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Valerie Dorsey – Health Services Director & Wellness Navigator

ValerieFor the past 30 years, Blakehurst has built a reputation as the leading senior living community in the Towson, Md. area. Residents benefit from top-tier services and amenities, as well as numerous opportunities to enhance their quality of life. One of the people who make that possible is Residential Health Services Director & Wellness Navigator Valerie Dorsey.

Valerie is the “go-to” expert for all health and wellness needs, ensuring residents who receive specialty care or hospitalization elsewhere return to Chestnut Green or their private residences with access to the care and services necessary for a smooth recovery.

“They come to me for anything they need health and wellness-wise,” she said. “And if we don’t have it here on campus, I find it for them — whether it be education on a certain medication, a physician referral, or a health assessment.”

Valerie also works side-by-side with the Community Life Director and her team, developing events and opportunities centered around the community’s signature Eight Dimensions of Wellness program. She also recommends fitness classes and programs based on residents’ wants and needs.

Working directly with residents and building meaningful connections are the best parts of her job. These close relationships help Valerie and others on the staff stay in close contact with residents to monitor their health and wellness needs.

“For example, housekeeping will notice if an apartment is becoming cluttered, presenting a fall risk. Or dining might tell us a resident has called to make a reservation five times in one night, a sign that cognition is starting to be affected,” she said. “Everybody comes together to talk through residents’ problems. That’s a big difference from other communities; we are all involved and work together to ensure residents are okay.”

One of Valerie’s responsibilities at Blakehurst is to help residents move through the continuum. Many residents arrive in independent living, then move to assisted living, and ultimately memory or comprehensive care.

Over her years at Blakehurst, Valerie has deepened her empathy and compassion to better assist residents, understanding that when residents move into new living environments, it can be hard.

“It’s difficult for anybody to move, but when an elderly person has to transition from what they’re accustomed to and move to another location, it’s stressful,” she said. “Empathy, compassion, and understanding are critical. I have to treat them like they’re my parents. How would my mom feel if she had to pick up and move from where she’s been for 15-20 years to another location, even though it’s right here on campus?”

Blakehurst is always improving and finding new ways to best serve its residents. One of Valerie’s first changes after arriving was implementing a process that determines who moves to assisted living based on risk level, not by tenure or the date a move was requested.

“We assess every resident on the AL waitlist and assign a score,” she said. “Higher risk residents are top of the list, because they’re more at risk the longer they are in IL. This change ensures the right people have access to assisted living and allows more people to stay in independent living longer. It’s worked well.”

Valerie followed an unconventional path to Blakehurst, arriving in 2019.

After spending 10 years in accounting, she decided to pursue her passion, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Maryland.

“I always wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “It’s something that’s been in me and on my mind since I was a kid, so I went back to school to do what I truly wanted to do for a living.”

That dedication and passion has had a positive impact on residents since Valerie arrived at Blakehurst in 2019.  For that, we are all thankful.

For more information about the Blakehurst lifestyle, please contact Elizabeth O’Connor, Director of Marketing and Sales at 410.938.8382.