A panel of highly respected senior living experts from a variety of disciplines came together at the recent 2018 Navigator Leadership Summit to share their insights on the senior living space. The Navigator Leadership Summit attracted 160 attendees from among Navigator’s members and business partners, representing senior leadership, procurement and operational decision makers from senior living and skilled nursing facilities. They joined business partners serving the industry such as food & dietary supplies, medical products and services and business products and services.

Navigator Group Purchasing, Inc. is the experienced leader in skilled nursing, senior living and CCRC purchasing services, delivering savings and cash flow improvements to its members. The company is a subsidiary of Managed Health Care Associates, Inc., which is the nation’s largest alternate site GPO and a leading healthcare services and software company.

Finetune your organization

The Navigator Leadership Summit kicked off with a presentation by Maureen Leugers, MBA, RD, director of Non-Commercial Customer Marketing for Gordon Food Service and the author of Controlling Costs in Foodservice. Leugers discussed operational optimization: the process of fine-tuning operations to become a well-run business. Operational optimization shifts the traditional approach from transactional relationships to strategic partnerships between providers, suppliers, and GPOs centered on mutual benefits; shared resources; open communication; and long-term, managed relationships. It focuses on three key concepts: maximization, or price management; rationalization, or product standardization; and utilization, or examining products/services purchased in terms of cost utilization.

Maximizing contracts alone can lead to savings of 5% to 10% in the healthcare industry, Leugers said, while standardizing products provides an opportunity for savings of 10% to 20%by industry standards. Utilization, which she described as “buying the right product for the right application to yield the best outcome,” can translate into 20% to 30% savings on items such as meals, utilities, environmental services, etc. “The opportunity lies in the whole management of the operation, thus the operational optimization,” she explained.

Future of senior adult living

Zach Benedict, AIA, managing principal at MKM Architecture + Design, gave a presentation on “The Future of Senior Adult Living Spaces.”

According to Benedict, where we live shapes how we live, so when it comes to senior living, the aim is to design meaningful places that foster individual well-being as well as thriving communities. One important element of a successful space is control over one’s environment. Another is engagement. “We need to design residences where we understand the need for social interaction, and design environments where our definition of happiness in our residents’ lives is of utmost concern,” he said.  

A good space comprises four key aspects: It is sociable, active, accessible and comfortable. This is especially true of dining spaces, which are the most socially active spaces in senior residences, he noted. The future of senior living, Benedict said, is the idea of reciprocity ― relationships highlighting the mutual trust people have in each other, rather than relationships based on consumerism.

Future of healthcare

“The Future of Healthcare: Post-Acute and Beyond” was the topic of discussion by Chas Roades, chief executive office of Gist Healthcare and a nationally recognized authority on healthcare market forces.

Roades sees a tectonic shift in healthcare as the upside-down population pyramid known as the baby boomers comes into their healthcare consumption years, and predicts major cuts to Medicare and Medicaid are nearly inevitable as a result. According to Roades, Medicare spending on post-acute care will increase as the population ages, but will lag behind the overall rate of Medicare spending growth. He added that the pressure will be greatest on provider payments, which will drive most spending growth, as the federal government searches for $1 trillion to offset tax breaks and to stem cost growth in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. He also noted that the trend toward shifting accountability for managing cost growth to commercial insurers will continue. But the big story, Roades said, will be the shift from health care being a business-to-business industry to a business-to-consumer industry, which will focus more attention on consumerism and consumer value.

Empowering great teams

Sports writing legend and nationally acclaimed speaker Don Yaeger offered an inspirational talk on empowering great teams.

Great teams, whether in the world of sports or business, have a consistent formula for success ― one that focuses not on profits or products but on culture, Yaeger said. When a team creates a strong enough culture, behaviors follow; those behaviors in time become habits, and the habits created as a result of that formula are what ultimately lead to sustained excellence. Great teams also share a number of important characteristics, such as leadership, depth, and camaraderie. But the single most important characteristic, he said, is understanding the “why” ― not just knowing the team’s purpose, but feeling it. “‘Feeling it” is believing that where you work, what you do there, matters,” he said. He concluded by charging the audience with four vital tasks in their quest to become a great team: know your “why;” understand who your “why” matters to; study other great teams; and find your “feel it” moments.  

Preventing foodborne disease outbreaks

Hal King, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Public Health Innovations LLC, closed the Navigator Leadership Summit with his presentation, Using Food Safety Management Systems to Achieve Active Managerial Control.

Foodborne disease outbreaks are a risk for any establishment that prepares and serves food, including assisted living and long-term care facilities, but they can be prevented through a Food Safety Management Program, according to King. The key elements of such a program include commitment, systems specifications, training/education, facility design and maintenance, and execution. Foodservice safety easy to accomplish if you apply those principles — and you can turn it into a value proposition to increase sales, he said. “When you think about the benefits of having a Food Safety Management Program and a food safety management system designed for each of the things you do when you’re serving in your foodservice system, not only do you get the benefit of preventing foodborne disease outbreaks, but it actually improves business management in the facility and ultimately saves money.”  

Michael Dragone is the vice president of strategic accounts at Navigator Group Purchasing Inc.