Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop for representatives of not-for-profit Kendal Corporation’s senior living communities where we discussed trends, disruptors, threats, and opportunities faced by today’s continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs or “life plan communities”). More specifically, we discussed how each of the above should be considered in Kendal’s 5-year plan.
The event was hosted by Kendal at Oberlin (pictured above), one of Kendal’s 12 retirement communities, located in the charming town of Oberlin, Ohio. Those in attendance included representatives from the sales and marketing group, as well as finance.
If you’ve ever worked for a corporation, you probably would note that these are two sides of the house that typically don’t meet together. However, to the credit of the leadership at Kendal, they have come to recognize that there is a link between strong financial management and the success of the sales team. Communication and cooperation between these two divisions ultimately helps strengthen the overall health of the company.
I should also note that Kendal’s CEO, Sean Kelly, was in attendance. He was fully engaged in the open dialogue, without ever taking over the discussions, which I believe says a lot about the quality of his leadership.
After spending some time analyzing and discussing the results of myLifeSite’s consumer survey, which was conducted this past September, we looked at a comprehensive list of key issues for the CCRC industry and then narrowed the list down to four primary topics: staffing; pricing models/affordability; Medicare/Medicaid; and technology.
We then broke out into small groups for discussion before pulling back together and discussing these topics as a larger group.
Attracting and retaining top staff members
A great deal of time was spent on the topic of staffing. Labor shortages and strong competition in many markets make finding and keeping high-quality employees challenging.
As I listened to the various comments and ideas, the thing that stood out to me the most was that the discussion didn’t center so much on finding staff as it did on how to treat current staff — to help them with personal and professional development, to support them in various ways, to continue building an inclusive and inspiring culture that makes staff members feel that they are part of something bigger.
Of course, these things ultimately do help attract quality staff. Kendal seems to understand that each staff member, no matter their particular role, plays an important part in the success of the overall operation.
Embracing and encouraging the “whole person” concept of personal development is a big focus among senior living communities today as it relates to services and amenities available to residents. My takeaway from the discussion is that Kendal wants to focus on new ways to extend this same concept to staff members.
Modernizing CCRC technologies
We also spent a fair amount of time talking about the importance of technology in senior living. There was agreement on both the sales side and the finance side that continued investment in technology is a must.
It was clear that Kendal understands that technology no longer means just having community-wide access to Wi-Fi or a resident portal— that’s pretty much expected these days. Instead, Kendal is looking at various technology solutions to enhance the daily living of residents in a variety of ways, as well as other technology solutions to help staff better serve residents. Rather than viewing technology as a threat to senior living, they are excited about the many ways to embrace it to help expand their value proposition for prospective residents.
A forward-looking company
It was such an honor to facilitate such an engaged group at this workshop and to play a small role in Kendal’s visioning for the future. I was highly impressed by the organization’s passion, as well as the teamwork and camaraderie shown among and between staff and leadership. I look forward to seeing the specific action steps Kendal puts into play in the coming months and beyond.
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