Shining Senior Care Hero Awardee

Boyd Hendrickson, Skilled Healthcare CEO, (right), Roland Rapp and Debbie Robson, Hospice Care of the West Executive Director, celebrate her Senior Care Hero Award for Executive Director of the Year honor.

Congratulations Debbie Robson for receiving the Senior Care Hero Award! You are so deserving of the “champion” spotlight for seniors. Bravo!! Your leadership as Executive Director at Hospice Care of the West is now recognized beyond our walls. Each day, you transform the lives of your patients and inspire the team at Hospice Care of the West to celebrate life. I’m honored to work alongside you in our mission. I feel like this mission is truly a movement set in motion by you believing in our vision to become a shining beacon for changing how seniors

live in life’s final frontier.

The Senior Care Hero Awards at the Presidential Nixon Library was reminiscent of the Oscars night with a red carpet lit up by the magnificent lives dedicated to senior care.  It’s a fitting event as we are in the midst of an End-of-Life Revolution. Individuals, families and communities are searching for new ways to make  this stage of life a grand finale.

Below is a recap from Boyd Hendrickson, CEO of Skilled Healthcare.

I am pleased to announce that Debbie Robson, Executive Director of Hospice Care of the West, was the recipient of the Outstanding Executive Director of the Year. Deb made it through three tiers of voting. The first round was the People’s Choice, and Deb was chosen by popular vote. The second round of voting was by the Senior Care Hero Awards Council of Advisors which narrowed each field. The third and final round of voting was conducted by the Academy of Leaders. Deb received her award the evening of September 9 in the presence of her husband Mark, Hospice Care of the West’s Medical Director, Dr. Jorge Rivero (who himself was a nominee for Outstanding Physician and made it to the final tier), Boyd Hendrickson, Dev Ghose, Roland Rapp, and an intimate gathering of about 400 other attendees.

 The Senior Care Hero Awards are driven by Community SeniorServ, Inc. Community SeniorServ is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving as an advocate for Orange County’s older adults. This organization is committed to providing comprehensive services essential to their well-being and independence and provides vital safety net services to more than 11,000 senior citizens a year. Their goal is to ensure sustainability to meet the growing demand for senior services and to reduce dependency on government funding. Community SeniorServ is one of the nation’s largest elderly nutrition programs and a respected leader in the national aging network preparing and serving over 1.5 million meals a year to seniors at home and at 27 nutrition centers. That’s over 5,000 meals every day.

Their mission is simple: To improve the quality of life for older adults, persons with disabilities, and their families by creating a safety net of health, nutrition, and supportive services designed to enhance their independence, well being, and dignity.

Congratulations, Deb, and thank you for making a difference!

 Boyd Hendrickson

During her acceptance speech, Debbie reflected on her mother’s guidance that led her where she is today.  As a former hospice nurse turned executive director, Debbie is no stranger to what it takes day to day to care for our ailing parents, but beyond that she knows taking time out to create memories can often shift how we spend time at the bedside. At Hospice Care of the West, we are giving seniors the recipes and inspirations on this blog. Our programs such as the Life Review Video bring families together to record a last conversation about wisdom, life lessons and hopes and dreams to pass on the to next generations. We are teaching people that you don’t need to wait to the end to celebrate one’s life, you can do it today, right now.

We’ve built a rich resource of authentic stories about our patients that we hope one day will be the norm rather than the exception. With Debbie Robson at the helm of Hospice Care of the West, I believe this is possible. We have created the kind of place that can inspire seniors to live richly even in their most vulnerable stage of life. On our blog are examples from our 105-year-old patient Bessie who courageously flew in the big balloon weeks before her last breath to Dee J. who celebrated his 100 years of life with 200 of his closest friends and family after he entered hospice.

My nomination for Debbie Robson is below. Thank you for believing in our mission!

Why should this person be nominated? What makes nominee unique; why should he or she be selected as the winner of this category? ?Debbie Robson, Executive Director, has created a hospice that is a beacon for all other hospices and health care professionals on how we can change this stage of life for seniors into a time when families and communities can come together to celebrate their lives, wisdom and legacies. Click here to see what makes Hospice Care of the West exceptional

Within the hospice, we have launched Reminiscing Corners that bring together members of the hospice team to share their wisdom and life stories with a documentary filmmaker, so that we’re not only celebrating the lives of our patients but also each other. Check out the Reminiscing Corner spotlighting and celebrating the lives of our social workers. Click here Social Workers Reminiscing Corner. 

Reminiscing Corner videos are played at an event we call Celebration that brings together the entire hospice team to reflect, renew and celebrate life. Check Debbie at this Reminiscing Corner

Deb is spearheading a movement at Hospice Care of the West that will change how we care for seniors and their families. We invite seniors from the community to Reminiscing Corners to teach the value of recording your wisdom and passing on your hopes and dreams to the next generation. This shift in how we approach end of life brings

meaning, value, hope, dignity and for this we must say thank you to Deb for being an inspirational, innovative leader at Hospice Care of the West.


What is this nominee’s involvement in senior care or senior issues? ?Inspiring us to think differently about how we live in life’s last chapter! As Executive Director of Hospice Care of the West, Debbie Robson has embraced the philosophy that seniors must celebrate their lives and preserve their legacy of memories to pass on to the next generation. We have a blog called that is a resource for the community to be inspired to think differently about how to rewrite how we live in life’s last chapter. Hospice Care of the West has a volunteer life review video program headed by a veteran life story documentary filmmaker who video records interviews with the patient so he or she can pass on wisdom to the next generation. Check out a Life Review

Research shows one of the biggest assaults on one’s dignity at the end of life is that nothing of who or what I am will live on after I die. These life review interviews edited with music and photos provide the patient with something tangible to give as gift to their family in a time of life that often feels wrenching. At Hospice Care of the West, we also have a Dream Catchers program that connects volunteer high school students who make last wishes come true for hospice patients. We have a vigil volunteer program that matches volunteers to hold hands with hospice patients at the end to ensure no one dies alone. These programs create an exceptional experience for patients and their families on the end of life journey. Not only do they change the way the family sees the senior but also the community, because these programs create intergenerational conversations and connections that uplift our seniors to be dignified and celebrated in often their most vulnerable hour.


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1 comment

  1. Debbie Robson

    SeniorServ is such a wonderful organization and the award ceremony to honor senior care heros in the community was such a special evening. I was so honored to receive this award, and it was made even more special to be in the midst of our senior leadership team of Skilled Healthcare, including Boyd Hendrickson, CEO. The evening was magical! Thank you Denise for capturing the moment for me through this inspiring article.

    Kind Regards,

    Deb Robson

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