MN nursing home is a hub of intergenerational activities

Sanford Health Sylvan Court in Canby, Minnesota, is a rural long-term care center often buzzing with activity. Administrator Jason Anderson prefers the nursing home that way for several reasons.

“I really like intergenerational activities with the residents and our school system,” says Jason. “So, I really have tried throughout my six years to get youth coming into our building.”

On a recent spring day, more than a handful of students from St. Peter’s Catholic School are on hand to lead arts and crafts time.

“We’re making some flowers with the residents,” says sixth grader Maleah Schubert.

Maleah’s class visits monthly, and the field trip is one of her favorites.

“I like seeing them and just making them happy,” Maleah says about the residents, some who may not have family nearby.

The social routine seems to benefit everyone involved.

“It’s really fulfilling for both,” says Vickie Burchatz, Sanford Health recreation therapist. “Just trying to get inclusion, everybody included in everything we do.”

Resident Edna Nothem even honors the visitors with a few tunes on her accordion. It’s a quirky instrument she’s been playing for 72 years.

“It’s good to see them all. They grow up so fast,” Edna says.

Jason adds the kids are “comfortable. They talk, they converse with these residents like they are their own grandparents.”

That familiarity can lead to future employees down the road.

“Hopefully they’ll become a CNA or choose the career of long-term care or assisted living,” Jason says.

'Active in the community'

Connecting business and community is always top of mind for Jason. It’s also the motto of the local chamber of commerce, of which Jason is the president.

“Jason is really active in the community,” says Lori Sisk, Sanford Canby Medical Center CEO. “He’s active in his church. He is the chamber of commerce president. Many years ago, the chamber of commerce in Canby was kind of struggling. He got involved in that and has just done a really nice job of promoting the community.”

Longtime social worker Peggy Sik adds Jason is “a pillar of the community and that is a benefit to this facility. A lot of people remember him as a physical therapist.”

Originally from North Dakota, Jason started practicing physical therapy in 2006. Feeling a pull to leadership, he got his master’s in health care administration in 2014.

“I’ve always wanted to do health care administration. In college and high school, leadership was important to me,” Jason says.

While he still practices PT from time to time, his focus is the residents in his care and the staff going above and beyond to make them feel at home.

“He has a resident-first mentality,” Lori says. “He’s always really concerned about the residents and then in turn the staff and the family members of those residents.”

“Oh, he’s just a Superman,” resident Myrtle Osmond says. “He’s always nice.”

National Ever Forward Administrator Champion

The supportive environment Jason is creating in Canby is earning him recognition as Good Samaritan Society’s National Ever Forward Administrator Champion.

“When they surprised me with this award, I mean what an honor,” says Jason, who reports to leaders at Sanford and the Society. “I try to be a humble leader, so it was kind of hard to take that big surprise and hear that because that’s just not me. I’d rather recognize other people on my team.

“It doesn’t happen with just me. I have such a terrific team. I’ve had such opportunities with Sanford and Good Sam.”

Sylvan Court’s director of nursing Brittany Anseeuw snuck in from maternity leave to say a few words about one of her mentors.

“Honestly I can probably say that I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in right now if it wasn’t for him, for his guidance and advocacy for long-term care,” says Brittany, who’s been DON for two years.

“Very thankful for the team we have here.”

Peggy is celebrating 45 years at Sanford Health but doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon.

“I feel very dedicated to the organization, but I feel dedicated to Jason as a leader as well. We have a very close team,” Peggy says. “We all care about each other.

“I can’t imagine our facility without him. I cry easily but he’ll really melt me.”

The longtime social worker points to Jason’s active administrator strategy. He’s not one to sit in an office and is always walking the halls engaging with residents and staff.

“People have to be comfortable with each other to bring up different conversations that might be challenging. If you have a connected team, a family, that really helps that,” Jason says.

'A rewarding career'

A district representative for LeadingAge Minnesota, Jason is also known for being plugged in on senior care topics.

“He’s always one step ahead of what’s next, what’s the trend,” says Joy Brakke, Sanford Canby therapy and rehabilitation manager. “What do we need to bring here? If there’s something cool happening somewhere, why can’t it happen here?

“Jason deserves this award because he is a living example of Ever Forward and always thinking ahead.”

Innovating and moving forward while keeping residents active and living with purpose.

“It’s a rewarding career. Don’t sit in your office all the time," Jason says. "You have to interact with staff. You have to interact with the residents because when you’re having a bad day, that’s totally what turns it around."

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