John O'Connor
John O’Connor

Have you ever heard of NIC Talks? They are a great addition to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care shows. They also tend to be more than slightly addictive. You can get a flavor of them here.

But for as challenging, interesting and thought-provoking as the presentations tend to be, they often take a back seat to what is said before and afterward. To be more specific, they are sometimes topped by the insights served up by their moderator, Robert G. Kramer. Bob helped launch NIC nearly three decades ago and currently serves as its strategic adviser.

Take last Friday, when Bob followed up on a marketing presentation by Jody Holtzman, a senior managing partner with Longevity Venture Advisors.

He began by repeating Holtzman’s declaration that a successful senior living brand must be a metaphor for being alive, not a place to disappear and die.

Then he launched into Bob mode:

“Think about that for a moment. That’s a challenge.

“As the acuity level, the complexity of our residents has risen, you wouldn’t know that many communities now are selling lifestyle and community. You would just know that they are there to meet care needs. Is that aspirational?

“Are people attracted to something that says, ‘Here we’re interested in your functional limitations, we want to know how many chronic conditions you have, how many medications you are taking — and by the way, we’ll need to conduct a financial assessment to make sure you don’t run out of money. That is your identity with us.’?

“ADLs, chronic conditions, medications and financial status. Is that aspirational? I doubt it.

“This is a challenge for an industry that markets care to meet needs. We have to consider what’s aspirational if we want to attract residents in the future. …

“I know [operators] are passionate about the residents you serve, you’re passionate about the staff who serve them, and you believe we can and must do better. I think you are [at this conference] because you understand that part of doing things better is going to involve doing some things fundamentally differently. That’s the challenge and the opportunity for our entire industry.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Nor for that matter, could just about anybody else.