HEALTHTAC East Panel: Creating a Community and Culture of Wellness

By David Berman | April 5, 2023

Wellness, in the senior living space, can be a tough term to define. Long restricted only to physical needs, there are other important aspects that also must be considered. 

Five executives from top senior living firms spoke on the current state of the senior living industry at the 2023 HEALTHTAC East conference on March 20 at the Trump National Doral Miami in Miami. Speaking in front of a sold-out audience, the panelists gave their perspectives on recent senior living trends during the 25-minute session. The panel, titled “Health and Well-Being in Senior Living: Creating a Community and Culture of Wellness,” was the first of five panel sessions at the event. 

The panelists were first asked to define what wellness means to them and why it’s so important to residents in senior living communities. Jean Makesh, Chief Executive Officer of Lantern Group – Senior Living, said wellness as a term is no longer limited to only physical needs, as social and emotional wellness are just as important. 

“The key thing is, as we continue to age, the need for us to continue to engage and be with one another is very important,” Makesh said. “And during COVID, of course, that kind of went away, among our staff, within our staff, among our clients, and even at the corporate office. So I think that social engagement and interaction through various mediums like activities, exercises, any social gatherings is very important.”

Wellness can exist on a collective and individual level; it’s important for senior living communities to design programs that benefit residents on both levels. Meredith Boyle, SVP of Strategic Initiatives for Mather, said her company recently developed a “person-centric” wellness model based on affiliation, autonomy and achievement. From a scale that can measure body composition to a “wave bed” that uses sound to help with sleep and stress reduction, Mather is focused on helping each resident lead a healthy life. 

“Wellness is something that is unique to an individual, based on your environment, based on your needs, your desires, your wants, and really what you want to get out of life, what’s your purpose in life,” Boyle said.

The conversation then shifted to staff wellness at senior living centers and communities. Yehuda Ordower, Director of Business Development for Vayyar Care, said he’s recently had the opportunity to walk through communities. He was struck by the smiles he saw on their faces, gladdened by the satisfaction they seemed to experience in their work. 

As staff retention continues to be a problem in the industry, Ordower said it’s important to give senior living staff the proper tools to help them succeed. Boyle echoed that sentiment, as she added that Mather has added employee wellness programs in addition to its resident programs. 

Wrapping up the session, panelists gave rapid-fire takeaways that audience members should have about the importance of wellness. Jackie Ramieri, Founder and CEO of CareWork, said using technology to monitor and track wellness data, and making decisions off of that data, is key. 

“All of those are pieces and parts of the wellness puzzle, and if we can combine all of those things and visualize them, I think that we will be better able to serve our residents and keep them healthy,” Ramieri said. 

“The world has changed and our consumer has changed,” Boyle said. “So it’s all about the person and planning meaningful experiences that they want to do.”


David Berman

David joined Senior Living News at the start of 2023. He previously worked as a page editor for Gannett’s Design Center and the editor-in-chief of The Daily Nebraskan. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with degrees in journalism, marketing and advertising/public relations in 2022.

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