Concurrent Sessions: Day Three

Concurrent Session G


Meet the Team from Humanitude and Learn About New Innovations in Dementia Care

João Pärtel Araújo, BSc, MSc, MBA, Humanitude Trainer
Benjamin Surmi, Director of People and Culture, Koelsch communities
Joanne Rader, RN, Co-Founder of Pioneer Network, Consultant

The aging demographics impose changes in society, in general, and in the healthcare system in particular. Along with these demographics, there is the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, among them Alzheimer’s Disease and other diseases and conditions that cause dementia. For caregivers, family, and the person living with it, dementia can be difficult to understand and cope with throughout its progression. The main challenge identified in research is the management of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. Even when there is a recommendation for non-pharmacological approaches, the majority of times, medication is the only intervention that caregivers find available. Humanitude is a multimodal methodology of care that professionalizes the relationship established between the resident and the caregiver. This non-pharmacological approach has been developed for 40 years, and its living authors, Yves Gineste and Rosette Marescotti, concluded that any care intervention without relational consent can become harmful, resulting in defensive behaviors leading to a reduction in quality of life and life expectancy of people living with dementia. With 150 techniques that are scientifically validated and can be incorporated into care practice through training, Humanitude reveals an efficacy difficult to match with up to 95% reduction of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) prevalence. Its results have made it a very prominent methodology of care in countries such as France, Japan, and the U.S.

João Pärtel Araújo’s mission is to bring joy into caregiving, regardless of setting and role, believing that life and happiness belong in healthcare. In 2006, his grandfather was diagnosed with vascular dementia, and that made him dedicate his life to geriatric and frail people care, searching for best caregiving practices to promote welfare and quality of life. João began as a caregiver, a nurse, a clinician, later becoming a healthcare director, and is now working as a trainer and a consultant. Traveling worldwide to train, empower and inspire healthcare professionals, families, and people with chronic health conditions, he is actively working to change the lives of hundreds of people with a relational approach to care. He has worked with Humanitude since 2010, the methodology of care developed by Yves Gineste and Rosette Marescotti, that he personally learned from them, achieving the certification of Humanitude instructor in 2016. He is currently the International Pedagogical Coordinator for Humanitude implementing this evidence-based methodology of care in Europe, Asia, and America.

Empowering people to thrive “no matter what disability or cognitive disorder they may live with“ is the focus of Benjamin Surmi’s work as a social gerontologist. Caregiver, activity director, lifelong learning center director, and home repair coordinator were each roles that shaped his understanding of the unique needs of seniors. He guides the person-centered training for over 2,400 employees in eight states and is currently implementing an evidence-based approach to care from France called Humanitude. He coaches 70+ wellness directors who support over 1,500 seniors. His passion is imagining the impossible and building alliances that make it possible.

Joanne Rader is a recognized expert in the LTC culture change movement. She has published numerous articles and books addressing the emotional needs and behavioral symptoms of persons living with dementia including Individualized Dementia Care: Creative, Compassionate Approaches, and Bathing Without a Battle which received AJN Book of the Year awards in 1996 and 2002. Joanne has spoken extensively throughout the country and is probably best known for her work on the development of the program, Bathing Without a Battle. Joanne is one of the Co-Founders of Pioneer Network.


Leadership in Times of Crisis

Deke Cateau, CEO, A.G.Rhodes

Wise leadership is challenging in good times, but given the crisis of 2020, wise leadership is imperative for an organization’s survival. Deke Cateau, CEO of A.G. Rhodes nonprofit nursing home provider in Atlanta, shares leadership lessons that have helped A.G. Rhodes navigate the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, and the racial unrest that is impacting communities across the nation.

Deke Cateau is the Chief Executive Officer at A.G. Rhodes, a nonprofit organization providing therapy and rehabilitation services, short-term recovery, and long-term care at three metro Atlanta locations. Deke is responsible for an operating budget of approximately $40 million and approximately 500 employees. A.G. Rhodes accommodates more than 400 residents at any given time, and it is estimated that approximately 70-80 percent are living with some form of dementia. Deke has worked in the long-term care industry for more than 20 years. Prior to becoming the CEO, he served in various roles at A.G. Rhodes including the Chief Operating Officer, Chief of Strategic Implementation, and he was the Administrator for seven years at the organization’s flagship location in Grant Park. Before working at A.G. Rhodes, Deke worked at Five Star Quality Care, Inc., a national senior living communities and services provider. He served in many capacities including Area Operations Manager for Georgia, where he oversaw three skilled nursing homes, eight assisted living communities and one continuing care retirement community. In addition to running nursing homes in metro Atlanta, Deke has also managed a 200-unit continuing care retirement community in Savannah. Deke has published two articles on long-term care: Act as Though Your Customer is Right, Nursing Homes Magazine, May 2005; and Skilled Nursing Facilities and Hospice Providers: Bridging the Gap, Nursing Homes Magazine, November 2006. In 2020, the Eden Alternative recognized Deke with its “Tenacious Leader” award, and in 2019, Deke was awarded LeadingAge Georgia’s “Award of Honor,” which is the association’s highest award.


Envisioning the Future of Engagement

Facilitator: Peter Illig, CEO, National Certification Council for Activity Professionals

Dawn Worsley, President, National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP)
Amy Laughlin, President, National Association of Activity Professionals (NAAP)
Linda Redhead, MS, ACC, Edu, Chairperson, Special Projects | National Certification Council for Activity
Alisa Tagg, BA ACC/EDU CADDCT CDP CDCS, Association Director, National Association of Activity Professionals
Sherita Sparrow, Therapeutic Art Practitioner
Mathew Guilfoyle, CTO, Integrator, Activity Connection
Nancy Ewald, Co-Founder, Activity Connection

The physical isolation that has been imposed on seniors over the past months has changed the way we look at engagement and has done more than anything before to challenge the status quo as it relates to what activities looks like in nursing homes and assisted living communities. Peter Illig will facilitate a panel of experts in the field of life enrichment as they share their experiences, discuss new and innovative practices, and explore their vision of what the future holds for engagement.

Peter J. Illig is a nonprofit executive with a unique combination of business, legal and communication skills. He has served in a variety of leadership positions providing executive management and legal counsel to mission-driven organizations. He specializes in governance, alliance-building and strategic reorganization for long-term sustainability. He currently serves as CEO for the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals, a credentialing body for care providers using the Social Model of Care. Mr. Illig is a graduate of SUNY Buffalo School of Law, a member of the New York Bar and earned a post-graduate law degree in International Law from the University of Notre Dame London Law Program. Residing in the Metro DC area, he is a registered consultant with the World Health Organization and a member of the National Eagle Scout Association.

Dawn Worsley is the owner of Dawn on the Horizon, LLC in Baltimore, MD. She serves on a variety of boards and is the immediate Past-President of National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP). Dawn is an Activity Director Certified (ADC) with a specialization in Memory Care and Education, a Certified Eden Alternative Associate as well as Montessori Dementia Engagement Certified. She is also an authorized certification instructor with the National Certification Council of Activity Professionals. In addition to serving as an Activity Director, Corporate Program Development Consultant, Admissions & Marketing Director, Director of Alzheimer’s and Gero-psych units, Dawn serves as a Regional Clinical Specialist. She has a vast knowledge base in many facets of long-term care and community services and is considered a pioneer in her field regarding resident rights and culture change. She is a National Speaker on a variety of topics for Health Care Workers, is published in both print and video, working in collaboration with The University of Maryland Video Press.

Amy Laughlin, BA, ADC, CDP graduated from the University of Leeds in England with a degree in Sociology and Social Policy and moved to the USA in 2002 to follow her heart and marry a charming southern gentleman. She began working in the field of senior living as an activities volunteer 17 years ago and quickly discovered the joy associated with educating, empowering and energizing senior adults. Amy currently holds the position of Director of Resident Services & HomeBridge at Westminster Towers, a Life Plan Community in Rock Hill, South Carolina. She is a former Board member for the South Carolina Activity Professionals Association and serves on the National Association of Activity Professionals Board as the incoming president. She is nationally credentialed through NCCAP and was awarded the South Carolina Activity Professional of the Year in 2014. She is a guest instructor for Winthrop University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology and has presented many workshops for activity professionals, senior living providers, healthcare professionals and groups of active seniors. She an aspiring minimalist, blogger and seeker of a simpler life.

Linda Redhead, MS, ACC/EDU is the Owner of Activity Advisor. She graduated from the ‘School of Visual Arts’ with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Illustration and Art Therapy. Linda is also a ‘College of New Rochelle’ graduate with a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy.  Linda has worked with many different populations but eventually found her passion in working with the elderly. She became an NCCAP Certified Activity Consultant with a Specialization in Education and has over 32 years of activity experience in long term care. As an Instructor for the ‘Modular Education Program for Activity Professionals’, she was awarded the Mepap Instructor of the Year for 2013. For many years she has volunteered for the ‘National Certification Council for Activity Professionals’ in the capacity of past New York State Representative, past Board Member for Special Projects, and is currently serving as the Chairperson for Special Projects.

Alisa Tagg, BA ACC/EDU CADDCT CDP CDCS, President of the National Association of Activity Professionals (NAAP), has been a certified activity consultant since 2006 and an activity director working primarily in nursing homes since 1995. She enjoys teaching the MEPAP education course to new activity professionals. She also works as an independent consultant in various homes throughout southern Nevada. Alisa holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a provider’s Certificate of Completion specializing in Aging with the Nevada Geriatric Education Center and is a Certified Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care Trainer, a Certified Dementia Practitioner with the National Certification Council for Dementia Practitioners, and a Certified Dementia Communication Specialist with the Silver Dawn Training Institute. She speaks onlocal, state and national levels on various topics relating to health care and the activity profession.

Sherita Sparrow is a Therapeutic Art Practitioner, Consultant, and Author who has been sharing her gift of art since 2003. Sherita is also the CEO and Founder of The Feather’s Touch, LLC, a holistic therapeutic art company, that designs innovative programs to restore and maintain the highest level of functionality for individuals with special needs, Dementia, Quadriplegia, Paraplegia, Parkinson’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Her mission is to uplift elders and make a difference in their lives through art. Sherita began developing creative processes that work for elders. As a result, care partners, caregivers, and other wellness professionals began to inquire about her methods. They wanted to learn how to get the same results with their individuals, so they can fulfill the mission of serving the whole person, physically and mentally. From this, the Art Transforms Lives Practitioner Certification (ATLPC) was born, a comprehensive therapeutic art wellness program. ATLPC is supported by years of art and aging research and endorsed by many healthcare professionals. Sherita holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Art from Towson University, a degree in Graphic Design from Delaware College of Art & Design. Sherita is also a Certified Activity Professional, Certified Dementia Practitioner, and Certified in Mental Health First Aid.

Mathew Guilfoyle is a change agent, the constant strategist, an entrepreneurial brand builder who leads executive teams to create and execute business plans that leverage Internet technologies to differentiate and scale. He is driven to create Traction from Vision, and the management concepts he employs improve not only those traditional company financials, but also the performance and job satisfaction levels of everyone riding the bus.  Mathew produces these results as an expert practitioner of EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System, helping companies (especially small and mid-sized) create visibility and alignment in key areas, while also systemizing the business, to generate more value from the skills, passions and efforts of internal staff. When utilized effectively, his special blend of servant leadership, combined with his core skill set as a technologist and experience owning a small creative agency allow him to increase the pace of innovation dramatically for most any organization.  Currently, Mathew serves as CTO, Chief Traction Officer and Integrator for Activity Connection, a long-standing family-owned business where he is honored to be fully accountable for ensuring the success and well-being of the enterprise as they support organizations and specifically the Life Enrichment teams within those organizations, to enhance the life’s of residents.

Nancy Ewald is the co-founder of Activity Connection, the premier resource for activity professionals. Her novel ideas and creative approaches to programming have made her a sought-after consultant as an expert in the field. Attaining a MS degree in Allied Health Education, Nancy’s early activities involved teaching microbiology and working with pipettes and Bunsen burners. However, while taking some time off to raise three children and care for two ailing seniors, Nancy discovered her true passion and decided to make a mid-life career change. She returned to the work force as an Assistant Activity Director for a full-service community. It wasn’t long before the success of her innovative programming caught the attention of industry leaders. That was over 30 years ago. Nancy went on to author six manuals for three national companies. She eventually accepted a position as a National Director, overseeing training and program development for 170 communities with all settings and levels of care. When Nancy left the corporate world a few years later, she was determined to help solve the challenges of the profession she had seen firsthand. She devoted herself to expanding and developing Activity Connection, which now serves activity professionals in all U.S. states and Canadian provinces, benefitting over one million seniors every month.


Integrating the Work of Aging into your life and practice

Kelly Klund, Resource Nurse, Empira

The term Work of Aging is used to describe conversations or actions that support one in reaching life milestones. In this hands on and experiential session we will focus on understanding the Work of Aging by exploring each of our individual Work of Aging domains.

Kelly Klund has worked in healthcare since 1989 and has been a nurse since 1993. She has broad experience in bedside nursing, leadership, program development, and strategic relationships. Kelly promotes culture change through the development and deployment of Empira’s signature programs and educational outreach initiatives. She partners with organizations to help them achieve better outcomes by bravely challenging the status quo and inspiring new and truly holistic approaches. Kelly served as the Project Manager for Resolute, Resident Empowered Solutions on Living Until the End, leading 24 communities from 4 competing organizations through a culture change movement focusing empowering residents to embrace their Work of Aging. The program strives to support residents and loved ones as they embrace the process of aging with purpose, determination, and an unwavering commitment to uphold what matters most in the late stages of life.


Death is not a Four-Letter Word: Honoring Choice in Grief in Long-term Care Communities

Michelle Olson, Gerontologist/Gero Pros, Gerontology Center at Concordia University Chicago and Founder, Founder & Executive Director, Evergreen Minds, Inc.

Death in LTC is a common occurrence, yet it is often strongly avoided. Staff and residents express deep connections to one another in these settings, but when death occurs, there is often little to no support, training or space to share these feelings. COVID-19 has brought this human experience to the forefront of our care communities even more. This session will discuss Dr. Olson’s research from the voices of those who face these losses. Shared findings will include poetry and artwork that was created within this study. Attendees will engage in a simple mindful art experiential with any supplies on hand.

Michelle Olson is a social gerontologist, a creative arts therapist and consultant with a specialization in memory care. She is also an adjunct professor in the Center for Gerontology at Concordia University Chicago and an instructor at the Lifelong Learning Institute at Vassar College. Dr. Olson has worked closely with older adults in various eldercare settings as well as older adults along with their care partners in the tri-state area for over twenty years.

Michelle founded her art therapy with older adults consulting business, Creative Path Consulting in 2012 and in 2019 founded GeroPros, which is a diverse group of allied professionals providing gerontological consulting for individuals, eldercare organizations and corporations.  She is also the passionate founder and executive director of a new not-for-profit organization called Evergreen Minds, Inc. which offers people living with dementia opportunities for meaningful connections and pathways to physical, social and emotional well-being through mindful immersions in nature, expressive arts and inter-generational connections.

Having a specialization and certification in memory care, Michelle understands how important it is to recognize each person’s unique life story and validate their thoughts and emotions.  Utilizing various expressive arts approaches such as art, poetry, music, movement, and story-telling, Michelle focuses on individual’s abilities to promote self-expression, autonomy, creativity, gratitude, play, spontaneity & living FULLY!

Dr. Olson’s research interests include arts-based research and dementia, exploring contemplative death care practices and policies within long-term care. Additional interests are advocating for person-centered care, combating various forms of ageism within cultural and health care settings, and providing elders rich opportunities for engagement in and with nature for improved emotional, physical and social well-being.

Concurrent Session H


Envisioning the Future: Through the Eyes of Family Members

Moderator: Jill Vitale-Aussem, President & CEO, The Eden Alternative

Deborah Bakti, Author, Recipe for Empathy: Six Strategies to Transform Your Families into Fans
Elizabeth-Leigh Bradley, Founder, Every Day Caregivers®
Kim McRae, Family Caregiver Turned Advocate
Sarah Rowen, Advocate
Mary Daniel, Caregivers for Compromise

Join moderator, Jill Vitale-Aussem, whose parents live in a CCRC, along with panelists who bring a perspective of senior living through the eyes of the family. They will share stories, including what it has been like to be a family member as we have all faced COVID-19. What made a difference? How do they hope the future will look for themselves and their loved ones?

For over two decades, Jill Vitale-Aussem has made changing the culture of nursing homes, assisted living communities and retirement communities her life’s work as a nursing home administrator, CCRC executive director and vice president of operations. In each role, Jill pushed back against the status quo and drove deep cultural transformation in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. These efforts not only improved the quality of life for the people who lived and worked in her communities but led to significant improvements in occupancy, financial and regulatory outcomes. Jill now serves as President & CEO of The Eden Alternative, an international non-profit dedicated to creating quality of life for elders and their care partners, no matter where they may live. The Eden Alternative has impacted the lives of people in sixteen countries around the world. Jill is the author of Disrupting the Status Quo of Senior Living: A Mindshift and speaks internationally on the topics of culture, leadership and ageism.

Deborah Bakti is a Seniors’ Care consultant, coach, speaker and trainer, through her company THINK Breakthrough Inc. She has helped thousands of health care staff create better connections with their clients through empathy and a relational approach. She’s the author of the book “RECIPE for Empathy: Six Strategies to Transform your Families into Fans in Seniors’ Care,” and host of the podcast “Seniors’ Care Matters.” Deborah was a corporate executive at Extendicare for 11 years, where she led their home care, purchasing and human resources divisions. She’s a board member with LumaCare, a not for profit community care provider in Toronto. Deborah’s a certified corporate coach and positive psychology practitioner. Learn more at

Elizabeth-Leigh Bradley is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the founder of Every Day Caregivers®, a company built exclusively to support the emotional health and wholistic wellness needs of individuals who are caring for those they love most in this world. She brings over 20 years of experience as a marriage and family therapist, in-home crisis counselor, college faculty member, and national speaker to her work in supporting the needs of family caregivers.

From assisting her own family, as well as hundreds of other families, through various mental health, substance abuse, special needs, or age-related medical crises, she truly understands the impact of family caregiving. Elizabeth-Leigh has combined her professional training as a therapist with her personal experience as a family caregiver to create tools that support the overall wellness needs of every day caregivers so they can care for those they love without sacrificing their own needs. Learn more about Every Day Caregivers at

Kim McRae is a consultant, speaker, educator and advocate. She is also an Educator and Mentor for The Eden Alternative®. Kim works with organizations and companies as a thought leader, change agent and subject matter expert on caregiving, culture change, person-directed living, and person-centered dementia care. As a “Family Caregiver Turned Advocate,” Kim comes to person-directed living and person-centered dementia care through a 12-year history as a family caregiver. Kim got involved with the Pioneer Network in 2006 and co-founded the Culture Change Network of Georgia in 2008. She has been actively working to improve quality of life for elders and their care partners for more than seventeen years. In addition, Kim founded About Face Technologies, which is focused on simple and intuitive assistive technology products for those needing simplicity. Kim is an inventor and holds five US and one UK patents.

Sarah Rowan is a native of North Carolina and celebrates life. In a world where so many people suffer hardships every day, Sarah devotes herself to educating individuals and corporations to productively lead life in a loving and compassionate manner. Sarah is a graduate of East Carolina University with a B.S. and M.A. in Education. She is also a graduate of the New York City School of Lifedesigns Training Institute. She holds a certification from At EASE Inc. School for Business Protocol and Etiquette. She also served as a member of the National Eden Alternative Board. In her career as an educator she taught elementary school, enriching this role by becoming a mentor to those children and their families in North Carolina, Ohio and overseas in Germany. Sarah became an inspirational speaker and noted life advocate, promoting quality of life issues after her husband, Dr. Joseph Rowan, was diagnosed with Alzheimer disease. During this period Sarah retired and became involved with The Crowning Touch, a company which focuses on the fine art of professional self-esteem, etiquette and positive living. Sarah is a cancer survivor. She keeps active and she experiences joy sharing her life with her two children, three grandchildren and their extended families. She loves to travel, read, but most importantly Sarah’s desire to live life to the fullest is an all-embracing connection to new and old family and friends, loving with a full heart. There is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high in the world.  It is to stoop down and lift humankind a little higher … … … Henry Van Dyke

When pandemic lock-downs kept Mary Daniel away from her husband for 114 days, she got a job washing dishes in his assisted living community. Since that time, Mary has been catapulted to the international stage, working with the media, government officials and other caregivers to find common ground and a new path forward for family visitation.


Envisioning the Future for Technology in Aging Services

Moderator: Keren Etkin, Gerontologist, Co-Founder and VP Product at Clanz

Carrie Shaw, CEO & Founder, Embodied Labs
Davis Park, Front Porch

Join Keren Etkin, a gerontologist by training and technology expert by profession, as she hosts experts in the field as they discuss the now and near-future evolution of age-tech. Get perspective from investors, inventors and implementers.

Keren Etkin is a Gerontologist by training and a tech enthusiast by nature. She has been working with older adults for almost a decade and writes a blog, The Gerontechnologist. Her current role is as co-founder & VP Product at Clanz, which developed the first and only audio-based solution to keep human interactions secure, in at-risk environments, and specifically in the challenging and fast-growing elder care industry. Previously, she worked at Intuition Robotics — the startup behind ElliQ, the world’s first social robot designed with and for older adults. Keren speaks publicly about AgeTech, does consulting for several international organizations, and creates content for her blog and other media outlets. In her spare time, she volunteers in the “Furry Friends for the Elderly” project and takes her dog to the beach.

Carrie Shaw works at the intersection of health education and virtual reality storytelling. She is the CEO and founder of Embodied Labs, an immersive training and wellness platform for professional and family caregivers. After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Public Health, Carrie spent 2 years working as a Health Education Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic where she fell in love with the way visual communication tools have the unique potential to cross cultural, language, and education barriers. Following that time, Carrie worked as her mother’s primary caregiver, who’s diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease opened Carrie’s eyes to the needs of caregivers and the aging services workforce. Carrie holds a Masters of Science in Biomedical Visualization and her work has been featured by Oprah Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, JAMA, The History Channel, and the CBS National TV show, The Doctors.

Davis Park has been developing and managing FPCIW’s technology initiatives and programs since 2011. The FPCIW is a center of excellence in Front Porch, a Southern California nonprofit provider of retirement living communities and affordable housing. Davis has over 20 years of program development experience in technology program design, testing, and implementation among older adult, low-income, and other underserved communities to explore and deploy innovations to improve access to digital solutions. He has served as a presenter or facilitator in dozens of regional, national, and international conferences. Davis is the former director of Community Technology Programs at the Little Tokyo Service Center, where he managed several community-based initiatives that focused on bridging the digital divide. Davis is also an inaugural member of the Zero Divide ZFellows, a program developed to facilitate technology adoption and social justice to underserved communities. He has served on several boards and committees dedicated to promoting technology access, adoption, and policy, and holds a BA in anthropology from UC Berkeley and a Master’s degree from UCLA’s Urban Planning Program.


Now More than Ever: Trauma Informed Care in the Wake of a Pandemic

Dr. Susan Wehry, M.D., Chief of Geriatrics, University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine

This session, guided by Dr. Susan Wehry, highlights the importance and necessity of providing trauma-informed care — now more than ever. Participants will learn about the usual course of disasters and disaster recovery, and how COVID-19 is both a collective and individual trauma. Participants will discover how to mitigate — and even transform — this uniquely unsettled time by building on six core principles: safety, choice, empowerment, understanding, trustworthiness, and collaboration.

Susan Wehry, MD, a geriatric psychiatrist, is Chief of Geriatrics at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNE COM). She has authored research and articles on aging and mental health, including the Oasis 2.0 curriculum and a recent study published on JAMA, “Association of a Communication Training Program with Use of Antipsychotics in Nursing Homes.” Dr. Wehry is a nationally recognized speaker and workshop facilitator on depression, dementia, and healthy aging and her presentations combine over 30 years of experience with wisdom, compassion, and common sense, to engage attendees, help build skills, and use proven techniques.


Achieving a Community of Caring by Making Compassionate Communication Universal

Jill Golde, Senior Vice President, Language of Caring, A Branch of Planetree International

Staff in long-term care are caring people. Yet, with heavy workloads and stress, it’s not unusual to become so task-oriented that they don’t COMMUNICATE their caring. The result: residents, families and coworkers don’t experience them as the caring people they are. Session attendees will learn a proven strategy for developing staff so every individual makes their caring visible and felt in everyday interactions. Attendees will experience the powerful Heart-Head-Heart Communication Model and the concrete skills that convey empathy and support and earn people’s trust and partnership. The results: life-affirming, satisfying resident experiences, appreciative families, and increased staff gratification and retention.

Jill Golde brings over 20 years’ experience as a mission-driven consultant, trainer, and culture change specialist for a broad range of private and public sector organizations. She is an expert in organizational change, transforming healthcare cultures and the human-centered care, Jill is known for her genuine connection and caring, her sense of humor, her astute observation skills and her remarkable ability to share her perceptions in a constructive fashion. An engaging presenter, she weaves firsthand experience and mind-opening stories into her sessions. With her appreciative focus, Jill is an inspiring, effective coach and team-builder — helping internal people plan and implement with focus, efficiency, and enthusiasm. Full of integrity, she models the skills she imparts. Jill has consulted to many hospitals, health systems and medical practices, and trained thousands of healthcare staff in the skills that make the patient/resident and family experience anxiety-reducing, heartwarming, and healing. She holds an M.S. in Organization Development from American University and a B.A. in Education from Washington University.


High Engagement, High Success

Laci Cornelison, PEAK 2.0 Director, Kansas State University

Have you ever been excited to implement something in your organization, but somewhere between the great idea and the execution it never took off? Involving team members from across your organization in the exploration, idea generation, planning, and execution of what you want to implement may be the simple key to success. Participants in the Kansas PEAK 2.0 program, implementing deep change to support person-centered care have proven that high involvement leads to higher success rates of tangible organizational change. Those nursing homes engaging 75-100% of their teams in the change process are 84.5% more likely to achieve objective success in person-centered care (Cornelison, et al., 2019). Learn how you can use similar strategies to attain success in your own goals.

Growing up in the nursing home where her mom worked, Laci Cornelison was a gerontologist from the start. Those years of hanging out with older adults while her mom said to “keep busy” turned into her passion. Now she holds the official credentials of a gerontologist along with a long-term care administration and social work license. Laci’s experience has included direct leadership and clinical practice in an innovative person-centered care home, college instruction on aging, program leadership with the Kansas PEAK 2.0 program and research. When she is not boring her husband with talk of organizational change, healthcare, grading and research data, he is puzzling her with talk of the electrical parts he sells while her children create Ninja Warrior courses in the backyard.

Concurrent Session I


Park Springs Story: How One Community Faced the Threat of Covid-19

Donna Moore, Chief Operating Officer, Isakson Living, Inc.

As the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to spread across the USA, Donna Moore realized that drastic measures would be needed to protect the members at Park Springs. She, along with 75 hero employees, volunteered to shelter in place 24/7 with their members to reduce exposure to the coronavirus while still providing critical services. Park Springs was able to continue services throughout the 75-day lock-in. Relationships among the staff and between members and staff thrived, as the employees lived their mission of loving and serving members. The heroes learned critical lessons on leadership, team building, culture change, and becoming a work family.

Donna Moore serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Isakson Living and has accountability for operations at Park Springs in Stone Mountain (500 Members, 350 employees) and Peachtree Hills Place in Buckhead (300 Members, 200 employees). With 34 years of management and leadership experience in the public and private sector, she has been with Isakson Living since April 2018. Throughout her career, Donna has leaned towards project and process management to initiate change through integration within existing systems and cultural norms. She has held leadership positions with the State of Georgia, BellSouth, AGL Resources, and C.R. Bard as well as running her own consulting business. At Park Springs, Donna implemented the household model of care and transformed the operation via policies and processes campus-wide.


Best Practices for Providing LGBT Affirming Residential Services

Sherrill Wayland, Director, SAGE
Nate Sweeney, Vice-President Skilled Services, St. John’s
Rabbi Erica Steelman, Director of LGBT+ Initiatives and Staff Chaplain, Abramson Center for Jewish Life
Dan Stewart, Associate Director, Aging Equality Project, Human Right Campaign

While older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adults confront the same issues everyone else does when choosing aging services, the reality of life in long-tern care for LGBT people can be drastically different from their non-LGBT peers. This session introduces the LONG-term Care Equality index for supporting LGBT Residents. During the session, attendees will hear from peers working long-term care communities who are implementing LGBT affirming policies and practices, review best practices developed by key industry stakeholders and take a self-assessment to assess LGBT inclusiveness in areas such as policies and procedures, resident services and supports, and community engagement.

Sherrill Wayland is the Director of National Education Initiatives for SAGE where she directs the operations of programs such as SAGECare and the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging. She also serves as the SAGE lead for the Long-term Care Equality Index (LEI). Sherrill earned a Master of Social Work degree from the Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis and has over 25 years of professional experience in the fields of education, disability and LGBT older adult advocacy.

Nate Sweeney serves as Vice President of Skilled Services at St. John’s in Rochester, NY, a long-time leader in the culture change movement. He is the administrator for the nursing home, serving 400 elders, overseeing the medical, nursing, social work, spiritual care, therapeutic recreation, and dining departments. Additionally, he is responsible for Day Break, an adult medical day program caring for 30 elders, and the Penfield Green House Homes, which serves 20 elders in the first Green House homes built away from a campus, in the community. Prior to returning to long term care, Nate served as the Executive Director of the LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care, where his team launched Baltimore’s first social service infrastructure for serving LGBTQ elders and created May 16th as National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day.

For over seven years, Rabbi Erica Steelman has served as Staff Chaplain for Abramson Senior Care. In 2014, she initiated, created and has been leading Abramson Senior Care’s LGBT+ Initiatives and Task Force to make Abramson Senior Care more welcoming, affirming and competent in serving LGBT+ individuals. Under Rabbi Steelman’s leadership, Abramson Senior Care has participated in the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) since 2015. She strives to raise awareness of the existence of LGBT+ older adults, and to encourage healthcare professionals, administrators and academics to incorporate an understanding and appreciation of sexual orientation and gender identity into person-centered care.

As Associate Director of the Aging Equality Project, Dan Stewart manages the Long-Term Care Equality Index (LEI). The LEI, built in partnership with SAGE and HRC, addresses the concerns of LGBTQ older adults seeking long-term care. This is done by working with LTC communities to commit to providing culturally competent care and support their work to do so. Organizations will be supported by better understanding LGBTQ-inclusive policy and procedures. This will ultimately lead to a tool for LGBTQ individuals to find supportive communities. Prior to his role at HRC, Dan served as the SAGE Program Coordinator for PROMO, a statewide program providing services and advocacy for LGBTQ elders in Missouri.


Person-Centered Leadership under COVID: What You Do Matters More Than Ever!

David Farrell, BA, MSW, Consultant
Barbara Frank, Co-Founder, B&F Consulting
Cathie Brady, Co-Founder, B&F Consulting

Leadership matters more than ever in times of crisis. With COVID all around, why did some nursing homes in the same neighborhoods fare better than others? Hear steps one administrator took to keep his nursing homes COVID-free. Hear nursing home leaders share lessons from Hurricane Katrina that are a guide for responding to COVID. Use person-centered leadership practices. Over communicate. Continuously involve staff in problem-solving. Be nimble, flexible and creative. Take care of your staff, so they can take care of your residents. Stay ahead of the guidance and meet the highest standard of safety.

David Farrell has spent his entire 30-year career in the healthcare field. He is a licensed nursing home administrator who started as a nursing assistant. He has successfully led several challenged nursing homes as they transformed from poor outcomes to high performance. Over the past months, David has successfully kept COVID out of his nursing homes through person centered leadership. He understands what it takes to overcome the odds and deliver high quality person-centered COVID free care. David has co-authored two books focused on leadership and quality in long-term care.

Barbara Frank, with B&F Consulting co-founder Cathie Brady, helps nursing homes be better places to live and work. They provide on-site assistance and serve as faculty for state and national learning collaboratives to improve care outcomes by engaging staff in individualizing care. They are currently consultants for the VA’s quality improvement initiative for VA Geriatric Centers; and implementation specialists for a NIA funded grant to Brown University to test the effectiveness of MUSIC & MEMORY on residents living with dementia. Barbara worked at the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform in Washington, D.C., where she directed their 1985 study, “A Consumer Perspective on Quality Care: The Residents’ Point of View.” She helped establish the national network of state and local ombudsman programs. She facilitated the Campaign for Quality, a coalition of organizations representing providers, consumers, practitioners, and regulators that developed the consensus framework for OBRA 1987, the Nursing Home Reform Law. Barbara facilitated the first Pioneer Network gathering in 1997, and in 2005 she facilitated the St. Louis Accord, a national gathering of provider, consumer, regulator, and quality improvement organizations that came together to set a course for state and national work to improve clinical outcomes through staff stability and culture change.

Cathie Brady, with B&F Consulting co-founder Barbara Frank, helps nursing homes be better places to live and work. They provide on-site assistance and serve as faculty for state and national learning collaboratives to improve care outcomes by engaging staff in individualizing care. They are currently consultants for the VA’s quality improvement initiative for VA Geriatric Centers; and implementation specialists for a NIA funded grant to Brown University to test the effectiveness of MUSIC & MEMORY on residents with dementia. Cathie has 30 years of experience in executive leadership roles providing services and advocating for older adults. As the Executive Director, she revitalized the Department of Aging Services for Bristol, Connecticut through award-winning, life enriching programs. She served as the Regional LTC Ombudsman for Eastern Connecticut and developed educational programs to introduce her nursing homes to culture change.


20/20 Vision: Addressing the Spiritual Needs of Residents, Families and Team Members

Gary Gibson, Director of Spiritual Life, Presbyterian Senior Care Network

The importance of the spiritual domain during our senior years is crucial as it still very much provides room for growth. As the aging process unfolds, the spirit is still capable of expansion, renewal or even new birth in later years of life. In spite of changes, losses and chronic health conditions, people can continue to cultivate their relationship with their creator or higher power. Our job is to help them stay connected with their spiritual support system and provide the fellowship they need and yearn. Let us work to provide comfort, encouragement and stability in times of change. Let us, with the clearest of vision, work to ensure residents’ spiritual needs are addressed to the best of our ability.

Pastor Gary Gibson currently serves as the Pastor of North Buffalo Presbyterian Church in Washington, PA where he has been for the past twenty-five years. He also serves as the Director of Spiritual Life, Chaplain and Spiritual Counselor for Presbyterian Senior Care’s Washington Campus. Pastor Gary also serves on the staff of the Washington Hospital as their Oncology Chaplin and Hospice Spiritual Counselor. His Chaplaincy and Clinical Pastoral Education degree was completed at West Virginia University where he also did his residency program. Pastor Gary’s religious education includes Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, West Virginia University, Washington and Jefferson College and Wheeling University. He serves Washington County as a Deputy Corner and Chaplain for the PA State Police and the city of Washington Fire Department. He serves as Chaplain and college Pastor at Washington and Jefferson College. Pastor Gary has developed programs and presents on end- of-life and has been a national speaker for enhancing the quality of life for older adults for more than then ten years for Pioneer Network. He has also spoken internationally on “Spirituality in the Workplace. He currently serves on the executive board of SWPPA (South Western Pennsylvania Partnership on Aging) and on the board of VOICE (Voice of inspired change for Elders in PA), Pennsylvania’s culture change coalition. Gary and his wife Kathy of 49 years have two daughters: Melissa and Nicole and one granddaughter, Melia. He is a lifelong resident of Washington County and is a proud veteran of the United States Navy.


The State of Resident Engagement in a COVID-19 World

Charles de Vilmorin , CEO & Co-founder, Linked Senior, Inc
Donielle Weatherholtz-Palmer, Director of Resident Services at Shenandoah Valley Westminster Canterbury

This session describes the impact of COVID-19 on activities and life enrichment and explores the best practices and methods to address preferences of senior living residents so they live with purpose.

Taking a data driven approach from various care settings and levels of expertise, the presented analysis will offer a unique understanding on where the challenges and opportunities stand. This session will explore how providers, caregivers, residents, and family members are partnering to enhance resident engagement no matter a person’s current interests or ability. Whether you are a front-line caregiver, a manager or someone overseeing resident engagement at a corporate level, this session will provide you with exclusive insights and access to actionable data in a COVID-19 world and beyond.

Charles de Vilmorin is passionate about honoring the older adult in our society. From his master’s thesis on nursing homes, his close connections with the older adults in his family, to creating and leading Linked Senior, a digital engagement platform for senior care, Charles is an advocate for the person-centered movement. With Linked Senior, he has more than ten years of experience building solutions that value meaningful engagement strategies that meet the changing needs and preferences of each older adult. As featured in Senior Housing News this past summer, Charles started the Old People are Cool project to combat rampant ageism in our society and build intergenerational conversations and collaboration.

Donielle Weatherholtz-Palmer, Director of Resident Services at Shenandoah Valley Westminster Canterbury, oversees the social work, activities, creative arts, gift shop, beauty-salon, resident concierge and volunteer departments. Donielle is a member of the Interdisciplinary Dementia Inclusive Committee and leads the Diversity Committee. She is the chair for the Advisory Committee for the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging. Donielle has worked as a social worker for eight years, nursing home administrator for two years and now the Director for five years. She holds a VA LNHA license, CDP and CMDCP certificates.

Facilitated Networking Discussion

Designed to be an opportunity for open dialogue and sharing, the following discussion was recorded, and we
encourage individuals to listen in on this conversation, and to hear what fellow pioneers have to say as they explore and envision the future of aging.

                Please note:  There are no CEs available for this session


From the Campfire to Zoom: A Conversation with Pioneer Network Sages
*this session will be recorded and shared on the Pioneer Network Website following the Virtual Event

Moderator: Joanne Rader, RN, MN, Co-Founder of Pioneer Network, Consultant

Throughout the years, Pioneer Network has brought together the early innovators, Sages, to share their vision and inspire us to move forward on our culture change journeys, both individually and as organizations. At this virtual gathering, you will once again have the opportunity to meet and hear from PN Sages like Rose Marie Fagan, Barry Barkan, and Jeff Jerebker, as together you explore and envision the future of aging. Be prepared for some radical thinking and to be challenged to step out of your comfort zone, just as these individuals did over 20 years ago!

Joanne Rader is a recognized expert in the LTC culture change movement, She has published numerous articles and books addressing the emotional needs and behavioral symptoms of persons with dementia including Individualized Dementia Care: Creative, Compassionate Approaches, and Bathing Without a Battle which received AJN Book of the Year awards in 1996 and 2002. Joanne has spoken extensively throughout the country, and is probably best know for her work on the development of the program, Bathing Without a Battle. Joanne is one of the Co-Founders of Pioneer Network.