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Six ways senior living leaders can adapt their thinking to catalyze transformation

November 9, 2022 Article 3 min read
Authors:
Dana Wollschlager Plante Moran Living Forward
The actions senior living leaders take now will set the stage for how their organizations transform and thrive into the future. Success will require a fundamental shift in the way leaders approach their business.
Senior living business people and board members attending a strategic planning meeting in a board room

As senior living and care providers slowly pivot away from crisis-mode, it’s clear we’ll be facing a new normal rather than business as usual. The actions leaders take now will set the stage for how their organizations emerge from this crisis. Success will require a fundamental shift in the way leaders approach their business — a shift that may be especially difficult for those used to the slower pace of nonprofits.

Catalyzing transformation

There are six ways leaders need to adapt their thinking to catalyze transformation within their organization.

Be bold — ask the critical questions

The first step to transformational growth is to ask the uncomfortable question, “What needs to change within our communities?” Leaders should scrutinize their operations, procedures, culture, technology, design and the built environment, unit mix, staffing model, pricing … the list should be exhaustive of every function of your organization. Just because you’ve always done something some way doesn’t mean it should remain that way. In fact, familiarity and longevity might make a process even more suspect.

Be thoughtful — start with strategic planning

Strategic planning is a critical first step toward meaningful transformation, allowing organizational leaders to align on the vision, goals, and objectives that will guide decision-making and hone priorities. This process requires an analysis of internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats to guide planning that will transform your organization into a stronger, nimbler one. As part of those discussions, consider policies and regulations, economic trends, and broader senior living industry trends that may affect any long-term decision-making.

Be adaptable — consider diversification of portfolio and position

Does your organization have too much of one product and service? Many organizations are evaluating the product and revenue mix in light of the pandemic. Especially as consumers in the market continue to show their preference for assisted living and independent living over nursing homes, you’ll need to consider reducing the number of skilled nursing beds on your campus. A market study will shed light on the demand and supply metrics in your market to uncover where you may be overbuilt or missing opportunities.

Be inclusive — prioritize leadership diversification

According to research, diverse teams are better at making decisions 87% of the time over non-diverse teams. Diversity of skillsets, diversity of thought, and diversity of leadership will help make your organization stronger. Consider looking outside of our industry for new talent and broadening your diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives for new leadership candidates.

Be educated — provide ongoing board education

Leaders must make ongoing education a priority for the organization’s board members. Your board members generally do not work in our industry, so they don’t have firsthand knowledge of the day-to-day operations and challenges we face. Making sure they are abreast of current factors influencing the senior living and care industry will go a long way to helping them make informed, timely decisions when necessary.

We offer board retreats to bring your board members up to speed on important market trends. Contact us to learn more.

Be prepared — think about succession planning

If you’d like to see your organization remain viable over the next 10, 20, 30 years, succession planning is key. Succession planning is often only addressed when change is imminent or in response to an unexpected crisis or staff departure. Starting early not only allows for better planning but fosters talent development at a more realistic and achievable pace. If your organization has not focused on building a team behind the current leadership, now is the time to build a plan. (Your DEI efforts factor into this as well!)

Leading the change

Now more than ever, the market is demanding leaders adapt if they want their mission to survive and thrive. This kind of change will not happen overnight. The process to become more bold, thoughtful, adaptable, inclusive, educated, and prepared is one started with optimism and continued with intentionality. Senior living organizations will become heathier and stronger if we commit to shedding the expectations of the past, challenging the status quo, and blazing a trail toward transformation.

Our senior living and care experts have led dozens of communities through strategic planning and master planning that has allowed them to transform their organization and adapt for the future. If you’d like to discuss your organization’s future, please reach out.

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