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Messaging New Directions

Messaging New Directions

The National Investment Center (NIC) unveiled new branding at its 2016 Fall National Conference at the Marriott Marquis in Washington DC last week. The triumvirate of Data, Analytics and Connections (see image below) emphasizes a renewed focus for the programs and products that define NIC’s status as a leader in the Seniors Housing & Care Industry.

nic-branding

The “Seniors Housing & Care” tagline has been seemingly subordinated in a move that exhibits how the industry is being redefined. Although it was not stated explicitly, the original NIC symbol conjured a capital/institutional sentiment with its currency-inspired graphic whereas the new combination mark reflects a sea change that recognizes how data and its interpretative analysis are paramount to the survival of products and services that are now defining a broader sector – one evolving from “need driven” housing & healthcare services for seniors and now extending to “market driven” wellness and lifestyle delivery – ultimately for everyone.

As business and financial advisors focused on supporting regional providers of the industry, we value the NIC Conferences as an opportunity to step away from the trenches and immerse ourselves in ideas and best practices that represent a “collective IQ”. While we foster new messaging for our industry identity, we are reminded that we are all experiencing dramatic and unprecedented change, ripe with opportunity for those alert to exhibiting trends and signals.

As the NIC tagline suggests, data is of little use absent analysis and connections. In his opening remarks, Former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt relays similarly that “information gathering and making sense of weak signals is critical to success.” In this post, we share takeaways from the opening session together with select NIC Talks featuring Ken Dychtwald, Billie Jean King and Joseph Coughlin. When you synthesize the talking points it becomes clear that cost, value and messaging need data, analysis and connections if a clear narrative is to emerge.

Strategic Aggregators

Mike Leavitt suggested in his opening remarks that the value-based payment system is one of the most significant changes confronting the US Healthcare system and its future remains uncertain. How can we drive the implementation of these changes more quickly and who will take center stage? Senior care providers can respond in three ways; (1) fight and die; (2) go along and have a chance; or (3) lead and prosper. More specifically, he offered that there is an open opportunity to become what he refers to as a “Strategic Aggregator” in our evolving coordinated network. In simple terms, this role could be understood as the “general contractor for medicine,” someone who is able to crack the code of a fee-for-value service world.

Connection, Purpose and Meaning

“Who are the boomers going to be when they get older? If you get that wrong, you’re out.”

As the Founder and CEO of Age Wave, Ken Dychtwald relays that messaging, marketing and communications provide the largest barrier to our industry and that we will likely be challenged to turn market sentiments around. In sharp contrast to the linear model of aging that we are accustomed to, there is a “longevity bonus” on the horizon and we will need to establish a new narrative for how to keep connection; purpose; and meaning at the center of our offerings. Ken proffers that “if you are building your communities, and your marketing and your intelligence is based on the 20th century notion that people will really want to stop work, separate from society and not do much of anything other than relax and socialize and be called seniors, you are going to fail. I don’t want you to fail.”

NIC Talks: Ken Dychtwald from National Investment Center on Vimeo.

What can we do? We need to tell a better story that works to address the core issues of loneliness and peace of mind but emphasizes how we support a reinvention of life so that the prospect of new active aging possibilities are front and center. We need a new narrative that better communicates our offerings – displacing negativity and ignorance about the industry. We need to create on-ramps for reinvented offerings and exit-ramps from the “Fortresses for the Old”.

Relationships, Learning and Problem Solving

Billie Jean King framed her session with recognition that “Sports is a Microcosm of Society.” From an early age she had a purpose and a goal that intentionally leveraged her tennis career to champion social change. As the active aging ambassador for Atria, she shares her insight that inner and outer successes rely upon relationships, learning and problem solving. Atria doesn’t use the word “senior” any longer but Billie highlights the value she has always placed on older people – while admitting that she now feels the influence of ageist stereotypes personally.

NIC Talks: Billie Jean King from National Investment Center on Vimeo.

Elders are a source of wisdom where we can better tap into and leverage the value of life experiences they offer. Stay active, keep learning and recognize that relationships are everything. Personalized engagement is key to promoting well-being and should be fostered through important opportunities for acts of kindness. “Active is happy.”

Excite and delight

We are reminded by Joseph Coughlin of MIT’s Agelab that it is the convergence of technology and the consumer that bring real innovation into the marketplace. He advises us to focus on what we are trying to accomplish first and then try to find technology that will help to accomplish those goals. Technology is the “tool box”. While musing about the impact of “aging in place” technology, he notes that a tech-enabled service that could keep you in your home for an extra six months could have a $34B impact on the industry.

Joseph F. Coughlin from National Investment Center on Vimeo.

The major takeaway? Senior providers have the expertise to hop over the fence and develop relationships with people in the community before they even need your services. Building a pipeline into the Home & Community service realm is critical but we must be reminded to “excite and delight” with our offerings. “Generation Expectation” believes that there is a “product, policy or pill that will enable them to live longer and better” and innovators that can answer the call will be well rewarded. New players will be branded by collaboration in a newly defined sharing economy. Life on demand through apps will continue to emerge with a focus on wants as well as needs. Having it all and owning none of it is the value proposition. Above all, you’ll need a good marketing team to get your messaging right.

Where do we go from here?

Recognize that your are missing out on 90% of the market and focus on strategies for minting new customers (and staff) while reinventing and effectively messaging. Don’t try to guess what the whole market wants/needs.

  • Cultivate your own identity and engage followers wherever they are.
  • Seize opportunities to augment and or integrate your current offerings with community programs and services that are beyond your walls and intergenerational.
  • Find ways to incorporate programs for active aging, longevity and wellness.
  • Promote opportunities for lifelong learning, engagement and problems solving through new relationships and technology that “excites and delights” all ages.
  • Get your messaging right and get it out there effectively.
Knowledge Notes #003

Knowledge Notes #003

This is an important issue because we want to update you on a project that we have been working on for well over a year called Sectour. Issue # 003 will provide you with a quick introduction to the project and also showcase some recommended content (new and old) from CCA and around the web…

Read and Share:

June 24, 2016

A2.0 Global Startup Search – Boston Chapter

A2GSS-BostonSeven entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas on May 26, 2016 at the Aging 2.0 Boston Chapter’s event hosted at the STANLEY Healthcare Experience Center. What an impressive and relevant venue – the 6,500 square foot center offers a hands-on environment for you to evaluate, design and fine-tune their comprehensive portfolio of safety, security and operational efficiency solutions, products and services. In a post Healthcare Reform climate focused on quality of care we are reminded that top-level keywords like “innovation” and “user-centered design” are not new ideas or strategies – companies like STANLEY arguably have a sustainable competitive advantage because they have learned to both inform and be influenced by a complex ecosystem of users; over 5,000 hospital and healthcare system and over 12,000 senior living communities!

A Common Mission

If Aging 2.0 Local Chapters have a unifying mission; it is to help create a host learning environment for startups that aims to approximate the scale and depth of resources available to enterprise level organizations – so that we can collectively fast-track great ideas to the aging services market. Nearly 20 Corporate Sponsors – representing a broad cross-section of professionals active in the business of serving seniors – supported the local event’s goal of vetting the best aging-focused startup for advancement to Aging 2.0’s OPTIMIZE Conference. The winner from each of the (over thirty) local chapters across the world will compete toward gaining a global platform for their business concept in San Francisco next October.

[kleo_grid type=”2″ animation=”yes”][kleo_feature_item] This pitch event was emceed by Susan Wornick, a passionate family caregiver herself and a well-recognized former NewsCenter5 Anchor. Susan did a terrific job keeping the program personally relevant to the challenges confronting family caregivers – citing they only escalate with aging. Susan is the primary caregiver for her mom, now over 100 years old and living at home with her. “Nobody prepares you for this responsibility – where I thought it would be fun reliving the past when we were together at home and I was 18 years old again.”[/kleo_feature_item][kleo_feature_item]

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Summary of Participants

  • Qweepi – A post-acute care coordination company focused on processing daily patient data inputted by staff to analyze acuity trends and report on patients at risk of adverse events.
  • EchoCare – Develops a non-wearable, elderly-care, home monitoring system that automatically alerts safety and emergency situations as falls, stress, sleep apnea.
  • WatchRX– Easy-to-use watch, that’s also a phone and GPS, to help seniors take meds on time, stay connected with family, and live independently in their home.
  • Rendever – Offers a virtual reality platform to improve patient care and experience by reducing rates of depression, cognitive decline and related issues such as comorbidity.
  • Ivy Solutions – Makes Visitry, an application enabling elders to request face to face visits from vetted volunteers and provides management tools to visitor program administrators.
  • Pong Robotics – Robotic products to help the Baby Boomer generation maintain an independent lifestyle at home.
  • Orbita – Orbita is the first modern, digital home care solution designed to engage and empower both patients and their caregivers dealing with age-related or chronic health issues at home.

Judging Criteria

New products and services driven by emerging technologies are dramatically changing the future of aging services! Innovative products are here to enrich lives and improve quality of care. An esteemed panel of five expert judges (Joseph Coughlin; Robert Danziger; Marty Guay; Steve Kraus & Robin Lipson) recognized three of the pitch presentations with cash prizes based upon the following criteria:

  • Idea / Product – quality of overall concept, viability of product or service
  • Team / Business Model – diversity and strength of team, sales record, funding, pipeline, strategic plan
  • Impact on the Aging Experience – potential to improve quality of life for older adults, caregivers, and/or revolutionize the aging services industry.

The Winner – EchoCare Technologies

The ECHO system developed by Co-founders Rafi Zack and Dr. Yossi Kofman is a connected, machine-learning, Advanced-PERS (Personal Emergency Response System) that is focused specifically on fall detection. Falls are the main concern of family caregivers. According to the CDC, 2.5 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries each year. This particular solution is especially unique because it is based on an RF sensor that doesn’t compromise privacy. Additionally, it boasts the capability of extracting Position, Posture, Motion and Respiration; essential indicators to help detect and trigger alerts for various other emergency situations.

A Special Thanks to the Event Sponsors

Our thanks to the many corporate sponsors supporting this event as well as to the dedicated volunteers representing the Boston Chapter of Aging 2.0 who helped make this event an engaging success. We look forward to continuing activities of the Chapter to support and promote the pioneers of the future of aging originating from New England!

PREMIER SPONSORS

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GENERAL SPONSORS

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Four ways to learn more

Sixty is the new Sixty

Sixty is the new Sixty

By Christine Benton 

Until recently, society, in general, has regarded aging as a problem. This view on aging has impacted all aspects of life for the older generations, including healthcare, the workplace, housing, and end-of-life issues. However, a change in society’s attitude towards aging is gradually taking shape as people are living longer, healthier lives. The realities of modern-day aging are slowly but surely overcoming the various myths relating to this time of life.

It’s Not About Aging: It’s About Living

American culture has for too long glorified youth, resulting in a society-wide meme that growing older is something to be dreaded. Now, aging people themselves are showing the rest of society that they are not going to be consigned to a rocking chair but instead are fully capable of realizing greater potential and seizing new opportunities to learn and grow. Society is being forced to reach a newer, more life-affirming understanding of what getting older is really all about. It’s definitely the right time to reimagine aging so that seniors are regarded as integral and inspirational assets to be leveraged by our evolving society.

What Older People Can Accomplish

It’s a fact that plenty of people hike the Appalachian Trail after the age of fiftythe oldest thru-hiker was a seventy-four-year-old woman. If we want to disrupt or redefine aging we should focus on and celebrate the amazing feats of others who are defying the stereotypes of aegism. Want to get a sense of what is possible? Here is a list of twenty-five older individuals who did not sit around waiting to get older but went out and accomplished a variety of things that they had always wanted to do – 25 Oldest People To Accomplish Amazing Feats.

Against Ageism

If you want to get a quick pulse on what other thought leaders are saying, an influential book is Ashton Applewhite’s engaging work, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. The book is dedicated to Applewhite’s mentor, the pro-aging activist Dr. Robert Butler. It sets out the case for ending age-based discrimination and Applewhite drives home her points with the use of some trenchant language:

  • “My darkest nightmare was the possibility of ending my days drooling under a bad botanical print in some ghastly institutional hallway.”
  • “Take ‘middle age,’ to which so many cling like flotation cushions, although who knows where the middle lies anymore?”
  • “The Helen Mirrens and Judi Denches of the world are forging a footpath that needs to become a highway.”
  • “I used to think that those [‘senior moments’] quips were self-deprecatingly cute, until it dawned on me that when I lost the car keys in high school, I didn’t call it a ‘junior moment.”
  • Applewhite proudly embraces the role of “Old Person in Training,” stating that the process to become one “acknowledges the inevitability of oldness while relegating it to the future, albeit at an ever-smaller remove. It swaps purpose and intent for dread and denial. It connects us empathically with our future selves.”

Is Sixty Really the New Forty?

What about all those ads proclaiming that “fifty is the new thirty” or “sixty is the new forty”? This is a nice sentiment, but, in reality, people in their fifties or sixties face different challenges than the younger people they are being compared to. Their motivations are shaped by the wisdom they have gained from experiencing the ups and downs of life that younger people still have to find. They don’t necessarily want to be thirty again – they are more purposeful individuals because of what they have experienced in the years between thirty and sixty.

A New Third Age

Today’s older people are a generation of makers and doers who continue to explore their possibilities and to celebrate discovery over decline. Their opportunities are not limited by age, and their experiences have real value. Of course, society needs to ensure that Medicare is strong enough to provide people with access to care and services to enable them to lead long, healthy lives; and that Social Security will provide them with the financial support to match their longer lifespans. As Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP states: “At AARP, we truly believe that age and experience can expand life’s possibilities for every member of our society. When we disrupt aging and embrace it as something to look forward to, we can begin to discover the real possibilities for becoming the person we’ve always wanted to be.”

What Can Older People Learn From All This?

  • Own your age. Be proud of telling people that you are seventy-two because the important thing is who you are, and what you do – not how old you are. Embrace your age and feel good about where you are in life.
  • Just as an individual should not be defined by race or sex, don’t let yourself be defined by age. Don’t let society decide what’s possible or not possible for you because of your age.
  • Look forward to your years ahead instead of looking nostalgically backward.

Society’s concept of aging is changing because seniors themselves are forcing it to evolve. “The possibilities for society of this new third age can hardly be seen now, obscured as they are by misconceptions and prejudices –– age-as-‘problem.’ They have to be seen as the solution and not just the problem for change to be possible. And we have to name our own need to move in society in new ways in age to make it happen.” — Betty Friedan, The Fountain of Age, 1993

Bridging Business & Emotional Intelligence

If you have personal experience with Horses and the evolving field of Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL), you are aware of a powerful truism: animals, nature and the non-verbal skills they represent breed an accelerated path toward gaining confidence, patience & knowledge in caregiving.

be-herd

When our education is tied to verbal language (as it nearly always is), our potential to share and absorb information is limited.  Having completed the Master’s Program of the Erickson School’s Management of Aging Services, I can attest to the intellectual and experiential capacities of Dean Judah Ronch and his Faculty, but even the best of academia would agree that the pinnacle of teaching – when hearts and minds are transformed by information sharing – can’t be planned for – sometimes it happens in spite of our best efforts. Interestingly, it did happen recently at the 3rd Annual Memory Care Summit and can be relayed best by highlighting the book ends of an experience that was shared by all at the South Seas Island Resort in Captiva, FL. We may have traveled to a Summit  titled, “Breaking Away from the Pack,” but the outcome of our time together triggered an alternative thought – What would it mean for our Senior Living Industry if we became a Herd instead of a Pack?

Power Outage – the First Book End

If it is true that “words matter”, then Blind Pass on Captiva Island is living up to its name. Over 700 vacationers and residents were without power for almost 12 hours after an alleged intoxicated driver struck a utility pole on Captiva Drive. The South Seas Island Resort was darkened and without power until 7AM on Tuesday – an hour before the Conference was to begin.  It’s pretty common to get a Maslow reference at a conference event no matter what industry is represented. The “hierarchy of needs” is timeless for obvious reasons – and the survival state that a power outage conjures reminds us that our collective consciousness shifts 180 degrees when our environment dramatically changes.

Normalization

As I settled in with my morning coffee, I began the Conference ritual of scanning the room for friends and colleagues as they meandered into to the lobby. When I heard attendee Bob Oriol (CEO of Oriol Healthcare) say something to his neighbor about “self-awareness”, a calm fell over me. I accepted that this might not be a typical “business” conference with empty keywords or hashtags.  Bob caught my attention again mid-morning when he asked an important question: “How do we (or should we) differentiate between Dementia problems vs. Thinking problems?” The answer to this admittedly quasi-rhetorical question is much less important than the spirit of the inquiry. If there was a single theme that was about to emerge from the Conference, it was simply that we all need reserves of patience and education in order to prevent and treat what we might want to call a memory spectrum. While the 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s provide important cues for a diagnosis, there is a silver-ling on the preventative side of the equation – Active Aging and the dimensions of wellness that it proffers hold the key(s) to better health for old and young alike irrespective of a clinical code or label.

In a healthcare system that has been dominated historically by “specialization”, we are reminded that a disease like Alzheimer’s is becoming so pervasive that it will require us to work together not only across multiple disciplines but also more deeply – at a universal (human) level. It is easy to be complacent about some of the other top ten leading causes of death either because we feel more empowered to prevent them or because the emotional impact of the symptoms and caregiving requirements are perceived as having a different scale and quality. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, friends and family of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias provided an estimated 17.9 billion hours of unpaid care in 2014 and an estimated 5.3 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease as of 2015.

When John Erickson, industry pioneer and founder of the Erickson Companies, took the podium for introductory remarks, I was further comforted to hear him proclaim that “aging-in-place” is not a good solution for what ails us. This is of course the challenge that we have charged ourselves with. On the one-hand, we know that we are building properties (need-driven) having limited lifestyle appeal (whether they have memory programs or not) and on the other hand we recognize that the home and community-based setting is poorly suited for aging services “in-place”.

Memory Care Landscape

As CEO of the National Investment Center, Bob Kramer is in a unique position for sharing data metrics as well as his anecdotal personal insights in witnessing the evolution of the Seniors Housing & Care Industry – and notably its cycles surrounding arguably “payer driven” products and services. After sharing some of the emerging trends pertinent to Memory Care as a property-type, Bob stepped away from the NICMAP data to offer his personal observations and to suggest there are three general provider characteristics differentiating new entrants to the emerging Memory Care sector.

  1. New Business Opportunities – entrants principally driven by recognition of the market demand absent specialized programming (the “danger zone”);
  2. Comfort/Safety/Cleanliness – entrants equally alert to the market opportunity and promoting basic services yet absent specialized care capabilities (the “comfort zone”)  –  and
  3. Ongoing Intense Commitment – entrants representing the genuine attributes of customized quality care, progressive program development and customized environments (the “real deal”).

If there was a single soundbite to use as an umbrella takeaway for the 2016 Summit it would be to charge ahead as group three by focusing on

  1. Education and Training of Staff;
  2. Attention to the Physical Environment;
  3. Investment in Changing Ideas/Culture, and
  4. Engaging residents, families and caregivers in a personal way.

Interestingly, when Ryan Novaczyk and Bill Holman shared their own provider experiences with entering the Memory Care market (representing New Perspective Senior Living and Sagepoint Senior Living, respectively) both relayed how the four point process referenced above has expanded beyond the walls of their planned neighborhoods. In summary, the attributes of great care are universal to all populations.  Both Ryan and Bill represent genuine passion driven providers to learn from and to be emulated – the “real-deal”.

Living with ALZ – the Second Book End

Linda MacCallum and her boyfriend Paul Larson joined Dr. Peter Rabins as guests for our final session.  Linda had suffered multiple concussions throughout her life and began to experience severe memory loss in her late forties.  She was subsequently diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease before she was fifty years old. As we listened to her heart wrenching story and she relayed her experiences and emotions, the air became magnetic. After three days of sitting in a confined venue with over fifty other heads, the feeling of a single heart emerged. As I listened to Linda and Paul, my mind’s eye traveled back to comments and questions that I might have made in prior sessions: they all seemed so inconsequential when juxtaposed with her real life story. The survival state that our power outage had conjured may have passed quickly but the human narrative that Linda shared reminded us why were on the island to begin with. I wondered how we would prioritize our daily actions if the spell of these moments lingered. More importantly, what did Linda relay that is actionable for each of us? She needs to have patience, purpose and peace of mind so that she is not a burden to family and friends. She does not want to be reminded of her symptoms and she increasingly wants decisions to be made for her. Perhaps most dramatically, she views the products we provide as being worse than a death sentence.  We need products and solutions that are valued and embraced by individuals like Linda – rather than feared.

Pack vs Herd

Hearing Linda’s emotional story reinforced thinking about why we are in the business we are in and who we really serve.  It ignited the key points presented by Scott Townsley (Industry Professional and Faculty Member) surrounding new Business Models and strategic business directions.  It is clearly a new day for the Senior Living Industry where the traditional product and services approach is being dramatically redefined and redirected by a changing landscape – where who we serve rather than who pays for it drives such change.  We are now well engulfed in the era of the operator who defines our future while the payer influences become subordinate to recognizing and rewarding success.  As we confront these new directions, the “real-deal” providers alert to new ideas, innovation and progressive business development will prevail.  Only by avoiding the “danger zone” and reaching beyond the “comfort zone” will we collectively attain the genuine branding of quality services and compassionate care we strive for.  In coming together, collaboration must displace competition among the “real-deal” constituents to our world.

If collaboration is the driver for marshaling and managing our change landscape, then new technologies and innovation are undoubtedly the fuel sources to fire the engine.  Breaking away from the Pack breeds isolation while cultivating like-minded Herds fosters collaboration and expectedly acceleration.

The most obvious literal distinction between Pack and Herd dynamics is understood by emphasizing the non-predatory and cooperative nature of grazing animals. Of course, the simple contrast of hunting and grazing should be enough to complete the metaphor! When you consider the depth of expertise represented by a Conference like this and couple it with the prescriptive nature of the clear take-away, it becomes evident that we need better distribution channels for knowledge. Summits like this and programs offered by the Erickson School provide an important next step.