Category: Member News

FSLA Establishes Justin Paul Brown Memorial Scholarship for Senior Living

Apply for the 2022 Scholarship!

Justin Paul Brown, a long-serving board member of the Florida Senior Living Association, spent his career serving seniors and fostering growth of those who shared his passion and served alongside him in senior living.  Justin dedicated 16 years to the growth and development of front line associates and department leaders, working to create opportunities for advancement.

Justin also had a strong passion for ensuring the communities under his leadership could provide competent and compassionate care and service.  One of his greatest attributes was bringing joy to those around him, most often putting others before himself.  Justin received promotions several times during his career and identified the value of career pathways for front line associates and department leaders.  He also saw the power of networking in the industry to create streamlined processes and engagement programs to benefit both residents and associates.

At the age of 45, Justin contracted COVID and although he fought valiantly, he passed away in late September 2020.  To honor his legacy, FSLA is creating the Justin Paul Brown Memorial Scholarship for Senior Living to fund professional development opportunities for other leaders in senior living. This scholarship recognizes Justin’s leadership, passion and courage, and his commitment to empowering and educating the next generation of senior living leaders will live on in his memory.

Description:  The Justin Paul Brown scholarship awards a senior living community department leader with full tuition to attend the Florida Senior Living Association Senior Living Annual Conference.  The leader will have access to cutting edge educational materials and invaluable networking opportunities to meet leaders and experience new technologies.

Eligibility:  Applicant must be a department coordinator, supervisor or director within a Florida senior living community which is part of the Florida Senior Living Association.

Requirements: Those interested in applying for the Senior Living Scholarship must submit an application packet (coming soon), a one-page personal essay about where the applicant desires to be in three years as well as how they will use the content at the conference to pay it forward, and at least one letter of recommendation.       

Where to Apply: Florida Senior Living Association Website (coming soon)

Deadline: June 10, 2022

Donations to the Justin Paul Brown Memorial Scholarship for Senior Living may be made by contacting the Florida Senior Living Association.

SRI Management Announces VP of Operations and Finance

SRI Management Selects Todd Filippone as Vice President of Operations and Finance

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 24, 2019) SRI Management LLC, a highly personal, results-oriented senior living management company with more than 25 communities throughout the Southeast, announces the selection of Todd Filippone as its vice president of operations and finance. An integral member of the SRI Management corporate leadership team for the past three years, Filippone brings more than 15 years of senior housing experience to the company. In his VP role, Filippone oversees all new construction and development in addition to the transition of existing communities acquired by SRI Management, all while continuing to provide operational support for the current portfolio.

“As SRI continues our forecasted growth at an impressive rate, promoting Todd to a VP ensures strategically delivered results,” says Don Bishop, chief executive officer, SRI Management. “His approach of streamlining all systems and programs during community development, construction and/or acquisition ultimately ensures the owner and resident satisfaction for which SRI is widely recognized.”

With Filippone serving as vice president of operations and finance, SRI is poised to acquire, break ground on or open nearly a dozen new communities throughout Florida and the Southeast the upcoming months, all while continuing to operate with its signature core values of character, compassion and commitment.

Since its inception in 2000, SRI’s leadership has consistently sought to be in the forefront of changes in the industry and forging strong relationships with owners. Each SRI-managed property seeks to achieve optimal results in all areas of operations, including resident care, associate satisfaction and retention, and financial performance. The company currently manages 25 (including five properties currently under construction) independent living, assisted living, enhanced assisted living and memory care communities, encompassing more than 2,200 units, with operating revenues exceeding $50-million, annually. More information on SRI Management can be found at

Taste & Tell: A Signature Experience

By Ellen Belk, CDP, National Director of Community Lifestyle & Memory Support at Milestone Retirement Communities

For those who practice Mindfulness, living in the moment is about appreciating the here and now. It takes patience and a bit of training to be able to fully welcome the stillness of mind and body required to be completely ‘present’ in the moment.

At Milestone Retirement Communities, In The Moment® is a branded Memory Support program for residents living with Dementia (note the purposeful use of the word support in Memory Support).

Just over two years ago Milestone Retirement Communities made the shift away from the historically clinical descriptive words like Dementia Care and Alzheimer’s Unit with the goal of being an industry leader in recognizing that descriptive words matter. The In The Moment program is based on a 6 Principles of Well-Being design. These Principles guide how activities are structured, care is delivered and meals are prepared.

Additionally, the vision includes infusing more holistic wellness practices into daily operations, with a variety of Signature standards and initiatives that feature non-pharma first interventions.

One of the premier initiatives for the residents in Memory Support is Taste & Tell®. This propriety Signature program for Milestone Retirement Communities is a culinary collaboration between the Memory Support Director, the Culinary Services Director and the residents.

The goal of this program is to capture as many of the 6 Principles of Well-Being as possible in one unique resident experience. Spiritual Support, Physical Engagement, Continuing Education, Lifestyle & Leisure, Artistic Expression and Community Connections can all be achieved within a well-planned Taste & Tell session.

Memory Support Directors are asked to take the lead and schedule regular meetings with the Chef or another member of the Culinary team to strategize about upcoming Taste & Tell gatherings. Might they feature a specific food item? Might they share an updated kitchen tool or gadget that triggers reminiscent conversation? Once the culinary ‘topic’ is determined, each Director has a role in ensuring a successful Taste & Tell outcome.

Imagine a small group of residents working side by side with the Chef, as they cut veggies and mix the meat for the Salisbury steak that will ultimately be their dinner. The Chef pulls out the 4ft industrial mixer from the ‘back-of-house’ to the amazement of his resident-helpers. This sparks a robust conversation about how the 4ft version compares to the hand-held mixers of yesteryear. Smiles are seen, laughter is heard and a small group of other residents and employees gather to observe this lively culinary crew.

Imagine a female resident complete with her crisp white Chef hat and jacket, working alongside the Chef nearly elbow deep in the Italian sausage that will eventually be rolled into meatballs.

Picture the Chef outside on a sunny afternoon in Florida picking veggies and herbs from the raised flower beds with a male resident from Memory Support. The two are gathering the fresh ingredients that will be used in the Taste & Tell program later that day.

The program outline for Taste & Tell was just one page but the directives were clear: Create a robust participatory hands-on experience where residents with Dementia can engage in kitchen-style cooking while learning, reminiscing and tasting their creations!

The images and stories being shared have been heartwarming. Seeing residents engaged in ways not typically shown in Dementia settings, is a great sense of pride for our organization. The participating Chefs are expressing a renewed sense of satisfaction as they step out of their kitchen cocoon and interact in new ways with the residents while showcasing their talents.

For those living In The Moment with Dementia; Taste & Tell has been an overwhelming success. Food, fun and fellowship: the perfect mix of ingredients.

SRI Management Brings Seasoned Leader to Seagrass Village Panama City Beach


Rich DeLong Announced as Executive Director of New Panama City Independent Living Community

SRI Management LLC, one of the fastest growing privately held management companies in the Southeast, proudly announces the appointment of Rich DeLong as the new executive director of Seagrass Village Panama City Beach Independent Living. Encompassing 128 units of upscale independent living options for active seniors, the community offers the Village Villas (currently open) as spacious, residential-style floorplans in duplex layouts, as well as The Grand (opening Summer 2019), a three-story apartment-style accommodation option with inclusive resort amenities. In his new position, DeLong will oversee all daily operations and business development, all while developing Seagrass Village of Panama City Beach to be a community which provides an active sense of wellness and care for its residents.

 “A service-minded leader at his core, Rich has an impressive track-record of operating successful senior living communities, driving census and resident retention as well as transforming the mindset of seniors as they transition to this next phase of their lives,” said Don Bishop, chief executive officer, SRI Management. “We know he will bring a service-oriented, active lifestyle culture to Seagrass Village, ensuring quality resident experiences to create a personalized, local community.”

Boasting 20+ years of experience leading and serving in the senior living sector, as well as an extensive career in recreation, teaching and coaching, DeLong brings a diverse background of skills well-aligned with the SRI Management core values of character, compassion and commitment to residents, families and owners alike. Before moving to the Florida Panhandle, DeLong served for nearly 20 years as an executive director, advancing and leading communities for management companies including Magnolia Manor, Five Star Senior Living and most recently, Georgia Living Management. Through his tenure, he has been recognized frequently for both his significant professional achievements, as well as his dedication as a community volunteer, named a Rotarian of the Year and Volunteer of the Year for the Council on Aging, among many other awards and accolades. DeLong holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Florida and a Masters in Education from Georgia Southwestern State University.

“My previous positions as executive director for two top senior care providers fueled my passion for our aging population,” said DeLong. “I’m excited by the opportunity to develop Seagrass Village as a positive, personal and profitable business, providing quality lifestyle options for each resident. My approach in running a successful community is simple – hire great people, provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs well and then step back and be here to support them, guiding us all to seek service above self.

Since its inception in 2000, SRI’s leadership has consistently sought to be in the forefront of changes in the industry and forging strong relationships with owners. Each SRI-managed property seeks to achieve optimal results in all areas of operations, including resident care, associate satisfaction and retention, and financial performance. SRI currently manages 23 independent, assisted living and memory support communities, encompassing over 2,000 units. More information on SRI Management can be found at and details on Seagrass Village Panama City Beach can be found at here..

Need for Speed When Hiring

Submitted by Julie Rupenski, President & CEO, MedBest

With unemployment at a 30-year low and a job market that is candidate-driven, your Senior Living organization is facing tough competition when hiring new employees. Gone are the days of interviewing and hiring at a snail’s pace. Speed in hiring is now the “magic bullet” for landing the best talent.

Clutch, a B2B analyst and marketing firm, recently conducted a survey of 507 people who began a new job in the last year.  Close to 60% of new hires got their job within two months of searching. About 43% of recent hires were offered a position less than two weeks after starting their job search.

What does it all mean?  Hiring faster improves your chances of acquiring top talent before they accept a competing offer.  It also strengthens your position as an employer of choice, and saves money by not keeping positions vacant for a long period of time.

Here are 8 tips on how to increase your speed in hiring:

  • Create a Continuous Talent Pipeline. Devote time to continuous recruiting in order to identify talent for key jobs even before they become open. This proactive approach enables you to create a talent pipeline to call an immediate possible replacement(s) should someone leave your organization.
  • Involve Your Employees. Notify your employees of an urgent job opening that must be filled immediately.  Post opening on your Intranet, website career page, or bulletin board. Offer a reward for any employee referrals that get hired.
  • Reduce the Number of Interviews. When a top candidate shows interest in working at your organization, act quickly. Find a way to immediately interview them and decrease the number of managers involved. Cut out any unnecessary steps. Any delays during the interviewing process can cause candidate frustration and a loss of interest.
  • Consider Off-Hour Interviews. Consider same-day interviews and off-hour interview slots such as evenings and weekends. Make it convenient for employed candidates or passive candidates to interview. The more convenient, the more likely they will be impressed and show up.
  • Implement an Automated or Live Interviewing Tool. An automated video tool helps organizations to screen more candidates in an expedient manner using video interviews in order to shortlist them. If you’ve already shortlisted candidates, a live interview tool will allow you to connect in real-time for a face-to-face interaction.  You will be able to record your live session and as a result, share it with your management team for their input.
  • Involve Your Influencer. Who on your team is the best at selling the job and your organization? Involve that person in every first interview. They have the power to affect the decision of your candidate through their position, knowledge, testimonial, and natural ability to engage others.
  • Check References Sooner. Often, references aren’t checked until an offer is about to be made. But there’s no reason to wait that long. Ask for references from your top candidates much sooner, so you can start calling sooner.
  • Hire a Reputable Search Firm. Professional Senior Living Search Firms have access to a network of high quality industry talent.  They already have an existing pool of talent, understand the skill sets needed, acumen to evaluate CV’s and resumes, and identify the right fit.  They work in an expedient manner and in the strictest of confidence.

In today’s job market where competition for talent is stiff, if you don’t reduce your hiring speed to less than 10 days, you will lose top talent. It’s time for your Senior Living organization to recognize the need for speed in your hiring process in order to gain a powerful competitive advantage.

Contact us if you’re in need of rock star candidates ready to make a change: 727-526-1294 /

Harbor Retirement Associates Wins National Customer Experience Awards

Eight HRA communities recognized by Pinnacle Quality Insight

VERO BEACH, Fla., – March 28, 2019 – Harbor Retirement Associates (HRA), a regional senior living development and operating company based in Vero Beach, announces that eight of their communities have received Pinnacle Quality Insight’s 2019 Customer Experience Award™ in several categories. This national award recognizes outstanding senior living communities who have consistently received high ratings from residents and their families. HRA earned the recognition by demonstrating a continued dedication to providing Best in Class senior healthcare services in its communities nationwide.

“We are excited, proud and deeply honored to receive these prestigious awards from Pinnacle Quality Insight,” said Sarabeth Hanson, President and CEO of Harbor Retirement Associates. “This national recognition is a testament to the tireless perseverance and hard work of our associates. Their steadfast adherence to our core values and vision is truly inspiring. Every day, they bring to life our values of respect, attentiveness, integrity, stewardship and excellence. Their energy and commitment will allow us to continue building our fine legacy of senior living and care.”

Eight HRA communities were singled out for awards. Seven of HRA’s Florida communities were recognized in a variety of categories: HarborChase of Gainesville won for “Variety of Food/Menu Choices” and “Transportation Needs”; HarborChase of Tamarac for “Quality of Food and Dining Service” and “Dignity and Respect”; HarborChase of Palm Harbor for “Variety of Food/Menu Choices,” “Activities,” and “Overall Customer Experience”; HarborChase of Jacksonville for “Recommend to Others” and “Move-In Process”; HarborChase of Sarasota for “Cleanliness”; Regency Park for “Personal Care”; and HarborChase of Tallahassee for “Variety of Food/Menu Choices” and “Dignity and Respect.” In Illinois, HarborChase of Naperville won for “Move-In Process.”

Throughout its history of serving seniors, HRA has placed a strong emphasis on ensuring that the individual needs of every resident are met. Over the course of 2018, a sampling of HRA’s residents and their families have participated in monthly telephone interviews that include open-ended questions, as well the opportunity to rate HRA in specific categories. Every month, HRA has gathered its real-time survey results in order to gain a better understanding of the residents’ needs and make improvements when necessary.

By qualifying for the Pinnacle Customer Experience Award™ , these eight HRA communities have satisfied the rigorous demand of scoring in the top 15% of the nation across a 12-month average. Clients have the opportunity to achieve this Best in Class distinction on a monthly basis in many categories designed to accurately reflect each resident’s experience.

For more information on HRA, visit

About Harbor Retirement Associates
Harbor Retirement Associates (“HRA”) is a regional senior living development and management company, focused primarily on Assisted Living and Memory Care communities, but also engaged in the development and operations of Independent Living and Skilled Nursing communities. HRA operates 35 communities in 9 states and is partnering on the construction of 8 more communities in 5 additional states. HRA manages over $150 million in revenue and approximately $1 billion in assets while employing 2,500 associates. For more information, visit

About Pinnacle Quality Insight
A customer satisfaction measurement firm with 23 years of experience in post-acute healthcare, Pinnacle conducts over 150,000 phone surveys each year and works with more than 2,500 care providers in all 50 US states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Florida Communities Receive J.D. Power Certification and Recognition

Florida Senior Living Association is proud to recognize three Five Star communities for receiving the J.D. Power Senior Living Certification.

The three Florida communities include Five Star Premier Residences of Hollywood; Five Star Premier Residences of Boca Raton; and The Horizon Club in Deerfield Beach. Congratulations to all of the Staff at Five Star for their extraordinary quality, service, and attention to detail.

In 2018, member communities from Holiday Retirement and Capital Senior Living earned top honors from J. D. Power for having the most satisfied residents among the country’s largest senior living providers.

The J.D. Power Senior Living Certification program recognizes the contributions such communities have made in improving the quality of life for both older adults and family caregivers. It also recognizes the need to provide those same consumers with valuable information to make an informed decision when choosing a senior living community.

Read the entire story here.

Still Interviewing the Same Old Way? Up Your Game in 2019!

By: Julie Rupenski, President & Founder, MedBest

As a Hiring Manager for a senior living organization, if you’re not regularly assessing the strength of your hiring process, 2019 is the year to start. In a candidate-driven market, you need to make a conscious effort to find new ways to attract job candidates, implement the latest interviewing tools, and shorten your hiring process.

With that in mind, here’s 6 ways to up your game when interviewing job candidates in 2019:

Add Video Conferencing

Consider using video-conferencing before personally meeting job candidates. This will show candidates that you’re up-to-date with technology and in touch with how they want to communicate. Plus, it enables you to get a good sense of what your candidate is all about. It could also ease your scheduling burden. If you are interviewing a multitude of candidates, you can quickly pare them down to a remaining few.

Update Your Interview Questions

Re-examine the interview questions you have been using for years. Are they still relevant? Do they address important issues such as company culture, career path, purposeful work, etc.? According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)( today’s job candidates, especially the Millennials, should be asked questions that are targeted to their viewpoints such as: What kind of relationship do you expect to have with your boss? What is something in your career that you are most proud of or consider a major accomplishment? How did you go about making it happen? Tell me about a time you worked in a diverse group with diverse opinions? What does a typical workday look like? What’s your definition of a work/life balance?

Streamline Your Hiring Process

Time kills deals. This is especially true in a candidate-driven market. While you were busy scheduling a third, fourth or even fifth interview for your job candidate, chances are good they were snatched up. The average time top talent stays in the job market today is 10 days. Gone are the days of taking your time and grilling candidates by a number of your managers. You now need to put your best foot forward and sell the job during the first interview especially when it comes to talent in high-demand such as a Director of Nursing and Director of Resident Care. You might also want to involve the most engaging and convincing member of your team to present the opportunity, provide reasons why to work at your organization, and facilitate the tour.

Create Convenience for Passive Candidates

While passive candidates are not active job seekers, they can often be persuaded to learning more about a new opportunity if it piques their interest and is convenient to pursue. Hiring Managers need to create a convenient interview schedule and experience for passive candidates. An initial over the phone interview just might be the ticket or a short video conference could be the way to go. Otherwise, if they have to drive across town in the middle of the day, they will probably opt out and suddenly you’ve lost a potential great new hire.

Offer a Great Candidate Experience

Today, the candidate experience is fundamentally important to how job seekers perceive and react to your sourcing, recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding processes. Examples of a great candidate experience include: Communicate often and in a manner of how they want to be reached, by text or email, before the personal interview, provide a warm welcome once through the door, allow candidate to meet some of their future co-workers, sell your organization as a place where they can grow their career and be excited about coming to work each day, share employee testimonials, etc. It’s all about establishing a real relationship with your job candidate and adding the human and personal touch.

Hire for Culture Fit

We’ve heard it before, hire for culture fit. Today, culture fit may be the most important aspect of hiring and retaining great employees in the senior living industry. However, it doesn’t mean hiring people you like or being discriminatory. Hiring for culture fit means recruiting people who will thrive in your environment. Before you start interviewing candidates, define your company’s values and long-term objectives. Then evaluate whether candidates share the same values as you.


Julie Rupenski is the Founder, President & CEO of MedBest, opening the doors in 2001. Since that time, Julie has gained national recognition for providing top talent solutions exclusively for the Senior Living Industry. Julie is a Succession Planning specialist and also a seasoned recruiter at filling C-Suite, Vice President, Regional, and Property level positions.

Julie has an in-depth knowledge of the Senior Living Industry since she previously worked in operations for both Senior Housing and Senior Living. Today, Julie makes it her personal and professional mission to place qualified people in health care positions where they have the greatest impact.

Julie earned her degree in Gerontology at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida and continues to cultivate her career through senior living conferences, forums, trade shows, and expos.

Contact Julie Rupenski at / 727 526-1294.


MedBest is a nationwide senior living executive recruiting firm that was established in 2001.
We specialize in recruiting quality executive talent for all types of senior living facilities across the US including Assisted Living, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Memory Care, Independent Living, and Skilled Nursing Homes. For more information, visit and follow us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.

Long-Distance Caregivers: Supporting Your Senior Loved One From Afar

Claire Wentz

Most of us need assistance as we age. It’s quite common for seniors to face a variety of challenges, such as financial problems, medical issues, loneliness, mobility limitations, and mistreatment. Although many seniors function just fine on their own, a little help from supportive loved ones ensures they can maintain their health and happiness. If you’re trying to care for a senior loved one who lives miles away, there is still plenty you can do.

Stay Up to Date on Their Coverage

Many seniors depend on Medicare for help with medical expenses, including things like doctor’s visits, short-term nursing care, surgeries, and lab tests. If your loved one doesn’t get online very often, it will be hard for them to stay up to date on their healthcare coverage. You should stay informed of any changes to their plan so they aren’t met with unexpected charges when they go for a routine checkup or if an emergency occurs. There are many excellent resources available online where you can learn about the current plans available in your state and any supplementary options that will cover additional expenses such as prescription drugs. It’s also a good idea to keep track of the Medicare enrollment process and time periods during which your loved one can make any necessary changes to their plan.

Organize Important Documents

Don’t be left scrambling for important documents when an emergency occurs. Instead, gather everything together and organize it now. A Place For Mom recommends obtaining copies of your loved one’s birth certificate, driver’s license, medical insurance card, marriage certificate, Social Security card, and mortgage. Also, keep a list detailing where official records are kept so you can access them when needed. These documents may include a living will, tax returns, power of attorney, investments, funeral arrangements, and insurance policies. These documents will help you protect your loved one’s financial health and ensure their end-of-life care wishes are met. Finally, include contact information for your loved one’s attorney, financial planner, beneficiaries, and credit card companies.

Get to Know People in Their Community

Although you aren’t close enough to check up on your loved one, provide transportation, or respond to an emergency, others are. Get to know your loved one’s neighbors and ask them to keep an eye out for you. They’ll be able to tell if something significant changes in your loved one’s behavior, like if they stop getting their mail or opening the blinds in the morning. Talk to your loved one’s friends, senior centers, and local healthcare providers and tell them that you would like to stay informed about your loved one’s health and happiness. These people may also be able to step in if you have to take a temporary pause in your caregiver tasks to help with scheduling appointments, coordinating transportation, or paying bills for your loved one. Also, ask your loved one’s doctor for a list of their medication and make it clear that you want to receive up-to-date information about their well-being.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

There are a variety of apps, websites, and tech devices to help you stay in contact with your loved one and organize information for their care team. Instead of calling them on the phone, get them set up with a video chat service like Skype or Google Hangouts. This can help you get a better picture of how your loved one is doing while alleviating loneliness for them. Smart home technology and home monitoring devices can also be useful to help ensure your senior loved one is comfortable and safe in their own home. Also, check out this list of handy mobile apps that can help you track the many aspects of caregiving for you and your loved one’s care team.

Many remote caregivers experience guilt that they aren’t doing enough. stresses the importance of accepting that these feelings are normal and acknowledging that there are real limits on what you can offer as a long-distance caregiver. Providing long-distance care and support can take a toll on your own well-being, so address any problems with chronic stress or burnout as soon as possible. You have to take care of yourself before you can care for others.