Randall G. Slikkers was named executive director of the Center for Excellence in Assisted Living in May. He recently spoke with Senior Editor Lois A. Bowers about the work of the 10-member coalition and its plans for the future.

Q: What attracted you to the CEAL position?

A: I did a lot of due diligence with CEAL as an organization — past, present and where it might go in the future — but I also did a lot of due diligence with the board member organization and the board members themselves. It was really exciting to see that they were all very, very passionate.

Q: What came out of CEAL’s strategic planning meeting in July?

A: We reaffirmed that our four key focus areas in helping the entire assisted living community become excellent are practice, research, public policy and technical expertise. That decision was based, as in all good strategic planning, on a community needs assessment. We talked to people. We surveyed people. We had a symposium with stakeholders.

Then we looked at those areas and said, “What parts do we need to work on?” We’re going to be taking our research and developing practical tools that the assisted living community can use, and we’ll be using our technical expertise to help the broader community use them.

In the area of public policy, we want to continue to be educational to lawmakers and federal agencies.

When people think about public policy, they tend to think about enacting laws. For us, it’s really more about continuing to make people aware of the issues facing assisted living, best practices and some of the challenges facing the community. It’s less about legislation and more about how we can effect change that makes the industry better and brings higher-quality standards to the entire community. That’s where our efforts are going to be focused.

Q: What else came out of the strategic planning meeting?

A: We also tweaked what we’re now calling our stakeholder group. We’re going to have quarterly roundtables via teleconference or, if the meetings are coordinated around a large industry conference that a lot of folks are attending, we might be able to have some people sitting around a table together and some on the phone.

We’ll be able to update them and get their input on our research projects and tool development. More importantly, we’ll ask them what’s trending out there, what kind of things they feel are important. CEAL, like any agency, does not have unlimited resources, so we want to be able to prioritize and focus our efforts on the top issues that people identify.