Sean Kelly

CHICAGO — Skilled nursing and other aging services leaders made a big jump forward Tuesday with the unveiling of the Vision Centre: Leadership Development for Aging Services initiative.

It signifies a renaming of the Vision 2025 campaign, which was started five years ago to study and build more formal pathways for college- and university-trained leaders in skilled nursing, assisted and independent living, home care, hospice care, adult day services and other forms of senior care.

The Vision Centre is under formal IRS review to become a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. More than 80 thought leaders from higher education and the senior care and service sectors are meeting Tuesday and Wednesday this week to firm up action plans.

Vision Centre Board of Trustees Chairman Steve Chies said that the need for enhanced leadership education is dire. Nearly 51,000 additional senior care leaders will be needed by 2030, he told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on Tuesday, citing figures based on statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That includes 6,900 more building leaders for skilled nursing.

“Today is incredibly significant because we’ve moved this body of people from thought leadership to intentional ‘do-ership,’ if you will,” said Sean Kelly, vice chairman of Vision Centre’s board of trustees and CEO of The Kendal Corporation, which operates a dozen long-term care communities in nine states. “You talk about activation … we can’t just keep activating a bunch of good people who are convening on an annual basis. We have to support them.”

He told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News that three years of formal meetings have brought together dozens of colleges and universities, along with various long-term care stakeholders, to achieve unprecedented collaboration, with more to come.

“To announce the name of the center is to indicate a transition from, ‘This is a really important idea you have that people around the country are really, really thirsty for, to changing it to an intention to operate. You have to create an operating enterprise, which is what the Vision Centre will become,” he said. 

Kelly drew parallels to the long-ago establishment of the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, one of Vision Centre’s eight key sponsoring/partner groups. It “became an enterprise so that it could, indeed, not just serve the field over a longer period of time but enhance the field. I think there’s an aspirational correlation there,” he said.

Kelly said the group’s new structure and standing could bring more unity and power to its initiatives.

“Now it’s a business, not just a collection of thought leaders wringing their hands and getting excited about what might be, and getting excited about best practices,” he noted. “It’s about investing in the business of building, fostering and maintaining incredible partnerships between providers and colleges and universities in order to sustain the field.”

The Vision Centre’s goals include creating 25 robust university and college programs designed to prepare future generations of leaders for aging-adult service organizations. Those programs should foster 1,000 paid internships among senior housing, care and aging services by 2025, something both Chies and Vision 2025/Centre founder Douglas Olson, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, call a most intriguing part of the initiative.

Kelly said momentum is on providers’ side with Tuesday’s announcement.

“The Vision Centre will be of all of our making and will be the driver of the evolution that we seek,” he said. “It will be a place that brings about the continued professionalization in our field and where our colleagues will meet, learn, inspire and be inspired.” 

NIC and the seven other endorsing/sponsoring groups were set Wednesday morning to highlight their efforts to address critical issues of partnership with educational programs. The groups are: the American College of Health Care Administrators, the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living, LeadingAge, the American Seniors Housing Association, Argentum, the National Association of Long-Term Care Administrator Boards Foundation (NAB Foundation), and the National Association of Home Care and Hospice. Ziegler is once again a sponsor and hosting the annual conference.