 Cecilia Sepp

Workforce Challenges Inspire Innovations in Professional Development

As the population of senior adults continues to rise and providers add communities to care for them, the need  to manage increasingly complex operations.


hen it comes to workforce recruitment and retention, a major hurdle is overcoming misconceptions about long term care, its role, and what actually happens

in settings that provide nursing care and assisted living services, says American College of Health Care Administrators President and CEO Cecilia Sepp. Long term care communities are places where people go to

 for living. Communicating this to the next generation is a crucial step in attracting talented individuals to choose long term care as a career, she says. The crucial innovation will be in the area of public relations because the long term care profession needs to clearly communicate their contributions in helping those who need it most. “Tapping into younger generations’ desire to have meaning in their life as well as a career path with opportunities is an ex-  individual professional,” Sepp says. “As demographics continue to shift, the competition to recruit and retain a quality workforce of compassionate individuals will only intensify.” Other innovations on the horizon are: long term care advo-

cates uniting in a public relations campaign to educate society about the passionate and dedicated people who provide these services — and their commitment to high standards of service; compensation packages to attract and retain employees that are not just about salary and wages but about supporting the individual’s development and wellbeing; increased support of education programs in high schools, colleges, and universities by the owners of communities; and a perceived increase in the   outcomes and provide individual professional recognition. Brightview Senior Living has taken its story to higher educa- tion institutions. The company has participated in career fairs at the University of Delaware and University of Massachusetts,   entrees into senior living with colleges and universities that have hospitality programs to educate and inform students about what senior living is and how they can apply many of the hospitality industry theories to senior living,” says Richard Heaney, region- al director of operations. “Once they get interested in it and

 thought senior living was all about. …Once they start doing their research, they realize there is real career potential.” -

viders today. “The awareness of senior living is something that we are working on. We’re being extremely proactive in trying to develop from within, as well as our recruitment and human resources teams working alongside our operations team to also try to tap into other industries that might have parallel skillsets.” As an example, Heaney suggests hiring someone from the hotel industry with experience as a general manager and educating the individual in “senior living and the aging process. We’ve found that to be successful.”

Brightview also has seen success with its community college

partnerships, bringing students directly into Brightview com- munities as interns. “We look at area community colleges and tap into culinary programs, nursing programs,” including both  students seeking degrees in nursing and culinary arts, and has converted interns into full-time employees. “We’ve developed career paths for our front-line associates and

created individualized development plans,” Heaney says. Associates interested in career growth are invited to apply for the program and must write a narrative about their career growth and their interest. Accepted associates are required to complete reading, research,  it’s something they own. When there’s success, the pride comes out tenfold and you grow your loyalty from within.” Teresa Smith, area director of operations for Denver-based Spectrum Retirement Living, is a model for senior living career path success. During her junior year of high school, her guid- ance counselor helped her get a job that enabled her to become  during her tenure there she has been employed as medication  executive director. “I’ve always been the type of gal that I’m fully committed to a company based on my career goal,” says Smith, now 28. “I had the dedication, that passion to stay committed to a company as I kept growing with the company.”

Continued on page 32 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 / SENIOR LIVING EXECUTIVE 31 Richard Heaney Teresa Smith

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