Teamwork is rewarding for Activities Coordinator Shari Yahner.
With an extensive career in long-term care, Shari Yahner knew that she wanted for work for Homeland Center. When a friend told her about an opening, she was thrilled to get the job.
“The staff is so caring and wonderful,” she says. “I feel so blessed to make a difference in someone’s life.”
Yahner first came to Homeland as a part-time dietary technician in June 2016, but soon, she was working full-time, spending one day a week on nutrition and the rest as a skilled-care activities coordinator. Some days, she’s helping residents make music by distributing homemade maracas to shake while a visiting musician sings familiar songs.
Other days, she works one-on-one, playing games or helping residents color adult coloring books. She’s always searching the internet for new ideas. She brought one favorite game from home – the classic Pass the Pig, when players toss plastic pigs like dice and earn points depending on how the pigs land.
“They really enjoy it,” she says. “It doesn’t take up much room, and it’s fun. It calls for adding numbers, to keep the mind working.”
Homeland’s versatile staff members don’t draw boundaries on their roles but work as a team, ensuring Homeland’s continuity of care, Yahner said.
“Not only do we know the residents, but we interact with each other to make sure the quality of care is as good as it can be,” she says. “Instead of relying on agencies and contractors, Homeland is wise in using the people they have.”
With her dietary background, Yahner brings a nutritionist’s eye to Homeland’s many food-related activities. At a recent Chef’s Choice with Gill program, when residents gather in Homeland’s unique Olewine Diner to make delectable treats, the menu called for pizza bagel bites, but she helped those with difficulty chewing make little donuts, “and they really enjoyed that.”
“We have people on modified texture diets, or with disease-related illnesses, like diabetes,” she says. “I can keep an eye on those kinds of things to make sure they’re being safe while they’re having fun.”
Soon, Homeland might help Yahner learn some nursing skills, adding to her usefulness and demonstrating that Homeland “cares about the staff and helping us grow.”
“There’s a sense of caring all around, from the housekeepers to the laundry to nursing to the administrator,” she says. “It’s noticeable, and I’m so proud to be part of a team like that.”
Outside of work, Yahner enjoys walking along nature trails, reading, spending time with family and friends, and cooking especially Italian dishes or grilling chicken kabobs. Her daughter is a senior at West Chester University, studying business management and marketing.
Yahner loves hearing stories from Homeland residents. “It educates me, and it helps them reminisce,” she says. “Sometimes they’ll look at you and smile and say, ‘I love you,’ and that’s so rewarding.”
Even when she was giving manicures – “not one of my stronger suits” – she learned a lesson about Homeland teamwork when a nurse stopped to help, saying “You don’t have to be perfect at everything you do.”
“That’s the kind of care they give at Homeland,” she says. “People step in to give you a hand. The residents were laughing at us. We were like a bunch of women at the beauty parlor.”