Whether it’s Vickie or Lena greeting you at the door with a warm hello, or listening to Nancy moving about the house singing Elvis tunes, it is clear to see why residential manager, Todd McPherson says the Oxford Community Home (Oxford) is “radiating positivity.” Nestled in the mountains of Chenango County, Oxford is a lively home filled with vibrant color, boasting a magnificent backyard—a wonderful place that residents proudly call home. The bright and hopeful energy surrounding and emanating from the home has been the work of months of strategy, time, and effort on the part of the entire Springbrook team.
Jeremy Campbell reads with Lena
Nancy Johnson shows off her singing skills at Oxford.
Oxford resident Sylvia Armbrister and Staff Vicki Barry show off just a few of their many crafts.
Oxford has faced its share of challenges these past few years. While the pristine, rural setting is one that is ideal for nurturing a peaceful home, it can present challenges for attracting new staff. Finding steady management has been a trial—with a bit of a turnstile of managers coming and going after years of stable leadership. This instability at the top rippled throughout the home, intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, cascading into a similar rotation of new staff coming and going and placing increasing stress on a core group of longstanding employees.
Maintaining effective management, staffing levels, and house operations across five counties and 26 homes can feel at times like a monumental undertaking. It is natural that individual house operations ebb and flow with time and circumstances—with some homes operating at peak, while others struggle with one challenge or another. So what happens if a home enters a challenging time? Springbrook faces the problem. At Oxford, this took the form of a management shake-up and strategic SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis is a process used by organizations to identify internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats.
Step one in getting Oxford back to peak? Stabilize leadership—bring in a residential manager who has a history of managing successful community homes across the organization. Todd McPherson stepped up to the plate, bringing his 20+ years of expertise, management skills, and team attitude to the challenge.
Coming into the position, Todd knew that some changes would have to be made. He focused on team-building, training, and policy and procedure. Todd had high expectations and held staff accountable to those expectations. Longstanding staff welcomed the approach, knowing that Todd’s standards were the Springbrook standards they were committed to. He contributed a lot of his managerial success to teamwork. “Whenever possible, decisions are made collectively—from major to minor decisions.” he said. “This has allowed us to work better as a team.” Todd’s team-oriented management style has made everyone at Oxford much more positive and organized.
“This is the greatest job I could ever have!” says employee Lena Wilcox with a beaming smile. Lena is an LPN and has worked at Oxford for about a year. She came to Springbrook from UHS Chenango Memorial Hospital, but she believes this position is much more rewarding. “I just love helping people!” she says with an enthusiasm that is infectious, “this house has great teamwork and communication. We have ups and downs but everyone is ready to help and make someone else’s day better!”
Lena is not the only staff member at Oxford who is happy with the changes. Bob Johnson has been at Oxford since its opening eight years ago. “Bob is exceptional, and we are lucky to have him!” Todd says with a nod. Bob has seen it all and he explains, “With all the recent changes everyone is happier, everything is less stressful, and the residents are more relaxed.”
Residents also shared their enthusiasm. Sylvia, a long-time resident said, “the house needs more staff, but all the hard work is paying off.” Sylvia is working on becoming more independent and is happy doing arts and crafts. Fellow resident, Nancy, loves to sing and is happy to talk about Oxford. “I really like it here, and I love to help out!” Nancy is one of the older residents, but she has not slowed down a beat. She could not talk long because she was off to get her hair colored for an upcoming visit with her fiancé!
The work at Springbrook’s Oxford Community Home isn’t over. As employers across the nation face unprecedented labor shortages, Springbrook is no exception. In the coming months, our goal is to bring staffing levels up at Oxford, giving the core team and residents the much-needed support they deserve. To facilitate this, Springbrook recently hired a new Community Homes Director, Stephanie Davy. Stephanie expressed what she plans to bring to Springbrook, “As Director, I am committed to advocating for the needs of the people served by Springbrook, and their families, and will enact positive growth and promote change within the organization to ensure that these needs and wants are supported. I will work closely with staff at every level within Springbrook, in particular, I will work closest with the staff and people of the community homes, and their families. Most of all, I want every person to feel valued for what they do, especially those in the role of Direct Support Professional for committing themselves to helping others live their best lives. I believe that it is for this reason that DSPs deserve to feel like leaders in their field.”
The hard work and sacrifice by the DSPs have truly been inspirational and the efforts of the team at Springbrook have really made a difference in the lives of the residents that call Oxford home.