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Bucking the Trend: Christianity and Senior Living

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By Steve Moran

There is a long, noble, deep tradition of faith-based senior living communities almost exclusively in the not-for-profit realm. Though many of those have renamed and rebranded to eliminate, or all but, eliminate any reference to their Christian heritage. In many cases it was rightfully seen as necessary in order for the organization to stay alive and thrive.

I can remember many years ago, when I was selling contract rehabilitation therapy services cold, calling a community that had a denominational affiliation as part of their name and asking if one had to be a part of that denomination to be a resident . . . I just plain didn’t know.

Bucking the Trend

I was intrigued when I received a press release from Dominion Senior Living talking about their rebranding and effort to better reflect their commitment to faith and Biblical values. I confess to having these thoughts . . .

  • Cool

  • REALLY?

  • Won’t Work!

  • I Hope It Actually Does Work

The Conversation

I responded and landed an interview with Josh Crisp, the CEO of Dominion. You can listen to the interview at the bottom of the article. It runs about 27 minutes and is worth the listen. Here are the high points:

  • They created the company about two and a half years ago with a foundation of honoring God in everything they do.

  • Their recent rebranding was done because they felt their logo, look and feel, did not adequately reflect their foundation. Today they have a new look and feel including a new Olive Branch logo that reflects their desire to bring peace to their residents, family members, team members and marketplace communities.

  • Love Tanks  --  They have this notion that in order to be successful they need to fill resident and family member “love tanks". And . . . that in order to make this happen, they need to fill the teams' love tanks first.

  • They see this filling happening by meeting the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of the team, residents and family members.

Does the "God Thing" Actually Work?

I was particularly curious about how well this whole God Christianity thing works in a world that is increasing secular. It turns out that it works very well:  

  • First being located in the heart of the Bible Belt makes it more likely to be successful than on the coasts.

  • Their way of doing business . . . their care model is Biblically based but one that looks at behavioral principles as opposed to theology or dogma.  

  • He made the point that because of their point of view, they tend to attract residents who appreciate those values and team members that embrace those values.

God All Over the Website

  • Location is likely a big difference:  Southeast  --  Bible Belt

  • As we age, faith tends to grow more important

  • Do believe in a biblical care model

  • They are very deliberately non-denominational in their approach

  • Josh noted that many folks are tired of religion and that they are too

  • Because of their faith-based model, they are attracting staff who are highly committed to the mission of the company

  • Get team members who feel "called", are highly committed to the mission and see what they do as more than just a job. This means they have very low turnover (15% or under)

  • They are a young company so they don’t have a huge amount of occupancy data, but their oldest building is running at 93%. Their next oldest is 100% full with a waiting list. The others are on target or ahead of target in the fill-up phase

There is a ton more in the interview and I think you would find it a worthwhile listen.

 

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