WALA Conference Follow-Up

by Joe Gallagher

I had the opportunity to speak at the Wisconsin Assisted Living Association’s (WALA) annual Spring conference in the Wisconsin Dells on Friday, March 16.

As I discussed in my previous blogs (LINKS), the presentation was on Intergenerational Housing and how it could be an answer to alleviating the senior care workforce crisis we are experiencing here across Wisconsin.

For those of you new to the discussion, the statistics are staggering:

  • 2016 – Average vacancy rate statewide: 14.5%
  • 2018 – Average vacancy rate statewide: 19%
  • 2016 – 1 in 4 providers experienced a caregiver vacancy of 20% or higher
  • 2018 – 1 in 2 providers are experiencing a caregiver vacancy of 20% or higher
  • 2016 – 11,500 +/- vacant caregiver positions, statewide
  • 2018 – 16,900 +/- vacant caregiver positions, statewide

(Statistics from WALA’s 201­8  Workforce Survey Summary)

Prior to the presentation, I had the opportunity to sit in on a few presentations which addressed similar topics that closely relate to the intergenerational model concept. Laura Nolan, an outreach specialist from the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay, led an insightful discussion on the efforts which need to be taken to hire the right person to provide the correct senior care services that your facility desires.  More importantly, she discussed how to retain those staff members for years to come, including the potential for innovative offerings other than just a paycheck.

Alfred Johnson, director of the Bureau of Assisted Living for the state of Wisconsin, took some time to sit down with me at lunch to go over the concept of Intergenerational Housing. We also discussed the potential changes to licensure processes which could be made to allow for these types of communities to exist and be adaptable over their lifetime.  My suggestions included the ability to switch the licensing of units on and off to allow for the provision of some existing apartment units to be leased to employees.

During my presentation itself, it was great to see a variety of communities and service providers represented in the crowd! Even more so it was great to hear that some local communities are already thinking about this model internally. With the great feedback from the audience, these discussions will continue!

See the presentation slides here

I plan on speaking to as many of these groups as I can, to learn more about what they are thinking and hopefully to be able to share that insight with all of you. But before I do so, I want to make sure I am able to fully vet each idea.

Watch for future blogs—I will be sharing ideas, insights, and progress on the intergenerational housing movement in Wisconsin!

Did you miss the conference? Discover all the topics that were at the 2018 WALA Spring Conference here (available through 4/15/18)


For more information on Intergenerational Housing check out:

H.O.M.E Chicago: An Example of Intergenerational Housing

Intergenerational Housing: Addressing the Shortage of Skilled-Care Workers


Let’s start a conversation! Email me directly at jgallagher@jla-ap.com


About Joe Gallagher

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.”