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Looking Through a Different Lens

The other day we highlighted a new commercial from Erickson, an innovator in the Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) field. A few other interesting things from Erickson. They have a blog called e-chronicles here. They’ve done some very neat things in reaching out to their customers and beyond. The Erickson Tribune, which has become a lifestyle newspaper, that goes to 6.5 million people. They’ve also started Retirement TV, a cable television network. In addition Erickson also has underwritten a new undergraduate and graduate school program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. It’s mission: To prepare a community of leaders who will use their education to improve society by enhancing the lives of older adults. Erickson has a number of resources that most organizations in senior housing and long-term care dream of. According to a 2006 Baltimore Sun article, Erickson planned to spend $20 million on their newspaper. But how they think and approach things is applicable to all organizations in terms of innovation: they have looked at aging differently and through that lens have developed new niches and met people’s desires in senior housing and aging services that weren’t being served. What other innovative ideas have you seen out there that are looking at aging differently?

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Employee Innovation and Technology in Senior Housing and Long-Term Care

L to R: Tracy Meyers, Mark Hibbison, Wendy Traffie and Kathy Bakkenist next to the newly planted oak tree honoring the Lakeview Commons team.Yesterday was the first of two big celebrations within Ecumen. The team members at Lakeview Commons, an Ecumen assisted living community in Maplewood, were honored with Ecumen’s highest award: The Majestic Oak Award. Two years ago, the team at Lakeview Commons raised their hand to pilot QuietCare technology that helps us spot small health problems before they grow into larger ones. Their initial pilot of 20 people grew and grew. Today more than 600 customers at Ecumen Communities use QuietCare.Lakeview Commons and The Oaks and the Pines of Hutchinson were this year’s Majestic Oak winners for innovation. The Hutchinson celebration is coming up. Here’s how our online Innovation Station program works:

L to R: Care Attendants Jessica Wiszowaty and Cindy ObergAcorn Awards: All members of a innovation team receive acorns.Seedling Awards: Awarded to those innovations deemed 'Major Innovations.'Majestic Oak Award: Given to a team that develops a 'Major Innovation' and then helps other Ecumen communities develop it. The Oak Tree was planted at Lakeview Commons in honor of their achievement.Fertile Ground Award: Give to those communities who adapt a major innovation.You can read a recent Minneapolis Star Tribune article about the Innovation Station here. More information about all of this year’s winners can be found here.

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The Age Wave and the Presidential Debates

Tonight on CNN, there is a unique debate where CNN editors will ask questions of the Democratic candidates for President. The questions will come from YouTube video questions submitted by viewers. Above are some samples. Wonder if there will be any questions asked about aging and how we’re preparing the country for the Age Wave. If you missed getting your question in for the Democrats, you can still do it for the upcoming Republican debate.

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Futurist’s View of Long-Term Care Profession

Ian Morrisson is a futurist who deals a lot in healthcare and has spoken at a number of long-term care conferences. He’ll be one of the headliners at Mayo Clinic’s 2008 National Symposium on Health Care Reform. It’s kind of interesting to take a look back at what a futurist says and then what actually happens. Check out this excerpt from a 1999 Nursing Home magazine interview with Ian: Changing demographics related to an increase in the aging population continue to fuel the post-acute care industry. What are your thoughts on public policy in this area as we look ahead?

Morrison: The numbers of those over 65 really begin to increase starting in 2020. The fastest-growing segment of the population today is the group over 85 years old, and this is expected to continue. I think this creates tremendous opportunities and challenges. The post-acute care industry has really suffered under the recent Medicare reimbursement changes. Part of the problem is that we don’t have a clear concept of what our national policy is toward older persons and how we will care for them. Our default policy is Medicaid, to take care of those in nursing homes, which is unsatisfactory. It is not a sustainable plan. The question then becomes, can we build policy instruments, such as long-term care funding systems in the private sector, to alleviate some of the inevitable public burden? And, can we restructure the Medicare system?

Obviously there will continue to be a need for home healthcare, nursing homes and residential living centers. Do you see new entrants to the market?

Morrison: I think it’s about life care. There will be an explosion of opportunities over the next 20 to 30 years, which will involve some existing components, such as home healthcare, and others that will be newly created, because I don’t think that the average baby-boomer’s aspiration is to spend his last years in a traditional nursing home. I think we are going to want to "do everything" until our last breath.

And information technology’s role?

Morrison: Hugely important. You are going to have a bunch of 80-year-olds who have been Net-literate since they were 40, and they are going to look for services to be delivered electronically and, potentially, by very intelligent and sophisticated instruments. Many will also seek social support from communications technology.

Any concluding thoughts to offer our readers?

Morrison: Step up to the leadership challenge. In the final analysis, leadership is about values. It’s important to have a dialogue with people about what they believe in, what they see as the goal and purpose of the organization. If leaders can "connect the dots" in terms of the values and motivations of the organization’s stakeholders, then we can have a better healthcare system.

Ian is Pretty Right On

His analysis in 1999 is pretty spot on: A national public policy system (and so many states' policies) that aren’t anywhere ready for the age wave, new technology and new products, and the need for all of us to step up to the leadership challenge to deliver what a new generation of customers will want (they tell us in the Ecumen age wave study). It’s a cliche, but what a blue ocean opportunity for long-term care. It’s our turn to build the future.

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Erickson Senior Housing Commercial

It won’t be a surprise when , one of the pioneers in developing Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), enters Minnesota. They have a lot of appealing features that people would dig here.Check out this Erickson Retirement Communities commercial. It hits directly at what a lot of what people are thinking, … they want something different. What are your thoughts on the commercial?[youtube][/youtube]

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Hospitality Lessons from a Funeral Home

We hear a lot about how people don’t want to move to nursing homes and we’re all familiar with the stereotypes. Funeral homes are another place that aren’t high on people’s priority lists. And they, too, have plenty of stereotypes that aren’t too uplifting. It’s interesting, though, how things can change when you look at things differently. Jim Bradshaw, who founded and runs a number of funeral homes in the Twin Cities, set out to change the perception of funeral homes. He called it setting out to "create a new conversation." He sought to create the IT we talk about, to reposition, to innovate, to create hospitable places and experiences that leave no doubt that you are "WELCOME." When you walk into the Bradshaw Funeral Home in Stillwater, it is bright, airy, there are big windows that look out upon soothing birchtree gardens, there are children’s play rooms, everything is so clean and fresh … people actually get married there. The Bradshaw tagline is: Creating Meaningful Events That Celebrate Life (don’t we do that a lot in senior housing and long-term care?) . And they have a number of interesting "Promises We Keep" that could be tailored for the senior housing and long-term care profession also. Here they are:

  • When you walk through the doors, we promise to welcome you.
  • We promise to make your concerns our priority.
  • We promise to clear explanations and thoughtful answers to your questions.
  • We promise to be generous with our time.
  • We promise to anticipate your needs.
  • If it’s never been done before, we’ll find a away.
  • We promise to follow through on what we offer you.
  • We promise to treat the deceased with dignity and compassionate professionalism.
  • We depend on each other for good ideas and thoughtful solutions. You can too.
  • We promise the value you receive will be greater than the bill you pay.

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Welcome to North Branch’s New Neighborhood

At Left, Leah-Killian Smith, leader at The Villages of North Branch is warmly greeted by resident Edna Holmgren during one of the last days of a former county nursing home in North Branch, Minn. Photo by Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune. "This is going to be so different. My new room will be nice. But the rest of the place is so interesting that I don’t think I’ll be spending much time in my room anymore." The above quote by Carole Feakes, who is moving today from Green Acres Country Care Center in North Branch to the new Ecumen community of The Villages of North Branch, really outlines a big difference between the the yesterday and today in our profession. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a very interesting story about The Villages of North Branch, a new senior housing development that will open today. The All-Important IT Factor While The Villages of North Branch is brand new and beautiful, The Villages' success is going to be driven by the team members who create and nurture ITFind out more about IT in this discussion launched by Debbie Manthey. Share your thoughts. IT is what makes the beautiful interior design of bricks and mortar come to life. The IT is what you’ll find today as The Villages team members and community volunteers welcome 68 people to their brand new homes. The IT is IT. Before and After Photos Here are some of the before and after photos from North Branch. One photo you’ll notice is a collage of historic photos from North Branch. The Villages of North Branch feature a number of photos from the Historical Society. What will be particularly neat is that there will be story tellers who live at The Villages who will be able to to share the stories that these photos represent.

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The Graying of the Suburbs

If you get a second, listen to the Minnesota Public Radio MidMorning Show entitled: The Graying Suburbs.

The guests are William Frey, demographer at The Brookings Institute, and Joel Kotkin, author of 'The City: A Global History.'

The show is based on a new study by the Brookings Institution called 'Mapping the Growth of Older America: Seniors and Boomers in the 21st Century.'

One of the many interesting findings we found in our study of Minnesota Baby Boomers is that most boomers want to live their senior years in suburbia or rural Minnesota. The Brookings Institution study parallels a number of these findings.

It also talks about how boomers want to live in their own homes as they age. That underscores the opportunity for aging services providers to expand outside of their own bricks and mortar.

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A Pastor’s Vision and Senior Housing Development

Pastor David Olson of the First Lutheran Church in Sandpoint is someone with vision. Here in a Finance and Commerce article by Brian Johnson, he talks about his and his congregation’s foray into senior housing development:

David Olson will never forget his first pastoral visit to a nursing home.

'I was greeted with the words, 'Pastor, I am being held against my will and I need your help to escape,'' recalled Olson, a Lutheran minister with Minnesota connections who now has a congregation in Idaho.

'That is the nightmare of senior care for people: that they will end up essentially being housed against their will. '

Olson’s experience was part of the inspiration for a senior housing project that’s about to break ground in Sandpoint, Idaho.

His congregation, First Lutheran Church at Sandpoint, is developing the $14 million, 87-unit facility with help from Ecumen, a Shoreview-based nonprofit that manages and develops senior housing.

When it’s completed next year, the project will offer 60 units of 'catered living' for seniors and 27 units of 'memory care and enhanced assisted living' in a structure that will be physically attached to the church and spiritually attached to the greater community.

Olson said the goal is to create senior housing that 'avoids being an elder ghetto and provides positive, stimulating environments in which people will choose to live, as opposed to consenting to being placed there. '

Ecumen, which is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), will manage the Idaho facility after it opens.

The Shoreview firm believes the project could become a model for other churches that have land for development. It sees senior housing projects developed with faith communities as a national 'growth area. '

'We are getting calls all the time from would-be clients who want to talk with us,' noted Steve Ordahl, Ecumen’s senior vice president of business development services.

Ecumen is counting on a recently announced partnership with two other major senior housing players - St. Louis Park-based general contractor Adolfson & Peterson and St. Paul-based design firm Pope Associates - to help those projects move forward.

Other church-connected senior housing projects are popping up closer to home.

In Minneapolis, for example, Spirit of the Lakes Church plans to create 41 units of senior housing on church-owned property at 1238 E. Lake St. Its development partner is Powderhorn Residents Group.

Hennepin County recently approved a $37,150 grant for the project, which could begin this fall.

And in Prior Lake, Presbyterian Homes is partnering with Shepherd of the Lake Church to create 156 units of senior housing (82 independent living, 56 assisted living, and 18 memory care) on the church’s 80-acre campus.

Adolfson & Peterson and Pope Associates are part of that project team, as well. It’s nearing completion after a year of construction, and the first residents are expected to move in by mid-July.

The campus includes short-stay apartments for homeless teenagers, and a 'town center' with a restaurant, a convenience store, a gift shop, a book store, barber and beauty shops, exercise and dining areas, and a 120-seat theater.

Future phases will bring an 80-bed skilled nursing home and 45 apartments for people 55 and older. The nursing home will be attached to the church, and the apartments will be in a series of five unattached brownstone buildings.

Construction will start next spring on a YMCA, also attached to the church.

Kermit Mahlum is the chief operating office for the Prior Lake development, known as Shepherds Path.

During his 10 years of planning the project, Mahlum spoke with other large churches in the metro area.

'I believe this is going to be the next wave of church facilities, where they do campus settings,' he said. 'We are hopefully on the leading edge. There are two or three other campuses like this around the Twin Cities, but this is the first we are aware of where the senior facility and a YMCA are both attached to the church. '

Eric Schubert, Ecumen’s director of communications, said the senior housing industry is 'just touching the cuff' of innovative development, including projects that link 55-and-older housing with college campuses.

'It’s a new way of looking at senior housing,' Schubert said. 'It really fits in with larger community development, as communities look to use space well and connect resources rather than just isolate seniors on the fringe of town. '

Olson said the faith community has the resources and knowledge to become a leader in senior housing development. The Lutheran church, for example, has been involved in senior care for more than 100 years, he noted.

First Lutheran in Sandpoint sowed the seeds for its project back in 1960, when the church purchased its current 6-acre site. At the time, the site was on the outskirts of town, but it’s now in the center of activity.

As Sandpoint became a hot spot for retirees, developers pressured the church to sell its 4 acres or so of developable land.

Rather than sell to a third party, Olson and the congregation opted to do their own development. He said there’s sufficient collateral in the land and in the existing church building to do the project without raising additional funds from the congregation.

Residents in the new development won’t have to be members of First Lutheran or any other church, Olson emphasized.

But he does see the project as an opportunity for the church to extend its ministry.

'We view it as a ministry and an extension of the congregation, offering not only housing, but a Christ-centered community open to all, caring for the spiritual needs of our residents as well as physical and emotional needs.

'We feel that for many of the residents, that is a central ingredient in terms of what they look for in quality of life. '

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Ecumen’s Lakeview Commons Wins Awards

Above are just a few of the team members at Ecumen’s Lakeview Commons who have helped Lakeview Commons be recognized by the readers of the Maplewood/Ramsey County Review newspaper as the Maplewood community’s top assisted living and senior retirement community for 2007. This is the third year in a row that the team at Lakeview Commons has received this honor. Congratulations!