Iyvonne Byers, Olivia Beaton, Sarah Hoit, Jean Makesh, and Jodie Audia.

The Importance of Engagement: Programming with a Purpose

At HEALTHTAC East, “the fun group” as they called themselves, joined forces to discuss all things programming and engagement, and what that has looked like within their communities over the last year and a half. This panel was comprised of, Jodie Audia, VP of Life Enrichment and Cognitive Programming at American House Senior Living, Iyvonne Byers, Chief Financial Officer at Priority Life Care, Sarah Hoit, CEO and Co-founder of Connected Living, and Jean Makesh, Chief Executive Officer at the Lantern Group.

As everyone in senior living witnessed, the isolation that came along with the pandemic was just as detrimental to seniors as the pandemic itself. Audia says, “the most important thing is to recognize the resilience of this generation. They took it like troopers.” The panelists all agree that both staff and residents were quick to adapt and leap over the learning hurdles that came with adjusting to technologies. Hoit and her team at Connected Living have been waiting for senior living to adapt to technology in this way for over a decade now and says “all of the things people weren’t ready for, or stuff that wasn’t being done, suddenly there was a critical need and demand for it.” She believes that if there is a silver lining, it is surely the innovation that washed over the industry and allowed people to become more connected.

At Priority Life Care, Byers was blown away by their communities, “people got so creative even in a time of tragedy.” At their communities they held parades, window visits, and birthday celebrations, amongst other little things to make the residents feel special, engaged. And cared about. Byers goes on to say, “We all now have such an appreciation for that time together that might have been taken advantage of before.” For Makesh, the question was “how I can continue to enable, inspire, and motivate my staff, to breathe life not only into each other, but to the residents as well.” That very question was at the foundation of the Lantern Group’s approach to engagement and programming throughout the pandemic. His team created a hug booth so residents and their families could once again feel physically connected to each other, and touch is directly connected to mental health. The group agreed that essentially, it all boils down to purpose, and creating programming that allows residents to feel that sense of purpose that is easy to lose as we age. Simply put, Audia says, “we tried to make happy happen every day.”

While communities across the country are resuming programming as normal, technology is certainly here to stay in senior living. As Audia noted, “technology was the lifeline that kept everyone together.” Both Byers and Hoit noted that some residents preferred virtual programming, and residents who previously may have skipped out on a group gathering were enthusiastic to join a virtual yoga class. Hoit says “there is an incredible opportunity to continue to engage with technology, every resident is different and has different needs.” Which goes back to the heart of engagement, whether in person or virtual, comes from that place of purpose. Byers encourages staff to “focus on the individual and who they are. We are creating a new business as usual, not the old business as usual.” Her fellow panelists shared this sentiment, discussing how much they have learned and how it has positioned them to create the best and most purposeful lives for their residents.

“A connected life is a happy life,” Hoit says, which couldn’t be truer. Each of these leaders stressed how important it is to connect and engage with residents in a way that is meaningful to them. The more teams can learn about the residents within their communities, the better they are able to serve them and create programs and events that cater to their individual needs and interests. Audia explains, “we have tried to standardize, and it just doesn’t work. It’s about creating lives with purpose; it’s called senior living and we want them to live.”

As we move forward, “the fun group” wants to focus on just that, fun within senior living. As resilient as these seniors have been, everyone is looking forward to being able to connect again in ways they weren’t able to for so long. There have been many lessons learned, and many necessary adaptations that have been made. Byers says it is extremely important to “rebuild that trust” with residents and families, assuring them their loved ones are being cared for and that there is always a window into their life inside their respective communities. Makesh believes the most important thing to encourage moving forward, is each resident’s freedom to thought, and expressing those thoughts, which will surely lead to purposeful programming and deep connections.

Editor Olivia Beaton moderating "Selling Senior Living" at HEALTHTAC East.

Selling Senior Living: Recovering Occupancy Post COVID-19

At HEALTHTAC East 2021, industry leaders were once again able to come together and exchange insights and ideas. During the panel discussion “Selling Senior Living: Recovering Occupancy Post COVID-19” Steven Flynt, COO at Solstice Senior Living, Alex Markowits Founder / President at Spring Hills Communities, Frankie Pane, President & COO at Essex Communities, and Jayne Sallerson, COO at Charter Senior Living, discussed their strategies for making a comeback post COVID.

At Solstice, Flynt says in 2020 they lost about 5% occupancy, and he never thought he would say that enthusiastically, but after the last year, they consider this to be a win. “I am so proud of our teams, every day we were growing and learning, every day we were adapting. I’ve been in the business a really long time and thought I knew something, but the pandemic made it clear I really didn’t know anything.” Flynt was not alone in his thoughts, as his other panelists, and audience members agreed that the pandemic shook the foundations of senior living and forced us to adapt and start from scratch.

Sallerson echoed the sentiment that this year was most definitely the hardest year of her career in senior housing thus-far. Early on, she says, she made the decision to mask up, get on planes, and start visiting her communities following all proper protocols so her associates could see her and her team members rolling up their sleeves and trying to identify how they could get better as a whole. Though the struggle senior living endured was apparent, all of the panelists agree that there is a large demand now, and they are positioning themselves and their companies to be able to meet it.

As far as recovery goes, Sallerson says it best, “it’s about getting back in front of people.” So much of what is behind senior housing cannot be portrayed virtually, we are selling care, and homes, and bringing people back into the communities is a huge step in regaining momentum. Frankie Pane believes to move forward it is important to treat COVID-19 as a thing of the past, and within their communities they have been fortunate enough to resume to a full sense of normalcy. For him at Essex, “it’s about selling the fact that the vibrancy and fun is back in our communities.” Creativity was apparent over the last year and a half and the panelists discussed how important highlighting the happenings within their communities is to bringing new residents in the door, and bringing life back to current residents.

Markowits believes that transparency is key, in fact he says to over-communicate. Something he says will stick around in their post pandemic world will be the degree of communication he had with families, keeping them in the loop of what was happening within their communities and with their loved ones. He adds that “supporting my associates is paramount, making sure they have the resources they need to do their jobs.” Spring Hills has brought in counselors and is looking into opportunities to continue to show their team members how valuable they are. After having 8 admissions in one month in a community in Ohio, Markowits finally feels like “a sunrise is coming.”

It does indeed finally feel as though the sun is rising and the smoke is clearing, and Flynt and his team have brought on additional salespeople to prepare to meet the upcoming industry demand, and he is already seeing it within their communities. Sallerson raises a fantastic point, and notes that “It’s very important for our salespeople to be educated and up to date on our safety protocols so they can address it if it comes up.”

So how do we regain occupancy? To Pane, it’s simple, “if you focus on fun, the people will come.” People want assurance that their seniors are not only safe but thriving and enjoying life in their homes. From a marketing standpoint, the panelists agree that promoting the activities and quality of life within their respective communities is key to driving those occupancy rates up.

Sallerson and Flynt stressed the importance of taking down the stop signs, caution tape, and other signage that could be alarming to newcomers. Presenting the message that we are open and safe is crucial, but people want to see a sense of normalcy has returned. The psychological barrier is important to bring down, Sallerson notes these implementing these changes have allowed them to get ahead of occupancy and look forward to a brighter future.

Though the last year and a half has been challenging and uncertain, all of these panelists can say with certainty that the demand is here, and that the industry is coming back better than ever.

Tutera Senior Living & Health Care Acquires the Lodge at Manito Assisted Living Community in Illinois

MANITO, Ill. – Tutera Senior Living & Health Care, a Kansas City-based senior health care provider, announced it has purchased The Lodge at Manito. Located in Manito, Illinois, on eight acres, the community provides assisted living and memory care – the first and only dedicated memory care community in the Manito area. Over the past 38 years, Tutera has developed expertise in providing senior living experiences for individuals living with memory loss through its THRIVE in the Courtyard memory care program, which will be available to the residents of Manito.

“The Lodge at Manito has an exceptional reputation in the area for providing quality care and services,” said Randy Bloom, president and chief operating officer of Tutera. “We are excited by the opportunity to combine our years of senior living experience to an existing, well-operated community to achieve superior outcomes.”

The community opened in 2017 by the Mason County Health Department, which was the first of its kind in the state – no other health department in Illinois owns an assisted living property. Tutera and the health department will have a collaborative relationship that will benefit the residents of The Lodge at Manito.

“We did the groundwork to get The Lodge at Manito up and running; now it’s time to build off the health department’s success and bring in an expert like Tutera who knows senior living,” said Curt Jibben, public health officer of the Mason County Health Department. “Tutera’s brand and values align perfectly with The Lodge at Manito, and we’re excited for this partnership to further our mutual goal of providing the best care to the older population in Mason County.”

The community will adopt Tutera’s YOUNITE philosophy – a way to get to know residents on a personal level to provide a unique and one-of-a-kind experience where needs are properly met. Because of YOUNITE, The Lodge at Manito will offer team members, services, amenities and culture that work together to support residents’ independence and honor their individuality.

“At Tutera, we understand that each community is different, and as a result, we must understand what opportunities exist on a community-by-community basis,” said Bloom. “Tutera provides many resources to the community team, including systems, processes and programs to engage both the residents and the team members. Consistent with our YOUNITE philosophy, we will initially spend a great amount of time listening. Only then will we create an operational plan specific to the needs of The Lodge at Manito.”

The Mason County Health Department will continue to support Tutera to better service the seniors of Manito and Mason County.

Alta Senior Living Acquires a 175-unit Independent and Assisted Living Community in Margate, Florida with Plans to Invest an Additional $6.5M in Renovation Capital to Further Enhance the Community.

MARGATE, Fla. – Alta Senior Living recently closed on their first senior living community in Florida with the recent acquisition of Waterside Landing, a 175-unit independent and assisted living community in Margate, Florida. Upon closing, the operations was successfully transitioned to Alta Senior Living, Inc.

Over the next 12 months, Alta Senior Living will invest another $6.5 million in renovation capital to further enhance the community and convert 22 units on the first floor from assisted living to secured memory care.
“Waterside Landing is exactly the type of acquisition opportunity we’re seeking right now,” said Douglas Brawn, Principal of Alta Senior Living. “This community has so much potential, and we immediately saw the vision during our first community tour. It took us several months to tailor the right business plan, but we’re excited to complete the renovation work, enhance the design and amenities, and convert half of the first floor to secured memory care.”

The current residents and staff are excited about the upcoming changes too. “We took the time to meet with the residents and staff during the process to truly understand their needs, desires, and concerns,” said Sean O’Malley, VP of Operations at Alta Senior Living. “The health and welfare of our residents is always our top priority, so we wanted to incorporate them throughout the planning and improvement process.”

With the successful addition of Waterside Landing, Alta Senior Living is now working on several additional acquisition opportunities within Florida and California markets. “Although many investors are still on the sidelines, we’re excited about the opportunities we’re seeing right now,” said Scott McCorvie, CFO and EVP of Investments at Alta Senior Living. “We feel it’s the perfect time to acquire established communities, infuse strategic renovation capital, and transition out remote operator groups with our local, knowledgeable management teams.

With corporate offices in Santa Monica, California and West Palm Beach, Florida, Alta Senior Living is a fully-integrated senior living investment, development, and operations company that owns and/or operates over 530 units in three states. Additional information can be found on www.altasenior.com, or by contacting Scott McCorvie at scott.mccorvie@altasenior.com.

Lifespace Communities Welcomes Newcastle Place to its Family of Communities

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa- Lifespace Communities is pleased to announce that it has acquired Newcastle Place and will add the beautiful community to its family of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs).

The acquisition of Newcastle Place, located in Mequon, a suburb of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan’s western shore, brings the family of continuing care communities to 16. Newcastle Place, with 257 residences on 52 acres, joins six other Lifespace communities in the Midwest.

Lifespace and Newcastle Place share compatibility across many areas, including commitment to service, quality, and diversity, complementary resident mix and an excellent resident and team member experience and culture.

“We believe Newcastle is a great fit for Lifespace as we share similar values and organizational cultures,” said Lifespace President and CEO Jesse Jantzen. “As a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing extraordinary care and service, we are furthering our passion and commitment of celebrating the lives of seniors by welcoming a very strong community into the Lifespace family.”

Given Lifespace’s strong reputation as a leading operator of CCRCs backed with a healthy balance sheet, the company is receiving interest from other entities that are interested in becoming a part of the Lifespace family of communities. “The energy in our strategic pipeline is palpable which I view as an affirmation of the dedicated Lifespace team members that serve and support our residents, and each other, every day of the year.” Jantzen further added, “Only after considerable due diligence and analysis, of which culture is a critical component, do we proceed down a path towards coming together.”

Lifespace, based in West Des Moines, Iowa, is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit owners and operators of continuing care retirement communities and has been providing service to its residents for more than 40 years. It serves more than 5,100 residents and employs more than 3,900 team members.

About Lifespace Communities
Lifespace Communities, Inc., based in West Des Moines, Iowa, is a not-for-profit organization proudly serving older adults for more than 40 years. Founded in 1976, Lifespace Communities has grown to own and operate 16 continuing care retirement communities in nine states, serving more than 5,100 residents and employing more than 3,900 team members. For more information about Lifespace and its communities, visit LifespaceCommunities.com.

Murano is Bringing Elevated Dining to the Senior Living Experience

With fine dining flare from a skilled executive chef and a creative food and beverage director, Murano Senior Living’s dining has ascended to the next level. Chef Alvin Tsao and Sean Klos take pride in providing a quality dining experience and carefully crafted meals to their residents 365 days a year.

Chef Tsao, former sous Chef with Seattle’s Manolin, made his transition into senior living because he was blown away by the opportunity to create a restaurant style dining experience for Murano’s residents. Klos had a long history on F&B and found his way into senior living through some of his mentors, wanting to “change the everyday norm of the typical senior living food and dining experience.”

Chef Tsao takes residents on a culinary journey every night, serving up dishes like Brazilian feijoada stew, pork tenderloin with apple fig mole, and mezze plates with Lebanese flat bread. Chef Tsao’s beautifully composed plates remind residents that they are in a fine dining restaurant. “We try to learn as much as we can about the residents to personalize their dining experience.” says Chef Tsao. Murano prides itself in having a passion for true ingredients, leaving out sugars and sodium right off the bat. They also use herbs from their gardening club to add a homegrown personal touch to every meal.

These dining focused events occur every week on a regular schedule as a way to engage with and listen to the residents wants and needs.

Mondays, Breaking Ice with Steve: Bartender Steve highlights a spirit each week by featuring it in a cocktail (alcoholic and non) and sharing its history 
Wednesdays, cooking and cocktail demos:Chef Tsao or Sean Klos showcase dishes and techniques from around the world. 
Fridays, Happy Hour:social time in the bar area to engage with residents and staff 

“Our residents have had many life experiences and often traveled the world, and so we create excitement by showing they can experience new flavors and keep learning with unique and engaging events,” says Klos. They offer a different special on the menu every day of the year to keep things exciting and are committed to a fun and educational dining experience. Tsao and Klos pride themselves in the fact they haven’t repeated a single recipe in over a year and a half, assuring that residents are constantly experiencing new flavors and are never bored.

La Fontaine Memory Care Joins SilverPoint Senior Living

DALLAS, TX — SilverPoint Senior Living announced a new partnership with La Fontaine Memory Care. This partnership will bring a proven assisted living and memory care management team with experienced professionals and an engaged program to benefit the residents of La Fontaine of Frisco.

“As SilverPoint is continuing to grow, we want to be strategic as we add to the portfolio of communities we manage. We truly connected on a personal level with the ownership group and both agreed that SilverPoint can add value to the La Fontaine community,” says Shawn Corzine, Chief Executive Officer at SilverPoint. “We are thrilled to add La Fontaine Memory Care to the SilverPoint family.”

“We are excited to partner with SilverPoint and look forward to working with them at La Fontaine Memory Care. Paramount Healthcare’s expertise has historically focused on individuals needing skilled nursing care. Since La Fontaine Memory Care is our only assisted living community, we felt it was crucial to partner with a management team that had an excellent reputation for providing the best assisted living care and leadership to our residents and employees. We were very purposeful in choosing the partner to help us manage La Fontaine,” says Lauren P. Golden, Owner of La Fontaine. “With SilverPoint, we felt not only the personal connection with the ownership and management, but also we saw first-hand their commitment to caring for individuals in assisted living communities. We truly look forward to watching them make every day for our seniors at La Fontaine a better day than yesterday!”

About SilverPoint Senior Living

SilverPoint Senior Living is a Texas senior living management company that specializes in operating independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities. Their management services include portfolio management; development and acquisition; accounting and financial; marketing and sales; and IT and digital transformation. SilverPoint is strongly committed to its five core values of family, purpose, fun, integrity, and dignity, and is known for its signature Engaged Life program in which residents enjoy a person-centered care approach designed to make their lifestyle more similar to home. It is also a certified 2021 Great Place to Work®. For more information about SilverPoint Senior Living, please visit www.silverpointsl.com or call 830-730-4472.

Three Crowns Park Evanston IL

Covenant Living Communities and Services and Three Crowns Park Sign Affiliation Agreement

SKOKIE, Ill.: Covenant Living Communities and Services, a not-for-profit faith-based senior living organization headquartered in Skokie, announces it has entered into an affiliation agreement with Three Crowns Park, a senior living community located in Evanston, Illinois. Under this agreement, Three Crowns Park will become part of the Covenant Living organization. Covenant Living will assume overall management and operations of Three Crowns Park with shared governance and leadership upon closing anticipated for July 1, 2021.

Three Crowns Park is a seven-acre single-site senior living community established more than 125 years ago. It is home to 150 residents with independent living, assisted living, assisted living memory care and skilled nursing.
“Covenant Living and Three Crowns Park have a shared mission and values, along with a unique common background of being established by Swedish immigrants in the Chicago area more than a century ago,” said Terri Cunliffe, president and CEO of Covenant Living. “This affiliation broadens our presence in this market area and continues our commitment to serving older adults in an environment that fosters engaging and active lifestyles.”

The affiliation will provide Three Crowns Park additional strength and access to resources for operational efficiencies, management expertise, as well as capital improvements.

Covenant Living is among the top 10 not-for-profit senior housing and service providers in the nation with 17 communities in nine states. In Illinois, Covenant Living operates communities in Chicago, Northbrook, Carol Stream, and Batavia. The affiliation with Three Crowns Park will be the eighteenth senior living community for Covenant Living.
“We are excited for an even brighter future by becoming part of the Covenant Living family through this affiliation,” said Phil Hemmer, Three Crowns Park CEO. “It is a well-respected and progressive organization that values a culture of innovation and embraces a shared vision. This affiliation will only benefit our residents, their families, and our employees.”

Chicago-based Covenant Living Communities and Services is a not-for-profit, senior services provider. It serves 5,500 residents at 17 senior living communities in nine states and offers independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, and rehabilitation. Through its LifeConnect®, a whole person wellness model, residents can access resources and opportunities that are designed to enrich the mind, body, and spirit and complement each person’s unique journey. Covenant Living is a ministry of the Evangelical Covenant Church and has been serving seniors since 1886. For more information, visit www.covliving.org, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Evanston, Illinois-based Three Crowns Park is a not-for-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community with a dedication to service and caring for seniors since 1894. It offers independent living, assisted living, assisted living memory care and skilled nursing. For more information, visit www.threecrownspark.org.

Cascade Creek

Anthem Memory Care Expands into Minnesota

With the number of people living with Alzheimer’s in Minnesota expected to rise by more than 20% in the first half of this decade, Anthem Memory Care is expanding into the state by opening a new community. Cascade Creek, located in Rochester, offers a physical layout, features and programming to promote purposeful living and wellness for those with cognitive-impairing diseases. Scheduled to open this summer, it brings to 12 the number of memory care communities Anthem operates in five states. Anthem Memory Care is based in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
“Cascade Creek is a resident-centered community where life revolves around close contact with people, meaningful activities, nature and the arts,” said Isaac Scott, CEO and principal of Anthem Memory Care. The company already has memory care communities in Illinois, Colorado, Kansas and California. “Since our organization opened in 2012, our sole focus has been on protecting, engaging and loving people living with memory loss through programming tailored to the individual.”

Cascade Creek provides 45 suites that can accommodate 50 residents in a building designed to encourage activity and connection with the outdoors. The two-story structure surrounds an exterior courtyard, with a second-floor patio overlooking it. Wide interconnected hallways enable residents to walk around the entire community without encountering frustrating physical barriers.
The community promotes interaction and purpose, with areas for residents to create art, work on public service projects, build woodcrafts at a workbench, gather for social, cultural and educational programs, and more. A country kitchen on the second floor serves as both a dining area and a place where those interested in cooking can assist in meal preparation and serving.

Technology is a hallmark of Cascade Creek, including the Vigil Memory Care System that equips each residence. Customized for individual safety needs, it can indicate residents’ precise locations within their suites and issue alerts if they may need rapid assistance. The community also offers the iN2L digital engagement system, providing personalized content that sparks conversation, interaction, learning and connection with family and friends.
“These technologies give our care team additional tools for providing the secure, stimulating and purposeful environment that is central to our mission,” said Anthem COO and principal Lewis McCoy.
The number of people in the state with dementia is anticipated to increase by 21.2% between 2020 and 2025, from 99,000 to 120,000, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

“As the need for high-quality memory care rises in Minnesota, Cascade Creek residents and families will be able to count on our commitment to innovation, excellence and providing understanding and significance to those with dementia,” Scott said.

Cascade Creek is located at 3530 Fairway Ridge Lane, SW, Rochester, Minnesota.

Deerfield and Grand Lodge Ownership Transition

OMAHA, Neb., and WEST DES MOINES, Iowa– Immanuel Communities and Lifespace Communities, both not-for-profit owners and operators of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), reached a mutual agreement to transfer ownership and management of Lifespace’s Des Moines, IA., and Lincoln, Neb.-based campuses into Immanuel’s family of retirement living communities. Terms of the agreement are not being disclosed at this time.

Lifespace’s Deerfield and Grand Lodge at the Preserve communities will officially join the Immanuel family in Q3 of 2021. The Deerfield and the Grand Lodge campuses will add a combined 349 apartments with of a care level mix of independent living, assisted living, memory care, residential care, and skilled-nursing and long-term care to Immanuel’s portfolio of continuing care retirement communities.

Lifespace and Immanuel are committed to providing transparency, exceptional service and support to their residents, team members, and communities as part of a smooth transition.

Deerfield and Grand Lodge at the Preserve are strong fits for Immanuel as it continues to strengthen its Midwest presence in Iowa and Nebraska. The opportunity to welcome Deerfield and Grand Lodge into its family augments Immanuel’s regional focus in Nebraska and Iowa while extending more opportunities to serve team members and residents in these regions.

“We’re excited and humbled by the opportunity to strengthen our commitment to Lincoln and Des Moines and welcome these communities to the Immanuel family,” said Eric Gurley, Immanuel president and CEO. “Immanuel and Lifespace hold similar values in caring for the health, safety, and wellbeing of seniors, team members and their families. We’re honored to strengthen our roots in Nebraska and Iowa as we continue our commitment and mission of Christ-centered service.”

Building on Gurley’s comments, Lifespace President & CEO Jesse Jantzen said: “Immanuel is an ideal organization to carry on the foundation of excellent resident and team member experiences that Lifespace has created together with Deerfield and Grand Lodge at the Preserve. As we sustainably grow our mission in other areas, we confidently and comfortably entrust the wellbeing of residents and team members to Immanuel’s outstanding earned reputation across the region.”

About Immanuel Communities
Immanuel owns and operates 16, 55+ active living, independent living, assisted living and long-term care retirement communities on nine campuses; Immanuel Pathways operates three PACE® Centers in Iowa and Neb.; the Immanuel Community Foundation, supporting residents, participants and employees; and the Immanuel Vision Foundation extends financial support to non-profit, charitable 501(c)(3) organizations that share purposes in alignment with Immanuel’s service centered mission. Learn more at Immanuel.com.

About Lifespace Communities
Lifespace Communities, Inc., based in West Des Moines, Iowa, is a not-for-profit organization proudly serving older adults for more than 40 years. Founded in 1976, Lifespace Communities has grown to own and operate 15 continuing care retirement communities in eight states, serving more than 5,100 residents and employing more than 3,900 team members. For more information about Lifespace and its communities, visit LifespaceCommunities.com.