The massive new Brookdale Senior Living has the potential to do great things for the elders of this country and for the senior living industry.
The morning after the Brookdale Emeritus announcement I knocked out a quick article speculating as to what it might mean. I have now had some time to think some more about the merger. I would love to do an interview with Andy Smith, the CEO. I would explore his dreams and hopes for the this new, massive entity. There is great potential here for making the new Brookdale even better for two or three hundred thousand people, including residents, family members, employees and vendors.
Here is what I wish he would say
I want to preface this by saying that I do not mean to imply that either Brookdale or Emeritus are not already doing a good job of providing care to residents. I have had numerous encounters with both Brookdale and Emeritus teams members and know them to be compassionate passionate caring professionals.
- To Shareholders: We are not going to chase quarter to quarter profits. In fact as we move though the next one to three years we will remain financially very healthy but we are likely to see a short-term drop in profitability and net cash flow.
We know, though, that creating a culture of excellent care for our residents will, over time, add tremendous value to our shareholders because providing quality care always flows to the bottom line.
- Even though we are a big company we are going to behave as a family of small companies which means we are going to give divisions, regions and local communities maximum freedom and flexibility to meet the needs of their local marketplace, families and team members. The management structure will exist first and foremost to be a resource, for innovation and ideas that allow local management to do what they do best.
This is not to say we will not have any accountability, because we will expect excellence in resident care and reasonableness in managing expenses.
- We are going to make an absolute commitment to person centered care and embrace a person centered care philosophy by adopting The Eden Alternative or a similar program.
- We are committed to having fun on this journey.
- We are committed to making every Brookdale location a place where people are happy to come to work each day.
- We want to hear any and all ideas about how to do what we do better. Not all will be adopted, of course, but every single one will get senior consideration.
- We are committed to figuring out how to give each of the elders we serve opportunities to learn, to make new friends and to give back each and every day.
That’s it. That is a Brookdale I would love to work for. That is a Brookdale that would make the whole of senior living look good. That is a Brookdale that would prove, without a doubt, that a “for profit” company can do as good or better than a “not-for-profit” company. Do you have anything to add? or subtract?
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Thanks – Steve – I hope they implement all of your suggestions
I want to add this suggestion:
We are committed to providing the best possible care for our residents with Dementia. We will bring in the best technologies and most importantly – we will hire SPECIALLY trained staff to work very closely with our residents who have dementia. We will also create special dementia care units which will incorporate the latest designs and features for dementia care
Steve, I know you replied several weeks ago that you would get back to me. I understand your journey and what revelations it has brought so far. HOWEVER, I am an INNOVATIVE vendor that you should be passionate about as well. My Body Up Evolution that I import from Greece is selling, sparingly, by http://www.activeforever.com. I will not survive as a company without regional/national awareness being raised. THAT is the bottom line. I do not expect large profits; only to break even in 2014. I cannot place any more 90 day advance orders without increased awareness, thereby ditching an
INNOVATIVE device to increase patient & caregiver safety and DIGNITY. Don
Love the additional suggestion regarding dementia. So much new technology exists today!
Steve, if they can get item #2 implemented, they will be far ahead of other large companies that are not very flexible in this area. They often get sold out to their “systems” and “check lists” before being truly responsive. I hope they can make it happen.
Businesses that put those they serve first, and that second foster an empowering environment in which employees thrive, generally prosper.
The rule, too, in business is “you snooze, you lose,” meaning that competitors are always ready to leapfrog conventional thinking and the status quo. For senior services the threat is from technology.
The first enterprise to effectively deploy technological support to improve the productivity of a caring, dedicated staff, will lead the way forward into the 21st century of senior living and senior services. Maybe it will be Brookdale. Maybe it will be an organization that has yet to rise to public awareness.
If public trust is gained by commitment to those served, and if employees find rewarding careers and development opportunities in an enterprise, then the marketing takes care of itself — word of mouth and reputation are powerful tools — and the finances will prosper.
Many people who work in the senior care industry are wondering what the landscape will look like with one firm with such a large presence. I would encourage professionals in the industry to start with the customer vs. what will Brookdale do.
The customers in the market for senior housing have criteria. How many of them care if the provider is the largest in the nation? Is this a selection criteria? They care about the services delivered at the local level. Big or small it comes down to the person in your room or cooking your meal. That is challenge for any sized firm.
Also innovation is being commented above, but that is not domain of just large companies. It is actually more likely to come from smaller and more nimbler firms. The one thing that Brookdale will have a distinct advantage when it comes to customers is branding. It will be more aware due to the ability to conduct marketing via multiple channels. Yet, does that really matter to a customer? The net impact could be a positive for all providers large and small. The customer will say…”Hey Brookdale is a place for senior housing, who else does this?” The thought that a perspective resident would not look elsewhere is very low. This is not a product like fast food, retail or banking that demands a large distribution network. Seniors care what is in their community vs. the nation when it comes to housing.
Lastly the comments about profitability need to be scrutinized. Brookdale is not a profitable company when you view the income statement. http://finance.yahoo.com/q/is?s=BKD+Income+Statement&annual . While they generated an operating profit, their interest expense has created a loss for year after year. Also this merger will bring on more debt. The reality is this firm is owned more by banks than shareholders.
Before I reply, a quick disclaimer. Our company (It’s Never 2 Late) is thrilled to be a partner / vendor for Brookdale, they will have our adaptive computer systems in close to 400 of their communities by year end.
That being said, my personal experience, both as a vendor but also as an observer, is that Brookdale already is doing a lot of things you are suggesting. I can only use my own experience as a barometer relative to the industry. I founded iN2L 15 years ago passionately believing that older adults, regardless of any physical and / or cognitive disabilites, should have the same opportunities to connect through technology that we all take for granted. Organizations all over the country talk about putting their residents first, but when it comes to investing in that philosophy the words often times become hollow. Many, if not most, organizations hide behind waiting for research, demanding a bullet proof roi calculation, a lot of excuses which leave the residents they serve often times doing the same activities and therapy they were 20 years ago. (delightfully we have over 1300 customers not thinking that way!)
To Brookdale’s credit, and commendable guts, they jumped in full bore with bringing resident based technology into their dementia specific Clare Bridge communities. From day one they say the benefits of changing the lives of their most vulnerable population, and the added plus of changing the relationship between these residents, their families and staff. It has been a remarkable experience to see first hand.
I have sat in probably 10-15 board rooms of many of the nations largest nursing home and assisted living providers, and Brookdale has been rare in stepping up to the plate and putting their money where their mission statement is. They constantly challenge us to make our product better, and improve the resident experience. It has been an honor to work with their upper management, their dementia specialists (overseen by their brilliant VP of dementia care- Juliet Holt) and the hundreds of staff in the trenches who have made our systems sing with their residents.
I, for one, hope they keep doing more of the same!
Jack York / Founder – It’s Never 2 Late
These are wonderful, hope it will be implemented soon. Thanks for the effort Steve..
It’s great to know that about Brookdale, Jack. Thanks for sharing your experience,
Steve, Your dream Brookdale is the Brookdale I already work for. Amazing company, passionate and caring for our residents and associates.
I have worked for Brookdale for ten years as a Campus Sales and Marketing Director and I believe that your wish list is already in place in Brookdale’s mission, culture and actions. I chose to work with Brookdale because of their philosophical commitment to serving those residents struggling with dementia.
It is rare to have so many excellent Senior Living solutions for families together in one company.
Looking forward to more wonderful moments…..