Tony Pellitta – Wesley Enhanced Living
Think about this. A resident in a senior living facility born in 1930 lived through World War II and the Holocaust, the Korean War, the Kennedy Assassination, the Civil Rights Movement, the Moon Landing, the Vietnam War, the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the 9/11 attacks.
“I love connecting with our residents and just hearing their stories,” Pellitta tells Blueprint in early November. “They remember some of the most historical events of the past 100 years.”
In his role, Pellitta oversees one of five locations—in Doylestown—for Wesley Enhanced Living, which also includes properties in Upper Moreland, Main Line, Stapley and Pennypack Park. WEL’s continuing care retirement communities are designed to provide a wide range of opportunities for residents to stay engaged, continue learning and remain connected to what matters to them. With over 133 years of experience, WEL takes pride in serving the needs of seniors with thriving communities and a dedicated staff.
“We offer high-level senior living in a well-kept community-oriented setting that prioritizes resident involvement,” Pellitta says.
Aesthetics and tech updates
Renovations in our Health Center will begin in March 2024 and carry through 2025 and possibly into 2026. The focus of the renovations in Doylestown is mainly cosmetic, to improve aesthetics and modernize the resident rooms. Pellitta and his team are redoing finishes and adding more accommodations and amenities to make the residents’ daily experiences more convenient.
One area that Pellitta emphasizes in the renovations is the need for increased technology. As technological advances continue to be made for aging people, it is important to provide the necessary outlets and accommodations in the resident rooms. Currently, there are only a few outlets in each room, which cannot accommodate the technology needs of the residents. The goal is to ensure residents can access the desired technology, such as better TVs and streaming services like Netflix.
“Residents today want to be able to watch their TVs, charge their iPads and tablets and utilize the tech available to them,” Pellitta says. “We need to ensure that their rooms have what they need to access their services and are prepared for future advancements, too.”
In addition to technology, Pellitta acknowledges the importance of creating a home-like setting in senior living facilities. The goal is to move away from a hospital’s institutional feel and provide residents a warm and comfortable environment. This shift aligns with the expectations of the baby boomer generation, who are entering their senior years and desire more amenities and a lifestyle that resembles what they have outside the facilities.
It’s all about the experience
Competition is fierce in this space, Pellitta says, so organizations like WEL must offer programs and amenities that differentiate them from their competitors. The goalposts are always changing, and with new generations of residents come new expectations for their in-residence experiences.
“We have to be innovative and how to adapt and try and forecast what the market will be like in 5 to 10 years, and we have to predict what residents will want in their communities when that time comes,” Pellitta says.
Pellitta understands that to keep up with the demands and expectations of residents, the facility must be innovative and adaptable. The challenge lies in predicting what the market will be like in the future and how to meet those evolving needs. As people live longer, the aging process changes, and residents may arrive at the facility in worse shape than in previous years.
“I feel facilities will need more external medical device capability, like oxygen concentrators and bladder scanners. I also feel there will be more attention to resident safety through Department of Health regulations,” Pellita adds.
Taking care of others
Being a non-profit organization, Wesley Enhanced Living may not have a large budget, but Pellitta is accustomed to working with limited resources. He has always worked for non-profits and is no stranger to working on various projects and fixing things.
His passion for serving seniors began at a young age when he worked in the dining department of a healthcare facility. This experience sparked his interest in working with seniors, and he eventually transitioned into the maintenance department, where he gained knowledge and skills in HVAC, plumbing and pipe fitting.
“Those early years gave me invaluable experience into what it would be like to work with this population in this setting,” Pellitta recalls. “I fell in love with the work quickly and knew it was what I wanted to do.”
After working for a Quaker faith-based organization in various roles for over 20 years, Pellitta jumped to Wesley Enhanced Living in 2022.
Pellitta’s dedication and willingness to go above and beyond for his team and the residents have been instrumental in his career growth. He has always been a team player, leading by example and stepping in to help whenever needed. This loyalty and drive have been noticed by others, leading to opportunities for advancement. Pellitta acknowledges that he first needed formal leadership knowledge or experience but gained the necessary skills through leadership training and workshops. These trainings helped him understand the importance of focusing on people and their individual needs, as well as the importance of self-awareness and personal growth.
As a leader, Pellitta ensures that his staff feels supported and respected. His door is always open for his team, and he believes that respect is earned, not given. Instead of telling people what to do, Pellitta prefers to ask for their help and cooperation.
“I love it here. I love the community, the organization and my team,” he says. “Coming to Wesley Enhanced Living is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. II 2024 Edition here.
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