To Somer Hancock, working with residents at Valencia Hills Health & Rehabilitation Center in Lakeland is like having 200-plus grandparents.
Somer, the nursing home’s administrator, started her career in health care on an entirely different track. Hoping to one day become a physician’s assistant, she began earning high school clinical hours by volunteering at the long term care center where her grandmother lived. The plan was to use that experience to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) on her way toward becoming a physician’s assistant in the future. But somewhere along the line in college, that all changed – she continued working as a CNA at the same care center, and soon adjusted her career path toward long term care.
Somer received both her bachelor’s degree in biological health sciences with a concentration in geriatrics and her CNA license, and worked her way up the long term care ladder to eventually become a nursing home administrator. Along the way she worked in every department, learning the skills she would need to run a long term care center. Somer found that the long term care profession offers major opportunities for career growth and advancement, which led her to do what she loves each and every day.
“If you have a CNA license and a degree, I feel like the world is yours and you can do anything,” she says.
Somer’s favorite aspect of her role as nursing home administrator is making a positive impact on the lives of both her residents and her staff. She loves being able to create a community at her center through such creative ideas as parades, secret handshakes, therapy animals, hot cocoa bars, pajama days, potlucks, fun contests, and holiday celebrations.
“There is something really special about being able to make a difference in your residents’ lives but also creating a work environment and making a difference in your staff’s lives,” she says.
Somer finds inspiration and strength to do her job from the support of her staff, residents, Florida leaders, other nursing home professionals, and family members, and through recovery success stories. She takes tremendous pride in her staff members’ successes, recognizing how it positively impacts countless lives.
Somer believes every single one of her staff members – from the professional nurses to housekeepers, laundry staff, maintenance workers, and activities coordinators – have an important role in making the lives of their residents pleasant and productive.
And when you see each resident as a part of the family, that’s a goal worth pursuing every day.