Words Of Wisdom
The Beatles sang, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Few of us have gotten anywhere without a little help and advice from someone. Senior Living News recently asked a number of industry executives about some of the helpful tips they’ve gotten along the way, as well as what words of wisdom they might pass on: What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you regarding the senior living industry? What advice can you offer new senior living operators, based on your experience?
American Healthcare Management Group
“The best advice given to me regarding the senior living industry actually came from talking to my residents. They told me to create a senior living community that allowed seniors to do what they want, when they want to do it, not what someone in a corporate office thinks we should be doing. This advice allowed me the opportunity to listen to the needs of the residents and subsequently the needs of the staff and families caring for the residents. The best advice I could give to an operator is the following—spend time in your communities, listen to your residents and listen to your staff—make the necessary changes, and your community will thrive.” — Joseph Jasmon, CEO/Managing Partner, American Healthcare Management Group
Dominion Senior Living
“You are only as strong as your weakest associate. Simple but impactful. Words that are the secret to sustainable success, a true pulse check on where you really stand as a leader.” —Lindsey Daugherty, Principal, Role Model South Carolina
Elder Care Alliance
“Always make culture a priority, focusing on how your core values get operationalized and lived out on a daily basis. This begins with hiring for culture as much as for competency and ensuring onboarding reflects both an introduction to and assimilation of the mission and key core value practices of the organization. Culture is vital and can be difficult to sustain and easily destroyed. In addition, be clear about the metrics used, both quantitative and qualitative, for measuring culture. Always be intentional about how the key attributes of your culture are expressed and reinforced in all of the elements of an employee lifecycle—from recruiting to onboarding to retention to professional development.” —Adriene Iverson, President & CEO, Elder Care Alliance
Judson Services, Inc.
“The best piece of advice I have learned from my former Leader Cynthia Dunn, is to listen, really listen. Listening is one of the key elements for successful relationships as well as a key element for building a culture of trust. With the ever-evolving senior living industry, as leaders we must be open to new ideas, opportunities and partnerships through listening. Being present and forming relationships with associates, families and most importantly with the members of our community and our board creates lasting partnerships and open dialogue. Listening can have the most powerful impact on those around you.”—Kendra J. Urdzik, President & CEO, Judson Services, Inc.
“Stop thinking that we know it all when it comes to what the residents want. Times have changed, and we must operate with an open mind and innovate to deliver exceptional resident-driven products and services consistently at all times.” —James Hoevertsz, Executive VP, Lenity Management
“It was my VP of Sales Todd Kemerly who helped me realize I had to love growing people as much as I loved my relationships with residents to become the kind of leader our industry needed. That was 12 years ago. Today, I think EVERYONE in senior living must think that way as we attract talent to the field, grow them from scratch, and help them want to stay and grow professionally themselves. We have to serve team members so they are filled to serve residents.” —Angela Green Urbaczewski, Vice President of Sales & Strategic Services, Solutions Advisors
SRI Management, LLC
“A piece of advice I’ve adopted as a professional philosophy was from a high school football coach. ‘Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves.’ While in senior living, the responsibility of serving others is no small matter, ultimately it is ‘little’ things that make a real difference to the people around us—a kind word or gesture, a smile or simple eye contact. These ‘small’ things make a big difference to me personally, and I know they are encouraging to our residents and staff at SRI-managed communities. Similarly, my advice would be—don’t let the ‘big’ stuff get in the way of focusing on what our industry is truly about…treating others like you would want to be treated. Each of us may be a senior living resident ourselves one day. No doubt, we would hope this same kindness and dignity is extended to us when that day comes.” —Don Bishop, President & CEO, SRI Management
As editor of Senior Living News, Cheryl curates the news and writes a weekly feature story. She also plans the education portion of the HealthTAC events produced by Senior Living News and moderates the executive panel discussions. Cheryl has consulted with senior living clients for more than 20 years and served as senior public relations strategist for Varsity, a marketing and sales consulting agency focused on occupancy for retirement, assisted living and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs)/Life Plan communities, and more. She previously managed national media relations as Rite Aid’s director of public relations.