Judy Steel enjoys working with things that are considered “elderly.” As an assisted living home worker and an avid antique-store shopper, Steel surrounds herself with people and things with a history, and things with a story.
Steel is the Director of Health and Wellness at the Rittenhouse Village at Valparaiso, located at 1300 Vale Park Rd. The position here is new, taking it on in late 2016, but working within the geriatrics field of healthcare is a position Steel chose many years ago.
Steel was raised in the Southside of Chicago, and graduated her high school with a diploma from a nursing-geared program. Then, she went right into working in the healthcare field.
“I have worked in doctor’s offices, hospitals, geriatrics…” she said. “Then I found geriatrics was my passion.”
Before coming to Rittenhouse, she was working in other elderly care programs, but in long-term care, which differs than her current role at the assisted living home.
At Rittenhouse, Steel oversees the nursing staff of about 45 to 50 nurses who help care for the residents. She and the staff do the assessments on residents when needed and every six months, keeps track of all discharge plans, and new residents coming to the facility.
Plus, she is in constant communication with the resident’s families, keeping them up to date and answering any questions.
Keeping in tune with the families is something that Steel truly enjoys and did not do as much when she worked in long-term care.
“I am very close to the families. You get to know more about the families and the background and there’s a lot more family participation,” she said.
Like Deborah Atsas, the Rittenhouse Executive Director, said, and many others who work in assisted living, Steel loves the stories.
“If I could just sit and listen to them all day – that would make me so happy. Just to listen to them on how things were when they were young,” she said. “You hear the stories, ‘I walked 40 miles uphill in the snow to get to school everyday.’ And you know they are true!”
Steel enjoys learning about where her residents came from, who they once were, and what they enjoyed doing in their own free time.
Steel enjoys learning about where her antique-store treasures are from as well. Her favorite places to shop are the stores in La Porte, where she can always find good deals.
She seeks out good furniture pieces to refurbish and redesign.
Living in Chesterton, Steel frequents the stores there, always attends the Christmas Parade each year, and used to eat at Popolano’s Restaurant with her family, before it closed.
She has two sons, a 20-year-old and 27-seven-year-old, who sometimes join her and her husband as they escape to the family cabin in Michigan as much as possible.
Steel moved here from Illinois about 16 years ago and since then, most of her family has followed her over.
Spending time with her own family is important, and since working with the families at Rittenhouse, she sees why everyday. Every one and every thing has a story, and the people close to you are the perfect ones to tell.