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Benedictine Medical Leader Contributes To National Task Force On Senior Living

Benedictine chief medical officer, Neal Buddensiek, MD, CMD, Obl. SB, joined thought leaders from around North America—providers of housing and services for older adults—to create strategies and tactics to help all segments of the senior living industry emerge from being locked down during the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) created the task force with the goal of forging a path towards the “next normal” for senior living…to create strategies and tactics to maintain safety and reinvigorate lifestyles for older adults living in age restricted communities and apartments.

The strategies developed are intended to trigger actions that individual organizations can execute now. Underneath each strategy are tactics and tasks that reflect what organizations can do today, and what they could do to prepare for the midterm and long-term lifestyles necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The value proposition of Benedictine Living Communities now and into the future is critically intertwined with supporting our residents’ seven dimensions of wellness, which emphasizes health and well-being,” said Dr. Buddensiek. “I was excited to participate in this important work affecting all senior living organizations throughout the U.S.”

“To emphasize the differences among the types of senior living options (for example, active adult, independent living, assisted living, nursing and memory care),” said task force organizer Colin Milner, CEO of International Council on Active Aging, “task force members suggested structural changes that could renew the value proposition of senior living at the same time organizations strive to ensure the health and well-being of residents, staff and family.”

The six strategies can apply to many types of organizations:

Design, re-design and/or renovate exteriors and interiors of buildings. The value of transitioning indoor and outdoor spaces to enable physical distancing and innovative service delivery is suggested, along with identification of infrastructure and renovations that combine healthy approaches with preparation for potential emergencies.

Develop purpose-driven, caring, passionate staff. Because staff members are valuable contributors to the workplace culture and the lives of older adults, there is a collection of options for organizational structures, professional growth and recognition.

Provide technology to increase connections, aid efficiency and optimize health. The pandemic caused an immediate, wholehearted shift to delivering messages, programs and health care through in-house portals, telehealth, and internet services. Ideas for implementation assume that will likely be a future need.

Develop the culture of positive aging, framed by all the dimensions of wellness. Approaches to counteract stereotypical attitudes toward older adults and reset organizational priorities are offered, based in a philosophy of helping residents be as independent as possible and engaged in the life of their communities.

Establish trust by being prepared to respond to emergencies and unexpected events. One aspect of the value of senior living is the ability of organizations to be prepared to immediately respond to an emergency, and to be transparent in communicating the status of residents and staff.
Update perceptions to reinforce the new value proposition of each type of senior living. Ideas for wording and stories that organizations can use to relay how the lives of residents were protected during the pandemic while services continued to be delivered, with a call to educate the public about the differences among types of properties.

Read more about these efforts in the white paper, “Creating a path towards the next normal in senior living,” available at https://www.icaa.cc//listing.php?type=white_papers.