Redefining Senior Living: That Moment You Realize You’re a Part of Something Beyond Better
I took a campaigns class my senior year of college where we were assigned real clients. Mine was the marketing director at a local senior living facility who was in the beginning stages of rebranding. This was the first time I heard the term “person-centered care”. And the first time I was introduced to an organization called The Green House Project. Their mission is to partner with organizations, advocates, and communities to lead the transformation of institutional long-term care settings. I was 23 at the time and was so green to the topic—but knew it was something big—and in hindsight, it was foreshadowing the road ahead.
The Aha Moment
Fast forward to 2010, where I was introduced to one of my very first clients, Jewish Senior Life (JSL). They had the same type of vision, only theirs was much larger. They were about to embark on an $83 million dollar renovation project to ensure their long-term care setting evolved and aligned with their legacy of person-centered care. Their plan was to build three, three-story homes, where each floor would function as its own small home.
And guess who came back into the picture to help them lead the transformation? The Green House Project. That’s when the dots started to connect early on.
Building for the Future
Our partnership with the Jewish Senior Life Foundation on this initiative began in 2010 as well. We worked with them to develop a capital campaign that would help them fund the largest Green House community in the United States and we stood by them through that process until they broke ground on June 16, 2016. That day was not only huge for JSL, but for our community. It was also a perfect example of what happens when PR, marketing and interactive truly integrate. The press event was surreal for me—so I can only imagine how our clients felt, but based on their reactions, they felt the same way only 100 times over. We had every news station there—some live streaming, live social feeds, an online donation portal and over 400 attendees. It was an amazing day.
One of the speakers at the press event was Susan Ryan, Senior Director of The Green House Project. She was taken back by the event as well and all the work leading up to it. So much that she asked JSL and us to present at their 2016 Annual Meeting “Beyond Better” in New Jersey, on November 15, which also happened to be the same day I was hired at Roberts 6 years prior.
We had the opportunity to share our story and teach other senior living communities across the country at various stages of their own transformation how to do the same. We had a packed room—and that surreal feeling I had at groundbreaking came back, but this time took a new shape.
Our clients were celebrities almost and we got to walk next to them, unified, as thought leaders. I already knew Jewish Senior Life was locally—but this was national. It was the moment I truly, truly realized our community, here in Rochester, NY, was a part of something much bigger and a key player in transforming how we as a nation perceive aging.
It’s looked at as a bad thing by so many—even myself at times, but it shouldn’t be. We should be embracing it. One organization shared a story about the world’s oldest blogger, Ruth—she outlived her entire family and still kept blogging and inspiring others. My favorite quote from her was “you gotta oil your mind.” And she’s right. We need to embrace aging and keep our minds oiled, like Ruth and so many others are—our bodies speak our minds.