Inside Athena: Dawna Denette, Newtown Rehab’s Resident Ambassador
NEWTOWN, C.T. — On an average day for Dawna Denette at Newtown Rehabilitation & Health Care Center, you may find her rounding the units on all floors, answering resident questions and concerns, meeting with residents and staff, and being that extra helping hand to a staff member. She is always looking out for the well-being of our long-term and short-term residents and ways to improve their quality of life.
Denette is the Resident Ambassador at the center. The Ambassador Program at Athena Health Care Systems is in place for the residents to have an advocate at the center. In Denette’s role, she focuses on the needs of the residents, customer service, and satisfaction. The goal is to provide high level customer service through companionship and engagement in meaningful, individualized leisure pursuits, safety reminders, supervision, assisting with everyday tasks when appropriate and non-clinical psychosocial support/companionship. The ambassador’s role also ensures that resident concerns are brought to the appropriate department for quick and timely resolution.
“I’ve always worked with people and have learned a lot of wisdom in working with the elderly,” said Denette. “I love this population.”
Denette has been at the Fairfield County, Connecticut center for the past two years. Her rapport with the residents has led her to great success in the position. When asked about what she enjoys the most about working in this position and being at the company, she quickly replies “the residents.” They are her heart and soul.
“You get to know [the residents] and what makes them comfortable and what they don’t like. You have to have a lot of passion to do this and empathy. I have a lot of empathy. We have great residents in this facility and it’s so important to get to know them as a person,” she said.
By trade, Denette also has her C.N.A. license, which allows her to help from time to time at the center if extra support is needed. She has worked in different jobs within healthcare, like doctor offices, but always found the most happiness and reward when working directly and hands-on with residents.
The Ambassador Program was created a little over three years ago with the goal of focusing on customer service, quality of care, and resident satisfaction as well as to serve as an advocate and voice for the residents. This program is unique to Athena and unlike any program in place at skilled nursing homes in Connecticut.
Denette said she works with all the departments at the center to keep the residents engaged and pleased.
“These are our seniors, and we have to keep them busy with productive and positive things. It’s so important to keep them involved. This is their home,” she said.