Changemakers Series

By on Jun 22, 2021 in Senior Living

Ready to meet another Changemaker — a one-of-a-kind leader in senior living?

Through the 2021 Changemakers series, a collaboration between Yardi and Senior Housing News (SHN), senior living leaders are recognized for their ability to invoke change and create success. With their insights captured through detailed interviews — released in batches — you gain a front row seat to hear their stories and advice.

Introducing Jill Vitale-Aussem

We’re excited to present another Changemaker, Jill Vitale-Aussem. In addition to being president and CEO of Christian Living Communities (CLC), Jill is the author of “Disrupting the Status Quo of Senior Living.” Talk about being an expert on driving change in the industry.

From her previous work to now leading CLC, a Colorado-based organization serving over 3,000 seniors, Jill has learned to push through challenges, think outside the box and implement new strategies.

In this excerpt from the SHN interview, Jill reveals the steps she’s taking to lead CLC toward a bright future. She also sheds light on her core philosophy — to recognize senior living residents as citizens who can, and should, actively contribute to creating vibrant communities.  

Describe a change or changes that you’ve led throughout your career in senior living, that you’re most proud of.

When I started with CLC back in 2009, it was in the early stages of a huge campus redevelopment project. The community had been there for more than 30 years, and it was time to breathe life into the birthplace of the organization.

The goal of this redevelopment was to bring the community together and add life plan apartment homes to the campus. This project brought together people of different socioeconomic backgrounds to create a sense of oneness and community.

We also developed a resident leadership group to curate a collective vision for the community. We wanted people with different health conditions and socioeconomic backgrounds to feel at home, and working together enabled us to accomplish that. The result of these collaborative efforts saw CLC’s new life plan building reach 99% occupancy in just 12 months.

A community is never perfect, but we really eliminated a lot of the cliques, ostracisms and divisions that often exist without a vested interest in the success of the community as a whole. In this case, the residents even founded a college.

Additionally, it had great financial and occupancy outcomes. Our staff complaints also dropped because we empowered team members to solve more problems on their own.

CLC is still a culture of empowerment, and that’s what I’m most proud of. It inspired me to write a book because I learned so much along the way. I had to rethink what I was taught over the last twenty years of my work, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Can you talk about technologies that you’re excited about, or that you’re thinking of implementing at CLC in the coming years?

One of the really exciting things we’ve learned from this pandemic is that older people can learn how to use technology. I think it plays a really important role, but I’m not a fan of technology for the sake of technology. I think technology should be there to support residents in autonomy, finding purpose, connecting with each other and creating efficiencies.

I think technology can play a huge role in creating more efficiencies that make senior living more affordable for people.

I’m excited, we are doing a pilot program with It’s Never Too Late at one of our managed communities, and it’s all about identifying residents’ passions and using technology to match people together.

Access more of Jill Vitale-Aussem’s insights by reading the full SHN interview.