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/.
Matt Reiners, co-founder and vice president of Eversound, 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.
Reiners was interviewed by Senior Housing News to talk about how he got his start helping facilitate silent disco events and why he thinks the industry must attract more “rock stars.”
What drew you to the senior living industry?
I was kind of slapped in the face by it, for all good reasons.
We had started another company, before Eversound, that was helping people around the country do these silent disco events. And then a few things happened simultaneously where we started getting phone calls from senior living communities needing help, especially with group programming and hearing loss.
And it’s around this time that I saw what my own grandmother was going through, she was in an assisted living community in New Jersey and her quality of life wasn’t the best. A lot of that stemmed from her inability to hear. My co-founder Jake and I would have residents coming up and thanking us. We’d have staff crying, seeing how their residents have changed for the better from better hearing.
We haven’t looked back since. I’m just grateful that I’ve come across it and feel like I found my people.
Since you’ve started working in this industry, what would you say is your biggest lesson that you have learned so far?
Senior living companies think about innovation differently, and rightfully so.
When we think about innovation and other industries, people’s lives aren’t often at stake. So I think there’s a level of hesitation in what that innovation can be, because the stakes are a lot higher. Innovation requires a level of controlled risk, and I think people in this industry think about it a little bit differently.
Compared to other industries, on the front end of tech adoption and innovation senior living is kind of lagging behind. But the reasons make sense.
If you could change one thing within an eye toward the future of senior living what would it be, and why?
I would change the general perception of this industry.
If you look at the general public, a lot of people think of senior living as an old nursing home. But I think there are groups out there that are really trying to change the narrative of senior living and what that’s all about.
We need to change that narrative and try to attract more rock stars to this space. We can, if we’re able as an industry to really voice some of the stories, some of the purpose and some of the soul of this. As an industry, we only go as far as the people that are working within it.
What do you foresee as being different about the senior living industry as you look ahead to next year?
More and more communities are trying to adopt this onsite care model. People are moving into senior living communities needing more help with their ADLs.
So, I see the industry creating these homes but offering these onsite care services, whether it’s audiologists or podiatrists or dentists that are coming more on site. They are coming with more frequency, rather than once a quarter, but almost every month.
There’s also a really interesting opportunity on the active adult side. And I tell this to everybody, but there’s an interesting opportunity from a marketing standpoint where we’re starting to get to these baby boomers whose best times were in college. Every marketing person I talked to can run with the idea that this is basically college again, without the classes.
So, I think there’s a really big opportunity to change that narrative and ultimately improve that quality of life and allow people to really start living, which is what they should be doing in senior living.
In a word, how would you describe the future of senior living?
What quality must all future leaders possess?
There is always this mentality of the manager where you show up and do your work: “You’re working from nine to five, there are no excuses for why you shouldn’t be working.”
But what I’ve seen, and where I’m really starting to see people flourish, is when leaders can practice a level of empathy to those that they’re working with or working below them. People have their own stories, people have their own trials and tribulations. The leaders that are practicing empathy and doing what’s best for the people around them will be the leaders who people want to go work for. They will be the leaders who are inspiring those around them.