Inside Athena: Webster Manor’s “Goofy” And “Persistent” Resident Ambassador

Inside Athena: Webster Manor’s “Goofy” And “Persistent” Resident Ambassador

WEBSTER, M.A. — Katrina Wilbur says, as lucky as Athena is to have her, she’s just as lucky to be at Webster Manor Rehabilitation & Health Care Center.

She joined the Worcester County, Massachusetts center a year and a half ago as the Resident Ambassador. The Cape Cod native has a background in helping others. She previously worked with adults with disabilities at a local foundation, then took a job in insurance for 16 months before deciding healthcare was where she was meant to be. She lived in Webster for eight years before recently relocating to northwestern Connecticut, about 20 minutes away from work.

“I can’t believe that they have a job that you can come into and make such a big difference and feel so good about,” Wilbur said. “In a nursing home, a lot of people are tired and not always motivated… I think you have to have that upbeat, joyous, goofy personality to kind of get people out of their shell.”

Katrina Wilbur with Webster Manor resident, Richard.

The Ambassador Program at Athena Health Care Systems is in place for the residents to have an advocate at the center. The ambassador focuses on the needs of the residents, customer service, and satisfaction. The goal is to provide high-level customer service through companionship and engagement in meaningful and individualized leisure pursuits. Provide safety reminders, supervision, assisting with everyday tasks when appropriate, and non-clinical psychosocial support/companionship. The ambassador’s role also ensures that resident concerns are brought to the appropriate department for quick and timely resolution.

Wilbur says some people have lost or haven’t had the confidence to speak up and ask for things, but she always encourages them to try.

“It’s nice to be the voice to somebody that needs it,” she said. “I have a lot of [residents] that I tend to gravitate towards that don’t have the confidence to talk to nursing, to talk to the C.N.A.s, somebody that maybe wants to walk a little bit more and they don’t feel positive or confident enough to ask and that’s something I think I can help them with, and have helped them with.”

Her day is like “a bag of tricks.” She starts every day by doing rounds with residents to check in. After that, it can be anything from painting nails to helping clean rooms to just sitting with residents who may need someone to talk to. She tries to divide her time between the three units at Webster Manor.

Building connections is important to her. When she joined, one resident was unsure why she was there.

“I don’t need a friend,” he would tell her.

He would grunt and groan when Wilbur would greet him in the morning. Then, one day, a spark ignited. They found a common interest in playing cards.

“As close as I got to him, he got to me,” Wilbur said. 

Breaking people out of that shell, she said, takes time and some finesse. She said not living at home and not being as independent can often lead to decreased motivation.

Katrina Wilbur

“I like the way it makes me feel. Helping somebody and actually making a difference in their life, I mean, that’s more rewarding than anything you can ask for. I think for this role specifically, I still am amazed that I have the job that I have. There’s not many jobs in life that you can say you are so important to somebodies life,” she said.

She says she’s “lucky” to have the job she does. She believes her residents would call her “goofy” and “persistent.” And while she says she makes them feel good, she notes they make her feel even better.

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February 26, 2023 A Healthier Approach To Caring