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Lara Shook, new CEO of Scott-Farrar nursing home, is back in Peterborough where her future started

Sunday News Correspondent

October 22. 2016 10:02PM
Lara Shook, the new CEO at Scott Farrar at Peterborough, runs into resident Joe Brennan at the front desk Thursday afternoon. (MEGHAN PIERCE/SUNDAY NEWS CORRESPONDENT)

PETERBOROUGH - Scott-Farrar at Peterborough on Elm Street celebrated its grand reopening Thursday, continuing the nursing home's 107-year history in the town.

New CEO Lara Shook, 38, of Peterborough said a part-time kitchen job at Scott-Farrar as a teen was the beginning of her path into elder care administration.

"This was my first job. When I was in high school my neighbor was the executive director of the community. She offered me a job when I was 15. So I worked in the kitchen. And I did dishes and served the meals and I was very, very shy back then," Shook said.

Shook said she remembers scurrying out to serve residents then running back into the kitchen.

She also worked at RiverMead in Peterborough while in high school. She graduated from ConVal High School in 1997.

While in college she worked at a nursing home in activities.

"After college I got what in my mind was a real job and I worked for a graphic design company. It was fine, but it was all on the computer, and I wasn't working with residents anymore," Shook said. "I really missed it. I wasn't very happy, and I thought 'when I was happy?' and I thought 'when I was working with the elderly.'"

So Shook went back to school and earned a master's degree in elder care administration at Lasell College in Newton, Mass.

Connections she made at the college lead to work in the Bay State.

Shook went on to be in independent living sales at Lindon Ponds in Hingham, Mass., then as director of admissions. After working there for three years, she became a memory care director, which she did for four years.

Most recently she worked at Atria Woodbriar in Falmouth, Mass.

"So I went from kitchen, to activities, to sales, to admissions, to memory care, to assistant director to director," Shook said. "I kind of worked my way through each department and got experience in each department."

Shook returned to Peterborough to step in as CEO at Scott-Farrar as it reopens after an 18-month project involving the demolition of the nursing home and construction of a new one with three times the capacity of the original.

Scott-Farrar was started in 1909 on Vine Street as The Peterborough Home for the Aged. It was named for Helen Farrar, one the incorporators of the home, and for Jennie Scott, a Peterbrough resident who bequeathed half her estate for the construction of a new building when she died in 1954, when the charity was incorporated as the Scott-Farrar Home.

It relocated to Elm Street in the late 1950s. Over the years, however, the building fell behind in safety as building codes changed and could no longer house the 20 residents it had capacity for.

In March 2015 the six remaining residents relocated to other nursing homes.

The new nursing home building has a total of 63 apartments, including 25 independent-living apartments, 20 assisted-living apartments and 18 memory-care unit apartments.

Shook said Scott- Farrar is now home to 22 residents, 24 as of Oct 16.

There are currently about 35 combined full- and part-time staff members.

"Hopefully before the end of the year is out I will be able to double that," Shook said. "But one of our biggest barriers is finding enough L.N.A.s and L.M.A.s. So that's nursing assistants and medication nursing assistants."

Scott-Farrar competes with other facilities in the area for these trained employees. There's definitely a shortage in the region and probably the entire state, she said.

Shook said she is scheduled to speak at ConVal High School in Peterborough about elder care careers.

"Get your LNA license. You will definitely have a job," she said.

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