Today we welcome Chris Orestis, CEO and co-founder of Life Care Funding.
The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) is the United States’ leading trade group for the Senior Living industry. During the week of May 4th, more than 2,500 industry leaders gathered together in Tampa, Florida to celebrate the silver anniversary of ALFA and work together on how to continue the evolution of senior care. Over the course of three days, numerous topics were discussed and major initiatives were announced. Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin C. Powell delivered an inspiring opening address, and ALFA thanked their outgoing leader Rick Grimes for years of distinguished service and welcomed their new President and CEO, James Balda.
Five Key Takeaways
As I reflect now on my time sitting in on sessions, visiting with industry leaders, and learning about the vast array of technological and service innovations, I left the meeting with five key takeaways that I believe will help define the future of senior care in the United States.
1. Standards and credentialing will be one of the most important priorities of the senior living industry
Assisted Living communities are not regulated in the same way nursing homes are. It is imperative that the senior living industry be pro-active to ensure that industry-wide standards are established with credentialing and continuing education requirements for those entrusted with the care of our loved ones. Self-regulation by the industry will go a long way towards preventing unnecessarily burdensome and misguided political oversight which can often times do more harm than good. The senior living industry recognizes the important role they play in the long term care continuum, and the trust that families place in their hands with a loved one in residence. A focus on industry wide standards will make sure that trust will continue to be well placed for generations. A Place for Mom has taken a necessary step by evaluating the openness and accessibility in their State Guide to Assisted Living Records & Reports.
2. Senior Living will take a leadership role in the future of Memory Care
ALFA’s newly formed Memory Care Executive Roundtable announced that formalizing standards would be the number one priority to help define best practices and principals for patient care. Memory Care is the fastest growing area in senior care, and the Assisted Living industry is poised to take an important lead in helping to define standards of care. One important aspect is to develop credentialing to make sure staff are receiving training and continuing education to provide the best possible care for residents. Also, the effort will seek to better educate the public about dementia and the experience of aging overall so that people have a better understanding of what a loved one, or they themselves, may be going through.
3. Consumer-driven experiences will guide senior living to provide high quality and innovative residential environments
Living in an Assisted Living community is not just about receiving care and support. It is also about having quality, enriching life experiences. Social activities, culture and entertainment, fine dining, and access to innovative technology are all elements of Assisted Living being driven by the residents and their families. The Senior Living industry understands and is focused on delivering a meaningful and rich life experience for residents based on what they know residents want—and not on what they think they know.
4. Increased access to private pay options will be critical to funding care for a rapidly growing senior population
The growing senior population is increasing demand for senior care services. Medicare and Medicaid will only cover certain forms of care for those that can qualify. The Senior Living industry will need to do more to help educate the consumer about available options to “private pay” for senior care services. Programs such as the Veteran’s Aide and Attendance Benefit, converting life insurance policies into a Long Term Care Benefit Account, Long Term Care Insurance and Annuities, senior loans and accessing equity in homes, as well as creating incentives to do more with savings, income and investments are all critical parts of how seniors today, and in the future will be able afford the costs of senior care and housing.
5. ALFA announced an unprecedented leadership initiative: Senior Living 2025
ALFA introduced a nationwide initiative to focus on four critical areas for the future of senior care in the United States: Consumer Choice, Operational Excellence, Quality Care, and Workforce Development. The goal of the initiative is to create a roadmap to guide Senior Living over the next decade of growth and evolution. The initiative, formally launched at the ALFA Annual Meeting will kick off a six month listening tour where the input of the industry and consumers can be gathered to help define the key principals and goals for the industry’s next decade. The first four listening tour meetings will be held in New York, Wisconsin, Arizona and Kentucky over the course of 2015.
With 10,000 Baby Boomers now turning 65 every day, the senior living industry will continue to play a key role in providing both care and housing to an aging population. But this generation’s expectations are different. They expect high quality living environments and experiences, demand quality care, and the assurance that they are served by the best available trained professionals. Communities both large and small need to be prepared to adapt to consumer’s expectations and grow with the industry as it continues to evolve.
Chris Orestis is CEO and co-founder of Life Care Funding; a nationally known senior care advocate and 18-year veteran of both the life insurance and long-term care industries. He is the author of the book “Help on the Way”, and is a legislative expert, featured speaker, columnist and contributor to a number of insurance and long term care industry publications. His blog on senior living issues can be found at www.lifecarefunding.com/blog. He can be reached at (888) 670-7773 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do you think should be the number one goal for the industry over the next five years? Please comment below!