LeadingAge Magazine · March-April 2018 • Volume 08 • Number 02

Are we what we think we are?

Are we what we think we should be?

Those may be the kinds of questions you would expect to hear at a self-help seminar, but don’t worry: There will be no amateur psychologizing here.

Gene Mitchell
Gene Mitchell

Instead, those are questions that forward-thinking boards and executives ask about their organizations. LeadingAge members track the trends that drive our field every day. They recognize and think about the changing landscape they will face in years to come, and we’re seeing a growing number of them make significant changes to adapt.

I think of this issue’s theme, “Your Best Foot Forward,” as an examination of the way we relate to the world, and our place in it. What can we do to make ourselves the best we can be, and to make sure consumers understand us the way we want to be understood? How can we adapt when our customers’ needs and interests begin to diverge from what they once were?

In the first feature article of this issue, for instance, we learn about a LeadingAge-member organization that has made dramatic changes in its business model, and those changes were not done painlessly. As the CEO told us, “When you listen to consumers you might end up hearing something you don’t want to hear.” This member listened anyway, and facing what was learned, it re-oriented itself for the better. Read “Do Consumers See You as a Good Value?” for the story.

A communications strategy is a prerequisite for putting your best foot forward. Is it intentional? Is it proactive? Do its many parts work seamlessly together? See “Is Your Communications Strategy Up to Date?” for best practices in making sure your message is understood loud and clear.

As the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was being debated, nonprofits in all fields looked on anxiously because of the likely reduction in charitable giving it would cause. The tax changes have put a new focus on the role of philanthropy for nonprofit providers—whether related to their ability to fund foundations or launch new projects needing capital—or in some cases, their ability to keep the lights on and the doors open. Read “Demonstrating Value to Donors” to see how LeadingAge members make their case to donors, showing how their gifts help nonprofit providers make lives better, both inside and outside the walls.

Marketing, like organizational communications, is another way your organization presents its face to the world. A digital world requires a digital approach to marketing, and many providers have been slow to take that step. Read “Digital Marketing Comes Into Its Own in Aging Services” to see how to get started.

If there’s a place that our field has been putting its best foot forward collectively—and must continue to do so—it is in the public discussion over funding of long-term services and supports (LTSS). It’s a long game that must be played, but LeadingAge has been studying alternatives and proposing approaches for years, and intends to stay in the middle of the policy debate. See “Financing Long-Term Services and Supports: The Case for an Insurance Approach.” In this article, we focus on a LTSS funding approach co-developed by Marc Cohen, who is now a member of the LeadingAge family as co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston. The article links papers by Cohen and by LeadingAge. Members interested in the topic are encouraged to read both proposals in full.

Person-Centered Care Starts With a Conversation” tells the story of a LeadingAge member that uses a survey tool called the Preferences for Everyday Living Inventory© to learn what residents and clients really want. The tool comes in 2 versions, to serve both nursing home residents and home and community-based services clients.

The face of our field isn’t merely a matter of marketing or communication. It’s also about humanity, generosity, courage and commitment to service. “Resilience and Generosity in the Face of Disaster” is a look at the suffering by many LeadingAge members during the deadly hurricanes, floods, fires and mudslides of 2017 and early 2018. You’ll get a picture of the courage and dedication of those members caught in harm’s way, and of the generous spirit of others who contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to help relieve the suffering.

The Montessori Approach: Purposeful Living in Memory Care” is a member-written article exemplifying another way our members put their best foot forward: innovative care. Learn how this member is using the Montessori approach, which has been adapted for those with dementia, to promote and preserve quality of life.

Every year, Fellows of the Larry Minnix Leadership Academy go through a “study circle” process. In “The Power of a Circle” you will learn how the latest class of Fellows used the process to learn more about themselves and the possibilities of their work.

In “Doctors, Dancers and Druggists: These are the People We Serve,” you’ll read about a group of remarkable people who live in LeadingAge-member communities. See our latest installment of the member-written “People We Serve” series.

Finally, read “This I Have Learned” for the latest in a series of reflective articles written by professionals in our field. This article’s author, despite years of experience in senior services, was shocked by the difficulty and stress of becoming a family caregiver.

Gene Mitchell is editor of LeadingAge magazine.