One-on-one with the Executive Director of Assisted Living and Memory Care at NewBridge on the Charles
A Q&A with Matthew Hollingshead
Matthew Hollingshead recently joined Hebrew SeniorLife as the executive director of Assisted Living and Memory Care at NewBridge on the Charles. His energetic, resident-centric approach and skill in leading large teams is already making a difference in the lives of our residents. I recently spoke to Matt about the rewards and challenges of his work.
So, what drew you to a career in senior living?
In some ways, I fell into it. But I’m so glad I did. I had just finished my master’s degree in business and I was taking some time off to do some traveling abroad. A friend of mine offered me a temporary position as an overnight security guard at a continuing care retirement community near my home. It was my first exposure to senior living. I loved getting to know the residents. Between the night owls and the early risers, I developed deep relationships and found the work very meaningful. The executive director of that community then recruited me for a management training position at his community. The rest is history!
This is a very demanding field. Between the complex needs of residents and families, to the operational challenges of running a successful community, what keeps you going?
The people I get to surround myself with, and the life lessons this work reinforces on a daily basis. First, we’re able to make a difference in the lives of our residents. I love the wisdom our residents have to share. I love how when I go to work, it’s as if I have countless grandparents. And then there are my colleagues and co-workers. It’s no secret that the professionals who care for seniors on a daily basis aren’t in it to make a fortune—they are motivated by the heart. So you end up working with and alongside a tremendous group of people. This work is an education in life. You learn what matters and what doesn’t.
What is your approach to motivating staff?
I challenge them to be the best version of themselves they can be. I get to know them on a personal level. It’s important to me that they know it’s ok to make a mistake, and that I do my best to foster an environment of collegiality and not fear. We are all tied together in this calling. And our front line employees are the ones that impact resident satisfaction the most. If I miss a day of work, residents won’t notice, but if these folks miss a day, everyone feels it.
What do you think makes Hebrew SeniorLife special?
Hebrew SeniorLife is uniquely positioned as an institution, in that it has the resources and expertise of a major player in the industry – including an affiliation with Harvard Medical School – without the rigidity that comes with many larger companies. We are a nonprofit with more than 110 years of experience, yet we are agile enough to do what is needed to meet the needs of a changing community and for each individual resident.
That leads us into Hebrew SeniorLife’s commitment to providing the right care, in the right place, at the right time, so that seniors can live their best life in the best place. How do you deliver on this promise to each resident?
NewBridge on the Charles takes this very seriously. We work hard to know every assisted living and memory care resident individually from their first moments touring our community through their years of residency. From the direct care team, to the dining room servers, to the program managers and on up to me, we all share information continually to stay up to speed on the nuances of each resident’s well-being. Our residents maintain as much independence as possible, but they do so within the embrace of a whole team that is focused on maximizing their quality of life.
NewBridge on the Charles Assisted Living in Dedham, MA offers the amenities of our stimulating community, plus help with activities of daily living so you can focus on what matters to you.