A Day in the Life: Avita Memory Care Program Director

All Hands-On Deck

Northbridge’s “A Day in the Life” series offers a unique window into the lives of the dedicated and passionate associates ensuring residents live well and love life every day. 

The Avita memory care program at Carriage House at Lee’s Farm is vibrant, thriving and supportive. Jazz Cvitan, Avita’s Program Director, finds her days jam packed. My day with Jazz started at 10:00 a.m. in the daily stand up meeting, she started her day a little earlier. I was introduced as Jazz’s shadow for the day and my one piece of advice was to make sure I was wearing comfortable shoes.


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A rare sighting…Jazz sitting at her desk

After a brief stand up meeting we jetted off to Avita where morning gathering was finishing up and residents were patiently waiting for Lily, the pet therapy dog, to come for her weekly visit. We weren’t in Avita for more than two minutes when a resident, Betty* came up to Jazz needing to go to the hair salon for her morning appointment. We turned back around and walked with Betty over to the hair salon on the traditional side of Carriage House.

When we returned to Avita, residents were enjoying their time with Lily, and Jazz led me to her office to chat. She told me about constantly checking the communication log to see which residents were in or out of the Avita community and about the daily routine. The importance of keeping each morning the same so the routine becomes a comfort for residents. Large group programs tend to happen in the morning, while afternoons are reserved for smaller group programs. Of course, all of this is subject to change depending on the day and what the residents feel like doing at that moment. She did show me her monthly calendar of events but joked that residents don’t use it so much to look at the programs, rather to see who was lucky enough to make the front cover!

Heading toward the Living Room, Jazz noticed that muscles in motion (our exercise class) hadn’t started. Noticing her programmer, Dan, was unexpectedly assisting another resident, Jazz jumped into the center of the circle to lead exercise. As I joined in, mimicking her exercises, I first saw how versatile and hectic her job can be. When Dan returned he and Jazz shared a brief communication, never stopping the exercise and a few minutes later Dan stepped in ready to lead the group through the rest of the routine.

Jazz continued our walk through Avita and showed me the Program area where, before I arrived, she had taken the time to set up the afternoon program. Jazz expressed the importance of setting everyone up for success to maximize focus.

A potential new resident, Mary*, was here for a visit and we had a scheduled lunch with Mary and her daughter, so we took off to the private dining room where everything was already getting started. After enjoying a nice meal with our two guests we all headed to Avita, giving Mary and her daughter a chance to look around, as Mary would be moving into Avita. We walked right into the craft program where residents were making clothes pin wreaths, cards and painting. Jazz sat with Mary and other residents to make a card and I took this opportunity to meet some of the other Avita residents.

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Jazz and Dan running an afternoon program!

I had the pleasure of sitting next to Donna*, a resident with dwindling belief in her painting ability and a need to gab about other residents. In between the rundown of the ladies at our table, Donna would critique her own work and question which color she should paint with next. Even though she was very hard on her ability to creatively express herself saying “If you don’t call yourself silly someone else will, it’s better to do it yourself,” she never stopped moving her paintbrush.

As I was having many, many laughs with Donna, Jazz was taking Mary and her daughter around Avita. When they made it back to the program, Jazz stole me away from Donna, we left each other reluctantly. Jazz and I made our way to the kitchen to prepare for the next program, root beer floats – oh the nostalgia! Programs in Avita run one after the other all day long. Not all programs are elaborate and planned but it is important that there is always something to do. Keeping all residents engaged is key, so taking it day by day and one program at a time is the only way for each resident to be successful.

While in the kitchen we realized that there was no root beer in the fridge, so we headed to the Main Kitchen to bother Chris, the Director of Resident Dining and acquire our supplies. Once the floats were made we headed back over to the craft room where residents were finishing up their program. One of the favorites was a clothespin wreath made by Amy*, a sweet Armenian woman who always wears skirts, loves to dance and according to Jazz gives the best hugs. She had made a shell person version of herself to stick in the middle of her wreath.

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Dan celebrating the Longest Day with an Avita resident.

Jazz and I found a brief period to sit and chat a little more about her role while Dan was leading Brain Games in the Living Room. Of course, our conversation was not completely without interruption as a family member stopped by to talk to Jazz and a resident stopped by multiple times to check that the doctor was coming to see her later that day.

As we wrapped up our conversation it was time to get the residents to the happy hour music program on the traditional side of Carriage House. This is no small task; with 29 residents in Avita we needed all hands-on deck. Jazz stood by the door making sure every resident who left was signed out and was with an associate. Jazz and I brought the last of the residents to the program and Jazz made sure everyone was settled and had a seat before we went back to Avita.

We had to clean up from Brain Games in the Living Room which meant dismantling four folding tables and re-arranging the chairs. Next, we made sure everything was set for dinner, Jazz stressed the importance of making sure transitions are as seamless as possible as she set up the music to start playing and fixed the last of the table cloths in preparation for the residents return.

It seems a little impossible to fully communicate everything that happened in my day with Jazz. We were all over the place in terms of physical location and topics we discussed, some topics more private to share in this blog post, but I learned so much. People say that it takes a special person to work with someone who has Alzheimer’s or dementia and I know that Jazz is one of those people. Not all the residents I met were having good day, but laughing with Donna while painting, experiencing first-hand the process of bringing a new resident into Avita, and having Amy reaching for my hand with a smile as we talked gave me a small peek into why Jazz loves coming into work every day, and why she has a hard time pulling herself away from it each night.


*Names were changed for privacy.

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