Ep. 123: Transforming Senior Living Culture through Belonging, Purpose and Community

May 07, 2024 |

Jill Vitale-Aussem, Christian Living Communities' president & CEO, explains the importance of cultural transformation in senior living organizations.

In this episode, host Jennifer Drago interviews Jill Vitale-Aussem, president and CEO of Christian Living Communities, a Colorado-based not-for-profit organization. Jill discusses the importance of cultural transformation in senior living organizations, strategic planning, financial sustainability, combating ageism, creating a positive experience, and more!

Christian Living Communities [2:37]

Christian Living Communities (CLC) was founded 52 years ago in Denver, initially assisting elders from the Christian Reformed Church. Over time, they have expanded to ten communities across Colorado, offering various types of care. Additionally, they provide support to other nonprofits and offer marketing solutions. Their commitment remains steadfast: to continuously enhance elder care and make a meaningful impact in their field.

Long-Term Vision and Strategic Priorities of CLC [04:29]

The organization places its focus on four main areas: financial sustainability, fostering a positive workplace environment, enhancing aging services, and expanding its mission. Presently, it is engaged in strategic planning to pinpoint growth opportunities and areas requiring improvement. This process is guided by a rigorous approach aimed at defining its future direction.

The Unique Philosophy of CLC [8:43]

The organization's mission, vision, and values serve as the core pillars guiding all its endeavors, molding its culture and community. This culture not only contributes to high occupancy rates but also attracts exceptional team members. It places a strong emphasis on embracing possibilities, fostering mutual care, celebrating achievements, and cultivating a sense of belonging. This approach transcends conventional employee engagement, prioritizing the establishment of an authentic community where each individual plays a significant and meaningful role.

CLC’s philosophy leads to benefits such as high retention rates and improved regulatory outcomes, demonstrating the power of a solid organizational culture.

Combating Ageism and Traditional Views of Senior Living [18:41]

Starting as a nursing home administrator, Jill observed flaws in traditional care practices. She redirected her focus towards creating a more inclusive community during a campus redevelopment project. Through learning about ageism and embracing the Eden Alternative approach, Jill recognized the critical significance of nurturing a sense of belonging among residents. This transformative journey inspired Jill to share her experiences and insights with others in the field, aiming to empower and support fellow professionals.

Actively Working To Eliminate Ageism [23:45]

Initiating change begins with understanding and challenging ageism within oneself. It's crucial to become aware of how these beliefs influence decision-making. Engaging in conversations is vital for fostering community building. Asking questions such as, "What kind of community do we aspire to be?" aids in shaping the vision and identifying barriers to change. Though seemingly simple, this process is also complex yet necessary for fundamental transformation.

CLC Innovative Programs [28:16]

At Clermont Park, they opted for lasting change over short-lived programs. Rather than focusing on the past, they engaged residents in discussions about their future aspirations. This approach resulted in initiatives such as the Clermont College of Creative Life, where residents both teach and learn together. This endeavor has fostered a vibrant community that continues to evolve and flourish.

Jill’s Advice for Senior Living Providers [33:25]

Jill encourages providers to follow the evidence when implementing change in their communities that is intended to help residents live longer, healthier, more purposeful lives. Research emphasizes the importance of having a purpose, belonging to a community, continuous learning, and maintaining a positive attitude towards aging. Challenge old beliefs and seek new perspectives to improve your understanding of healthy living.

Solving the Aging-in-Place Problem [37:26]

Some believe "aging in place" is best for everyone, but it can lead to isolation and lack of care. It's essential to choose a living situation that offers support and community. Planning ensures a fulfilling and safe life as you age.

You can also follow Jill on her socials:
LinkedIn | Website

👉Check out Jill Vitale-Aussem's book, Disrupting the Status Quo of Senior Living: A Mindshift, at https://mindshift.healthpropress.com/#about-the-book
👉See CLC’s Citizenship philosophy in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3uU6tgWoS4

Other books mentioned in this episode:
✅Right Place, Right Time: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home for the Second Half of Life by Ryan Frederick
✅Ageism Unmasked: Exploring Age Bias and How to End It by Tracey Gendron, PhD

About Our Guest:

Jill has over 25 years of experience in senior living and transforming the culture of nursing homes, assisted living communities, and retirement communities. Today, Jill serves as President & CEO of Christian Living Communities (CLC), a Colorado-based not-for-profit serving more than 1,500 older adults and their families through its communities and home care services. CLC’s management and consulting division, Cappella Living Solutions, provides third-party management, consulting and digital marketing services to mission-aligned organizations throughout the country.

About the Show:

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Categories: : Leadership, Mindset, Podcast, Strategy, Vision