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 Future Leaders online.
Jason French, administrator at Western Reserve Masonic Community in Medina, Ohio, has been named a 2020 Future Leader by Senior Housing News parent company Aging Media Network.
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.
French sat down with SHN to talk about his career trajectory and the ways the industry is evolving due to market and regulatory forces and the COVID-19 pandemic.
What drew you to senior living?
I grew up in the industry. My father was an administrator at one of our sister facilities — Browning Masonic Community in Waterville, Ohio. My first job was washing dishes there, and I had all sorts of opportunities to do everything from being a server to being a maintenance assistant. Eventually, I had the opportunity as they were converting the building and adding more assisted living to spend about a year as a clerk, literally typing from the director of nursing all the policies and procedures for the new [wing]. It’s been part of what I’ve done my whole life.
What’s your biggest lesson learned since starting to work in the industry?
Put yourself in the customer shoes. It was very evident to me early on that this was a service industry. Often, I can help [residents and families] find common ground, get an understanding of where they’re coming from and better meet their needs, wants and desires.
How has senior living changed from when you first entered?
The acuity level has changed in assisted living. The knowledge base from a health care component, and needing to have a hospitality focus, over the last three to five years in the industry has been a tremendous breath of fresh air. It’s been exciting to be a part of this, because the customer experience is what I’m excited about. It drives me.
If you could change one thing with an eye toward the future of senior living, what would it be?
We as an industry need to do a better job promoting the positives of senior living, that we as an industry can help folks age respectfully and really age in a thriving environment to the best of their abilities.
What do you foresee as being different about the industry looking ahead to 2021?
We’re going to see changes coming in how we supply our health care entities. I think we’re going to see a change in the short term focus in independent living and assisted living on the safety and security that can be provided by a facility or campus [stemming from] the pandemic.
What I really hope comes out of this, is more health care professionals moving into the workforce. That’s a good possibility. So many people I talked to become nurses and CNAs, because they ended up having a grandparent or a parent that needed assistance and they found their calling. Over the last several months, we as community members and family members have had to help our family members along. Hopefully, that spurs some more folks into senior living and health care as an option for their careers.
In a word, how would you describe the future of senior living?
Besides your father, are there others that you look to as mentors?
Early in my career, I had an opportunity through family friends that had their own senior living facility — Spring Meadows in Toledo, Ohio. The Stone family, [founder] John Stone in particular, were big influences on me in his approach to senior living. John Stone is now the owner/administrator of Merit House in Toledo.
Also, at the time that my father was at Browning, the CEO of the corporation was named Jerry Kuyoth. (Note: Kuyoth is now chief operating officer at National Church Residences.)
What are your future goals?
Part of my career path has always been to be able to return to the organization that I’m at now. Being able to grow up in the Ohio Masonic Home system was a terrific way for me to be introduced to senior living. The way that this organization has taken care of their consumers and residents, and the way that they’ve treated their employees and their mission has been extremely important.
I’m very blessed to be able to do that.
To learn more about the Future Leaders program, visit the Future Leaders homepage.