Tag Archive for: Bill Thomas

alternatives for senior living

Dr. Bill Thomas Leads the Way with Better Alternatives for Senior Living

Geriatrician Bill Thomas is renowned for his innovative thinking, which has helped transform the industry’s understanding of aging, aging services, and senior living. Dr. Thomas is a Nexus Insights Fellow and founder of The Eden Alternative, The Green House Project, and Minka. Not one to rest on his laurels, Thomas recently traveled the country, talking with elders and their care partners in more than 125 cities. He learned about their hopes and fears, and listened to their stories. What did he discover? That people want better alternatives for senior living. “It turns out that older people pretty much want what everyone else wants: to belong to a community that includes people of all ages and remain connected to the living world,” Thomas said.

He took the insights gained during his travels to apply towards three important initiatives: Lifespark, Kallimos Communities, and Canopy. Each one designed to upend traditional approaches to senior living. Each one is designed to put the resident at the center of the solution.

Thomas has recently been named the Chief Independence Officer of Lifespark, a company taking a state-of-the-art approach to senior housing and services. This title reflects Lifespark’s approach to seniors, and their efforts to improve quality of life for seniors, by providing a more holistic and wellness-centered experience. Lifespark integrates housing with home and community-based services, and recognizes the uniqueness of each resident and their individual life goals.

Lifespark acquired Tealwood Senior Living, a Minnesota-based company with 35 senior living communities across Minnesota and Wisconsin. Included are three communities offering skilled nursing services, where Lifespark plans to test its innovative approach. The goal is to provide continuity of care, to make it possible for residents to receive care in their own homes, and to reduce the need for care at hospitals or clinics. The result will help seniors retain their independence longer, be healthier and lead richer lives.

“One-hundred percent of the people living in [senior living communities] need access to primary care, and over time an increasingly high percentage of them need access to supports and services,” said Thomas in an interview with Senior Housing News. “What if a provider of housing is able to wrap the housing access around to primary care and supported services? That’s what’s coming down the pike.”

Thomas’s second initiative is Kallimos Communities, an affordable multi-generational community. The vision for Kallimos is to improve wellness and reduce loneliness for its residents at an affordable cost, by encouraging neighborliness and multigenerational shared housing. “Some of the loneliest elders in America live at home on streets filled with houses but without friends, family, or neighbors as part of their daily life,” Thomas said. “Large senior living buildings offer a solution for some but can be expensive and often carry the stigma of being “old folks’ homes.”

“Let’s create a model that’s actually based on one of the oldest ideas we have, which is people living in their own homes.” –  Dr. Bill Thomas

Each Kallimos community consists of “pocket neighborhoods,” which will have up to 50 small homes clustered around a shared green space. The communities will include public amenities, such as small shops for basic goods and services, gathering areas and swimming pools. Along with traditional administrative staff, the communities will include “weavers”, designated staff who have the job of  encouraging connections among residents, and supporting residents in achieving their health and life goals. Additional staff known as “keepers” will maintain the indoor and outdoor areas, and may be responsible for cooking and gardening.

Two initial Kallimos communities in Colorado and Texas are in early stages of development. The design is based on a set of principles introduced by Thomas, and further developed by the University of Southern Indiana, called MAGIC (multi-ability, multi-generational, inclusive communities.) The homes will be compact, and designed with features and technology that will support aging in place.

The COVID-19 pandemic also cast a glaring spotlight on disadvantages of traditional senior living, with elders clustered together in one large building. This clustering put elderly residents, who were in the highest risk category for severe illness and death from the disease, at a much greater risk for exposure to the disease.

Deinstitutionalization of the nation’s nursing homes was a clear answer which led to Dr. Thomas’ involvement in Canopy, a joint project with Signature Healthcare. Canopy has many similarities to Kallimos. Canopy communities are a cluster of small, close together ADA-accessible houses, focusing on the importance of neighborhoods. Services, such as assistance with many activities of daily living, is typically a component of nursing home living. For people living in Canopy, services will be provided efficiently within the residents’ homes. And in many cases, neighbors can help neighbors.

“I’m saying, let’s go beyond, let’s move past the era of mass institutionalization,” said Thomas, in an interview with Politico. “Let’s create a model that’s actually based on one of the oldest ideas we have, which is people living in their own homes.”

In fact, funding for non-medical services, such as rides to the grocery store, help prepping meals, and meal delivery, have recently started being covered by private Medicare plans. The trend toward increasing coverage of home and community-based services (HCBS) is expected to continue. “The pendulum’s swinging to home and community-based services,” said Thomas. “And in order to make those services really work, we need better homes and better communities — and that’s what Canopy is designed to provide.”

Want to be notified when a new blog is posted? Subscribe to our blog and receive posts in your inbox.

Stop calling them facilities

Why are We Still Dropping the “F-Bomb”?

If you’ve seen the movie A Christmas Story, you likely remember the scene in which 9-year-old Ralphie is helping his dad change a tire on the side of the road on a dark snowy night. Ralphie is so excited to help but he drops the lug nuts and loses them in the snow. In frustration, he yells out “Fuuuuudggge!” Ralphie then explains through narration, “…only I didn’t say fudge. I said THE word. The queen mother of all dirty words – the F-dash-dash-dash word!” Ralphie ends up being punished with a bar of soap in his mouth.

That’s how we should view the word ‘facility’. As the queen mother of all dirty words: the F-bomb.

Do you dream of living in a facility? Of course not! Facilities are cold institutions where humanity and the human spirit wither and die. Why then do we use this awful term to describe the places older people live and receive support? It denigrates residents and team members alike, yet it’s sprinkled generously throughout the narrative of senior living – by government regulators, by leaders in the field, and even by people living and working in communities.

At Christian Living Communities-Cappella Living Solutions, we’re on a mission to ban the F-bomb because, as Dr. Bill Thomas, Founder of the Eden Alternative, has said time and time again, “words make worlds”.

Our words drive our beliefs and behaviors. Call a building a facility and people will act like they live and work in a facility. Call it a community and the seeds of change are planted.

Community is a word filled with promise, with hope, and with citizenship. In a community everyone is valued and has a role to play. This is the type of culture we strive to build in each CLC-Cappella community. Yes, we provide excellent care and services, but we also purposefully create environments where each person has autonomy, a deep sense of belonging, continued growth and meaningful purpose.

It’s time to eradicate “facility” from our vocabulary and start using words that honor elderhood. So, bust out the soap, implement a “swear jar” if you want. Let’s start changing our world through the words we use.

Written by: Jill Vitale-Aussem, President and CEO of CLC-Cappella Living Solutions and Nexus Insights Fellow

Originally posted in Christian Living Communities.

Want to be notified when a new blog is posted? Subscribe to our blog and receive posts in your inbox.

Nexus Fellow

Nexus Fellow Flash Bulletin – March 2021

COVID has caused dramatic disruption in our education and healthcare systems and long term care environments. We wear masks, we distance, we stay home. So what have we learned? How can we come out stronger on the other side? Despite the massive challenges and barriers to implementation, there is a strong sense of hope on the horizon.

“Out of the tragedy of COVID, there are a lot of silver linings, a lot of good things we’re learning. Let’s seize the opportunity from the crisis so we can say we learned from it, and we won’t be here a year or two from now saying that nothing is different.” Nexus Founder & Fellow, Bob Kramer

While the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the seniors housing and long-term care industry, it’s also shed a big spotlight on this industry like never before. And that has advantages. After all, how could anyone identify a problem if they aren’t looking. People are paying attention now, and if we take this opportunity and make the changes needed, the senior living and long-term care industry will vastly improve post-pandemic.

Our Nexus Fellows are front and center. They’re experts, thinkers and entrepreneurs, bringing fresh ideas and important insights to the industry at this critical time.

What’s the latest? Here’s a Nexus Fellow Flash Bulletin:

  • Bob Kramer, Founder and Fellow of Nexus Insights joined Jocelyn Dorsey, Becky Kurtz, Elise Eplan and Deke Cateau on a panel last month for A.G. Rhodes Living Well-Virtual to discuss the stark realities of what is happening with COVID19, aging, and in the senior housing world. “What became clear in our conversation is that, despite the overwhelming challenges and difficulty in pandemic protocols and vaccine strategies, there was a sense of hope throughout.
  • Nexus Fellow Kelsey Mellard, CEO of Sitka, announced that Sitka has raised $14 million in Series A financing led by Venrock, with participation from existing investors Optum Ventures, Homebrew, First Round Capital, and Lifeforce Capital. This round of funding will enable Sitka to accelerate product development and expand growth with new and existing partners.
  • Jill Vitale-Aussem, president and CEO of Christian Living Communities, and Nexus Insights Fellow, was featured in a McKnight’s Senior Living piece on how the senior living industry needs to change. “We need meaningful purpose in our lives. We don’t need to live in a hotel. We need to belong…to continue growing and learning…I am a huge proponent of shifting our thinking of residents as customers, which really creates helplessness, and moving to a model of citizenship”
  • In an op-ed piece in The Dallas Morning News, Jacquelyn Kung, CEO of Senior Care Group at Activated Insights and a Nexus Insights Fellow, with Nexus Insights Founder and Fellow Bob Kramer and author Ed Frauenheim offered five practical solutions for “repairing and renewing the industry.”
  • In a recent interview, Jody Holtzman cited four important trends to consider as we embark on a rebuild of a broken industry. Three of them are driving a changing view of health: the expanding holistic view of health that started with a focus on social determinants; the growing list of non-traditional supplemental benefits reimbursed by CMS; and, the increasing centrality of the home as the locus of health, care, and connected living. These are tempered however by a counter-trend: the slow uptake and limited usage of new supplemental benefits.
  • In a recent article for the journal Health Affairs, Nexus Fellow David Grabowski, along with Charlene Harrington, Anne Montgomery, Dr. Terris King, Sc.D., and Mike Wasserman, discussed recommendations for changes to public policy that would “make ownership, management, and financing more transparent and accountable to improve US nursing home care.”
  • In his latest piece on the SmartLiving 360 blog, Nexus Fellow Ryan Frederick explains that while Zillow provides comprehensive information about homes to purchase or rent, it can’t answer the question of what happens when you lose electricity and water for days, as happened in Texas recently. Whether neighbors come together as a community to help each other through the crisis has a big impact on whether you’ve chosen the right place to live.
  • Sarah Thomas, CEO of Delight by Design and Nexus Fellow, was keynote speaker at the Rehab Tech Summit in February. In her speech titled, Designing the Future: Creating Your Own Path Through a Lens of Innovation, she said,  “It’s time we challenge our own views on aging. As we design products, services, spaces and communities we must design for ALL. Our designs should delight our consumers at every age. It was such a pleasure to share my professional journey that has taken me around the world changing the global perspectives on aging.”
  • Caroline Pearson recently completed a project looking at consumer experience measures for Medicare Advantage plans. The report recommendations holding plans accountable for aspects of consumer experience that are meaningful to beneficiaries and within the health plans’ control to improve. Caroline’s team at NORC continues to examine the impact of COVID-19 on older adults in seniors housing. Look for their report due out soon.
  • Dr. Bill Thomas will be featured in the 30th Annual Aging Well Conference hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Professional and Continuing Education Office on April 23 & 30. In his keynote, Dr. Thomas will deliver a multi-part interactive keynote “What if Everything we Know About Aging is Wrong?” followed by a Q&A session. In his breakout session “MAGIC:  Exploring Intergenerational Communities,” Dr. Thomas will share new concepts in Multi-Ability, Multi-Generational, Inclusive Communities that brings together people of different ages, abilities, and backgrounds.

Stay connected and engaged with our Nexus Fellows. Subscribe to our newsletter.

Tag Archive for: Bill Thomas

Nothing Found

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria