Inside Athena: Valerie Manor Recreation Director Dedicates Decades to Creating Memories

Inside Athena: Valerie Manor Recreation Director Dedicates Decades to Creating Memories

TORRINGTON, C.T. — Tracy Hoskins has been working in healthcare since she was 16 years old, but it wasn’t the path she initially wanted to go down.

Hoskins helping residents during a painting activity.

She is currently the Director of Therapeutic Recreation at Valerie Manor. Her career journey started in nursing homes, even while she was attending school to work in the travel industry. After trying out an office job, she decided to get her C.N.A. license and joined Litchfield Woods Health Care Center.

Hoskins then began school for nursing but could tell that wasn’t for her either. Others around her knew what was… recreation.

“I just love what I do. I have such a passion for my residents. I love that I get to meet the needs of so many different people. I couldn’t imagine doing another job,” she said. “I love to do so many different activities and I incorporate them and try to meet the needs of my residents.”

She first joined Athena Health Care Systems in 1990 and has worked at other Athena-managed centers throughout her time with the company. She spent 19 years as the director at MeadowBrook of Granby.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than the job that I have,” she said.

John, Tracy, and Barb during the couple’s wedding in July, 2023.

Hoskins keeps residents busy through events, activities, performances, arts and crafts, and so much more. She said she doesn’t want residents to become isolated in their rooms, but to socialize and engage with others. She has even become a matchmaker in doing so. Last year, residents John and Barb tied the knot at the center. John and Barb both newly moved in and Hoskins felt like they would make a good pair, so she encouraged them to attend a musical performance. Two years later, they got married.

They tell her, “It’s because our Tracy introduced us and sat us together at that entertainment.”

Valerie Manor also has a very active Facebook page thanks to Hoskins and the team at Valerie Manor. The site documents the parties, the pet visits, and the memories created at the center. While Facebook is a great way for loved ones to see what residents are doing, Hoskins has another reason she keeps a strong social media presence.

Hoskins alongside residents during a performance.

“I think that facilities and nursing homes get such a bad name. I want people to know we’re not just a regular nursing home. We go above and beyond every day,” she said. “We work so hard to make the public know and make people know that this is what we do. We do fun things.”

Whether she is working with her short-term residents or long-term residents, the director loves them all and is always finding new ways to tailor activities to their interests.

As for the team that helps her with all the fun, she proudly said they are the “best, supportive staff members” who all bring a unique set of skills to the table. Outside of her department, she said it makes her happy to see a whole group of people with a team approach dedicated to resident care. In fact, her father was a resident and was successfully able to go back home thanks to the staff at Valerie Manor.

“It makes my heart so happy. I know every day that I make a difference in someone’s life,” she said when asked about seeing residents enjoy their time.

Natalie Mihalchick, Athena’s Director of Therapeutic Recreation and Memory Care Program Coordinator in Connecticut, said Hoskins is, “always attentive to her residents’ needs, makes Valerie Manor a place of community, and makes residents feel a part of the community.”

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June 27, 2024 A Healthier Approach To Caring, Inside Athena