Welcome to Bridge the Gap with hosts Josh Crisp and Lucas McCurdy. A podcast dedicated to inform, educate and influence the future of housing and services for seniors. Bridge the Gap aims to help shape the culture of the senior living industry by being an advocate and a positive voice of influence which drives quality outcomes for our aging population.

ASHA 2024 Mid-Year Meeting Preview with President David Schless

Gain insight into the work of ASHA including a preview of the upcoming education sessions and networking opportunities at the Mid-Year Meeting.


We need to be more efficient. There's a lot of interest in technology, but technology by itself isn't necessarily a great solution.

David Schless

Guest on This Episode

Josh Crisp

Owner & CEO Solinity

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.

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Lucas McCurdy

Owner & Founder The Bridge Group Construction

Lucas McCurdy is the founder of The Bridge Group Construction based in Dallas, Texas. Widely known as “The Senior Living Fan”.

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David Schless

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So we're up on the Hill, and we have staff and outside legislative representatives, sometimes our members, up on the Hill literally every day of the week.

Quick Overview of the Podcast

Gain insight into the work of ASHA including a preview of the upcoming education sessions and networking opportunities at the Mid-Year Meeting plus hear an update on policies that impact the senior living industry. David Schless, President of ASHA, shares about the latest updates from Where You Live Matters which provides resources and senior living articles for industry providers and consumers.

Operators: use this link to validate your listings on Where You Live Matters.

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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, The Bridge Group Construction and Solinity. Produced by Solinity Marketing.

Lucas 00:43

Welcome to Bridge the Gap Podcast, the Senior Living podcast with Josh and Lucas, a great episode with a great friend and returning guest to BTG. We want to welcome Dave Schless of ASHA. Welcome to the program.

Dave 00:58

It's always a pleasure to be with you guys. Thank you for having me.

Lucas 01:02

Likewise, we're excited to talk about the mid-year meeting. This is coming up June 17th and 18th at the Waldorf Astoria in Dana Point, California. Very excited about this upcoming meeting. As many of our listeners know that we are avid attendees of the membership meetings with ASHA. And this year is going to be in a great location. And I'm sure you've got an exciting lineup. Dave, would you give us some highlights of what people can expect if they attend?

Dave 01:35

Sure. We're really excited about the mid-year meeting. Again, this for us is a meeting that is by design, a little bit smaller. So we expect there'll be around 250 to 300 attendees at this meeting. Usually they have an interesting, outside of the industry, speaker, and our keynote this year is someone that I'm really excited to hear from. His name is Eric Potterat PHD. He is a PhD, so it's Doctor Eric Potterat, but he's a really interesting guy. He is a clinical and performance psychologist. who really spent the bulk of his career with the Navy Seals. And he was the person who designed the mental toughness curriculum that has been used by the Navy Seals for over two decades now. 

Dave 02:36

After he left the Navy, he's done some other interesting things. He has worked for the Miami Heat. He has worked for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has worked for the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team. He’s a really interesting guy. It happens that he has a book that's coming out called Learned Excellence, Mental Disciplines for Leading and Winning from the world's top performers. It's a fabulous book. I have read it, and our attendees will get a copy of this book, but it is really, really interesting. And, again, you kind of take his learnings over the course of his career, and they're really very applicable to everyone. I mean, honestly, whether you're an athlete or not, it is just really fascinating.

Dave 03:36

And, so I think our attendees will really enjoy the keynote presentation by Eric Potterat , and then we have some other great sessions as well. We always like to focus on capital markets, valuation issues. So we've got a really good panel that will cover that at the annual meeting.

Dave 03:43

We also have a session that will really kind of focus on storytelling, which will tie into our Where You Live Matters, consumer education initiative. But again, a big topic, I think, for the industry is how can the industry be more proactive, more positive, less reactive.

Dave 04:28

And, we have, you know, a terrific speaker on that session, the guy named Richard Butt. Richard is kind of a legendary, creative brand marketing executive, recently retired, but someone who has done a whole slew of very powerful kinds of fortune 50 type campaigns for different businesses and related sectors. So we are really excited about getting him out to the meeting to talk about this because it's a really important issue in it. And it ties very much into what we're thinking with Where You Live Matters consumer initiative.

Dave 05:19

We've got a really nice session that is focused on the successful integration of technology into senior living communities. It's a topic that we've been covering in recent meetings and obviously it's one of those areas where again, when you look at this industry and what's taking place over the past several years – we need to be more efficient. We need to do more with less. I think there's just a lot of interest in technology, but technology by itself isn't necessarily a great solution. It's got to really be successfully integrated. So we've got a really good panel of different types of technology experts.

Dave 06:20

It's going to be a session, moderated by Arnie Whitman, from a Senior Living Transformation Company. Arnie's a long time friend of ASHA’s, a long time friend of mine, and someone who really has a great vision for where the industry needs to be heading. So, he'll moderate a great session. That's kind of the session highlights. I think people come to the meetings both for education and obviously for networking. We like to try to find opportunities to allow people to connect with other professionals, and, as you guys both know, we like doing outdoor activities in order to make enough time for those meaningful connections. So we've got all that going on coming up in June.

Josh 07:20

Well, ASHA, Dave, you guys do such a great job at packing in so much value into these membership meetings that happen throughout the year. Mid-Year meetings are always a lot of fun. I actually just had someone from out of state, another industry partner, in my office this morning, talking about looking forward – actually, to ASHA.

Josh 7:46

But specifically mentioned to your point the outdoor excursions –  whale watching. And I was very excited about that. I recall, Lucas and I did that several years back and met a lot of people that we might have not ordinarily met just because we were in that setting. It struck up some conversations and built some meaningful relationships.

Josh 08:05

So, I appreciate what you guys do. For those listeners who don't know, there's a lot of things that you guys do, even just for the industry, not for membership. And you're always working, to do things to help the industry. So, you touched on, just briefly or you mentioned it, but for those that haven't heard about Where You Live Matters, can you just give kind of a brief overview and a synopsis of the why, what that does and we need to do to partner with ASHA to make that a really meaningful resource.

Dave 08:40

We started a consumer education website back in 2016. It's WhereYouLiveMatters.org – O R G.

Dave 08:50

It really was what we initially conceived with the thinking – develop a website that older adults and their families could access, provide really good information, and I think we did that. I mean, we had a good run with the original Where you Live Matters website. We started rebuilding it in 2022. It was just time the technology had changed, but we also learned a lot. I won't dwell on Covid, but Covid changed a bunch of things and it really changed the way the consumers look for and access information. So we had a whole slew of professionals, in the industry outside of the industry, helping us think about what Where You Live Matters could be.



We really have been revamping the site. It's kind of a soft relaunch. So the new site is up. We're still doing work on it. Again. It's WhereYouLiveMatters.org. Doing some things differently than the first version. First and foremost, we want this to be a great website for older adults, families – anyone who's looking for information about senior living. So really robust content first and foremost. We've added a lot more and are in the process of adding a lot more, real resident videos. Real family member video. There'll be associates, but a lot more of an emphasis on real people, real stories. So that's a major change from the original site.

Dave 10:47

We've added a really fabulous group of advisors, so an advisory group. Most of them are affiliated with universities, or are MDS. So we've got a really strong group of advisors who are helping us with content. You say, “Why would you do that?” Well, you do that because that really will help us with the analytics and the SEO metrics.

Dave 11:21

So we've got people that are really very authoritative that will be helping us with content. We've recently, for example, added some content on the website about assisted living pricing and assisted living costs. That content was, prepared by, Doctor Nancy Swanger, who is the head of the Granger Cobb Institute at Washington State University.

Dave 11:49

So, that's a big change from the way we used to do the website. The biggest thing that we're doing with the website is we are going to be including a very robust listing of communities for consumers who are interested in searching for any type of senior living community. This will be a major change from the old Where You Live Matters website. Again, what do we want to do?

Dave 12:20

We want to direct the consumer directly to the community. That's really the goal. ASHA’s a not for profit organization. The website is a not for profit organization. we will not be selling leads or anything like that. This will be a free service for the industry. We will be asking the industry operators and owners to claim their community listings, update them, and add new pictures. But we want to have a really robust, community resource there for older adults and their families. If they're at that place in the journey where they're ready to search for a community. We want them to be able to do that off of Where You Live Matters. So that's really what we're up to. We will be reaching out to the industry in the next few weeks, and we need them to claim their listings. There's a little bit of work on their part, but it's going to be worth it because ultimately, we believe we will be delivering free qualified leads right to whoever you tell us should get these contacts. They will get these leads. So that's one thing.

Dave 13:51

We will also ask them to backlink to Where You Live Matters. There's a benefit to Where You Live Matters, but there's also an SEO benefit to the operator to do that as well. That will tell them exactly how to do that. Ultimately we'd like them to also use the content. There's a lot of really good content. So that content can be shared again through their own social media channels, and there's a benefit to them. There's a benefit to Where You Live Matters. So those are the questions. It's not a heavy lift. There's some time associated with it, in terms of claiming your listings, but that's what we need the industry to do. Again, we'll be making that pitch, in the next few weeks or so.

Josh 14:43

Well, what a great opportunity. Very consistent with the mission of Bridge the Gap, Lucas, to inform, educate and therefore influence. Influence and educate the consumers out there. And we've talked about this. One of our broad goals here is to change the perception of senior living. One of the ways that we can do that is our listeners partnering with ASHA for a free resource. Help your communities, help the residents, help the industry. And Dave, that website one more time.

Dave 15:16

It's, WhereYouLiveMatters.org

Josh 15:20

Very good and so many other awesome resources from ASHA. Dave, I want to round out the show because a lot of people see the results of a lot of the work that you guys do tirelessly behind the scenes. Probably not fun work, necessarily. But important work, that protects our industry, protects our consumers, protects the services that our industry offers – and that relates to policy.

Josh 15:52

Oftentimes these are behind closed door meetings, and you're working hard to get these meetings and to represent the industry and consumers as well. So can you share a little bit about what you guys do at ASHA relating to policy?

Dave 16:08

ASHA really is focusing primarily at the federal level. So we don't have the state affiliates. So our team is really solely focused on federal issues. Basically anything that would affect an investment in this type of real estate. So, sometimes it's tax related, and  we expect there'll be lots of tax work coming up again, not this Congress, but the next Congress. Then it's other things that impact the industry. We've been really focused on the workforce related needs of the industry. It’s not work that is easy. It's a grind, but the industry desperately needs a new source of workers to be able to meet the needs of a growing older adult population. So we're up on the Hill, and we have staff and outside legislative representatives, sometimes our members, up on the Hill literally every day of the week, almost every day of the week. Probably not Christmas and maybe 4th of July week.

Dave 17:32

We're up on the Hill and we're talking to staffers and members of Congress. Sometimes the issues are similar, and then other times issues come up that you might not have expected your spending time on. Right now, we're very focused working on a response to, pending legislation from, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey. He's going to introduce a bill called Health Over Wealth. And it's a bill that is potentially very problematic to any type of private investment in a range of healthcare entities. You may have seen some of the negative press about hospital related private equity investments. Senator Markey's bill doesn't just focus on hospitals. It focuses on a range of healthcare entities, including assisted living. That would just be absolutely devastating to private equity investment. Probably any type of private, for profit investment in assisted living. And so we need to take these types of bills very seriously, and we're very focused on responding. Again, working with all of the various industry groups and our members. Those are the kinds of things that if you suggested that we would be working on a bill like this six months ago, “There's no way someone's going to introduce a bill that would basically eliminate or make it very unlikely that any private entity would invest in health care.” I would have laughed at you, but that's where we are today. We're seeing similar bills in some states. So we have an issue that, again, wasn't on the radar 12 months ago. It's very front and center for us because, as you both know, this is a very capital intensive business and we need private investment. So that's top priority for us right now.

Josh 20:04

Well, Dave, as always, thanks for leading the charge on that front to protect the industry and ultimately to protect the aging population, so that there are options out there, quality options, affordable options, and really options for all different levels of care out there. And, we so appreciate that. And what an honor it is to have you on the show again. Always appreciate your time, that you take out of your busy schedule, Lucas and I, the Bridge the Gap team, and I'm sure a lot of our listeners, who are members and partners to ASHA, are looking forward to being in ASHA with you at the mid-year meeting coming soon. Lucas, another great wealth of information from our good friend.

Lucas 20:52

Absolutely. And for all of our listeners out there, we'll put Dave's information in the show notes as well as ASHA’s website. Once again, Dave, thanks for your time today.

Dave 21:03

My pleasure. It's always wonderful to visit with both of you, and I look forward to seeing you in June.

Lucas 21:09

We'll see you there and hope to see our listeners there as well. We'll have our studio set up, so come by and say hello, and 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.

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