Leading Age Conference - Fall 2018 | Green Bay, Wis.

Embrace Your Purpose

A Recap of the Fall 2018 Leading Age Conference


Leading Age Wisconsin is dedicated to serving the needs of aging adults and people with disabilities. Each year it holds conferences that have representation from all areas of this vital service sector. Everyone from community owners & operators to financial advisors and pharmaceutical reps can be found under one roof with one common goal: sharing knowledge.  This fall’s conference was centered around the concept of “Embrace Your Purpose”.



Keynote speaker, Libby Gill, kicked off Thursday morning with an ignited presentation entitled “Leading Through Change, Challenge & Chaos.”  Gill left her corporate roles in communication at media conglomerates like Universal and Sony to start a coaching and consulting firm. The firm is focused on helping organizations navigate through change and challenge. Gill believes that hopefulness in the workplace facilitates risk-taking and innovation. She bases her strategies on the Hope Theory which make up the Snyder Cognitive Model of Hope. The three components are defined as: goals, pathways and agency.


1.    Goals represent individuals anchoring their thought process to future specific ideas, and of whom are generally the most hopeful.

2.    Agency Thought represents those who are capable of initiating and sustaining forward momentum in achieving one’s goals.

3.    Pathways Thought represents those capable of the previous two, but also able to establish various routes to obtaining one’s goals and discerning the pros and cons of each.

Using the basis of each component, Gill explained how hope itself can provide leaders with a deep sense of purpose, focus, and vision.  If you’ve ever worked in an office where there was an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, you know it’s not an environment that can foster progress and innovation. Hope can alleviate overwhelming situations, eliminate fear and complacency, and overall be a motivator for change, and overall opportunities for internal growth.  Each day I encourage you to infuse a little hope and positivity into your work environment and community. It may just be one simple way you can “embrace your purpose” and make an impact. Learn more and check out her books here. 



A big focus of the earlier conversations was regarding innovations to long-term services, changes in payment models, and most importantly, the never-ending discussion surrounding workforce retention strategies and the overall long-term care workforce crisis.  I found myself seated in back to back, engaging conversations on what individual communities are doing in attempts to attract and retain a workforce.  The discussions circled around three common themes:

1.    Bettering the Employee Experience: Having a more empowering culture which focuses on the employee experience is essential to workforce retention.  Better supervision and mentorship, job design with advancement opportunities and overall internal relationship building efforts and activities are key.

2.    Better Training: Numerous studies have proven that communities with a higher quality of training practices have directly correlated to a higher retention of staff.  The federal government has a requirement that home health aides and nurse aides are required to have 75 hours of initial training to work in Medicare/Medicaid assisted areas.  Providing this essential training on-the-job, along with maintaining training efforts, lends towards a higher job satisfaction.

3.    Innovative Ways to Increase Pay & Benefits Without Actually Increasing Pay: Okay, this concept is more-so an idea of mine, which I questioned at numerous presentations challenging communities to look at other internal offerings to retain employees, aside from money.  Offerings such as health insurance options, food provisions, child care services and even potential housing opportunities.

In my previous discussions on Intergenerational Housing, the workforce retention conversation is one that still concerns me as we see this massive shift in the senior population across the country.  The 2018 report on the Long-Term Care Workforce Crisis was available for pick-up during the conference. And the statistics when compared to 2016’s are eye-opening.

COMING SOON: I’m giving a review of the 2018 Long-Term Care Workforce Crisis report in comparison to the 2016 report in an upcoming blog post—stay tuned!



At this year’s conference, there was one discussion different from the rest…

Anne Tumlinson, of Anne Tumlinson Innovations based in Washington D.C., gave a presentation entitled “Disrupting Senior Care: Lessons from Top Innovators”. I joke here in the office that us east-coasters are very blunt but truthful. We confront complex issues bluntly but use statistics, existing situations, and past experiences to reinforce innovative solutions. Tumlinson’s presentation could have easily been its own conference – and frankly, I think it should be.

Anne Tumlinson | Leading Age Conference 2018 | Green Bay, Wis.

Her focus was on integrated health and residential care programming. She presented a statistic that 72% of seniors over the age of 85+ have sustained injuries while attempting to perform everyday tasks which resulted in visits to the Emergency Room.

These everyday tasks could have been as simple as reaching for an item in an upper cabinet that led to a fall or cleaning exercises which again may have led to a fall or unintended injury. These seemingly simple tasks become far more complicated as we age and our motor skills decrease.

The costs of emergency visits, along with the costs of Medicare per person, could easily be alleviated with the creation of independent yet shared/assisted living arrangements.

Medicare is constantly overspending on easily avoidable hospitalization and emergency room visits for older adults because oftentimes the injury could have been prevented if they had basic assistance from others.

This ideology is one of the biggest benefits I speak of with regards to an intergenerational living arrangement. By alleviating the remedial tasks of assisted living care workers (such as basic cleaning, food prep, laundry, etc), facilities can focus more on providing the level of care and support that families of seniors expect. Tumlinson’s research parallels the research I have been doing and I encourage you to peruse her website.


Once again, this year’s Leading Age conference brought together those at the forefront of the Senior Living industry with thought-provoking presentations and engaging conversations. These conferences are important to fuel innovations to help us tackle the impending wave of seniors we are going to be seeing as the baby boomers retire and progress into the next stage of their lives.

We NEED to continue talking about spatial reorganization, overall efficiencies, and the needs of seniors versus skilled-care workers.  And above all, we need to stay open-minded to new living arrangements that allow us to accomplish better care solutions.

Feel free to reach out with any questions or comments surrounding this recap. And look for some future posts regarding the recently released 2018 Long-Term Care Workforce Crisis report and some innovative ‘food for thought’ surrounding some recent Intergenerational Housing research I have been doing.

Until then, how can you embrace your purpose?    



Originally from just outside of Philadelphia, PA, Joe graduated from Temple University (Philadelphia) with a master’s degree in architecture. He and his wife relocated to the Madison area in August of 2016, and in June of 2017 he joined JLA Architects as a project assistant. He is currently two exams away from licensure. Senior Living design is something that he has always been passionate about. His goal is to enhance collaboration between designers and medical professionals within the field of aging and memory loss during this extremely imperative time, as senior numbers continue to grow. Joe comments, “Thinking outside of the box is extremely important right now, as senior numbers continue to increase, and workforce numbers remain static and/or decrease.”

Email Joe: jgallagher@jla-ap.com