Learning to Lead
Kelsey Oliveira – “My favorite part about being at Wedgemere Healthcare is the sense of community I feel here. The team at this building really makes you feel as if you’re part of the Wedgemere community; the Wedgemere family.” Kelsey Oliveira, the Administrator of Wedgemere Healthcare, gushed with warmth in her voice. This building bursts to life with a welcoming and friendly ambiance, which makes the facility a safe haven for its residents.
As Kelsey's been an Administrator for a couple of years now, she reflects back on the journey she took to get to where she is today. Kelsey went to Salve Regina University and started as a Nursing Major. Once realizing this wasn’t the path for her, she transitioned to a Social Work Major. She passionately stated how she “loves working with people and understanding their behaviors and emotions”. This desire to work closely with people led her to question where her major would lead her upon graduating from college.
Kelsey’s destination as a Next Step employee was not incidental, as her family has deep roots with the company as well. Kelsey’s mom, Fatima Oliveira, is the Director of Clinical and Quality Outcomes. This familial connection is what initially sparked Kelsey’s interest in the healthcare field. While slightly hesitant at first to pursue a career as a nursing home Administrator, Kelsey knew this decision would push her boundaries and help her grow both personally and professionally.
Once she received her degree from Salve, she joined the company as an Administrator in Training (AIT) at Fall River Healthcare. Upon completion of this program, she moved between six different Next Step facilities and helped wherever it was needed. During this time, Kelsey worked with a vast array of Administrators and says that she “learned so many different ways of leading, teaching, and running the business”. This allowed her to learn different styles of management, and Kelsey has been able to intrinsically weave what she learned from previous leaders into the fabric of her Administration at Wedgemere Healthcare.
Growth. This is the first word that came to mind when Kelsey discussed her time thus far as an Administrator. Throughout her first few years, Kelsey feels as if she has evolved, learned so much about herself, and has developed an affection for teaching. As an altruistic individual who enjoys helping others, Kelsey has discovered that an essential part of her job is to model how to do things for her staff and learning from one another. When we teach, we are also deepening our own education. Working with her staff, engaging in open communication, and learning from one another has helped Kelsey’s facility develop a strong foundation, which ultimately results in the best quality care for the residents.
This essence of fortitude and community in the workforce was an absolute necessity when COVID-19 swept across the United States. While already working as a cohesive unit, COVID brought Kelsey’s staff even closer together. While it was an especially difficult time, every staff member stepped up to the plate to ensure all the residents were safe and protected, “it really made us one in the building”.
Kelsey’s favorite part is interacting with the residents and hearing their stories. Having a social work background has allowed Kelsey to take an open and honest approach with her residents, who know she is available to talk about anything with them. In addition to listening to their stories, Kelsey says she loves doing puzzles and playing games with the residents, as she knows how much these little gestures can mean to a resident and their family members.
In addition to working in a nursing home, Kelsey also has first-hand knowledge of having a loved one in a Next Step facility. Kelsey’s great-grandmother was in a nursing home, and she noted how it is interesting to experience this from the other side. She stated that when she went to visit her great-grandmother, she wasn’t an AIT eager to learn or an Administrator evaluating the situation, she was simply a great-granddaughter visiting her great-grandmother. This ability to understand what it is like to have a loved-one in a nursing home and have empathy for the family is something that Kelsey carries with her every day.
While being a nursing home Administrator comes with a lot of responsibility, it is also a highly rewarding profession. When thinking back on her first year as an Administrator, Kelsey believes that the most important advice she could impart on to future Administrators would be, that while the job can be very difficult at times, you can never be afraid to ask for help. Kelsey confidently discussed how you want to ask as many questions as possible to ensure that you get the job done right. To conclude, relying on the community around you for help and working together as a team are the fundamental components one needs to successfully be a nursing home Administrator.