VBH Foundation Accepting 2022 Scholarship Applications

The Virginia Baptist Homes (VBH) Foundation team is pleased to announce that the application period for this year’s educational scholarships is now open. This financial aid is made available through the Foundation’s Employee Education Fund.

Eligible team members include current full-time or part-time LifeSpire team members—or the child or grandchild of current team members—in good standing who have worked at LifeSpire for at least six months of continuous service.

Applications should be submitted to community-specific human resources representatives by May 31. The application and other eligibility criteria are available through the human resources department. Scholarship recipients will be announced in June.

Anyone who is interested in supporting the Foundation’s Employee Education Fund can make a donation online. For more information, please reach out to VBH Foundation Vice President Jodi Leonard via email at jleonard@vbh.org or to the community human resources department.

LifeSpire’s New Board Chair Seeks to Strengthen Faith Community

Dan Carlton was born in Newport News where his dad worked at Temple Baptist Church. He lived just a mile down the road from The Chesapeake and remembers visiting from a very early age. Later, when his family moved to Richmond, he remembers traveling to The Culpeper to visit residents there.

So, seven years ago when he became the pastor of Culpeper Baptist Church, a relationship with the organization seemed predestined. Dan joined the LifeSpire Board of Trustees in 2016. In 2022, he’s taken the helm as the Chair of the Board.

Dan Carlton preaching at Culpeper Baptist Church

“I’ve been aware of LifeSpire my whole life. There are a couple of things that you do if you’re going to be the pastor of Culpeper Baptist Church, and one of them is the relationship with The Culpeper. That is not a casual relationship for Culpeper Baptist Church, it is a primary relationship,” Dan explained. “When LifeSpire comes and asks you to serve you don’t really decide because of who I represent, and the church expects that. LifeSpire is core to who we are as a church, and we want to keep that moving in that direction.”

To solidify the relationship, Dan worked with LifeSpire’s President and CEO Jonathan Cook to hire a senior adult pastor for the church who could also serve as The Culpeper’s chaplain. As a result, Chaplain Hans Murdock joined the team.

Dan said hiring Hans showed his commitment to bringing the church into view at The Culpeper. Having Hans in the community has also helped the church see the relationship with The Culpeper as a more significant part of its mission.

“A huge number of our church members live at The Culpeper, and I do believe it’s the church’s role to provide spiritual support whether it’s at The Culpeper or any retirement community. The spiritual needs of senior adults too often are seen as anything above 65 as a senior adult but there are a lot of transitions and life stages between 60 and 90 and 100, so the relationship with the retirement community helps us to see that a little more clearly. We are a faith-based retirement community. A chaplain makes that statement,” he said.

Board Chair Dan Carlton and Chaplain Hans Murdock pose with the stained glass window that honors Culpeper Baptist Church.

In his 28 years as a pastor, Dan said that he has never seen the need for that kind of spiritual engagement so evident as it has been in the past two years. He said isolation has been a huge issue amongst all age groups throughout the pandemic. But, he is encouraged by how well many senior adults have adapted using technology and by forging relationships.

He said what the world has gone through in the past several years will inform not just what he does at the church but also what the Board of Trustees will do moving forward.

“There’s been a community that’s built out of crisis. We need to figure out how do we build on that community. How do we give some breathers to folks who have been running hard? How is our team doing? How are our residents doing who have really been stressed for two years? I think we will look to provide some breathing space, but we will also try to figure out what we learned about community that we can build on. There’s a lot of opportunity there and I think organizations like LifeSpire are uniquely situated to do that because of what we have historically done.”

Chief on that list of lessons learned for Dan is the recognition of just how valuable each member of the extended LifeSpire family is to achieve the organization’s mission. He said each resident, family member or team member is someone who needs to be cared for and uplifted.

As he chairs the board, he is looking forward to learning. He is proud to be a part of an organization he said has good instincts and is rooted in faith.

“Some of the things that have been most helpful to me as a pastor is serving on a board and watching exceptional leaders. I come to board meetings, and I learn way more about how to lead an organization than I ever provide benefit to the organizations that I’m serving. I love that we have clergy on the board, but we don’t have to raise our hands and say we’re a faith-based organization. It permeates everything that we do.”

Dan explained that as the Board embarks on strategic planning, long-term sustainability is key. He said the board is committed to the further development of LifeSpire’s five existing communities, potential acquisitions or greenfield projects and expansion of at-home and home health programs.

“The future is bright, and as the organization explores, we will keep the promise that we have made to every one of our residents and their families front and center: we will take care of them for life. While a lot will change in the senior living industry and it is changing, the fact that we’re a faith-based organization is not going to change because the Board is going to hold on to that and everybody in this organization is going to hold on to that.”

Dan Carlton

This article was first published in LifeSpire’s Community Matters magazine. Check out the rest of the e-book version online: https://bit.ly/3hSWUfP.

LifeSpire Committee to Refresh Organization’s Strategic Plan

One of the key responsibilities of LifeSpire’s Board of Trustees is to set the strategic direction for the organization. While it’s common for organizations to have a vision for 10 or 20 years from now, shorter strategic planning cycles are necessary in today’s fast-changing world.

Lisa Legeer

“Changing consumer demands, workforce challenges, rapid advances in technology and significant industry consolidation are just a few of the forces impacting senior living organizations, requiring us to plan for three to five years while continuously monitoring and adapting,” said LifeSpire’s Chief Strategy and Integration Officer Lisa Legeer.

Lisa joined the team in June 2021 and was charged with leading the transition as LifeSpire welcomed The Summit into its family of communities. Strategic growth like the addition of a fifth community was a key initiative in the organization’s last strategic plan.

“LifeSpire engaged in a strategic planning process in 2018 that has helped guide the organization to improved operating and financial performance, a stronger Board of Trustees, continued organic growth and significant investments at all LifeSpire communities with nearly $165 million in capital improvements,” Lisa said.

LifeSpire’s Six Strategic Planning Pillars

  • Investing in the future
  • Strengthening finances
  • Employer of choice
  • Excellence in healthcare
  • Strategic alliances
  • Technology

In 2022, LifeSpire’s Board of Trustees will refresh and update the 2018 strategic plan, building on the successful foundation of that work. Lisa will work together with the Board and LifeSpire’s leadership team to imagine the future for LifeSpire and determine the strategic imperatives and priorities that will achieve that future.

“This is really a pivotal time, and I’m excited to kick off our strategic planning process with a series of education sessions for the Board, team members and residents,” Lisa explained. “In these sessions, we’ll hear from industry leaders and other experts with the latest information about key topics such as workforce, industry consolidation, technology and even design trends.”

The Board of Trustees and leadership teams will participate in a strategic planning retreat later this year. Lisa expects the group to leave that meeting with a refreshed vision and framework for the next three to five years.

“Consumer trends tell us that seniors are looking for purpose and they’re looking for choices. In 2016, when Virginia Baptist Homes became known as LifeSpire, the board also recast the mission of the organization: Empowering individuals with choices in purposeful living. What foresight they had in this ever-changing world. It’s our job to continue to advance that mission as we pursue growth opportunities, long-term success and sustainability. That is when the real work begins.”

Lisa Legeer

This article was first published in LifeSpire’s Community Matters magazine. Check out the rest of the e-book version online: https://bit.ly/3hSWUfP.

LifeSpire Welcomes Two New Trustees to Its Board

LifeSpire of Virginia is pleased to welcome two new members to its Board of Trustees. James Poats and Gary Thomson officially joined the board on January 1.

James Poats is a financial advisor operating out of Lynchburg, Va., who has been in the financial industry for more than 30 years. Poats is an advisor for Pettyjohn, Wood & White, Inc. Poats is the first trustee representing the Lynchburg area following LifeSpire assuming ownership of The Summit in Lynchburg where he served as a board member for many years.

“In my years of working with the financial well-being of individuals and families, I came to understand the importance of seniors maintaining their independence and dignity as they transitioned from living in their own homes to the various levels of care offered by life plan communities. I believe I will bring an analytical approach to dealing with the financial and non-financial issues facing our organization while always remembering that we are here to serve the needs of our residents above all.”

James Poats

Gary Thomson is the managing partner at Thomson Consulting, LLC in Richmond, Va. He has more than 35 years of experience in the CPA profession spanning small to medium to large firms, and the last 15 years spent at Top 25 firms in governance and leadership roles. He currently serves as a council member for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and is a past chair of the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants. He also serves as a board member for the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Foundation of Independent, the American Heart Association and The Bank of Southside Virginia.

LifeSpire’s Board of Trustees voted in December to appoint these two new members in 2022. Susan Rucker of Midlothian, Va., who served on the board for eight years, and Robert Musick of Richmond, Va., who served on the board for 24 years, cycled off at the end of December.

Senior Living Partners of Virginia Announces New CEO

Senior Living Partners of Virginia, LLC (SLP) is pleased to announce that Robert Brigeman has been named the organization’s chief executive officer. In this role, he will oversee the day-to-day operations of Affirmation Home Health, the home health company operated by SLP. Brigeman joined the SLP Team on January 5, 2022.

Brigeman has more than 18 years of senior living experience with a focus on growing new markets, developing effective teams and generating additional streams of revenue in post-acute healthcare. He joins the SLP team from Functional Pathways where he served as senior regional vice president.

Brigeman received his bachelor’s in business administration with a concentration in finance from Ohio University. Brigeman and his wife Ashley have two sons, Roman and Lochlan, and he enjoys waterskiing, hiking and almost everything outdoors.

LifeSpire of Virginia and Pinnacle Living, both with corporate offices located in Glen Allen, announced the formation of SLP—a joint venture—to provide home health and other organizational support services, in June. SLP allows both organizations to formally collaborate and expand their mission-focused growth to serve residents in their retirement communities and those who currently do not reside inside the walls of a retirement community.

LifeSpire of Virginia Announces New Vice President of Human Resources

LifeSpire of Virginia is pleased to announce that Laura Wooton has been named the organization’s vice president of human resources. In this role, Wooton will be responsible for workforce development, human resources management and best practices, organizational effectiveness and performance measurement. Wooton will begin her role on January 31.

Wooton has more than 20 years of experience in talent management and previously served as LifeSpire’s corporate human resources director from 2011–2015. She rejoins the team from Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen, a Richmond law firm, where she served as human resources director. She also worked as a human resources consultant for Fortis Leadership & HR Business Solutions and corporate human resources director for Ingenco.

Wooton received her bachelor’s in science from Virginia Tech and a master’s in business administration with a concentration in human resources from Virginia Commonwealth University. She holds certifications as a Senior Professional in Human Resources and SHRM Senior Certified Professional.

“Laura has always had a call to serve others so when this position opened it was a great fit. It is clear she has the depth of experience we need to support LifeSpire communities. Not only does she understand team member relations, engagement and the legalities of talent management, but she also knows senior living and the day-to-day challenges we face. I am thrilled to welcome Laura to the team.”

LifeSpire Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Cook

LifeSpire Names New Chief Operating Officer

LifeSpire of Virginia is pleased to announce that Tracey Jennings has been selected as the organization’s new chief operating officer. In this role, Jennings will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the five LifeSpire communities. Additionally, Jennings will have oversight of community operating budgets, policies and procedures and provide oversight of major vendor relationships. Jennings began her new role on December 1.

“Tracey brings a unique breadth and depth of experience including senior leadership roles in senior living and across the entire care continuum with Centra Health, licensed nursing homes, hospice and home health. I believe Tracey’s experience complements the LifeSpire senior management’s team and she will bring valuable perspective as LifeSpire continues to pursue future growth opportunities,” said President and CEO Jonathan Cook.

Jennings brings more than 20 years of leadership experience in the senior living and healthcare arena. Jennings held numerous positions at Centra Health including managing director of senior care where she oversaw long-term care communities; chief operating officer of Bedford Memorial Hospital and vice president of care coordination, where she led care coordination and case management processes and systems. Prior to joining Centra, Jennings worked as a nursing home administrator in the Lynchburg area.

Jennings holds a bachelor’s degree from Ferrum College and is a licensed nursing home administrator and preceptor in Virginia. Additionally, Jennings serves on Leading Age Virginia’s Board of Directors, the Governor’s Long-Term Care task force and Centra Specialty Hospital’s Board of Directors.

November 22: Visitation Update

As the holiday season approaches, the LifeSpire leadership team is pleased to announce that our five communities will now allow indoor visitation and for all residents—including assisted living, memory support and healthcare. Communities will no longer limit the frequency or length of visits for residents, the number of visitors or require advance scheduling of visits.

This exciting news marks a significant shift in LifeSpire’s policies which have been driven largely by governmental regulatory agencies. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) determined that visitor restrictions/limitations are no longer necessary as they were during the earlier part of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been anxiously awaiting this CMS guidance and are thrilled to no longer be required to restrict visitation at LifeSpire communities.

We hope that you and your loved ones will see this as a signal that conditions in life plan communities, like ours, continue to improve. As always, our priority is the health, safety, and well-being of LifeSpire residents, their loved ones and all LifeSpire team members. We appreciate your patience, diligence and flexibility as we navigate the pandemic. We are grateful for the cooperation from residents, team members and the extended LifeSpire family. Because of all your care and support, LifeSpire continues to fare better than many peers across the country despite the headwinds created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While all signs show that things are continuing to return to normal, CMS may choose to change its recommendations in the future. We will continue to inform you of new changes to visitation policies. Community-specific guidelines regarding visitation are forthcoming and will be posted on each community’s blog which is accessible from the website. Please review the specific guidelines for visitation prior to your visit. If you have any questions about the visitation process, please do not hesitate to reach out to a member of the leadership team at your community.

CDC Releases Updated Guidance for COVID Boosters

On October 22, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new recommendations for expanding the booster COVID vaccine. The new guidance includes the ability to mix and match with a booster vaccine that is different from the primary series received. 

The booster recommendations for all three available COVID vaccines are as follows:

Pfizer Recipients

The following groups are eligible for a booster shot at six months or more after the initial series:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings

Moderna Recipients

The following groups are eligible for a booster shot at six months or more after the initial series:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings

Johnson & Johnson Recipients

Everyone 18 and over is eligible for a booster shot two months or more after the initial vaccine.

All recipients of any vaccine may choose which vaccine to receive as a booster dose. Some people may prefer the vaccine type originally received and others may prefer to get a different booster. The CDC offers no guidance on selecting between vaccines at this time.

LifeSpire Leadership Team Prepares for Ownership Transition

It has been a busy four weeks since our last post as the LifeSpire leadership team prepares for the anticipated transaction closing on September 30 and assumes ownership on October 1. 

Following a comprehensive benefits presentation by LifeSpire’s benefits administrator, Scott Insurance, on August 23, the LifeSpire leadership team has been onsite at The Summit to assist team members with the onboarding process. All team members have signed their offer letters and completed the benefits enrollment process. 

On August 26, after months of careful consideration, LifeSpire announced to its team members that the organization will be instating a COVID-19 vaccine mandate across all LifeSpire communities and the home office. LifeSpire is following guidance received from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requiring all nursing home team members to become vaccinated.  Absent further guidance from CMS on the timing, LifeSpire announced that the vaccine will be required by October 10. 

On September 2, LifeSpire announced Adam Feldbauer as The Summit’s Executive Director. Feldbauer has more than 10 years of experience in senior living and healthcare organizations and became a licensed nursing home administrator in 2014. He will join The Summit on October 1.  

The LifeSpire leadership team participated in a Family Night for The Summit Assisted Living residents and family members on September 14 to share information about what to expect in the weeks and months ahead. 

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