Activities Director at Wesley Heights.
What inspired you to work with older adults?
I have always enjoyed working with people from all walks of life but particularly find meaning in serving people who face various challenges in the world. There are a lot of misperceptions/stereotypes about many groups of people including the elderly. I have found that people who deal with physical or mental challenges are no different than you or I. The only difference is that they must find alternate ways to do many of the day-to-day things that most people take for granted. I find it inspirational when I see any person, including older adults, do whatever is necessary to continue living life to its fullest!
What's your day-to-day interaction with the residents?
In my role as Activities Director, my primary interactions with residents take place during scheduled daily activities such as Bingo, parties, Happy Hour, resident trips, etc. I have a lot of spontaneous interactions with residents, however, throughout any given day. This may include helping with a problem, answering questions, lending an understanding ear, or just simply chatting.
What do you think makes UMH different from other senior living communities?
The one thing I hear over and over from family members, visitors, and volunteers is the warm and friendly atmosphere that is felt once you walk in the door. We also have spectacular outdoor spaces that are not only beautiful but tranquil as well.
What do you like most about working in a senior living community?
What has been most meaningful for me is the many special relationships I have formed over the years with residents and the wonderful memories that we have shared. Through hearing their stories, I am able to gain a better understanding/appreciation of the lives our residents have lived before their move to assisted living. It also helps me to learn what life was like for previous generations.
How do you help residents feel at home?
I respect the fact that the concept of “home” is different for each one of us. My first goal when meeting a new resident is to find out what their life was like before moving to UMH…what are things that they have always enjoyed doing and also what are things that they have never tried and might want to pursue? I offer many social opportunities where residents can meet other residents. I believe in the saying, “Home is where the heart is.” Despite the fact that the physical aspects of home might change, it is the friendships that are formed and the level of caring that truly makes a place feel like a home.
From your experience, what advice would you give families and their loved ones who are thinking about making a move to senior living?
I have the unique perspective of both staff member and family member. My mother lived in Florida for 30 years before health issues required her to move to Wesley Heights to be closer to family. I understand the concerns that families feel when major changes occur with their loved one. As with many folks who get older, my mom started having difficulty getting around and managing her day to day living. She never wanted to move back north and she never wanted to give up her home. While I tried to respect her wishes, the time came when she required more care.
My mother lived at Wesley Heights Assisted Living for one year. Here she made wonderful friends, participated in many activities, lived in a safe environment, and had access to the transportation and nursing services she needed. My mother absolutely loved living here!! By sharing my personal experience with other families and their loved ones, I hope that I can in some way allay the fears/worries that they hold and offer a sense of confidence that the choice to move to Wesley Heights is a positive one.
Is there anything else you would like to mention about UMH, our residents or our staff members?
Not really, except that if I was looking at senior living options in Connecticut, I’d move to a UMH community!
About Chelsea Sayegh
I started working as a Marketing Coordinator for United Methodist Homes in October of 2016. I work on public relations, website management and community planning for their award winning independent and assisted living communities. As a graduate of Ursinus College with a degree in Media and Communications and a passion for serving nonprofits, United Methodist Homes has become my home away from home. I spend my days working in a community filled with smiling faces, helpful hands and wonderful residents. I have a passion for assisting seniors and take great pride in being able to promote a company with such a positive mission and values. As an individual committed to learning and growing, I have jumped right into this exciting career!