Ep. 109: Strategy & Lifecycles in Senior Living with Sheri Peifer

Jul 23, 2023 |

Sheri Peifer, President at Eskaton, shares her strategic approach to leadership, operational discipline and having hard discussions.

In this episode, host Jennifer Drago interviews Sheri Peifer, President of Eskaton, a senior living provider serving over 4,000 older adults each day across a broad spectrum of service and housing offerings. As President, Sheri is a creative leader and collaborator committed to strategic transformation and operational excellence in services for older adults and families.

Ensuring Viability and Sustainability
Sheri talks about the importance of continuously assessing the viability of service lines in nonprofit organizations. She is all about balancing mission protection with the necessity of making an acceptable margin that not only covers expenses, but also allows Eskaton to invest in capital replacements, and prepare for future challenges.

Transparency and Strategic Plan
It is important for Sheri to have the right people around the table to foster natural conversations and address all aspects of the situation, ensuring regular and candid discussions within the organization. She also talked about discipline used at Eskaton, a nonprofit based in Northern California, to continually assess the organization’s performance through dashboards and to cultivate hard discussions when performance is not meeting expectations.

[12:33] Sheri provided an example of Eskaton making a difficult decision earlier this year to divest of its three skilled nursing facilities. This was a significant decision because this business represents 33% of the organization's top-line revenue. By divesting of this line of business, Eskaton will be able to invest in the future expansion of our residential and home-based services. Sheri acknowledges the timeline for executing the request for proposal was quick by senior living standards but still took longer than she would have liked. Eskaton is still in the process of negotiating this divestiture.

[17:00] Sheri shared Eskaton's evolution of the strategic planning process. She was amazed by the collaborative nature of the board and leadership working together annually to assess trends, respond effectively, and anticipate future challenges and disruptive innovations. For Sheri, it's important to involve team members' voices in designing plans as part of a proactive and inclusive approach.

Eskaton's Strategic Plan
Sheri reports that Eskaton has a two-year strategic planning cycle, but that they update and tweak the organization's strategic plan annually. Sheri emphasizes the need to quickly adapt to technological changes, business processes, and market expectations. The annual updates ensure that Eskaton stays ahead of shifting dynamics and market demands while remaining proactive in supporting and strengthening other regional providers.

Leveraging Partnerships for Growth
The strategic planning process generates meaningful conversations at the leadership and board levels. One of the processes that Eskaton uses to evaluate each service or business line annually is a lifecycles analysis. Using this approach, Sheri explains that Eskaton has successfully reinvested and regenerated its business plan on services that are beginning to move toward decline in order to be able to return these services to a growth mode or mature phase. For example, Eskaton collaborated with a homecare provider in San Francisco to help address the caregiver shortage and revitalize their non-medical home-based services.

Home and Community-Based Services
Nine out of ten people want to age in their homes. There are some progressive models in senior living that will help them to do that like life care at home plans, which are found predominantly in the East.

Continuing Care at Home
Innovative care models and programs like Kendal at Home and other Continuing Care at Home (CCAH) programs have been developed to address the evolving needs of various generations. Sheri expresses eagerness to bring CCAH programs to Northern California, stating that the first CCAH pilot will be in the Los Angeles area. Host Jennifer Drago shared that she launched and operated a CCAH program in Arizona and currently is consulting with senior living providers on new CCAH development.

About Our Guest:

Sheri Peifer became Eskaton's President in September 2022. Her career spans over 25 years in the field of aging services in operations, strategy, innovation and growth.

Peifer serves as Board Chair on the LeadingAge California Association serving over 600 members. Investing in the development of next generation leaders is a passion and she serves on the Advisory Board of the Gerontology department at California State University, Sacramento. Connect with Sheri at www.linkedin.com/in/sheripeifer.

Categories: : Focus, Goals, Leadership, Podcast, Strategy, Vision