SFCS' 39th Annual By Design Conference

March 25, 2024

The 39th Annual By Design Conference brought together senior living leaders, experts, and professionals to discuss the latest trends and innovations in the industry. With a focus on connecting the dots between aspirations and outcomes, the conference aimed to provide valuable insights and strategies for creating exceptional senior living communities.  

The conference kicked off with an inspiring keynote address by renowned author, futurist, technologist, and CEO of LeaderLogic, Nick Webb. Webb emphasized the significance of lucidity in leadership. He stressed that senior living community executives need to have clarity across the market scape, their own internal culture, and to look inward to themselves to fully understand their strengths and weaknesses. Today’s seniors are considering their next home based on their experience in interacting with each community they visit, and families are much more influential than ever before. Positive experiences start with the culture of the staff and employees, which flows top down.

Next, SFCS’ managing principal, Melissa Pritchard, and principal, Emily Jimerson examined up and coming trends in the senior living industry. Mega trends included a recalibration of the economy and demographics on the horizon and data driven decision making. Macro trends focused on shifting social norms among the aging population including an increase in “grey divorce” and requests for dual primary suites, and wellness programming in senior living communities now being a necessity. Finally, micro and design trends show that business models are changing, unbundling, and pricing transparency are significant benefits to attract new residents.  

The role of innovation and technology in transforming senior living was another prominent topic of discussion at the conference. In a session titled " Connecting the Right Dots with Technology," Nick Webb again took the stage to explore how technology can enhance the quality of life for seniors and improve operational efficiency in senior living communities. From advanced monitoring systems to personalized healthcare apps, the possibilities are endless.

The conference also showcased several successful case studies where collaboration played a crucial role in achieving exceptional outcomes. Each case study highlighted a partnership between SFCS and a senior living community to create a master plan and how that plan became a reality.  

One of the highlights of the conference was an SFCS mentor program with Virginia Tech’s industrial design studio and Warm Hearth Village, a senior living community in Blacksburg, VA. The students formed teams and were then paired with an SFCS mentor and a resident at Warm Hearth Village with an assignment to create a new product to improve the lives of seniors. Check out their final product videos here: SFCS By Design 2024

A full day two of the conference featured a session on campus right-sizing and the decline in skilled nursing beds, community outreach and the possibilities and opportunities it brings, a research study review of interior senior living environments and a look at what’s missing in wellness programming.  

Throughout the conference, attendees had the opportunity to learn about best practices and strategies for turning aspirations into tangible outcomes in senior living. By Design also features fun networking opportunities, a celebratory dinner and wellness events.  

The 39th Annual By Design Senior Living Conference was a resounding success, bringing together industry leaders and professionals to explore the future of senior living. The conference highlighted the importance of connecting the dots between aspirations and outcomes in senior living design and development. Through collaboration, innovation, and the implementation of best practices, the senior living industry can create exceptional communities that meet the evolving needs and aspirations of older adults.

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