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Beyond ‘Best’: Belmont Village, Discovery, Garden Spot Build On US News Ratings

Of the 1,300 senior living communities in the inaugural 2022-23 “Best Senior Living,” list from U.S. News & World Report, 25 earned the distinction of being the best of the best.

Those communities, managed by operators including Discovery Senior Living, Belmont Village and Garden Spot Communities, were chosen because they outperformed their peers in all three of the ratings’ categories: independent living, assisted living and memory care.

For the operators with communities on the list, the accolade exemplifies the hard work that staff has put in during the industry’s most challenging period yet. But they are not done improving, either.

For example, Discovery Senior Living CEO Richard Hutchinso said the distinction is a way to benchmark the company’s performance with the goal of improving.

“We all needed the baseline,” Hutchinson said. “That’s why we leaned into this.”

Landing on the list

Two communities from Bonita Springs, Florida-based Discovery Senior Living earned a spot on the top-25 list: Aston Gardens at The Courtyards and Discovery Village at Sarasota Bay, which are respectively located in Sun City Center and Bradenton, Florida.

Discovery manages 111 communities across 19 states after adding about 4,500 units to its portfolio in the past six months. Overall, Discovery had 34 of its communities on the Best Senior Living list.

As for why those communities’ made the top-25, Hutchinson said he believes it is due in part to the company’s programming, which includes its “FlexChoice” a la carte services and dining program; and Shine, its award-winning memory care program.

“Every setting has something that’s a little different than the peer group in the marketplace,” Hutchinson told SHN.

Discovery Village at Sarasota Bay Executive Director Kathleen Tyler said she can pinpoint the exact reason her community ended up on the list: customer service and prompt communication with residents and families.

“I believe that we are living in an era, especially since Covid, where excellent customer service has gone out the window,” she told Senior Housing News. “We have to get back to servicing the needs of our residents, as it’s what they’re expecting.”

Two communities in Belmont Village Senior Living’s 32-community portfolio also earned a spot on the top-25 list: Belmont Village Senior Living Westwood in Los Angeles and Belmont Village Senior Living Glenview in Glenview, Illinois. Both communities scored highly in enrichment and nursing care categories.

The staff at the two Belmont Village communities made residents feel connected with staff and caregivers, and they made residents feel safe, according to Mercedes Kerr, president of Belmont Village. In particular, residents were heartened that Belmont Village prioritized vaccinating all residents and staff in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kerr also praised the efforts of the company’s frontline staff, who are the “face of Belmont Village when it comes to interaction with residents and their families.”

Belmont Village has received praise from current and prospective residents for its memory care program, which is called Circle of Friends. The program is unique in that it’s geared toward residents who are in the early stages of dementia.

The program gives residents more cognitive autonomy along with chances to participate in activities and feel engaged. For Belmont Village, Circle of Friends exemplifies the company’s evidence-based programming model, which is all “aimed at creating a higher quality of life,” Kerr said.

Belmont Village made waves by entering into a joint venture with non-profit hospital system Baptist Health South Florida. While that community is still under construction, communities in the Belmont Village portfolio also have telemedicine offerings and a robust infrastructure to support them. That also helped make a difference with residents and staff.

“We have equipment in our communities, our staff has been trained to use it and we have the ability to provide medical attention quickly and on-demand,” Kerr said.

Garden Spot Communities, which manages the Garden Spot Village life plan community in New Holland, Pennsylvania, also prioritizes resident autonomy and choice. The operator is focused not as much on providing care as it is on providing meaning — and that is a reason CEO Steve Lindsey believes the community made the top-25 “best” list.

Garden Spot Village’s more than 1,100 residents and their family members who participated in the survey gave the community high marks in food and dining, management and staff and programming.

“If you were to talk to our residents, I think they would say that Garden Spot Village is more than [that],” Lindsey told SHN.

Residents at Garden Spot find meaning through such programs as mentoring school kids and taking mission trips abroad like the most recent trip to Kenya.

Building on the accomplishment

Landing communities on the list is an accomplishment, and operators are already devising ways to tout that when marketing to residents and staff.

For years, U.S. News & World Report’s college rankings have helped inform recent high school graduates and their families.

“When we develop a methodology, we have to have a laser-like focus on what question we’re trying to answer and for whom,” said U.S. News & World Report Managing Editor Ben Harder. “And in this case, if someone needs [senior living], where are the best places for them to look?”

Hutchinson is counting on a similar impact in senior living. He said Discovery plans to highlight what differentiates it in each marketplace as soon as possible, with the aim of setting the operator apart from its competitors.

“I can tell you, we’re a competitive bunch,” Hutchinson added.

Garden Spot Communities is also reviewing how best to display its top-25 accomplishment in marketing materials. But Lindsey is more proud of cultural and philosophical achievements at the community saying that “community – authentic community – is at the basis of everything we do.”

Like leaders at Discovery and Garden Spot, Kerr said Belmont Village is planning to accentuate the accolade along with utilizing the resident and family feedback in its marketing materials. The specific survey responses will be used to make improvements, according to Kerr.

The U.S News and World Report Best Senior Living list includes community descriptions and a breakdown of how communities did by category. That serves prospective residents by providing more in-depth information, and it is a tool that Belmont hopes to wield in the coming months.

“It’s not just about getting the ranking and being recognized, [it’s] helping the consumer understand who we are,”

The post Beyond ‘Best’: Belmont Village, Discovery, Garden Spot Build On US News Ratings appeared first on Senior Housing News.

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