SAN DIEGO — A new Argentum initiative unveiled Tuesday at the organization’s Senior Living Executive Conference aims to solve the recruitment and retention challenges facing operators across the senior living industry.

Senior Living Works includes a website with a workforce engagement toolkit, career-focused videos, articles and other resources that senior living professionals can use and share with their teams. Also, volunteer Senior Living Works Ambassadors named through the program will make presentations and use the initiative’s fact sheets and other materials during community outreach efforts at educational institutions, volunteer organizations and career fairs.

“As an industry, we need to continue to build on the awareness that senior living offers rewarding careers,” Argentum President and CEO James Balda said in a statement. “Senior Living Works provides the resources and tools needed to help industry leaders achieve that collective goal.”  

Over the next several months, according to Argentum, the Senior Living Works website will add more information about educational programs, professional development opportunities and career postings for current employees in the industry as well as prospective ones.

Those interested in becoming a Senior Living Works Ambassador can visit the initiative website to learn how.

Workforce metrics initiative

Argentum also announced the expansion of an initiative to collect turnover and retention data from members in order to establish industry-wide benchmarks in those areas.

“By understanding and benchmarking industry retention, we ultimately hope to identify strategies that can lower recruitment and training costs, reduce overtime expenses and help us grow our future leaders,” said Argentum Vice President of Workforce Development Brent Weil, who discussed the initiative at a morning main stage session with OnShift CEO Mark Woodka. (In the accompanying photo by John O’Connor, Weil, left, and Woodka, center, are pictured with session moderator Nina Easton, co-chair of the Fortune Global Forum.)

The expansion builds on a pilot program launched last year by the organization’s Workforce Development Committee. During the pilot, data on positions in nursing and dining services were collected from select Argentum member companies. OnShift, Argentum’s partner for workforce development, and Kronos helped create tools to assist in the data collection.

“There are some of us who for 25 or 30 years have dreamed of building a more professional industry,” said Bill Pettit, president of R.D. Merrill Co. and chairman of the Argentum Workforce Development Committee. “We’ve laid the groundwork, and now all those pieces are coming together.”

To date, data have been gathered from approximately 325 senior living communities for almost 80,000 employees.

“We look forward to the continued expansion of participating organizations to help support their workforce initiatives,” Woodka said.

Senior living provider companies seeking more information or to participate in the workforce metrics program can Brent Weil at [email protected] or (571) 527-2630.

Board of Directors elections

Also Tuesday, Argentum also announced the new board officers and members who had been elected on Monday.

The new chairman is Tim Buchanan (pictured), president and CEO at Legend Senior Living. He formerly was vice chairman of the board.

“We must continue to lead public policy and regulation conversations happening in the states and in Washington,” Buchanan said in a statement, adding that Argentum “will continue to work to attract an increasing number of professional, caring workers to serve our nation’s older adults.”

Other officers elected:

  • Vice chairman: Randy Richardson, Vi president.
  • Secretary: John Moore, Atria Senior Living chairman and CEO.
  • Immediate past board chairman: Silverado President, CEO, and Chairman Loren Shook.
  • Public Policy Committee chairman: Ed Kenny, LCS chairman (re-elected to another term);
  • Treasurer: Bruce Mackey, Five Star Senior Living president & CEO (re-elected to another term); and
  • Pat Mulloy, as vice chairman (re-elected to another term).

Additionally, several new directors were elected to the board:

  • Scott Brinker, executive vice president and chief investment officer, HCP;
  • John Goodey, EVP and chief financial officer, Welltower;
  • Chris Hyatt, chief operating officer, New Perspective Senior Living; and
  • Mary Sue Patchett, EVP – community and field operations, Brookdale Senior Living;
  • Kathy Fiery, director, division of assisted living/alternative services, Health Care Association of New Jersey (ex-officio); and
  • Gayle Kvenvold, president and CEO, LeadingAge Minnesota  (ex-officio).

Senior Living Community Leadership and Hero Awards

Argentum also presented its Hero Awards and a Senior Living Community Leadership Award in a Tuesday morning ceremony hosted by Joan Lunden:

  • Hero Award: Nkeiru Uzegbu, Active Living program director, Merrill Gardens at Lafayette, Lafayette, CA;
  • Hero Award: Emily Horne, life engagement manager, Autumn Leaves of Towne Lake, Woodstock, GA (the LaSalle Group);
  • Hero Award / Leadership in the Face of a Natural Disaster: Lisa Thomas, life enrichment coordinator, Sabine Place, Orange, TX; and
  • Senior Living Community Leadership Award: James Arp, executive director, Belmont Village Westwood, Los Angeles.

Tuesday’s conference schedule featured main stage general sessions, “Hive” small-group discussions, Executive Director Leadership Institute sessions and expo hall hours.

Wednesday, the last day of the conference, includes EDLI, main stage and Hive sessions as well as expo hours.