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Friends and Colleagues Help To Get Us Through the Changes


Between entering senior living at Greystone in 1986 and co-founding Pegasus Senior Living (now 37 communities) in 2018 and weathering a global pandemic in 2020, Chris Hollister, now vice chairman at Pegasus, has seen a lot of changes. In an email interview, he shares some of what he has learned.


Q. What’s your big piece of advice on managing change? A. Remember way back, when the Monty Python guys had that skit about “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!”? 2020 has certainly been a year to prove that. The COVID pandemic—or something


like it—had predicted by experts as an eventual development, yet no one is truly prepared when something like this happens. My top piece of advice is don’t just have


colleagues—have friends. I have been fortunate enough to be included with a group of very caring regional operators who agreed to share their intelligence and ideas on how to react to this tremendously challenging situation with COVID. A dozen heads are certainly a lot better than one. I just don’t know what we would have done without their kindness, openness, and willingness to share, as well as the ability to have a sounding board and—call it what it is—friendship through this crisis.


Q. Has the past year changed the way you think about change or manage change A. I think it has made me realize the need to be more bold and anticipate changes that are coming. If you look at what we’re doing with


remote communication, telemedicine, Zoom calls, etc., it is obvious that there are a tremendous number of applications of technology that were clearly available and could be effective, but society was lagging behind the adoption of these practices. Fortune favors the bold. I think it is incumbent upon all of us as leaders to try to push the envelope, because the world is changing very rapidly.


Q. Can you talk about a beneficial or challenging change you’ve navigated, and what helped make it work? To pivot away from COVID, I would go back to the genesis of the assisted living movement. It took operators a couple of years to realize the variability of our clients’ needs under the assisted living platform. While independent living is more of a


one-size-fits-all, and in memory care most operators have standard staffing ratios and a more standard offering to meet the needs of that special clientele, assisted living‘s hallmark has turned out to be the tremendous variability of service clients need. Initially, in the early 1990s, most operators


were trying to do just one service plan with one set fee. However, they quickly realized this was inadequate and inappropriate for such a variable service offering. Back in the day, we had a three-tiered


pricing structure, but we eventually became a bit behind the curve, with more operators going to point systems or four or five or six tiers of pricing. I can go back to the need for collaboration and friendship in the sector. While we were a bit slow on the uptake, by listening and learning from my colleagues we were able to develop a very sophisticated pricing tool that was appropriate to the change in needs of our residents as acuity increased over time. This change is ongoing, with many


operators going to PDA-based care assistance devices to document the care needs in real time. This approach not only allows you to get


paid for what you do, but also documents the real needs of the clients for the families and has better documentation for regulators. Finally, it also increases the job satisfaction


of caregivers; they find working with a PDA much more efficient and rewarding than trying to remember everything at the end of the shift and write it down the old-school way with pen and paper. The Beatles were also right: You get by with a little help from your friends.


JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 ARGENTUM.ORG 13


I can go back to the need for collaboration and friendship in the sector. While we were a bit slow on the uptake, by listening and learning from my colleagues we were able to develop a very sophisticated pricing tool that was appropriate to the change in needs of our residents as acuity increased over time.


Chris Hollister Co-founder


and vice chairman Pegasus Senior Living


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