Lois Bowers headshot

“How many of you still believe you only provide hospitality?”

When Juniper Communities founder and CEO Lynne Katzmann posed that question to the approximately 260 people attending NCAL Day on Sunday, nobody raised a hand.

“Interesting,” she said. “This is the first time I’ve asked that question and never had a single hand go up. So either you’re shy or the world has begun to really change.”

Katzmann was there to talk about the collaboration behind Juniper’s Connect4Life program, which integrates clinical providers, their services and communication protocols to provide individualized, coordinated care to residents. The program has shown a potential cost savings in hospital inpatient spending.

“It was Care Transitions, and then it became Connect4Life,” she said. In its next iteration, Katzmann added, the program will be submitted to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as a care model and will underlie approved Medicare Advantage plans beginning next year. And the program will continue to evolve, she said.

“CMS approving a care model where senior living is at the root of what is making value-based care work is phenomenal,” Katzmann said. Senior living, she added, “has so much to offer.”

Stay tuned.

As much as senior living is changing, at least one quality is staying the same: the camaraderie that those in the industry share. It’s something that was apparent to opening keynote speaker Brett Culp, a documentary filmmaker who said he felt the warm vibes while waiting to speak about leadership.

Another element that hasn’t changed about NCAL Day is the ability of the awards ceremony to make grown adults cry. Previously announced NCAL Awards were presented at a luncheon. Stone Hearth Estates was recognized with the National Assisted Living Week Program of the Year, Shirley Perdue was recognized as Noble Caregiver in Assisted Living award, John Walters, LPN, was recognized as Assisted Living Nurse of the Year and Jaclyn O’Keefe was recognized as Administrator of the Year. And Elizabeth Blankenship won the Jan Thayer Pioneer Award.

Several honorees were brought to tears, as was I and others. The ceremony is a heartfelt way to recognize often-unsung heroes in senior living.