The current state of senior care in China is still at an early developmental stage with little or no government regulations in place. However, according to the China National Committee on Aging (CNCA), projected numbers are expected to peak at 487 million or nearly 35 percent of the China population around 2050. This, compared to the U.S., where there will be 78 million elderly people in 2030 and 98 million by 2060. China is currently in a crisis trying to care for their elderly. Because of their one child policy and adult children moving to bigger cities, many of their elderly do not have proper care. In addition, “China has relied on government credit to help its economy grow. As the population ages, the government will need to revert some of that funding to take care of the elderly on fixed income.” Organizations are beginning to take steps to address this growing challenge, starting with observation of established post-acute care organizations in the United States.
Each year, Wisdom Academy, an executive development center in Beijing, China, plans a learning excursion, which enables their students to experience best industry practices from other countries. With the growing concern around the aging population in China, they chose to focus on senior living. Towards the end of 2018, Wisdom Academy students traveled over 7,000 miles to learn more about the senior living industry in the United States. Relias was honored to host ten delegates from Wisdom Academy this past December. Their tour encompassed three states, ten site visits, and interaction with about twenty-five senior living experts. This group of Chinese delegates included: senior care executives, real estate developers, investors and other business executives.
The goal of the tour was to expose the students to senior living best practices, which could then be adapted to the Chinese market. Their primary focus was to understand the daily operations of a senior living organization and how vendor partnerships are developed to assist residents with aging in place by providing home care, home health, therapy and hospice in their current location. By learning about senior care providers’ pain points, China can customize and improve their senior care solutions and services accordingly.
Here is a recap of their five day journey:
The tour kicked off at Sunrise Senior Living in Raleigh, N.C. with Executive Director, Nathan Robison. Sunrise is one of the oldest and largest organizations worldwide. They operate 320 communities and are currently the fifth largest senior living provider in the U.S. Sunrise was the first company to focus on “resident-centered” care. The group learned about their model, visited assisted living and memory care apartments, and even played Bingo with the residents.
The following day began with a visit to Relias headquarters in Cary, N.C. where the delegates saw a behind the scenes glance at how Product Management works with client care and existing clients to determine new course topics.
Trudy Croxton, senior living expert and Manager of Client Success at Relias, presented an overview of senior living in the U.S. and gave a dementia sensitivity training seminar designed to give the group a chance to “walk in the shoes” of a person living with dementia. This included the opportunity to view Relias’ A Day in the Life of Henry. This virtual reality course teaches the viewer how caregivers should and should not interact with residents that have dementia.
The group finished the day at Transitions LifeCare, with Mark Philbrick, Director of Education. Transitions LifeCare was founded in 1979, and is the largest and most experienced non-profit hospice provider in the region. Transitions LifeCare helps families navigate changes with dignity when dealing with a serious or terminal illness. In addition to learning about the difference between palliative care and hospice, the students visited a beautiful hospice home model with state of the art technology and services for this special senior population.
The third day of the tour began at Woodland Terrace, a Kisco Senior Living Community. In 1996, Kisco Senior Living created guiding principles, values and beliefs, which are based on the concepts of integrity, dignity and compassion. Kisco currently manages twenty communities in six states. Executive Director, Matt Towler, gave the group a tour of their beautiful twenty-two acre campus, which includes Independent living cottages and apartments, as well as Assisted Living and Memory Care wings.
An important part of life at Woodland Terrace is the community’s partnership with Legacy Rehabilitation. Linda Irwin, Rehab Director talked to the group on ways their therapists help residents maintain quality of life and help them age in place safely, independently.
The last visit on the group’s tour was to The Cardinal at North Hills, in Raleigh. The Cardinal is a Kisco Senior Living Community and has been selected as the first senior living community in the nation to partner with Forbes’ Travel Guide, to provide its associates access to the world-class training designed to enhance service skills and inspire staff to elevate the resident and guest experience. The Cardinal is a unique continuing care retirement community (CCRC) model, comprising a six acre, full continuum of care rental community designed with state-of-the-art concrete and steel construction. The community offers everything “under one roof.” During their tour, the group was able to experience all four levels of care: Independent Living, Assisted Living (AL), Memory Cary (MC) and Skilled Nursing.
The afternoon at The Cardinal included a panel discussion with senior living experts representing home care, home health, hospice/palliative, CCRC and AL/MC. The students were particularly interested in learning about senior care business models, government reimbursements, staff challenges, profitability margins and the role of technology and innovation.
“I was grateful for the opportunity to participate in the panel, during the lunch break, I learned a lot about the Chinese Culture, as well as Relias. The group was very engaged in the panel discussion, asked good questions. In addition, I learned about some innovative ways to work with Seniors in our country. Thank you for the experience.”
– Donna Lou Byrd, President of Interim Healthcare.
The students also conducted a role play exercise demonstrating how senior living is marketed and sold to an adult child of a mother who needs more assistance with medication and could benefit from having an opportunity to socialize more. This provided the group an opportunity take the lessons they had learned and apply them in a real-life scenario.
“During the leadership tour, we visited various senior care facilities, including assisted living, CCRC, and skilled nursing, where we got to see their daily operation and had the opportunity to meet and communicate with the executives of those facilities. This significantly helped us better understand U.S. senior care industry and gave us so much inspiration and insight on how to contribute to senior care services in China. Despite the senior care industry is still at its early stage in China, we believe the current situation of U.S. senior care will be the future of China’s.”
– Yan LIU, General Manager of Hebei Jinshili Real Estate Development Co., Ltd.
The group then traveled from North Carolina to Florida to visit three more senior living communities.
The first stop on the agenda was The Fountains at Lake Pointe Woods, a Watermark Retirement Community, which offers Independent and Assisted Living on 53 acres in beautiful Sarasota, Florida. The Fountains at Lake Pointe was recently recognized as a “Great Place to Work.” Watermark Retirement Communities, a management company oversees 51 communities in 21 states.
The group then visited Opis Highlands Lake Center in Lakeland, Florida. Highlands Lake Center is managed by Opis Senior Services Group, a leader in post-acute services in the state of Florida. Opis offers post-acute, rehab and skilled nursing care within their ten Florida facilities.
The final Florida stop was at The Club Health and Rehabilitation Center at The Villages, A Greystone Health facility. Greystone Health is a premier owner-operator of 27 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities in Florida. They offer rehab, long term care, respite care, home health and private duty care. In addition to industry quality recognition and rankings, Greystone Health is recognized as a top performer by a national and regional organizations including seven-time Top Workplace in Tampa Bay winner, 29 American Healthcare Association national quality awards and nine U.S. News Best Nursing Home recipient.
“Greystone Health was honored to host the China Delegates at The Villages. Even though we only spent a few hours with the group we hope we have created a relationship that will continue to bring the China team and Greystone opportunities to work together in the near future. While we may have some cultural differences, we both know it is imperative to care for those who cannot care for themselves. We look forward to learning more from the participants and hope to see our new friends soon.”
– Ray Benegas, Director IT of Greystone Healthcare
The final visit for the tour group was at The Chelsea at Montville in New Jersey. The Chelsea offers assisted living and respite care. They own and operate thirteen senior living communities in three states. Chelsea senior living has been nationally recognized for excellence with the National Center for Assisted Living, (NCAL), the American Health Care Association (AHCA), and the NJ Department of Health & Human Services.
We were indeed honored to host this group of senior living delegates in what was certainly a whirl wind tour!