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Meet Janie Benton, Director of Clinical Services and one of Carillon Assisted Living’s Longest-Serving Team Members

Last year, when Janie Benton noticed an elderly driver weaving through traffic while struggling to keep her car under control, the Carillon executive’s quick thinking helped save the woman’s life.

“When I saw who was driving the vehicle, I knew something was wrong,” says Carillon’s Director of Clinical Services. “This woman weighed about 90 pounds and was driving a big old Oldsmobile, gripping the steering wheel and going in and out of traffic. It was serious.”

Following the car after the driver exited I-440 in Raleigh, Janie finally got her attention and persuaded her to pull off a busy boulevard and into the parking lot of a car wash.

After comforting the woman, Janie got her home phone number. When she called it, Janie learned the police were already there because the driver had been missing much of the day. Janie remained with the woman until her family and the police arrived.

While the incident attracted little media attention, a story in Carillon’s newsletter generated numerous comments from coworkers. Janie shrugs off the attention, saying she just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

While she may be shy about accepting credit for her caring action, Director of Operations Chuck Jennings calls Janie an “incredible asset” to Carillon.

Professionally, she has a unique ability to provide honest, constructive and sometimes difficult feedback to individuals in a way that everyone walks away feeling valued, motivated and empowered, Chuck says.

“She has a passion for residents that is unparalleled,” he says. “She conveys this not only in her words, but in her actions as she is training, supporting and coaching team members on all levels of leadership within the organization. Everyone she works with is comforted in knowing that she is available as a resource for support, encouragement and guidance.”

Chuck could have added “heart” to the list. While Janie may not seek acclaim for her quick thinking last year, the experience offered a flashback to the time her mother (who has since died) wandered off from an assisted living facility in Missouri.

So, not only does Janie knows what it’s like to worry about a loved one’s well-being in those frantic moments when no one knows their whereabouts, she wants to help those who may face similar circumstances in the future.

“You have to make people understand this isn’t just a job,” says Janie, who next March will celebrate her 15th anniversary here. “I don’t just do this for the check. This is so much more. Luckily, someone was there for my mom and we tell them we want to be there for them.”

A 1976 graduate of Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, Janie later earned her nursing degree. She worked in a variety of positions, from the intensive care unit to patient rehabilitation to kidney dialysis.

However, she always gravitated back to senior care; prior to joining Carillon she worked for a chain of rehab hospitals with numerous elderly patients.

Janie calls improved compliance with state regulations and boosting the morale of other team members her major contributions to Carillon since 2003.

She has also served as an unofficial ambassador for us, traveling nationwide to lead training seminars about Alzheimer’s and improve awareness of the disease.

“When I sit with someone and they say, ‘My mom’s not crazy like those people,’ I can see we need more awareness,” Janie says. “We need people to realize Alzheimer’s is not a mental illness. It’s an illness, similar to heart disease.”

Away from work, Janie enjoys riding motorcycles with her husband and visiting their 10 grandchildren (#11 is on the way) in three other states. Until she started attending a larger church a few years ago, she led activities for her congregation’s seniors group.

Though hers is a busy life with plenty of challenges, Janie likes working at Carillon because she believes in our mission.

“In my position, I have an impact on residents and team member’s lives,” she says. “Some team members don’t come from the background I had. But I’ve seen a lot move on to be nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, teachers—a lot of different things just from giving them opportunities.”

Everyone at Carillon is lucky to have her here.

Posted in Sage Stories on September 7, 2017

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