Posted in on April 3, 2018

Small State, Big Ideas; Learnings from LeadingAge RI

Even in the small state of Rhode Island, we have big opportunities to continue to learn and grow when it comes to aging services. Recently, I attended the annual LeadingAge RI trade show and want to share with you some of the highlights from the educational tracks and key takeaways from the show.

Social Connectedness and Engagement Technology

Many continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) or Life Plan communities are increasingly focusing their efforts on enhancing the lives of seniors through technology and resident-driven living. Particularly in a digital age where more and more seniors are adapting and using smartphones and tablets, communities must also change and grow.

This LeadingAge RI session provided case studies from providers across the country on how they implemented technology, what functions and features they looked for when selecting for their communities and the lessons learned.

Selfhelp Community Services, a New York-based organization focused on adult day, care management and other aging services launched a Virtual Senior Center to increase engagement and reduce loneliness among their members. This web-based service provides an easy-to-use interface designed specifically for older adults, which includes group video chats. Participants say that it makes them feel like they’re in the same room.Social connectedness learnings presented at LeadingAge RI

The outcome? Selfhelp says it reduced loneliness by 80% and overall well-being improved significantly among participants.

As you can imagine, there are some lessons learned in this case study and others like it. Here are just a few from the list:

  • Select the target population of participants carefully to ensure that they’re willing and able to use the technology, engage and benefit from the programs offered.
  • Wi-Fi is a crucial factor to launching many of the social connectedness and engagement technologies, which requires a strong, reliable and private Wi-Fi network that can support the technology. If Wi-Fi coverage and signal strength is weak, the technology may cause drop-outs, delays in refreshing information and setup challenges, which can cause frustration and discourage use.
  • Find a resident champion to advocate for the social connectedness and engagement program. It’s beneficial to have a peer talk about their experience using technology rather than staff or other individuals.
  • Older adult users may have security concerns about their personal information being broadcasted on the internet. Making sure residents have a full understanding of the technology, its security measures and the different ways they can use it is crucial to the project’s success.

LeadingAge RI Keynote: Future of Long-Term Services and Implications for Providers

The keynote speaker at the 2018 LeadingAge RI trade show event was CEO/President of Well.Spring Group and LeadingAge Chairman, Stephen Fleming. While he joked with us New Englanders about his funny accent, it was his message that was no laughing matter.

He first congratulated us ALL on the job we did as LeadingAge members in the rallying to help pass the budget, which will bring more funding to aging services. That’s the good news. The bad news? With the latest Tax Reform Act being passed, it could mean those that file as a not-for-profit could no longer be tax-exempt. That means significant challenges to your bottom line if you are a not-for-profit CCRC (Life Plan) — which, according to Fleming, makes up 79% of all CCRCs across the nation.

So what do you (as providers and advocates for older adults) need to do? According to Fleming in his latest blog:

“The bottom-up approach is a first for LeadingAge, and a real testament to the leadership of Katie Smith Sloan and her executive team. But the process will fail miserably without the one ingredient LeadingAge cannot provide ― you! Please take the energy and inspiration you will discover and parlay that into attendance at your state’s Town Hall meeting. Let your voice be heard and help shape your own future as a provider of aging services.”

Creating a High-Performing Culture

Did you know that culture was the 2014 Merriam Webster Word of the Year? Since then, it’s become the buzz around not only the senior living industry, but working … eh, cultures … as we know it.

Al Curnow, Senior Consultant for High Performing Culture, took me and the rest of the audience on a journey into the eight steps to creating a culture in which employees are excited and provide valuable input into any organization.

8-step culture framework presented at LeadingAge RI

The first two and at the center of the eight-step process are “Define” and “Ritualize.” It’s an ongoing cycle, but if your foundation has not been actualized or put into practice, then your culture will go nowhere.

This all sounded VERY familiar to me because at Creating Results, we live and breathe our core values every day and pride ourselves on 4 key deliverables/everyday expectations that support our efforts to delight our clients.

Even when we are recruiting new hires (which if you’re interested, we might have some openings) ― No. 3 (“Select”) on the image above ― we seek people who we believe can fit into our culture and community of leaders. I left that session feeling pretty darn good about where I work and excited to bring back ideas to all of you.

If you’re interested in hearing more about the 2018 LeadingAge RI trade show or if you were there and had any thoughts to add, we’d like to hear from you.

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