Branka Urosevic has worked in support of seniors in one capacity or another for different providers for nearly 20 years, but when she joined Schlegel Villages, her love of seniors was able to flourish in ways it hadn’t in her previous roles.
Branka and friends in the days before COVID during a
cruise of the Toronto Harbour. “I’ve always felt I work
with the greatest generation on Earth," she says.
“I found ‘the one,’ ” Branka says, recalling how it felt when she first started working as a director of lifestyle options at The Village of Wentworth Heights in Hamilton. “They always say when you fall in love, you’ve found ‘the one,’ and I have ‘the one.’ ”
In some of her previous roles outside of Schlegel Villages, she says team members weren’t always empowered to make decision or take chances and for someone who is always looking for creative ways to brighten the days of others, that grew tiresome.
“They didn’t let me be myself but this company, Schlegel Villages, they truly allow you to be who you are; they embrace it and they welcome it,” Branka says.
“It’s a family here.
“It’s like I’m in my own bubble when I’m here,” she continues. “I’ve always felt I work with the greatest generation on Earth. Over the years, they’ve instilled a lot of their values in me; I’ve listened to them and I’ve watched their struggles.
“I have a different perspective on life than my friends because I see different stages of people’s life.”
She also offers a deeply personal understanding in her role, having watched as Alzheimer’s disease slowly chipped away at her father’s health and well-being while she was beginning to forge a career in the service of seniors. After losing her father, she can relate to the families of loved ones who live at Wentworth Heights.
“I think it’s just natural because it comes down to relationships,” Branka says, noting that she is forever grateful for the fact that she has often received support and advice from residents when she has faced challenges in life. “The residents are my family,” she says. “They do so much for me . . . and they give me a lot of strength.”
Putting residents first is always top of the agenda for Branka, along with her willingness to be truly open with them and their families, for this is the key to building relationships.
“It’s also about being personal,” she says, “sharing your fears. There are boundaries, of course, but we’re constantly in their lives . . . and I feel that they should know about me, my family, my fears and my successes.”
This is how true relationships work, and it’s why Branka has built such strong connections with hundreds upon hundreds of people over the years. It’s what fuels her and inspires constant conversations with friends along Main Street whenever she is out, and it’s what make her such as strong part of the family at The Village of Wentworth Heights.