Looking ahead to 2019: A Q&A with Kevin Kiefer

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Kevin Kiefer, President of Castle Senior Living, and ask him a few questions. Here is what he had to say.

Castle Senior Living just built and opened The Grand Hills Castle in 2018. As we begin 2019, what are your priorities in the New Year?

We are so excited to have such a state-of-the-art facility to offer to residents. The Grand Hills Castle is unique with its architecture and design. That truly helps us as we create comfortable living conditions, provide elegant and homestyle culinary options, provide quality healthcare, and offer a variety of engaging activities for our residents. We want more people to visit and engage with our newest location so that they can see all we have to offer.

Additionally, we’d like to connect more with the communities around our facilities such as being more involved with charity events, working closely with the chambers of commerce, etc. One aspect of this is that we want to offer dementia training to the community. Many families struggle with the development of dementia or Alzheimer’s in loved ones. We have experience, both professionally and personally, with dementia and want to offer that hands-on experience to the communities around us. We want to be there as a resource for people.

There is quite a bit of change in the assisted living arena with a new generation of residents desiring more wellness programs, leisure activities, and food variation than previous generations. What trends do you think will stick?

I believe that it comes down to two main things: personal space and choices. People want their own personal space and they want choices so they feel independent. This can come with a variety of structural layouts or social programming. Wellness programs, leisure activities, food variation and other programs helps in long term success, but it does come with a cost. Smart companies will keep up with generational demands and adapt with technology and programming.

What are some of Castle’s initiatives that you find particularly exciting?

We are very excited to connect more with the communities that we are in, especially the locations that we are relatively new in. One example is our Birchrock Senior Community in Mukwonago, which we bought last March. We are striving to be a larger part of the Mukwonago community so that we can be resource to families in the area.

Castle Senior Living’s mission is to “provide compassionate care to seniors in a home-like environment that encourages independence and focuses on improving physical and emotional well-being.” What does that mean to you? And how do you help employees express that?

Twenty years ago, most senior living facilities felt cold and looked dingy. A common picture was to see all the residents in wheelchairs, lined up by the nurse’s station and along the hallway walls. Everybody was so busy that no one was focusing on improving physical and emotional well-being. Our focus is changing this perspective. People should feel comfortable in their home, so we want all of our locations to feel home-like. Kris and I believe that people should always be focusing on improving their physical and emotional well-being and we tailored our programming around that focus.

We often talk to our employees about our mission and explain why it is important to us and to Castle Senior Living as a whole. Our employees come from different backgrounds and experiences, but everyone has a story on what inspires them to care for others. We try to embrace their stories to reflect our mission and encourage a positive experience.

What is your favorite thing about working in assisted living? You grew up around assisted living and now have had many years of successfully running assisted living facilities. That gives you an in-depth and unique outlook on assisted living. What drives that passion?

I have two passions. The first is knowing that we are helping people. Many of our residents come from a worse situation such as living at home alone, not eating well, minimal socialization or just not begin able to care for themselves due to physical or environmental limitations. I know we can and do help them improve physically and emotionally, which is so encouraging. Others come from a loving situation, but one that puts a great burden on the children and families. We are able to relieve that pressure while still ensuring that their loved one get all the help, love and support they need.

My second passion is seeing the personal growth of our employees. We have a great, dependable, loving care staff and we are fortunate for that. I love to see our staff care for our residents with so much compassion. Growth comes with time and many of our staff have been promoted because of growth and trust.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

I’m at work a lot, if not physically, then mentally because I love what I do and there is such a trust placed in our hands. But when I’m not at work, I like to spend time with my wife and three daughters. We are pretty active and like to play games, camp, ski, and swim. When I’m not with my family I like to hunt with my dog, Alice, and shoot trap.

What book is on your nightstand?

I actually have two right now. The first is “Culture Wins” by William Vanderbloemen which discusses making your company a great place to work in today’s job-hopping culture. The second is “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr. That one talks about the goal-setting system of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) which can help organizations thrive.

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