John O'Connor illustration
McKnight’s Editorial Director John O’Connor
John O'Connor
John O’Connor

One of the great things about rubbing elbows at industry events is the ready access it provides to truly remarkable people. And their truly remarkable insights.

I was reminded of this great payoff earlier this week at the NIC Fall Conference, after a quick chat with the one and only Bob Kramer.

Let me tell ya, taking in his observations is like trying to get a drink from a fire hydrant. The man’s a sensory overload machine, especially when it comes to improving seniors housing and care.

It’s impossible to have a conversation with Bob without picking up a few new insights about the way things are, and the way — or ways — they could be better.

So, in passing, he dropped a little nugget that’s got me fired up about the future of senior living. He noted that the field attracts more than its share of entrepreneurs and professionals from other sectors who had a chance encounter with senior living: perhaps dealing with a sick parent, sibling or a friend who needed some extra help.

After witnessing the related struggles of loved ones, they decided to make things better.

You don’t need a magnifying glass to find these folks. Some are now CEOs running senior living organizations. Others have come up with gadgets and gizmos to smooth the bumpy road of aging.

Now, I already can hear some of you grumbling, “So what’s the big deal?” Well, here’s the kicker: This tendency to attract outside talent guarantees two nice payoffs.

First, it means fresh faces and fresh ideas are going to keep marching into the senior living profession.

The second big win here is that we’ll always have a steady stream of new goods and services to make life sweeter — for both the residents and the folks working the front lines. That translates into better care and communities that are more efficient, well-oiled machines.

Now, not every industry can boast this kind of influx of new blood and talent. But in senior living, we’re in luck. So, cheers to the expats from other sectors who are taking the senior living world by storm. And thank you in advance for all the improvements that are sure to come.

John O’Connor is editorial director for McKnight’s Senior Living and its sister media brands, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, which focuses on skilled nursing, and McKnight’s Home Care. Read more of his columns here.