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2013 Best of the Best Award Winners

The ALFA Best of the Best awards recognize innovative new programs and services that are creating the future of senior living.  In 2013, awards and recognition focused on programs and initiatives advancing excellence by addressing significant topics and trends influencing the future of senior living. ALFA also recognized unique programs as Programs to Spotlight or Programs to Watch. Learn more about the Best of the Best awards. View the 2013 Best of the Best Winners in the Senior Living Executive magazine.



ALFA’s annual awards competition shows that residents and families are the real winners - By Whitney Redding

The results of ALFA’s seventh-annual Best of the Best Awards for outstanding business practices are in, and once again, residents and family members turn out to be the true winners.

This year, ALFA changed up the categories to reflect the high caliber of entries that it was seeking. With categories such as “Turning Around Caregiver Turnover” and “Encouraging New Resident Engagement,” providers responded with a total of 70 submissions that were more closely tied to the goals of assisted living and senior living.

The most competitive category was “Meaningful Resident Programs Creating Purposeful Days,” with about 30 entries. The most forward-thinking of these entries transcended the usual activity calendar fare by challenging residents to journey beyond the four walls of their senior care community. Sometimes the journey was literal, as with Country Meadows Retirement Communities’ winning program, Celebrating Independence Conference. Other times, it was intellectual or spiritual, as with the Brookdale Senior Living program spotlighted here, The Ageless Spirit.

“Clearly, residents are hungry for opportunities to be valued, not just included or talked to, and it is gratifying to see how providers really ‘get’ that and are planning programs accordingly,” says ALFA CEO Richard P. Grimes. “Interestingly, the best of the staff training and wellness programs also took that approach.”

Here are some notable trends among all the submissions, winners and non-winners alike:

Resident engagement is about instilling a sense of purpose. More and more, providers are challenging residents to leave their comfort zone and stay engaged in the world around them. Through the submissions in the resident programs category, it was clear that residents can join choirs that give concerts at civic sites. The veterans among them can share their remembrances to educate succeeding generations about the meaning of sacrifice. Residents also are joining their counterparts from other senior care communities for outside learning and social opportunities. They tutor 4-year-olds on literacy. They Skype with faraway family and friends.

There’s a value to offering “Leadership Development” to any employee, regardless of title. Why limit good leadership training to just a few, when everyone benefits when more associates can think like a leader? One leading national provider has posted its e-learning management courses online so that any interested associate can access them. The winning entry in the “Creating Return on Investment in Leadership Development” category is about management training for lead aides. At Brandywine, an orientation class for all new associates is led by the senior management team.

Changes in health care, including the advent of accountable care organizations, are beginning to affect how companies strategize. In one winning program, Brookdale Senior Living’s sales associates are being trained to think beyond filling vacancies so as to be solutions-focused for their customers in a broader context. Other submissions showed that providers are starting to track billing or outcomes data more closely, or to partner with outside providers for added care capabilities. BMA Management’s winning “Eat Smart, Live Strong” initiative is one example where partnerships with academia may lead to better, more measurable resident outcomes—a priority for working with accountable care organizations. “Outcomes they’re looking for are the same outcomes we’re looking for, even if they’re for different reasons,” says BMA’s Julie Simpkins.



A Taste of the Future: The Next Generation Dining Menu

Winner: BMA Management, Bradley, IL—Eat Smart, Live Strong >> view description

Program to Spotlight: Brookdale Senior Living, Chicago, IL—Signature Sauces


Encouraging New Resident Engagement in the First 90 Days

Winner: Legacy Retirement Communities, Lincoln, NE—Legacy Way Orientation >> view description

Program to Spotlight: BMA Management, Bradley, IL—WoW


Equipping Community Staff with Mobile Technology

Winner: Brookdale Senior Living, Chicago, IL—Hospitality IQ >> view description


Going Green, Saving Green: Energy, Recycling, and Expense Reduction Strategies

Winner: Orchards at Southington, Southington, CT—Our Earth, Our Dream, Go Green >> view description

Program to Spotlight: Benchmark Senior Living, Wellesley, MA—Bedford Falls—It’s a Wonderful Life

Program to Spotlight: Brightview Senior Living, Baltimore, MD—Multifaceted Green Strategy


Honoring the Life of a Resident Following His or Her Death

Winner: Pathway Senior Living, Des Plaines, IL—VIVA! >> view description

Program to Spotlight: Hoffman SummerWood, West Hartford, CT—SummerWood Memorial Service


Hot & Cold: Innovating Lead Management Initiatives

Winner: Brookdale Senior Living, Chicago, IL—Selling Brookdale, Developing Associates and Leader Success >> view description

Meaningful Resident Programs Creating Purposeful Days

Winner: Country Meadows Retirement Communities, Hershey, PA—Celebrating Independence Conference >> view description

Program to Spotlight: Brookdale Senior Living, Brentwood, TN—The Ageless Spirit


Reducing Resident and Staff Injury in the Community

Winner: Silverado Senior Living, Irvine, CA—SilveradOSHA >> view description

Supporting Families of Residents During Transitional Times

Winner: Senior Lifestyle Corp., Chicago, IL—Walk With Me Program >> view description

Program to Spotlight: Elmcroft Senior Living, Louisville, KY—Elmcroft Family Website


Turning Around Caregiver Turnover

Winner: Brandywine Senior Living, Mount Laurel, NJ—Company Orientation—Culture Training Program >> view description

Program to Spotlight: Brightview Senior Living, Baltimore, MD—SPICE


Creating Greater Return on Investment in Leadership Development

Winner: Benchmark Senior Living, Wellesley, MA—“Lead Aide: Steps for Success” >> view description

Program to Spotlight: Senior Living Communities, Charlotte, NC—Evolve

STATE of the Industry

Five of senior living's most entrepreneurial CEOs shared insights about the continued growth of the senior living business. Joining Moderator Pat Mulloy, president and CEO of Senior Care, Inc were company heads, Timothy Buchanan of Legend Senior Living, Brenda Bacon of Brandywine Senior Living, Todd Novaczyk of New Perspectives Senior Living and Marilyn Duker of Brightview Senior Living.

Watch the State of the Industry 2011 from the ALFA 2011 Conference & Expo.

EVERY DAY Music Video
Every Day We Make a Difference

Every day. We make a difference. Hear the music in the hearts of people who have chosen to serve in the field of senior living. Experience the music video, Every Day We Make a Difference.

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