Resident Experience

Key Takeaways from Shaping the Future of Senior Care: Life Enrichment Programming for the Next Generation of Residents

July 19, 2023
Host: Elizabeth Audette-Bourdeau
CEO and Co-Founder
Panelist: Marenta Klinger
Director of Resident Life
Holland Home
Panelist: Nathan Castaneda
National Director of Resident Engagement
Aspira Living
Panelist: Stephanie Sanborn
Director of Innovation and Education
Seasons Retirement
Panelist: Melissa Khedar
Director of Life Enrichment
Lifetimes Living Inc.
Panelist: Tanya Snow
Director of Operations
Bria Communities

A new generation of residents is on its way — is your senior living community ready for the influx of baby boomers and their unique set of needs and expectations? In a recent panel webinar hosted by Welbi’s CEO and co-founder Elizabeth Audette-Bourdeau, industry leaders came together to share their predictions for what life enrichment will look like in the future of senior living. They offered their advice and experience on topics ranging from engaging diverse resident populations, providing person-centered care at scale, addressing staffing shortages, and investing in new technologies. 

Below are just a few highlights from the conversation. You can watch the full webinar, Shaping the Future of Senior Care: Life Enrichment Programming for the Next Generation of Residents, to gain even more strategies to implement in your community! 

Topic 1

What are some of the specific challenges you anticipate with the influx of baby boomers in the coming years? How will you address them in your community?

Stephanie Sanborn, Director of Innovation and Education, Seasons Retirement:

“I really think it’s about rethinking aging itself and looking at embracing a culture of empowerment. I think boomers are going to want to be very much involved in the ideation and evaluation of the programming. They’re also wanting and expecting to live well, with a focus on longevity. One of the challenges will be if the staff is ready to embrace that and be prepared to facilitate calendar development with the residents, rather than creating calendars for the residents. The other challenge will be accommodating different generations at the same time, and our teams will need to have the skills to be able to do that.”

Marenta Klinger, Director of Resident Life, Holland Home:

“At Holland Home, we are already trying to navigate that huge generational gap. Just last year, we welcomed residents into our independent living campuses with ages ranging from 60-92. We have mothers and daughters, aunts and nephews all living under the same roof. How do you balance the increasing expectations of those coming in with the increased needs of those who have aged in place in that level of care? Trying to plan programming for two generations will be a huge learning experience.”


Topic 2

What strategies have you found effective for recruiting and retaining staff with the skills to support your vision of life enrichment?

Melissa Khedar, Director of Life Enrichment, Lifetimes Living Inc.:

“When it comes to recruitment, the number one thing I look for is passion. The rest I can teach you, whether it’s through a course or through networking. If you don’t demonstrate that passion, it’s going to trickle down into your program delivery and into your interactions with the residents. You should go to work loving what you’re doing — you can have many degrees and certificates, but if you don’t show that passion, the rest really doesn’t matter.”

Nathan Castaneda, National Director of Resident Engagement, Aspira Living:

“As Melissa said, education is great, but again, it’s the passion. It’s also about looking within your organization to see who you can get involved with resident engagement. Right now, I’m starting initiatives with the housekeepers because they are just the most phenomenal individuals. They understand so much about the residents just by going in to clean their rooms, and they have the patience to hear these individuals’ life stories. One of the big things we struggle with as an organization is engaging with residents who don’t come to programming at all. Look within your organization and find the people with the true passion and patience to listen, because they will make the biggest difference in your residents’ lives.”

Topic 3

Earlier, we touched on innovation and the importance of having the right tools in place. Why are you investing in technology?

Stephanie Sanborn, Director of Innovation and Education, Seasons Retirement:

“Technology is an essential tool in the toolbox to support healthy aging. Technology has been moving exponentially, and I think an organization has to decide where they want to go with it. You can’t embrace it all because you won’t be able to adopt it all — that’s just the reality. But if you have an understanding of what your culture is and what your focus is, then you can embrace technologies that support that. We are looking at technology to help us be more efficient because we are all struggling with staff. How can technology take certain administrative things away from us so our staff can be more resident-facing?”

Tanya Snow, Director of Operations, Bria Communities:

“When it comes to technology, I think it’s important to look to the residents and listen to what they want. We need to address our own internal ageism when it comes to seniors and technology. For example, in our focus group of seven to eight residents, every one of them texts, and I think there was some surprise about how connected seniors are. We can introduce new technology to residents — not just giving it to them, but empowering them to utilize it to make their own lives better for themselves.”

Marenta Klinger, Director of Resident Life, Holland Home:

“Holland Home actually created a Resident Technology Manager position four to five years ago, and that’s been an amazing commitment on the Home’s part. Residents and staff were both vocal about the need for that position. The Resident Technology Manager could easily fill twelve-hour days with one-on-one appointments troubleshooting everything from landline phones to smart-home technology. It has been an amazing investment to support residents in keeping up with the fast pace of changing technology.”  

Didn’t catch the live event? You can see the full webinar by clicking here. Like this article? Make sure to sign up for news and updates from Welbi below!

Katie Stewart

Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.

Holly Mathias

Holly is a member of Welbi’s Marketing team! She has a background in communications and marketing, and is a compassionate individual who loves team work, story telling, and wellness.

Wendy Riopelle

Wendy is a student in the Honours BA in English program at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.

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