The current is changing…

By Steve Moran

Maybe subversive is not quite the right word, but I am seeing a gentle current that I hope will turn into a tidal wave of change in senior living. Some of it is happening in long-established companies and some in new entrants to the senior living space, like Vitality Senior Living.

The Current

The current looks something like this. Senior living needs to be approached as a long-term business not a short- to medium-term investment play. When approached this way there is a much better sense that a big part of the investment formula needs to be the investment in the lives of the people who do the day-to-day work in senior communities from the front-line staff to the executive director.  

This means, over the short term, profits may be less (or it may even take longer to get to profitability) but over the long term, teams will be happier, which means residents will be happier, which means there will be lower turnover and higher occupancy and, over the long term, much higher profits.

Vitality Senior Living

A couple of months ago I was at an Abe’s Garden (not-for-profit memory care community in Nashville) board meeting, and Faith Ott the CEO of Senior Housing Forum partner Sage Age Strategies invited me to dinner saying, “I have some people you have to meet.”

Since that time I have had several conversations with Chris Guay, the president and CEO of Vitality, about their role in the senior living space.  

Prior to taking over the leadership of Vitality, Chris was the Northeast Divisional VP for Brookdale, where he was responsible for 275 communities across 18 states. He is joined by Elliott Westerman, who comes from Holiday Retirement.

Vitality is an expansion of the Gary and Mary West Foundation’s commitment to creating opportunities for seniors to successfully age on their own terms.

The Secret Sauce

Chris and the team at West Partners (affiliated with the foundation) have spent several months thinking about and crafting their operating philosophy and mission. Here is what it looks like:

  1. Awaken Enthusiasm — They believe that enthusiasm and energy for team members, residents and family members is critical to seniors living and aging well and on their own terms.

  2. Motivate Through Service — The belief is that providing an exceptional customer service experience to residents allows residents to live more purposeful lives and gives team members a passion to keep reaching higher.

  3. Celebrate Relationships — From start to finish the reason senior living works is because of relationships between team members, between residents and between the team and residents. These relationships are critical to everything that Vitality does.

  4. Create Opportunities — In the view of Vitality leadership, senior living should be seen by both residents and team members as a platform of opportunities, to grow and to experience new things.

  5. Inspire Giving — There is clear evidence that residents and team members who give to their broader community live better.

  6. Pioneer Change — Senior living is a great industry that is doing wonderful things for seniors and team members and yet, there is an equal understanding that there are opportunities to find new and better ways of doing things, inside and outside of the industry.


Vitality is currently exploring a number of acquisition and development opportunities. They will be a great addition to our ecosystem and will be part of that current that is making our industry stronger.

You can see their press release and mission documents below.

Vitality Press Release March 2016 by seniorhousingforum

Vitality Mission, Vision & Amp; Pillars