The Future Leaders Awards program is brought to you in partnership with PointClickCare. The program is designed to recognize up-and-coming industry members who are shaping the next decade of senior housing, skilled nursing, home health, and hospice care. To see this year’s Future Leaders, visit https://futureleaders.agingmedia.com/.
Justin Dickinson has been named a 2022 Future Leader by Senior Housing News.
To become a Future Leader, an individual is nominated by their peers. The candidate must be a high-performing employee who is 40-years-old or younger, a passionate worker who knows how to put vision into action, and an advocate for seniors, and the committed professionals who ensure their well-being.
Senior Housing News interviewed Dickinson to talk about his career and the ways he sees the industry evolving, including the need for the industry to embrace and adopt technology.
What drew you to the senior living industry?
I’ve always been interested in spaces where there’s an intersection between tangible investment and fundamentals like real estate where you can touch, feel and see it. We’re focused equally as much on cap rates and debt yields as we are on margins and labor rates. And to me, the detail that’s embedded within those two is fascinating. I’ve always been drawn to more detailed complex puzzle-type situations, and throughout my career, having started in senior living, I’ve always found that senior living has given me a challenge.
Since you’ve started working in this industry, what would you say is your biggest lesson that you have learned so far?
Change takes time. Being a Type A person like myself, oftentimes you want change to happen quickly, and you want to see impacts of the decisions that you’ve made. But having matured in the space, what I’d say is that I’ve learned that things don’t happen overnight. And you need to have patience, and your investors need to have patience as well.
If you could change one thing within an eye toward the future of senior living what would it be, and why?
The adoption of technology. I think that this space as a whole has been a laggard among other real estate operating sectors — hospitality, as an example — in terms of adopting technology to make our operations more efficient. And so I would change the perception of technology from both our residents and team members.
What do you foresee as being different about the senior living industry as you look ahead to next year?
We’re implementing robotics into our communities as it relates to servers. I think we’ll see more and more of that as the labor burden continues to compress margins. I see labor and the increasing cost of labor, whether that’s agency or just the overall rates of employees going up, as the number one issue. I think the recent increase in Social Security is certainly helping the fixed-income seniors afford higher rates, so we can push higher rates through.
In a word, how would you describe the future of senior living?
I would say that I am optimistic about the future of senior living.
If you could give yourself advice on your first day in the industry, what would it be and why?
I would really analyze the staffing model and the operating model completely. Instead of starting off with looking at real estate, or looking at cap rates, I would focus on the operating model, and really, the build up of an NOI because from there, you can go other places.
What qualities do you think all future leaders must possess?
I think that future leaders will need to be dynamic in the way that they approach all aspects of the business. And by that I mean flexible communication, flexible expectations.