Category Archives: Uncategorized

How to Improve Caregiver Recruitment

Tips to find and retain quality healthcare staff

If there is one issue top of mind for senior living facility leaders, it’s finding and hiring qualified staff. The tight healthcare labor market, felt especially hard in rural areas, leaves senior living facilities struggling to find caregivers for their residents.

Unfortunately, caregiver recruitment is not an issue that will be solved anytime soon. According to the federal Administration for Community Living, the number of U.S. senior citizens is expected to more than double by 2060. The phenomenon even has a name—the “silver tsunami.” With that burgeoning population, we’ll need more caregivers than ever.

Wisconsin comes to aid in healthcare staffing

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker heard the plea from senior living leaders and other healthcare organizations and launched in March 2017 the Wisconsin Fast Forward training grant for healthcare. This healthcare workforce program provides $3 million in grant funding to train workers in health science, healthcare and other similar positions. The grant announcement was made at River Pines, a Grace Lutheran senior community in Altoona, Wis., which opened in 2016 with a person-centered household design completed by Community Living Solutions. River Pines has been lauded for its living and work environment, as well as its unique approach to resident care.

While the grants will be an enormous help to those who apply for and receive them, shortages of caregiver candidates will remain.

How to recruit CNAs and other caregivers in today’s market

Many of the traditional recruitment efforts—online job postings, job fairs, employee referrals, open houses—all have a place in your healthcare recruitment strategy for CNAs, nurses and other caregivers. But, in today’s job market, it’s just as important for you to be connected as it is for job candidates.

Making connections on social networks, especially LinkedIn®; developing relationships with local schools; and asking employees to talk about job opportunities wherever and whenever possible will all extend your reach beyond traditional recruitment practices.

Some senior living facilities are finding success in rather unique ways; hiring candidates to fill in for roles as needed within the facility, rather than taking a permanent position. After about the first year, the employee may then settle into a desired role, where they are more likely to remain rather than finding employment elsewhere. Likewise, other facilities have tapped skilled talent who are not currently in the labor market, perhaps stay-at-home moms, retirees or students, who can work part time as needed.

How to recruit millennials

Creative tactics also are needed when attracting millennials, the generation that makes up the largest portion of today’s workforce.

Three things are important to millennials as they search for their next employer:

  1. Use of technology
  2. A sense of purpose
  3. A desire to advance in their career

Technology: As part of your recruitment efforts, show millennials how you are using technology at your facility. Whether the technology is used to make your facility more efficient or whether you offer activities that teach residents about the latest tech gadgets, millennials will appreciate—and expect—the use of technology in your community. At River Pines, for example, the technology that supports caregivers gives them more time to do what they love—interact with residents.

Sense of purpose: It may go without saying that a senior living community has a huge sense of purpose. Millennials want to see you live that purpose, as well as your company values, day in and day out. Let your purpose and values shine during each step of the recruitment process.

Career advancement: Millennials want to be future leaders. As part of recruitment, have them talk to staff members who advanced in their careers while at your facility. Millennials want to know they will be supported in professional development and in creating a career path.

River Pines is a great example of how design and facility amenities for residents also serve as amenities sought after by caregiver candidates. River Pines is spacious, bright, airy, and most of all, home-like. Residents and staff have access to technology, the outdoors and relaxing multi-purpose areas. They call it concierge care.


Shortages in caregiver staffing are expected to remain with us for many years to come. By setting yourself apart from your competitors in recruitment efforts, you’ll have greater success in recruiting and retaining qualified candidates.

If you are interested in learning more about senior living architecture and construction or issues facing senior living facilities, read our blogs.

How to Reduce Social Isolation for Seniors

Easing loneliness in older adults is only part of the equation

Many studies over the years have shown a link between social isolation and loneliness and an increase in mortality rates. This is particularly true when it comes to loneliness in the elderly, with AARP claiming a 26 percent increased risk of death due to subjective feelings of loneliness. With 51 percent of the senior population aged 75 and older living alone, loneliness and social isolation are serious concerns.

There isn’t one specific reason, but rather many that lead to social isolation. Factors that can increase the effects of social isolation include:

  • Lack of transportation
  • Health challenges
  • Being a caregiver
  • Loss of a spouse
  • Loss of friends
  • Poverty
  • Living in remote or rural areas

Senior care facilities have a special role to play in preventing social isolation and loneliness by providing many ways to counter the effects of social isolation and loneliness, depending on the person’s situation.

Differences between social isolation and loneliness

With social isolation leading to so many health issues, it’s critical for senior care centers to reach out to the elderly through various social isolation interventions. Providing social opportunities will help alleviate social isolation and loneliness in the elderly.

Here are some ways senior care centers can get seniors involved with others in their facility and community:

  • Providing social opportunities, including group meals and outings
  • Providing transportation to social activities or adult day care programs
  • Provide opportunities for regular volunteer work
  • Help residents discover hobbies and arrange group activities for people who share those interests
  • Have regular walking and exercise groups
  • Hold classes to teach seniors something new
  • Set up visits with residents of other local senior centers

If transportation is an issue and people can’t get out, it may be necessary to go to them. Different social isolation intervention methods that can be used to reach people where they live may include home-delivered meal programs, such as Meals on Wheels, or visits by a home health aide.

How senior care facilities can help reduce social isolation

If you’re concerned someone you know may be suffering the effects of social isolation, it may be a good time to reach out to them and see what services you can offer. Your facility may already offer programs such as group dining, group activities and opportunities for outings, all of which can provide a strong social network for people experiencing social isolation. Personal care assistants may also help alleviate social isolation whenever a loved one needs it.

If you are looking for ways to design or remodel your facility to accommodate community and social programs for seniors, contact Community Living Solutions. Simply contact us, or call 920-969-9344 to discuss your plans.

Implementing Your Senior Living Facility Project

How to take the final steps toward opening a new facility

In recent blog posts, we’ve been discussing the steps to completing a senior living facility building project. A successful project starts with a comprehensive building master plan. Once that plan is in place, it’s time to focus on market drivers to create your design. This design will then help you develop a budget to use when seeking funding.

Next, it’s time to begin the steps toward implementing your project. These steps include choosing your architecture and construction firms, planning your operations and staffing and marketing the facility.

Choosing architect and construction firms

Undertaking a building project—while exciting—is never easy. It’s often accompanied by the stress of hoping you make the right decisions while staying on budget and getting the project completed on time. To alleviate this stress, you need to feel confident that the architecture and construction firms you select have the right expertise and will be your partners from start to finish. By selecting a design/build firm, the process is streamlined, and your architect and construction partners work on the same team. This can benefit your project greatly by reducing costs and virtually eliminating the rework that is so common when working with multiple companies.

When choosing a design/build firm, consider the following:

  • Does the firm have experience designing senior living facilities? Senior living communities have unique requirements that are not necessary for other commercial construction projects.
  • Do the key project stakeholders have experience in senior care? Working with firms who know and understand your industry will streamline the design/build process.
  • Does the firm understand national, state and local code requirements?
  • Is the firm cost competitive? Ensure that you are comparing apples to apples when reviewing cost proposals from various firms. The lowest bid may not necessarily provide you the greatest value.
  • Is the firm completely transparent in its costs?
  • Does the firm use qualified local and regional trade contractors?
  • Does the firm have a high level of responsiveness after construction is complete?

In addition to asking these questions of the firm itself, it’s best to seek referrals and references from clients who have recently completed senior living facility projects. The insight of your cohorts in the industry will prove invaluable.

Operation and staffing considerations

Operational budgets

Once you’ve chosen a firm, you can turn your attention to the details of operating your new senior living facility. One of the most important considerations is developing a budget to cover costs both before and after you open your doors. Your pre-opening budget may include costs for:

  • Staffing and payroll
  • Insurance
  • Supplies
  • Marketing expenses (printed materials, website, etc.)
  • Membership dues
  • Staff education and travel
  • Accounting
  • Bank fees

If you already operate a senior living facility, you likely have a handle on the operating expenses needed to run the facility day to day. Make sure to take into account, though, that building a new and likely bigger facility translates into added costs for staff, utilities, property taxes and the like.


Ideally, key staff should have input into your building’s design, so having them in place early will ensure the facility meets their needs. When determining the types and number of staff needed, keep in mind you’ll likely face challenges in finding qualified staff as you compete with other health care facilities. So, start recruiting early. You’ll also need to account for enough time to train new staff on your facility’s processes and procedures.

Marketing your senior living facility

Marketing your facility can begin even before ground is broken. Consider inviting and involving city officials, chamber of commerce representatives and others to join you in an official ground breaking ceremony. In smaller towns, local media generally cover the event, and your chamber of commerce may also be willing to promote your good news to supplement any marketing you are doing to build your census.

If needed, this is the time to enlist help from a marketing firm to develop your logo, tag line, business collateral (like business cards and letterhead) and other marketing materials.

Finally, when construction is complete, build in a day or two to offer tours of the new facility before residents move in. Hosting an open house and tours for your community is an economical way to not only tell your story, but to market yourself to potential future clients and generate referrals.

At Community Living Solutions, we walk you through every step of your building project—from concept to completion. If you’re planning a senior living facility project, contact us via email, or call 920-969-9344 to schedule a free introductory meeting.

Taking Your Senior Living Facility from Concept to Completion

Evaluating your market, site and program offerings

If you are considering building a new senior living facility, launching an extensive master planning process will help ensure your project gets off the ground smoothly, stays on budget and reaches completion on time. Community Living Solutions prides itself on being as much of a master planning firm as it is an architectural or construction firm.

To help you with your facility planning, we’d like to share our process to bring our clients’ vision to fruition.

Kickoff to facility planning

Generally, when building a new facility, the timeline from the planning kickoff meeting to building occupancy is approximately two and a half years. We start with an initial concept meeting and follow that up immediately with ordering a market evaluation.

The market evaluation

Market evaluations help ensure your market will support the services and care you plan to provide in your new facility. The market study should take into account the full continuum of care you are planning for your facility—independent living, assisted living, long-term care and rehabilitation services. When conducting a market study, we focus on the following attributes:

  • The market area. What is the physical area you will be serving, and how many senior living community competitors are in this market area?
  • Age and income analysis. This data tells you whether your market area can support your facility today and in the future, especially in relation to the number of competitors you identify.
  • Demand and competition summary. Data exists to tell you whether your market area has unmet demand or excess demand for each type of senior living community.

Analyzing each of these areas will provide you with the data needed to determine whether you are, indeed, filling a need in your market and will help you determine capacity levels once the building is complete.

Site evaluation and selection

Choosing a site for your new facility takes into account both socioeconomic and physical considerations. When helping clients choose a site, we evaluate:

  • Available locations within the market area
  • Labor market conditions to ensure you can meet needed staffing levels
  • Accessibility to the site
  • Environmental conditions, both aesthetic and condition of the site
  • Topography to help determine whether we will face challenges in the construction phase
  • Receptivity of the municipality where the facility will locate, as well as any financial assistance the municipality may have to offer
  • Costs, including municipal and development costs
Program and service offering evaluation

Before we begin designing your new senior living facility, we like to know what programs and services you plan to provide. This will help us design a community that allows your staff to work efficiently while providing the best care and comfort for your residents. It also helps ensure we construct a facility that will fit your needs today and for many years to come. Answering the following questions will help you determine your program and service offerings:

  • What are the future market conditions?
  • What will your residents require and want in the future?
  • What will you need to do to compete with other local facilities at all levels of care?
  • How will the increase in acuity affect your delivery of care?
  • What is the strength of your referring hospital?
  • How will things like bundle payments, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and alternate payment sources affect you?

As part of this evaluation, it’s also best to determine the ROI of your services. Here are questions to help guide you through the process:

  • Will the new facility require you to increase your staff counts?
  • Will you need to hire a nurse practitioner or a doctor?
  • Will the services be revenue generators?
  • Will you improve quality of care?
  • Will you improve your residents’ quality of life?
  • Will your services increase referrals and admissions?

At this point in the building master plan process, we stop to review the feasibility of constructing a new senior living community. During this five- to six-month process, we’ve conducted a market evaluation, analyzed available sites and their cost, and determined program and service needs. If we find the market can bear a new facility and more services, and we have a feasible site or sites to choose, we will give the green light to move to the next steps in the master planning process.

In our next blog, we discuss how we bring building concepts to life with conceptual master plan designs and solutions, as well as how we assist clients in securing financing for the new facility.


If you are interested in learning about our senior living facility master planning, architecture and construction services, contact us or call 920-969-9344 for a complimentary get-to-know-you meeting.

Mentors or Mirrors?

Mentors photo for web

By Troy Ann Kasuboski, Director of Business Development

Who doesn’t admire someone with praises for the people that have made a difference in their life?  For many years, I admired those who had a mentor and claimed to have no such person in my life.  Those with fond mentor memories are often people very passionate about what they do for a living.

At a recent open house for a new CBRF and Memory Care Resource Center, I was delighted to see the familiar face of Dr. Susan McFadden, my professor of Adult Development and Aging during the college years.  I wasn’t alone as a number of the health care professionals there had the pleasure of her tutelage as well.

As a book author on many dementia related topics, Dr. McFadden shared with me her input of the benefit of certain architectural design elements within the memory care area, from the separate entry to the communal and music therapy spaces.

The biggest gem in this unexpected reunion was to hear from all the passionate people working there who had been in her classes as well.  These former students are those who not only look to make a difference in the lives of others, but in the eyes of many, truly are the difference.

Does a mentor create passionate professionals or is the mentor like the Wizard of Oz—merely  turning a mirror to the passion that resided within all along?

The passion stories are on the way—we’ll let you be the judge.