GRANDVIEW - For many years Gaylene Tucker helped her family run Grandview's Sports Center and M&J Tavern, but she found herself selling insurance once the family sold the two businesses.
Tucker established a rapport with the community as an independent insurance associate for AFLAC. She sold insurance for another few years before being given an opportunity to broaden her sales skills, using her connections to the Lower Valley community.
The Sunnyside native learned of a position at Grandview's Orchard House. She was hired as the center's residence sales manager at the beginning of April this year.
"What appealed to me was the longevity of not only the house, which is an established assisted living center, but also the longevity of the staff," shared Tucker.
She feels the length of time employees have spent at the center speaks volumes. "It always says a lot about a business if the employees remain at the same location for a number of years," she explained.
The personal care given to the residents at Orchard House also appealed to Tucker, who has had experience working with and helping the elderly.
"It's heartwarming to see the TLC given by the personal service attendants and the director of the house," shared the new residence sales manager.
Tucker admits she has had to learn a few new skills, but her experience working with the elderly in the past helped her adapt quickly.
"I had to learn to market a different product," she noted, stating the sale of insurance is different from the sale of an apartment at an assisted living center.
Since her arrival, Tucker said, the house has added a new level of care for residents that was not previously available. Orchard House has been approved for the Memory Care program, allowing it to house individuals with dementia. The house, shared Tucker, is the only assisted living center between Yakima and Tri-Cities that is a locked facility approved for patients with dementia.
Explaining this, she said there is a difference between an assisted living center like Orchard House and a skilled nursing center.
"The residents live in their own apartments. Assistance is provided to them for meals and medical needs," she explained, stating a skilled nursing center provides patients with rooms in a setting that is more like a hospital environment and the rooms are often shared.
"Individuals still have a level of independence," Tucker said of the Orchard House experience.
Orchard House, she shared, is also seeking to become more active in the community. The staff and residents have sponsored community activities, such as a recently hosted law enforcement appreciation breakfast.
The facility will host a Tri-Chamber social event July 22 and has become active in the senior networking group.
The staff is working to organize a "Senior Eve in the Park" this coming June, as well.
Tucker said the goal is to help the community and the residents of Orchard House become more familiar with one another, providing activities and events where they can interact.
In addition, Orchard House is seeking a cosmetologist willing to rent the house's salon. Tucker said the residents and community members will utilize the services of the salon, furthering the foot traffic in and out of the house.
"The residents will be given more exposure to members of the community once the salon is in use," she noted.
Overall, Tucker is pleased to fulfill her new role, working with both residents of Orchard House and community members.