LeadingAge Magazine · September/October 2013 • Volume 03 • Number 05

LeadingAge Awards Winners for 2013: Expanding the Possibilities for Aging

August 25, 2013 | by Deborah Cloud

Meet the recipients of this year’s LeadingAge Awards.

LeadingAge takes great pride in recognizing individuals and organizations that are expanding the world of possibilities for aging. Our award winners combine leadership, creativity and commitment to make great strides in the field. Through these awards, we pay tribute to their work and offer public recognition from their peers. We hope these award winners will inspire others to achieve ever-higher levels of innovation and excellence.

Barry Berman
Chelsea Jewish Foundation
Chelsea, MA

Barry Berman has been the leader of many “firsts.” He led the development of his state’s first mixed-income assisted living. He developed the first multi-story Green House® in an urban, low-income neighborhood. A true visionary and risk taker, he and his skilled team have truly revolutionized housing and care environments for a younger disabled population by creating the first fully automated ALS and MS residence.

By pushing the envelope on care models and financing programs, Barry Berman has proven that with determination, anything is possible. One resident observes, “Even though I am paralyzed and unable to speak, I have meaningful freedom and independence all day long. Because of Barry, I am not living in a chronic hospital, bedbound and left to stare at the ceiling …”

Berman’s approach is holistic, recognizing that excellent, person-centered care takes more than a state-of-the-art building. Even more critical is a compassionate, skilled and motivated caregiving staff. When giving a tour of the award-winning Leonard Florence Center for Living, Berman reflects, “There is not a day that goes by that I do not ask the residents here if there is anything more that we can do, short of curing the horrible disease they live with, to improve their lives.” This is the singular question that has consistently driven Berman throughout his professional career: How can we do better to serve those entrusted to our care?

Hearth, Inc.
Boston, MA

For more than 20 years, Hearth has addressed elder homelessness in the Greater Boston area by providing housing and supportive services to elders in need. The Hearth model works. It has effectively removed low-income, multiply challenged, frail elders from homeless shelters, precarious living arrangements and the streets and placed them in appropriate, permanent homes. Hearth’s sole focus is a comprehensive approach to ending elder homelessness. The organization:

  • Develops, operates, and locates affordable housing for homeless and low-income elders.
  • Provides and links vulnerable elders with services integral to their well-being.
  • Engages in research and advocacy to elevate the issue of elder homelessness to local, regional and national policy forums for discussion and action.

Hearth owns or operates 196 units of permanent, supportive housing in eight locations in the Greater Boston area. Its outreach program provides housing search and stabilization services to homeless older adults and homelessness prevention services to those experiencing housing instability.

Springfield, VA

Greenspring employees enjoy a workplace culture that promotes career development of staff at all levels. In 2012, employees completed 13,133 training hours at Greenspring. External professional development is offered in the form of online seminars, off-site classes, industry events and professional certifications. In addition, a buddy program orients new employees to the Greenspring culture, and job shadowing helps staff learn and exchange ideas. Annual tuition reimbursement is provided up to $4,500 for full-time and $3,500 for part-time employees.

GAIN (Growing Associates in Nursing) employees receive financial and moral support to complete their desired program and prepare for advancement at Greenspring. Tuition is paid 100% in accredited nursing programs with pre-approval screening requirements. ESL is a resident-run program in which residents help employees develop their English fluency.

Greenspring’s retention rate is 94%, and 44% of the workforce has been employed for five or more years.

Friends Life Care
Plymouth Meeting, PA

Understanding the psychographics of baby boomers, Friends Life Care has introduced its most recent innovation: the VigR program (an acronym for vitality, independence, growth and resilience). Rooted in the latest aging science, the program launched in 2011 after thorough testing. It offers participating members educational workshops, extensive health information, a vibrant online community, risk and health assessment tools and follow-up, prevention programs, and a growing array of other services to improve health, vitality and longevity.

The VigR program enlists experts in such fields as nutrition, fitness and sleep science to present multi-week (typically) interactive seminars. Attendees take home all relevant course information. Post-workshop support includes access to one-to-one coaching, health assessment tools and an opportunity to connect with other attendees and workshop leaders through eMeetinghouse, an online social community and vast health information resource.

VigR makes the Continuing Care at Home model even more relevant to the future of long-term care as baby boomers age in great numbers and redefine the aging experience.

Episcopal Retirement Homes
Cincinnati, OH

Diversity takes many forms, and one of those forms is age. The mission of Episcopal Retirement Homes’ Council for Life Long Engagement (CLLE) is to eradicate ageism one child at a time. CLLE does so by enabling elders to work with school children in meaningful ways to influence their views about aging. Examples of CLLE programs:

  • A physician teaching 5th graders about body systems.
  • A marketing executive teaching 8th graders the importance of knowing the audience when communicating.
  • A group of elders teaching 8th graders about dining etiquette before a graduation party.

CLLE has created a replicable model and is sharing a toolkit for implementation with other schools and aging-services organizations in hopes of being in 20 cities by 2020.

Alex Candalla
Executive Director
The Terraces of Los Gatos
Los Gatos, CA

Alex Candalla is a LeadingAge Leadership Academy fellow who has served as a mentor for dozens of aging-services professionals in his own organization, his state and elsewhere across the nation. It was his initiative that led to establishment of the Leadership Academy Alumni Association, and he has been instrumental in leadership development programs for LeadingAge California and the American Baptist Homes of the West.

Rae Holt, executive director at The Terraces at Los Altos in California, states that as a mentor, “Alex generously shares his passion, commitment and knowledge with all who have a sincere desire to grow as leaders in providing the highest quality care and services in retirement living.”

Kelly Papa, corporate director of learning at Masonicare in Connecticut, found a friend and inspiration in Candalla when they both attended the first class of the LeadingAge Leadership Academy. She says: “What I have learned from Alex’s mentoring in aging services is that one of the keys to ‘changing the world’ is to mentor others. He has expanded what is possible for those whose lives are touched by him, mine included.”

Marc Agronin, M.D.
Medical Director for Mental Health and Memory Services
Miami Jewish Health Systems
Miami, FL

Led by Dr. Marc Agronin, the Mental Health and Memory Center at Miami Jewish Health Systems is a leading center for the diagnosis, treatment, education and clinical research for Alzheimer’s and related memory disorders.

For the past 14 years, Dr. Agronin has served as a principal investigator for dozens of clinical trials attempting to conquer not only Alzheimer’s disease, but age-related depression, psychosis and behavioral disturbances. He is pioneering new approaches to treating behavioral disorders associated with Alzheimer’s disease and is optimistic that these techniques will help caregivers and clinicians alike to better understand and manage some of the most difficult aspects of dementia. In addition, a new program established at Miami Jewish Health Systems is The Marilyn and Myers L. Girsh Cognitive Enrichment Institute; Dr. Agronin oversaw its design and staffing and serves as its chairman.

His latest book is How We Age: A Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Growing Old. He has written for The New York Times, Scientific American Mind, Psychology Today and the Huffington Post, and is a frequent guest on radio and TV. Other books he has written include: Therapy with Older Clients: Key Strategies for Success (2010) and Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias: A Practical Guide, 2nd Edition (2008). He is also founder and co-editor of the major textbook, Principles and Practice of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2nd Edition (2011).

Beatitudes Campus
Phoenix, AZ

Beatitudes’ award-winning Comfort First dementia care education program is teaching quality of care and providing quality of life for thousands who are living with some form of dementia.

For nearly a decade, the program has advanced public trust and confidence in aging services through (1) providing a public service by educating health care professionals, (2) creating positive collaborations and partnerships with other healthcare organizations and foundations, and (3) garnering media attention that educates consumers to make informed choices about dementia care.

Comfort First has two distinct areas of focus: educating staff in dementia-specific palliative care principles and evaluating those principles. To date, 15 long-term care organizations have participated in a six-month training program. Thousands of staff members have received training. The Comfort First team also trains medical students and physicians in third-year residency.

The Comfort First team is committed to educating health care professionals and others to change the way people with dementia are cared for everywhere.

The Hebrew Home at Riverdale
Bronx, NY

Over the past several years, The Hebrew Home at Riverdale has advocated successfully for federal and state regulators to recognize the need for long-term housing options for victims of elder abuse.

In 2011, the New York Department of Health opened a grant selection process to allow the conversion of some skilled nursing units to assisted living. The Hebrew Home saw this as an opportunity to create an assisted living environment that would give preferential admission to victims of elder abuse. Ultimately, The Hebrew Home persuaded the state to allow such preferential admission and funnel resources toward long-term safety and dignity for abuse victims.

On the federal level, The Hebrew Home was selected via a competitive process to operate a HUD Section 202 low-income housing building. Over the course of many conversations, letters and proposal drafts, The Hebrew Home successfully persuaded the federal government that elder abuse victims’ needs are so pressing that to place them on par with other housing applicants would be an injustice. HUD approved an exception to its own admission protocols in order to support the creation of Hudson House on Johnson Avenue as the nation’s first HUD-202 facility prioritizing housing for elder abuse victims. Publicizing the building’s application process across all demographics and geographic locations will allow The Hebrew Home to further expand reach of its elder abuse services to include long-term housing solutions for victims throughout New York City.