Editor’s Note: We are profiling the McKnight’s 2020 Women of Distinction honorees daily through the program’s July 28 online awards ceremony. To learn more about this digital celebration, the Forum the next day (which offers three free continuing education credits July 29) and the program in general, visit mcknightswomenofdistinction.com.

Ever since she was a child and witnessed her father help up her grandmother after a fall in their home, Knapp knew she wanted to take care of others.

As the director of health services at Foulkeways at Gwynedd, the oldest continuing care retirement community in Pennsylvania, she has more than fulfilled that dream.

As proof of her efforts, the skilled nursing facility at Foulkeways received an award from the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health in 2012 for “Excellence in Care Compliance.” The same year, the SNF was one of 10 in the country selected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to serve as a national example of high-quality practices.

Among the changes Knapp has made at Foulkeways, she decided to close the memory care unit because she determined it was stigmatizing and isolating for residents with dementia. Instead, under her leadership, the CCRC provides “universal dementia care” across the continuum of care. In 2017, Knapp was instrumental in bringing a trial of the Japanese SAIDO Learning method to Foulkeways for residents with dementia, after learning about it at a conference.

She also has burnished her gerontological nursing credentials beyond Foulkeways. Before returning to the CCRC to become director in 2008, she had her own national consulting practice for 23 years. She holds a master’s degree in gerontological nursing from the University of Pennsylvania and has written more than 50 professional journal articles, textbook chapters or textbooks on gerontological nurse standards of care, skilled nursing home care, staffing in nursing homes, falls and other clinical topics.

Personally, Knapp, the oldest of 10 children, is a role model for her two daughters, one of whom is a dietary aide at Foulkeways and the other who is a volunteer there. Dietary aide Laura Fox said she witnessed her mother’s “true grit” several years ago when Knapp received a diagnosis of breast cancer and continued to work full-time during her chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Fox also admires her mom for advocating for her sister, who is intellectually challenged (and the most popular family member at Foulkeways).

“My mom has shown leadership in her work and her life journey, with distinction,” Fox wrote. 

The McKnight’s Women of Distinction program is jointly administered by McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. The program’s Diamond sponsor is PointClickCare. Silver sponsors are OnShift and PharMerica, and the Signature sponsor is Acadia Pharmaceuticals.