Chelsey Abeln, Director of the Artis Way Experience
ARTIS Senior Living, Woodbury MN
Many Roads to Dementia Care in Assisted Living
Chelsey’s career in senior living evolved gradually starting with her dad’s work as Hutchinson Minnesota’s police chief. His stories of troubled kids he regularly encountered hooked her heart. Combined with other experiences this led her to social work at St Cloud State University. It paid off with a scholarship in exchange for a commitment to work with youth following graduation.
After graduating in 2008 Chelsey went to work serving kids in Milwaukee. She found it rewarding, but after two years she couldn’t quell the urge to simply take every kid home. Finally, that heartache was too much, and she stepped away. Meanwhile as Chelsey was thinking about another direction, she got married and chose to work outside of healthcare for a while.
Back in the Social Work Saddle
In 2012 Chelsey found her way back to serving in long-term care. First in nursing homes, and after five or so years she switched to transitional care. She liked the fast pace of discharge planning and securing insurance. Meanwhile, she and her husband had a baby boy. As he approached school age it became obvious that with both families in Minnesota, it was time to move home.
Back in the Twin Cities Chelsey explored several areas including long-term care, transitional care, hospice, and assisted living. After many interviews Chelsey happened upon Artis’s new position. As the interview reached into the second hour it became clear Artis would be Chelsey’s new career home. “The vice president interviewing me made it very clear how their mission flows deep into everyday operations. I could feel the life in the building” Chelsey explained.
Delivering Definitive Dementia Care
Artis’s high-quality care approach began for Chelsey with that same vice president personally training her for the Certified Dementia Practitioner credential. This training for new employees is one of Chelsey’s responsibilities along with the monthly training updates for all staff. Among other layers of supportive care are a monthly support group for resident family members and daily intentional effort to avoid “shop talk” language around residents and family members.
Chelsey’s role has a variety that she enjoys beyond the initial and ongoing staff training. She also provides the welcome and onboarding process for new residents and families, coordinating all quarterly follow-up nursing assessments and bi-annual care conferences. She also oversees the monthly employee Positive Partner recognition program. Above all of that Chelsea is the “Culture Keeper” as she refers to it by always being as visible and participatory as she can with residents and family.
The Artis Way, Above and Beyond
Chelsey also embodies Artis’s ethos by bringing her seven-year-old son to work on Wednesdays. “He loves Baking With Liz!” Chelsey exclaimed (with a resident who loves to bake). “His eyes are a model for how we want to see our residents. He just looks at them as they are, rather than their dementia. They have so much life and joy to share, if we just see beyond the condition.” said Chelsey. She also brings her dog to work!
Then there is the day care they invite in, the car show recently, family activities, and on and on. “We help the residents continue to be their full selves.” smiled Chelsey.
“We are so lucky that Artis created Chelsey’s position. She is the glue not only between our families and residents but our team members as well.”
Jana McCoy, Director of Sales & Marketing, Artis Senior Living Woodbury