We’re celebrating Assisted Living Week by highlighting some of our team members. Get to know Tara Blount, Interim/Regional Executive Director with Arete Living. Arete Living is a senior living management organization proudly managing Avamere Communities, Ovation, and The Stafford.
Tell us a bit about your role in assisted living.
A: I joined Avamere in May of this year as the Interim/Regional Executive Director. I assist with the training and onboarding of new executive directors as well as filling in as the acting director in their absences.
What inspired you to work in assisted living?
I started in senior living at 18 years old as a caregiver in a memory care community. There was a resident who had been described as “difficult” to me by my trainer. My first interaction with this individual was during a “behavioral outburst,” and the second I saw her, I could tell that she was scared. She wasn’t being aggressive to be mean; her fight or flight had been engaged. I knew right then and there that I had a place in this field and a purpose of teaching others how to lead with empathy and compassion.
What gets you excited to come to work every day?
I look forward to seeing the residents and employees every day. We spend so much time with our teams and residents that they become part of everyday life. I love catching up on their grandkids, remembering to follow up about how that Disneyland trip was, or to have a caregiver come up and proudly exclaim that they got 100% on an exam they were stressing about.
Share a top moment from your career.
One of my favorite moments from the last few years has to be watching the looks on my team members faces when the surveyors announced our campus-wide deficiency free findings on our first survey together. You could see the reassurance and realization that all the hard work paid off. This was a team of all new managers that had been promoted into their roles together after many years as med techs and that I had the pleasure of leading as a newer executive director myself. Ten years prior to this, I had set out on my mission to guide, teach, train, and coach others in this field to create a better future for seniors in long-term care communities. This was a huge milestone for me and all the reassurance I needed to know that I was still very much heading in the right direction.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself on your first day in senior living?
You’re going to question whether you’ve made the right decision in careers, a lot. You’re going to wonder if you made the right call, if you could have done something different. There are going to be really, really hard days and you’ll probably cry sometimes. Just know that the hands you hold in their final moments, the feeling of a resident returning from a close call hospital stay, the first time you get to teach a family about dementia and then watch them learn how to interact and connect with their loved one again, those moments, will always triumph the hard days.
Let’s get to know a bit about you! Where did you grow up?
I am Oregon born and raised from a very small, unincorporated community (350 people on the most recent census!).
What are some of your hobbies?
I enjoy being outdoors in the summer months gardening, swimming, traveling and in the colder months my family and I do a lot of baking and canning.
What top three words would the people you love use to describe you?
My siblings’ responses were caring, strong, and driven.
What is your life motto?
A quote that I hold close to me, especially in this field, is: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Follow @areteseniorliving on Instagram to see more ways we’re celebrating Assisted Living Week!