Associate Spotlight - Like Mother, Like Daughter
Here’s stress: You graduate from nursing school in the fall of 2019 and enter the health care job market just as a pandemic turns the world upside down.
To then have one of your first postings be to an assisted living community where your mom is the boss – well, it might be more than the average 20-year-old would even remotely desire.
Breanna Buker doesn’t see it that way. “My mom is the best role model,” says the now 21-year-old. “She’s really one of a kind.”
Mom is Tristi Delaroca, executive director of Capitol Ridge at Providence, in Providence, RI. The mother and daughter duo had the unique experience of working together in a COVID-19 world.
For Breanna, it was a chance to see her mother lead a team of associates committed to protecting and caring for Capitol Ridge’s residents and helping provide peace of mind to their families.
Caring: Like mother, like daughter
One day, Breanna was discussing with her mother what she might do after graduating. Tristi joked, “Oh, you could work with me.” When Tristi mentioned the idea to another administrator at Capitol Ridge, the response was ‘Why not?’
“I was used to that setting,” Breanna explains. “My mom has worked in assisted living for years. When I was young, I used to go to work with her. I have a love for seniors because I’ve been surrounded by them. That’s why I went for it.”
Breanna had worked in a community-hospital setting and enjoyed the challenges but said working in an assisted-living environment was much more satisfying.
“At a hospital, you are mostly working with elderly people but only for two or three days. I love maintaining a connection with residents and getting to know their families. It’s very special,” she explained.
Breanna, a RN, started at Capitol Ridge in the spring of 2020, working on a per diem basis, and was there until last fall. “They needed assistance because of COVID times,” she recalls. She was brought on to help in the memory care neighborhood, performing such tasks as evaluating patients and distributing medication.
“I haven’t known anything else,” Breanna says, referring to COVID-19 protocols and care.
Watching her Mom lead
At Capitol Ridge, Breanna saw her mom a fair amount of the time, occasionally having lunch, for example, in Tristi’s office.
Watching her mom work and seeing her through the eyes of the residents and staff, “I learned that she’s not afraid to get her feet wet,” Breanna says. “She steps in wherever help is needed. She knows all the residents by name. They love her and come to her office. She’s very well respected because she gives that to staff members and residents, too.”
At first, not everyone at Capitol Ridge knew Breanna was Tristi’s daughter. "We do look alike,” she says, but masks made it harder for folks to see the resemblance. The word spread, though. People would come up to her and say, “I just love your mom. he’s so funny, so great.”
Breanna recalls how her mother always found time to celebrate the small successes, regardless of what was happening. “Even if we were covered in PPE and it was a challenging time, she would take the time to stop and express appreciation to her team, basically celebrate them,” she says.
Mother and daughter are close. “She is a fun person to be around,” Breanna says. “We do a lot together. She’s always up for anything I recommend. We love any type of antiquing or thrift shops.”
If someone is going through a difficult time, Breanna says, Tristi is often there to lend helpful advice. “She appears tough, but she’s really a softy. My friends call my mom ‘mom.’”
Breanna, a resident of Warwick, RI, lives only 10 minutes from her mother. She is now serving as a nursing designee – the assistant to the Resident Care Director – at Benchmark’s Blenheim-Newport community in Middletown, RI. At the same time, she’s pursuing her BS degree in nursing at New England Institute of Technology in East Greenwich, RI. She’ll finish in September.
Breanna’s younger sister, Allison, 18, may follow in Breanna’s footsteps. She will graduate from high school in June and is considering a career in health care.
The last thing many young people want to do is go into their parent’s line of work. Quite the contrary for Breanna. Mom “definitely” influenced her choice of careers. Through her hard work and dedication, Tristi has clearly been an inspiration.