Sunrise Senior Living CEO announces new vision statement to guide the company’s next chapter


Sunrise Senior Living has a new vision statement.

After taking on the role of CEO in 2021, Jack Callison embarked on a listening tour of Sunrise communities. Early on, Callison said he saw the strong institutional culture of the company and the quality of care provided by Sunrise’s frontline staff by being a leading operator with skills in high acuity care.

At Senior Housing News’ BUILD event in Chicago on Wednesday, Callison publicly announced the new vision statement:

“We have come together on a new vision for Sunrise, which is to ‘create a preferred lifestyle to enjoy a longer, healthier and happier life’. It’s a big, ambitious goal that won’t happen overnight, but it’s the new vision for the organization that excites us all.

Sunrise Senior Living operates 257 communities and is the sixth largest provider in the United States

A “new vision” emerges

A fundamental aspect of Callison’s new vision for Sunrise is introspection and understanding the changing tastes, demands and needs of residents of today and tomorrow. Residents of nursing homes aren’t satisfied with just having a place to live — they also want to feel useful, according to Callison.

“They’re looking for experiences and the ability to contribute and volunteer and continue to learn and grow,” Callison said.

He believes the industry has the opportunity to change the way adult children of residents view the industry. Right now, they might feel guilty leaving a relative in a seniors’ residence. But Callison sees an opportunity in the not-too-distant future to change one sentiment into another. In other words, making seniors’ residences a “preferred” place to live.

“Imagine a world where the grown daughter feels envious and jealous of mom’s life,” Callison said. “She’s jealous that she’s not yet old enough to transition into an elderly community, and she doesn’t feel that sense of guilt anymore.”

Another key factor in revamping Sunrise’s vision was to transform the perspective of senior life into “not just an end destination, but a holistic experience,” Callison said.

Achieving this goal will require measuring the lifestyle and health benefits of living in Sunrise communities. That’s why Callison is also focusing on data collection, an effort that has taken center stage during the pandemic as communities have seen firsthand the impact of loneliness and isolation on residents. .

“We’re all inherently social people,” Callison said. “I strongly believe that over time we can empirically demonstrate through data that you live longer, healthier and happier living in a Sunrise Community.”

Callison said Sunrise’s shift in vision was inspired and informed by a white paper from Stanford University’s Center on Longevity, which calls on industry and society as a whole to adopt a mindset that supports and celebrates aging and older adults.

Callison pushed Sunrise communities to find what invigorates residents and helps them get there. For example, he shared the story of a resident who was a former college professor and wanted to give talks; and another from a resident who discovered her talent as a painter after being encouraged to take a painting class.

“These are simple examples of finding that inner spark where people grow and thrive as human beings well into their 80s, 90s and 100s and beyond,” Callison noted.

From this development of experience, Callison added that lifestyle and well-being will be the “core of what is different” in retirement homes.

Putting the vision to work

Callison executes her vision through a variety of ongoing projects at Sunrise.

The new vision is exemplified within the Sunrise community at East 56th Street in the heart of New York City Manhattan. The project, which opened in 2021, is a 151-unit luxury community in the heart of New York that regularly creates unique, bespoke experiences for residents, including through partnerships with institutions such as the Juilliard School. and Waldorf Astoria.

Community health care services are also a key part of improving resident well-being, with care being provided in the community so that a resident can avoid going to the emergency room or hospital.

These practices are also implemented in other Sunrise communities.

The operator is preparing to open a new community in McLean, Va., with a dedicated resident wellness center that includes space for activities and lifestyle programming in addition to a dedicated area for a nurse of well-being.

And it’s a feature that could find its way into future communities, he said.

“There are pilots we’re running with different payers where they’re experts in bringing in additional services,” Callison said. “It can be in the form of primary care, it can be in the form of mental health, it can be in the form of physiotherapy… We need to be able to provide an environment where they have access to the support and services they need.”

Sunrise is also participating in pilot programs with outside agencies to deliver behavioral health services in communities.

“We can partner with people who can provide these types of services from the privacy of their own homes,” Callison said.

It also focuses on identifying operational areas that could best promote well-being and experiences.

“Everything we’re talking about is actually much more about the experiences of individuals and less about the product itself,” Callison said.

Pandemic changes to Sunrise developments include building larger resident units, identifying common space “in the context of well-being” and how Sunrise can create a “flexible space” that can be reused, he added.

Some operators think residents want the finer things in life, from swimming pools to chandeliers. But for Callison, residents have more specific and personal goals, desires and expectations — and it’s up to operators to ask to find out what they are through surveys and interviews.

For example, a resident may not always want a five-star dinner with a white tablecloth. Sometimes they just want a hot dog with all the trimmings. He told an anecdote about diners at an exclusive restaurant who said their trip to the Big Apple was complete except they hadn’t eaten a typical New York hot dog. Hearing this, a restaurant worker took to the street, bought a hot dog, asked the chef for the plate, and presented it to customers, saying their experience was now over.

That’s the kind of customer care that senior living providers need to demonstrate, Callison said. And it can be done to meet and exceed expectations at any cost.

“It’s not about helicopters, caviar or wine. It’s about making personal connections,” Callison said. “We can do that every day in our business.”

He added: “Whether it’s a bocce court, whether it’s wine, let’s be humble about it and actually go do that research and have those conversations with the residents.”

Callison added that this means providing care “masked by hospitality and lifestyle.” To achieve this, he pointed out that Sunrise must offer “experience activities”.

Looking to 2023, Callison anticipates more short-term staffing challenges, both in terms of worker availability and cost inflation. But he is also optimistic that next year will be better than 2022 in this regard. Already, he said he has seen a net increase in hiring in Sunrise communities.

And he’s optimistic about improved net operating income and margin, especially given the pricing power that Sunrise – like other retirement home providers – has been able to wield.

Callison called Sunrise a “bold industry leader” in being proactive on rate increases, implementing rate increases earlier than usual for residents due to inflationary pressures.

“The practice that we simply adopted was just a practice of honesty and transparency with our residents,” Callison said.

This was mitigated by a 9% increase in the Social Security cost of living adjustment announced earlier this year.

He also sees plenty of opportunities for growth, and “whether it’s development, acquisitions, third-party management…access to capital that will always be there.”

Beyond that, Callison said Sunrise will continue to grow and evolve thoughtfully over the next four decades. To achieve this, the company will need a strong workforce.

“There are too many organizations growing too fast and they don’t have the right culture, infrastructure and talent in place,” he said. “For us, it all comes down to talent.”


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