Parade of Senior Living Services set

July 12, 2010
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The Grand Rapids Business Journal’s fifth annual Parade of Senior Living and Services takes place July 15-17. The event is free and open to anyone interested.

This year the parade includes eight continuing care retirement community locations. A parade bus with limited seating will take riders to Covenant Village of the Great Lakes, Porter Hills Village, Cook Valley Estates, Samara Woods Clark and Breton Woods of Holland Home. Beacon Hill at Eastgate will open its information center, but housing units will not be open until this fall.

The founder and organizer of the event, Christina McDonald Meister, said that residents, senior volunteers and staff will be available during the tours to offer an inviting “no-pressure” experience.

The event has three sponsors this year: Hope Network, The Chemist Shoppe and Rhoades McKee, a Grand Rapids-based law firm that works with clients in estate planning and also with some of the care providers.

Firm shareholder Randy J. Kolar said the senior living and services industry has undergone big improvements over the years and he expects to see certain trends evident in this year’s parade.

“What you see now is that there are more and more functions, events and activities that are catered towards a younger, more active lifestyle,” he said.

“The facilities are very competitive, and the quality of the activities is significantly better than it was five or 10 years ago. When I meet with the clients that are residents, they are really happy with what’s being offered to them out there.”

Kolar believes the increased competitiveness of the industry and improved quality of care is due to a mix of the right demographics and to care providers from diverse professional backgrounds.

“The demographics are in the right position. I think what happened is that there were a number of independent owners and facilities that have had a good opportunity to work in different areas, and they do a good job of listening,” he said.

“There are individuals now that have had hospitality backgrounds. They look at them not just as residents, but as people and long-term customers. You’re getting a different skill set and approach. Ten years ago, you just didn’t see the competition there is right now.”

Transitional living is another trend Kolar expects to see highlighted in this year’s parade.

“What I see quite often now is … the ‘cottage’ approach — independent living with assistance so they can gradually transition. They want to be part of the community and have their own space that they can maintain to the extent they can,” he said.

“You’re also seeing a number of in-home services that can be needed to bridge the gap between that and actually living in an assisted living facility.”

To learn more about the three-day event, contact McDonald Meister at (616) 459-3080.

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