Innovation is alive and well among LeadingAge members, whether they are devising new solutions to address workforce challenges, or developing new residential models that appeal to future consumers. Here’s the latest news from forward-looking providers.

Boosting Retention through Pay Incentives

Certified nursing assistants (CNA) who work 6 hours in the health care center of The Glebe in Daleville, VA, will be paid for 8 hours as part of the community's new “30/40” initiative. The LeadingAge member hopes the program will help it attract and retain full- and part-time CNAs.

The initiative is named “30/40” because CNAs work 30 hours a week and get paid for 40 hours.

According to McKnight’s Senior Living, the “30/40” program is only available in the skilled nursing portion of the life plan community. But if the pilot is successful, the initiative could be expanded to the community’s assisted living and memory care settings.

To receive the pay incentive, CNAs must be present and on time for each of their shifts during a given week. They can’t call in sick, arrive late, or leave early. Those who don’t meet these requirements will forfeit the incentive for the entire week.

The Glebe will hire 9 more CNAs to cover the new 6-hour shifts. Currently, 18 CNAs work across 3 traditional, 8-hour shifts. Hiring additional workers will add to the organization’s workforce costs, at least initially. But the community believes those costs will eventually be offset by lower recruiting and training expenses.

Training Workers with Disabilities

Eskaton, a LeadingAge member in Sacramento, CA, is teaming up with several workforce development organizations to help train people with disabilities, including young adults living with autism, to work in its communities. Young people with developmental disabilities face one of the highest rates of unemployment and underemployment in California.

The program is designed to introduce people living with special abilities into the workforce while teaching them job skills, and providing them with socialization, mentoring, and intergenerational activities, according to a statement from Eskaton.

Eskaton's attention to workforce development and special abilities training seems to be catching on. The California Community College system may explore the possibility of establishing a vocational training curriculum and certification program. In addition, the California Conservation Corps has expressed interest in vocational training and career advancement opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities and other special needs.

Attracting Younger Residents to a New Co-op Brand

Ecumen, a LeadingAge member in Shoreview, MN, is rolling out a plan to build co-op buildings for active older adults aged 62 and older. Residents of the co-ops, offered under a new “Zvago” brand, will collectively own the properties in which they live, according to Senior Housing News.

Ecumen’s first offering under the new Zvago brand is a $20 million, 54-unit community called Zvago Glen Lake, which opened in Minnetonka, MN, last April. Two other co-ops are in the design and construction stages.

Each community is expected to cost between $15 million and $20 million to develop. Amenities include outdoor common spaces, fitness and yoga studios, community kitchens, and craft rooms.

At Zvago Glen Lake, buy-in payments for residents can range from $31,000 to $500,000. Monthly fees, which cover building maintenance and basic operations, can range from $500 to $3,300. A resident who buys into the community can pay anywhere from 20% to 95% of the 40-year mortgage upfront.

The co-ops are designed to attract older adults before they need services. Each Zvago community would only have 2 employees: a building manager and a maintenance person. As residents age and need more services, Ecumen hopes they will move into one of its life plan communities, or purchase Ecumen’s home-based services.

Developing More Middle-Income and Affordable Housing

HumanGood Chief Executive Officer John Cochrane wants his organization to pursue 2 initiatives for 2018: developing solutions for the middle market, and expanding the organization’s commitment to affordable housing. Cochrane introduced both ideas during HumanGood’s recent annual meeting.

HumanGood, a LeadingAge member in California, was formed when American Baptist Homes of the West and merged in 2015.

Developing solutions for the middle market: Cochrane believes that middle-income consumers represent a huge opportunity for senior living. However, he admits, it’s been hard to find a scalable model for this private-pay option. To that end, the organization is working with a design firm to create a middle-market prototype for people living in single-family homes, not congregate housing settings. The company hopes to pilot the model in 2019.

Affordable housing: Cochrane is committed to expanding HumanGood’s portfolio of 63 affordable housing properties, despite the fact that traditional financial vehicles for affordable housing are drying up. He believes that new financing and operational models will emerge, “because there is such economic and social value in providing housing and services to those most in need,” reports Senior Housing News. Cochrane also sees increased popularity for mixed-use housing projects that bring together high-end, affordable, and workforce housing in one location.