Longevity Prevails at Whitney Place at Northbridge

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Heather Hough, Director of Wellness, Mary Bill, Recreation Director, Carol Kapolka, Executive Director
From left: Heather Hough, Director of Wellness, Mary Bill, Recreation Director, Carol Kapolka, Executive Director

From recreation assistant to Director of Wellness

Whitney Place Assisted Living Residences at Northbridge’s Wellness Director Heather Hough is soon celebrating her 20th anniversary with SALMON Health and Retirement, but she is far from the only longtime employee working at that community.

On SALMON Health and Retirement’s Northbridge campus consisting of Whitney Place, Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center, SALMON Adult Day Health Center, and SALMON Center for Early Education, nine colleagues have worked there for over 25 years, five for 20 to 24 years, nine for 15-19 years, 25 for 10-4 years and 42 for 5-9 years.

Heather first began working at SALMON as a recreation assistant in Westborough. She worked in recreation at both Natick and Northbridge campuses before becoming the Director of Wellness of Whitney Place at Northbridge.

In her years at Whitney Place she has noticed a trend: she isn’t the only one who doesn’t want to leave. Her campus has a number of long-serving team members who contribute to the desirable work environment of the community.

Longevity isn’t usually common in the senior living industry, but something about her community makes people happy to invest their careers there.

“I think people stay because it’s just a good company,” Hough says. “There’s stability in this company and when you work in other places, especially in this field, you just don’t have that feeling of security.”

Heather said even an hour drive to and from work has never motivated her to look for a position elsewhere.

“I could work closer to home but I would rather work in a positive environment like ours, where I really believe in the organization’s values,” she said.

Everybody on the Northbridge campus, she says, holds the same value of “doing whatever they can to put residents first. Everybody works together as a team; there’s no sense of ‘that’s not my job’ here.”

Heather says the community has a unique, family-oriented environment that is also very appealing to staff there.

Twelve years ago, Heather had twins enrolled at the campus childcare center at the same time her grandmother was receiving care on the second floor of Beaumont.

“That situation is not unique to me,” she said. “I think that happens to a lot of employees here.”

Another factor of the positive work environment is the Employee Appreciation Team, who goes to great lengths to provide events and services or events for staff frequently.

“They really try to help keep the morale up,” Heather said. “It’s a challenging industry to work in so they say thank you to everyone often.”

Primarily, according to Heather, the secret to longevity lies mostly in the individual personalities and how well they all work together.

“We’re a small community so we really have to get along with each other to work well together… Our team is just a group of people who truly believe in what they’re doing and really go above and beyond.”