Five years after starting her career at the Good Samaritan Society in Luverne, Senior Housing Manager Carrie Soto continues to make an impact serving Minnesota seniors.
Carrie believes her compassion for the tenants and their families has led her to administer outstanding care by providing a true sense of belonging and trust.
“I love getting that phone call from a family who is in need,” says Carrie. “There are so many options for them and I enjoy being a resource, it’s incredible.”
Carrie first started in long-term care while in high school when she worked at a senior center in Madison, S.D. During this time, Carrie discovered enjoyment in caring for seniors through her various duties, including serving breakfast to the residents every morning before school. Carrie’s interests in senior care would lead her to becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).
After stepping away from senior care to explore other career opportunities, Carrie was drawn back into the field in 2013 when she became director of resource development at the Good Samaritan Society in Luverne. In this role, Carrie traveled among three senior care campuses in Luverne, Pipestone and Edgerton County in southwest Minnesota, developing outreach strategies to create opportunities for achieving their goals.
While working as director for two years, Carrie earned her master’s degree in business administration from the University of Sioux Falls. Upon graduation, Carrie decided to challenge herself and apply for the open senior living manager position. In 2016, Carrie was offered the job and has been working in the management role for the past three years.
“I love it and I look out my door every day, and just think how wonderful it is to work in an environment where we really get to make an impact on people’s lives,” says Carrie.
Carrie regularly speaks with families and helps them navigate the many options that are available when searching for the right senior housing.
“I do a lot of social work,” Carrie said. “I love seeing a change in a resident’s well-being and their families being happy if they do come to one of our buildings.”
Carrie said she understands how for some families there’s a certain sense of loss when a senior loved one turns to a senior care center for support. There can be a stigma that somehow the family or the senior family member failed because they could no longer manage everything on their own. That’s why she tries to remind families that moving into senior care is more about gaining than losing.
“Your life does not come to a halt,” she said. With the extra support and services, “I say you get to live carefree.”
Carrie’s honest approach towards caring for Minnesota seniors and their families has been heralded by her fellow staff members and tenants. Carrie was the 2018 recipient of the Care Providers of Minnesota Senior Living Manager of the Year Award.
“I truly share the award with the staff that I work with,” Carrie said. “They work so hard and try to provide a really great quality of life for our tenants.”
Over the years, Carrie said she continues to marvel at the devotion of volunteers who lend their hand to assist senior caregivers and staff. Carrie emphasized that volunteers have the ability to provide a connection with senior residents that can have a tremendous impact on their daily lives.
“These deep relationships you form with people in long-term care are unlike any other field,” Carrie said. “I remember getting a happy birthday message from a family member that read, ‘Today you were somebody’s hero.’ It brought tears to my eyes.”
Looking ahead, Carrie said she is eager to apply for the Silver National Achievement in Quality Award Program – a pathway for providers of long-term and post-acute care services to journey towards performance excellence.
If there’s one takeaway from Carrie’s professional journey so far, she said Minnesota seniors must never forget that they are loved and not alone.
“Remember that getting older doesn’t have to be scary,” Carrie said. “Many people are out there to help you with your daily needs. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Aaron Roundtree is a regular contributor to Face Aging MN. If you want to reach her or have any questions, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have your own story to share? We’d love to hear from you.