Lexi Wolfe has been a direct care staff at ACR Homes for over three years. She started during the fall of her freshman year at the University of Minnesota. Her mother Jean recently joined the ACR team and now works full-time doing direct care at ACR’s sister company, Arthur’s Residential Care. How they both ended up at ACR is an interesting story.
When Lexi started at the U she knew she was going into healthcare, so a friend of hers recommended she get some healthcare experience working at ACR. She applied and got hired. Lexi is graduating this month, and she’s still working at ACR as she’s done during her entire college career. She’s hoping to take the MCAT and apply to medical school next spring.
Meanwhile, Lexi’s mother Jean had an entirely different approach. Jean’s background includes degrees in chemical engineering and interior design, several years as a stay-at-home mom, a sewing business, waitressing, and being a certified personal trainer at the YMCA. When Lexi first told her mother about her new job at ACR back in 2013, Jean recalls thinking, “She won’t last two weeks.” She also remembers thinking that she herself would never want to be a direct care staff for people with disabilities.
Long story short, Lexi loved her work at ACR, and Jean found that the more Lexi talked about it, the more Jean began to understand how meaningful her daughter’s work was as a direct care staff, and that appealed to her. Lexi recalls that as she talked with her mother about her work, her mother began to notice “a transformation in me.” Jean commented about Lexi, “She’s just completely different than she used to be. She’s grown up and she’s very non-judgmental. She’s much less self-centered. She just gets smarter and more caring every day.”
Three years after Lexi started at ACR, Jean decided to apply. She got hired and placed at Arthur’s Residential Care which provides assisted living care for seniors. When Jean was asked what made her change her mind about being a direct care staff, she noted that she had had caregiving experience with her dad who had dementia and her mom who had ovarian cancer, which gave her empathy and perspective and an interest in working with seniors. Jean started out part-time at ACR and had another part-time job elsewhere, but she liked her work with ACR so much that she soon quit her other job to go full-time at ACR. Jean likes that it is an active job, and she also likes the varied schedule with some day shifts, some evening shifts, and a couple of weekends per month.
Lexi and Jean were asked, “What did you experience at ACR that you didn’t expect?” Lexi replied, “Just getting to know my residents and have relationships with them.” Jean added that she wasn’t expecting the opportunity to “figure out how I can bond with each person. I never expected the relationships to form that did. It’s much more than just a job. Getting to know the residents better, figuring out the best way to do certain things.” She also admitted to worrying a little that she might not fit in with her co-workers, but those worries were quickly laid to rest. Of her coworkers she says, “They’re literally all awesome. It’s weird. They want you to succeed. Everyone helps each other.”
Jean added that the quality of care at ACR and Arthur’s is “unprecedented” in her view. She compares her father’s experience in assisted living with her work at Arthur’s and loves that Arthur’s has a high staffing ratio of six residents to two caregivers which allows her to immediately take care of resident needs. She concluded, “I’m really surprised that I’m doing this. I think that as you go through life, experience changes what you think and what you do. I love the relationships I’m building with my co-workers and the residents and even the residents’ families.”