I love that we're helping this young generation learn from such a valuable generation.
Josh Crisp is a senior living executive with more than 15 years of experience in development, construction, and management of senior living communities across the southeast.Learn More ▶
Lucas McCurdy is the founder of The Bridge Group Construction based in Dallas, Texas. Widely known as “The Senior Living Fan”.Learn More ▶
I heard one resident say, "I just go down there and look at these kids and I just view them as a promise of the future."
Tune in as Jamie Korzan, VP of Investment Relations at Oppidan Investment Company, shares the success and impact intergenerational communities have had in seniors housing by opening their doors to university and daycare students.
This episode was recorded at the NIC Fall Conference.
Produced by Solinity Marketing.
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Welcome to season seven of Bridge The Gap, a podcast dedicated to informing, educating, and influencing the future of housing and services for seniors. Powered by sponsors Accushield, Aline, NIC MAP Vision, ProCare HR, Sage, Hamilton CapTel, Service Master, Patriot Angels, The Bridge Group Construction and Solinity. And produced by Solinity Marketing.
Welcome to Bridge The Gap podcast, the senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas here at the fall NIC Conference. We have a great guest on today. I want to welcome Jamie Korzan, VP of Investment Relations at Oppidan. Welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me. It's great to be here.
You did well.
That was really good.
No, it's so good to have you on the show. We're going to be talking about a topic centered around intergenerational. You know, Josh, we used to talk about this more frequently. I don't know what happened, probably Covid or something like that. But this is a really interesting topic. I know you've been very passionate about it yourself. And so Jamie, it's great to have you on the show to kind of talk about this because you actually have a project that is up and running. Can you tell us more?
Yeah. So May of 2020 we opened the Pillars of Prospect Park in Minneapolis. It's on the UofM campus. And the beauty of that project is, is that we are connected to a bunch of students that care about the demographic that we're serving. 2021 we started the program and we had one student resident living in the community. The next year we had 10 and now we have 15. So it's been a great program and one that we had a vision for at the conception of the project. Like we were talking about Shannon Rusk who heads up our senior housing development really when she started this project, her along with the rest of the team at Oppidan had a vision for intergen and what it would look like on a campus of a university like the UofM. And to see it now as what it is has been so fun. And I can explain more if you want about kind of how that looks for us because it's a little bit different than I think some other programs.
We and our listeners want to know much more about it.
No, we just want to end the show at that.
Yeah, don't you think you're getting out of here without telling us all about it. So yeah, we want to know more.
Yeah, and before I get into that, the other important thing to note is that we have a daycare connected to this senior living community as well that is operated by our operator that runs the senior housing community. So it's fun to have the little kids or five year olds come into the building and get to interact with our seniors. In the memory care they come up and do classes with them too. So we can talk more about that too because that is a fun aspect of the community. But yeah, so the senior residency program, we started looking at some of our units in our building that we weren't kind of selling to our seniors right off the bat we're like "Hey, these are attractive to students in our market." And we partnered with a portion of the university that had a few connections for us and connected us to our first resident and she came in and lived in the senior living community for the school year.
And with that program they have to come in and fill out an application and with that they have to agree to certain rules and regulations of the senior living community and they get a discounted rate. But with that discount they have to volunteer within the community a certain amount of hours every month. And they really get to set what that volunteer time looks like. And for some of them it may be your typical like leading a crochet class or bingo or some it's teaching our residents Spanish or even doing a TED talk about what they're going to school for. So some of our residents are professors from the university and so they want to learn and they want to continue to be challenged and they don't want to feel like they're just sitting around cruising through life. They want to learn and continually be progressing. And so having that interaction with the students at the community level has been so impactful.
They tend to spend more time than what they're originally set up to do because they just enjoy it that much. Another example is we have a student resident that goes into the memory care and works with them with VR and they can travel to places all over the world. She was sharing with me one time that she was talking with one of our residents that spoke Italian and she would you know, kind of go in and out of being more aware than at other times. And she was actually able to talk with her in Italian and just have a very good conversation and she had like a moment of clarity. And the thing I love about the student residency program is that it's changing for our residents but it's also changing for the students that are participating in it. It's having an impact on their lives beyond, you know, what they're doing within the day or the program itself.
So now how do these students find out about this program?
Well, we have a lot of partnerships with the university. We partner with the University of Minnesota Alumni Association and with Olli Osher Lifelong Learning. And part of it was we put out what we were trying to do and we got a referral for that first student. And then really once we had a program where we had one successful student, then it was just word of mouth and it traveled. We were originally going to cap it at 10, but just due to the success we opened it up to five more. Most of 'em are in the medical field in some way. We have one that's going to law school right now. So it varies. They interact with our residents in a way that I have never seen it before, you know, and I've only been in senior housing for five years, but it's something I've never seen before.
You know, a lot of people have talked about this and they're like, I think as humans we can see and think you know about the opportunities anytime you can have older adults investing and sharing with a younger adult and that co-mentorship. But I think a lot of times possibly the business aspect of it gets in the way. It's all the "what ifs." It's like, "Oh my gosh, what if we take this unit out of inventory we need to rent that, we've lost the revenue where it's like, oh from a regulatory standpoint, how do we overcome these obstacles?" Is there anything that you all have figured out that you thought, oh man this is going to be a major challenge that maybe was a major challenge that you had to overcome or that was hey this wasn't that big a deal at all and everybody gets it and it's awesome.
Our operator really led the drive with the regulatory piece of it and we really didn't have any barriers because of how they went about it with getting it approved and kind of working through the process. And I would say that's probably the biggest thing. I think the biggest thing is just the unknown of it. Like you have students living in a community with seniors and that's intimidating to a lot of people in general because you don't know what type of interaction you're going to have. You don't know how people are going to like if you're going to have parties or like are they going to be bringing in all these people And it's just, it hasn't been the case. We have students that are taking their time at university very seriously and so they take this aspect of what they're doing seriously too. And you know we had to put restrictions on it.
They have to meet monthly with the program director at the senior living community and they have to lay out what they're going to do to meet their commitments for that month and they have to meet those commitments and it's consistency in making sure that you're following through on it. But really once they've poured into it and they start getting back what they're getting back, it's taking care of itself. So I would say the biggest hurdle is just the unknown and the scariness of what it could look like. And yes, the financial piece is important but it's a big community, it's 283 units and we knew it was going to take time to absorb those anyways so it was like let's try it. We have times on our side here and so we want to be innovative and we want to try new things and we had partners that were willing to participate in that with us and it's really produced the results that we want.
Do you find that many of these students that come to you, this is their first exposure to working this closely with older adults and in the senior living space? Or is this something that they've sought out, they know they want to do this and this is just the first step on moving into the industry as a full-time team member?
It's all people that thought the experience would be something beneficial for them. That's what's so cool about them because I would say the majority of them are going into the senior housing world as a whole. They're going to be going into the medical field where they'll be likely serving seniors but like senior specific. But it's opened their eyes to a whole new world because the biggest challenge is people don't realize all that senior housing has, if nothing else, I guess it has helped just open their eyes to the possibilities and it's helped other people be aware of it too because of the publicity and the coverage that it's gotten. I think it's cool to see. I've heard this from numerous people. "I've always loved, you know, being around seniors, but I never knew you could make like a career out of it beyond the ever important caregiver rule." But like to see that you could become like an ED or a even a program director at a community like this is a lofty, it's a big job. The partnerships that they're managing there, I think it's more appealing and it's helped get that word out there I guess into the greater community because like people just don't realize that.
You're exactly right. Lucas and I, I mean we're sitting here at NIC and I would dare say that probably over 90% of these very successful business professionals here that are serving the industry in some capacity in the industry, the majority of them are not at the community level. Certainly not living. But I can tell you my first exposure in the industry was living and working in a community. And so it's so refreshing to me because not many people do that.
And the insight, I've told people this, you know, 20 years later that I learned from those months living in a community still inform things that we do today. So kudos to you guys for being so forward-thinking. That's amazing.
Well, and that gets me all excited because then we have the daycare side of it. So this community not only has the student residents, but then we have the Pillars Childcare which is connected to the building. And that has been also, so a lot of people are doing that now, but to me that has been a really life changing thing to witness. And we've actually interviewed some of our residents because we have the opportunity for residents to go into the daycare and they do the rock-a-bye club where they can, you know, rock the babies or like I mentioned earlier, the kids will come up to memory care and they'll do music classes with the residents in memory care or they'll just do their Halloween parade through the building or you know, it varies on a lot of things. But I've heard from the parent's perspective of kids who attend the daycare and then also the residents in the community that get to interact with them and they just, I heard one resident say one time that she goes and spends two hours every other day in the daycare and she said, "I just go down there and I look at these kids and I just view them as a promise, a promise of the future."
And I just love that our community is affording our seniors the opportunity to be able to pour into the next generation. because they want to do that.
And I just think how fulfilling, I want them to have a fulfilled experience at our communities and to see that happening is so cool to see.
Yeah, they have so much to give.
Yeah. And then one of the parents one time mentioned that ever since her daughter started attending the daycare, whenever they're in the grocery store and she sees anyone like older, she's like, "Hi!" She just like now is like overly friendly to all the seniors, which I love too because growing up I was one of those kids that was scared of people that were older than me. And I love that you're changing the trajectory of like a kid's experience of seniors and our older generation.
Yeah, well it's really cool because it's so beneficial to the younger generation, the older generation. It's good for our industry and you guys leading the way on that, it's really exciting. Lucas, we've talked about this for years and it's good to finally see it's starting to happen in these communities. So congratulations to you guys.
Yeah, thank you.
We can't wait to follow up on this. We want to continue to track this. Are there other projects in the pipeline similar to this?
So we actually have another community in the Twin City is called the Pillars of Lakeville, where we have a daycare connected to us and then we're also connected to a church and then K through eighth grade school. So the kids from the school actually come in to the senior living community and they'll do all sorts of activities with our seniors. And that's cool 'cause you're getting more of the older kids now too. And it's fun now that you have a prototype because you can really implement, tweak and adjust things, but seeing the pictures on social media of the seniors with the kids or they'll do art classes with the kids from the school, it's just different. You don't see stuff like that. You know, you see seniors like faces light up and they're just enjoying themselves and the kids love it too. And like I mentioned already, I love that we're helping this young generation learn from such a valuable generation. It's just really rewarding. It takes senior living, you know, providing care for our seniors just to a whole other level and I've been in real estate my whole career and I've been in seniors for the past five. And I would say it's the first time where like my head and my heart have connected with what I do for a living. It's been rewarding for me. And I'm not even in the community every day.
Our listeners out there that are hearing this, that have been on the bubble and wondering, oh my gosh, this will serve as a catalyst and as an example that it can be done. And it's very impactful to the young, the old, and even the stakeholders to the industry that aren't even in the communities. It's a great example.
Well it's changing for us, whenever we enter one of these communities, you know, it's going to be a lot different, I would imagine.
Great story and great time together. I'm happy to hear that y'all are on social media. For our listeners, I know they're probably already Googling, they're trying to figure out, I want to see what's going on in here. We'll make sure that we connect with you in our show notes. All those links are down below. You can go to btgvoice.com, and connect with us there with this content and so much more. Thanks for spending time with us today and telling your story.
And I hope you have a great NIC as well. And for our listeners, thanks for listening to another great episode of Bridge The Gap.
Thanks for listening to Bridge The Gap podcast with Josh and Lucas. Connect with the BTG network team and use your voice to influence the industry by connecting with us at btgvoice.com.