Jill Vitale-Aussem had a unique introduction to senior living when she was a high school student. She was working as a dietary aid in a nursing home and couldn’t help but notice how institutional it felt, but that experience drove her to want to create a better quality of life and experience for residents in senior living communities. After grad school she wanted to get a true sense of what the resident’s day to day lives were like, so she had the staff at the community she was working at admit her as a resident. Vitale-Aussem spent time truly acclimating herself to resident life and had the staff care for her as they would for any resident. This was a life-changing experience for her, and one of the best things she has done in her career because it truly highlighted for her the work she wanted to do to better the industry as a whole.
Now, in her role as President at Christian Living Communities, she has 22 communities that fall under her umbrella and her goal is to spread and live their mission statement every day. Their mission statement is: “Christian Living Communities enriches the quality and dignity of life for older adults through services and care that reflect Christian love, respect, and compassion toward each individual.”
Vitale-Aussem says, “our mission statement guides us in our work and sets forth the principal that every person that lives and works in our communities feels love, respect, and compassion.” Her favorite part of her job is being in the communities and empowering the staff and residents to watch them reach their full potential. As President, “it is incredible seeing the magic that happens when you work together with people for a vision of a new future.”
Christian Living Communities is fueled by their vision of “creating communities where aging is honored and celebrated.” Vitale-Aussem is extremely passionate about pushing back against the status quo and tackling ageism within the industry. Part of her work as a leader in her communities and the industry is encouraging people to think differently about aging and older adults. “What we believe about aging impacts how we age,” says Vitale-Aussem, she believes that creating an age positive environment is key for residents to thrive.
2021 is going to be a year of exciting growth for CLC. Before the pandemic swept across senior living, 2021 was already going to be a year of reflection for Christian Living Communities because they turn 50 in 2022. With this incredible milestone approaching, it is crucial to Vitale-Aussem and her team that they take this year to reflect on what they have learned and brainstorm how they can grow moving forward. For their communities, 2021 is all about possibilities and potential. Increasing occupancy in all of their communities is also a main priority, as Vitale-Aussem believes that “a community that isn’t full is a lost opportunity to have an impact on peoples’ lives.”
“How do we serve the people out there who need us? How can we assure them this is a safe place to be?” These are the questions that Vitale-Aussem and her team at Christian Living Communities will be collaborating to answer in this year of reflection and growth ahead. They are focused on creating cultures where the people that live in their communities have real purpose in their lives and can continue to grow and learn, while also continuing to push back against ageist beliefs that limit older adults. Vitale-Aussem is looking forward to embracing all the possibilities that lie ahead and creating communities where residents feel like citizens instead of customers. “It is exciting to see where we can grow by digging into our mission statement and allowing it to guide us in our work,” she says.