Editor’s note: McKnight’s Home Care, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living are profiling the McKnight’s 2022 Women of Distinction honorees daily July 5 through Aug. 11. For additional McKnight’s Women of Distinction content, visit this page.

In January 2021, after 25 years as a certified nursing assistant at Chestnut Park at Cleveland Circle in Boston, 76-year-old Lena Robinson was set to retire with her husband. COVID-19 was still a reality, so she decided to stay with the residents who needed her. More than a year later, Robinson has no plans to retire anytime soon.

Robinson goes above and beyond for her residents daily, according to Carol Arnold, the marketing and PR coordinator for Benchmark Senior Living, of which Chestnut Park is a part. Robinson spends her time really listening to the stories and history of residents and has developed a deep understanding of what is needed to make residents truly feel special, Arnold says.

“In a time when many are leaving the profession and senior living providers are struggling to hire, Lena is a shining example of what it means to selflessly care for others,” Arnold said.  “She is a natural born caregiver. It’s not a job for her; it’s who she is.”

For the family members of residents, Robinson always is available to address their questions and concerns and to provide comprehensive updates when they visit, according to colleagues. And whether it’s pitching in to support residents who aren’t under her official purview or taking the time to train a new employee by demonstrating the importance of adding some personal touch, Robinson is wholly dedicated to supporting her fellow workers.

“Any down time Lena has throughout her day is devoted to supporting her residents and her fellow associates in some way. There isn’t anything she considers outside the scope of her responsibility,” said Sylvia Clark, executive director of Chestnut Park. 

As a special education teacher for more than two decades, Robinson learned how to be adaptable to changing situations, collaborate with fellow staff members, listen and communicate well, and be compassionate. These are all skills that are key to being successful in senior living and have made her an incredible CNA, Clark said.

“Lena Robinson is the heart and soul of our community,” she added. “She’s a cheerleader who acts as a teacher, motivator and role model for our associates and our residents. She makes each and every person in our community feel heard and valued.” 

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction program is jointly administered by McKnight’s Home Care, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living. The program’s Diamond sponsor is PointClickCare. Silver sponsors include OnShift and PharMerica, and the Bronze sponsor is Reliant Rehabilitation. Table sponsors included Dreamscape, Gojo/Purell and Sound Physicians.