Working to make every day “magical,” a pioneer in senior assisted living
By Allen Payton
Opening their 19th location with their acquisition of the former Cypress Meadows Assisted Living facility in Antioch, Agemark Senior Living Communities of Orinda has renamed it TreVista Antioch and is bringing a new approach of a Club Med-like experience for seniors to East County.
The 10-acre campus is “not a skilled nursing facility,” but offers “both assisted living and memory care to enhance the lives of our residents,” said Senior Care Consultant Amanda Stewart.
She mentioned “many changes are happening, including a new water feature, a new theater,” making the place “more resident friendly and focused.”
They’re part of “a multimillion dollar renovation project that will truly establish TreVista Antioch as the Bay Area’s premier senior living community,” according to their website,
When asked why they chose Antioch, Agemark co-founder and CEO Richard Westin said, “There are a lot of people who need our services in town.”
The Orinda-based company is a pioneer in senior assisted living having introduced the type of facilities to the market.
“We’ve been doing this for 35 years,” Westin explained. “When we first began nobody knew what assisted living was. In the 1980’s it was educating the public.”
The only options were retirement homes of up to six beds or convalescent homes.
“The concept of vibrant, assisted living for people whose average age is 87 didn’t exist other than a convalescent home which was really no place that anyone wanted to go to,” he stated. “It gave senior housing a steep road to climb, because of the significantly, negative reputation that convalescent hospitals had. They (seniors) were just being stored, because people couldn’t take care of them at home.
“The world has changed,” Westin said. “We recognize every one of our residents has a story to tell and wisdom to provide the next generation. There are wonderful opportunities that assisted living provides that didn’t previously exist, that allows people to thrive.”
Agemark does things differently than other facilities. According to their website, their mission and the “Promise” includes the following: “It is our mission, privilege and responsibility to provide the kind of care we want for our own loved ones, fostering a healthy body, agile mind and joyful spirit. We promise to ‘Nurture and grow our communities and the people who work and live in them,’ ‘Actively listen, constantly innovate, and serve with pride and joy,’ and ‘Empower and encourage staff to respond to residents and their families with compassion and respect.’”
“My background is Club Med,” Westin (who said he is unrelated to the hotel chain of the same name) shared. “I used to teach sailing in the summer and skiing in the winter in Europe. I was the first American to ever work for Club Med. It started in 1954 and I started working for them in 1961 at age 20.”
“I didn’t realize at the time I wasn’t teaching people to sail and ski,” he continued. “I myself was learning the hospitality business and 55 years later I’m able to provide a Club Med-like experience for 87-year-olds.”
“First it was for 20-year-olds now it’s for 80-year-olds,” Westin said with a laugh. “Fun is fun. Dancing and going to the zoo, high school and semi-professional sporting events, depending on the location.”
“Engaging with kindergartners and older folks in meaningful activities is really a valuable thing,” he added.
Westin then shared his philosophy of how the facilities operate, with the goal of making every day magical for their residents
“Whenever you say ‘good-night’ to one of our residents it may in fact be ‘good-bye’. So, it is our responsibility to make sure that their previous day was magical,” he stated. “And if we can do that every day we will have made a difference in the lives of the people we take care of and will have accomplished our goal.”
“I’m passionate about what I do,” Westin continued. “At 76 I get up every day and I’m delighted to go to work because I care about the wellbeing of our residents and their families because I know they’re going through a difficult time. We don’t just get a resident we get a family. They never need to call because we’re always ready to show them a clean, happy environment.”
Westin shared about an experience one of their facilities offered to a resident who had never been to a game of her favorite major league baseball team. She got to throw out the first pitch, meet the players after the game and was greeted with a
“We try to do that all the time,” he shared
They’re going through the approval process for six additional locations all in California.
It’s a family run business.
“My son (Forrest) is my business partner and it’s great,” he added.
His partner Jesse Pittore is retired but his son Michael Pittore, a graduate of De La Salle High – who was part of the football team that kept their winning streak going to 101 games – is also part of the ownership team.
“So, we have the two younger generation and me,” Westin shared. “And if I’m healthy I plan to work another 20 years.”
TreVista is located at 3950 Lone Tree Way across the street from Sutter Delta Medical Center. For more information call (925) 329-6296 or visit www.trevista-antioch.com.