Celebrating Changemakers 2024

By on Jun 25, 2024 in Senior Living

It’s time for the annual Changemakers series, a collection of in-depth, insightful interviews published by Senior Housing News (SHN). Each year, the series celebrates a group of senior living leaders driving positive change in the industry.

Learn how Changemaker Chris Guay is driving positive change in senior living in this 2024 series by Yardi and Senior Housing News.

As sponsor for the sixth year in a row, Yardi is proud to join SHN in presenting the 2024 class of honorees. These honorees are trailblazers, innovators, visionaries and more — and their interviews detail how they got to where they are today.

We’re delighted to introduce the first batch of Changemakers as the series begins, starting with a dedicated Yardi senior living client: Chris Guay, founder and CEO of Vitality Living.

In his interview, Guay discusses how Vitality is evolving in the industry, the importance of staff diversity and how he creates a safe environment across his communities. Read on for a highlight of what he shares — then check out his full interview with SHN.

Meet Changemaker Chris Guay

SHN: We at SHN think of you as a Changemaker, but do you think of yourself as a Changemaker?

Guay: I do see myself as a Changemaker. I believe it was always in me. I started out working with Emeritus, and I think I was a Changemaker there; always trying to push us to do things differently and work things through. Then when I got the chance to start my own company, I had to put a little of that on hold initially, because you’re trying to build an organization and build it forward. We’ve been fortunate that I’ve got a really great team of people. We’ve been able to build a really good company.

The last couple of years, I’ve been able to shift back into that Changemaker role. I like to change things. I’m always innovating, always trying to change. That sometimes drives my team crazy. I have to find that delicate balance of pushing us forward, but also making sure we’re not pushing so fast that we’re changing just for the sake of changing.

I ask myself, “Is this going to improve the experience for our residents?” I’ve really tried to hone in on if a change is going to improve the experience for our team members as well. If a change makes it harder for a line staff or caregiver, it’s probably not a change we should do.

The third customer that sometimes gets forgotten in this business, “Is that change going to have a positive impact for our ownership partners?” I filter everything through those three pieces. Then based on how that comes through that filter, then I decide what we’re moving on.

SHN: Do you think that the industry is changing fast enough to keep up with the times?

Guay: I don’t. I find myself getting into the same conversations that we’ve had for the last 10 years. There’s opportunity in that because if you are a company that’s innovative, there’s opportunity to excel.

However, it’s hard to innovate when you’ve got different weights dragging you down. It’s not an easy time. I don’t think people aren’t changing because they don’t want to. I just think there are some headwinds that keep dragging us back. You’ve got to keep fighting, you’ve got to keep pushing.

SHN: The coming year is sure to be a year of growth and evolution for this year’s senior living industry. In what way is Vitality growing and evolving?

Guay: One, we’re preparing and we’re building. We like to build a team around what we see, where we think we are. We don’t wait for it to come. We try to get ahead of it. We are really trying to be a world-class sales organization.

We also look at the digital space. How we win there and how we get really innovative there is important. We decided to invest on the people side.

We’re really shifting into how do we become a world-class people organization? Easier said than done because this is a tough industry. We’re really working on that. We’re going to start on the recruiting and branding, and then we’re going to work on the onboarding to go through. We’re bringing people from outside.

Learn more about Changemaker Chris Guay

Read Chris Guay’s entire interview with SHN. And be sure to explore the Changemaker interviews to come, shared here on The Balance Sheet.