Home Health and Wellness Courses and a Career in Senior Living Management

Courses and a Career in Senior Living Management

Nancy Swanger, Founding Director of the Granger Cobb Institute for Senior Living at Washington State University

Nancy Swanger, Founding Director of the Granger Cobb Institute for Senior Living at Washington State University, joins Suzanne on behalf of Era Living to talk about Era Living’s partnership with the Granger Cobb Institute.

Dr. Swanger is an associate professor in the School of Hospitality Business Management and the Associate Dean of Inter-College Partnerships in the Carson College of Business at Washington State University, starting back in 2000. In addition to her administrative duties, she teaches various courses in the curriculum, and, most recently, a course in senior living management. “We have a major in senior living management, a minor in senior living management that is an online, on-demand professional development certificate program in senior living. It’s just continued to grow and develop, but it had very humble beginnings.”

“Our goal is to educate the next generation of leaders who will be in communities. And we know for the next 40 years, the demand on the industry is going to be huge and quite frankly, demographically, the people who are sort of in a typical caregiver age — helping with a mom or a dad or a grandparent or another loved one in your home — that demographic is shrinking. And so our role is trying to encourage students who have that heart for an aging population to pursue this as a career option. And it’s a real natural extension of our hospitality program, because at the end of the day, it is all about relationships, and trying to make a difference in the life of a resident. And if you really look at a community and a hotel as an example, operationally, they parallel each other. There’s housekeeping, and food and beverage, and concierge, all these things. So the fit for us in hospitality was perfect. And so that’s what we’re trying to do, is help with this workforce crisis and dearth of leadership talent going forward.”

“We ended up having Matt Broman [from Era Living] on our steering committee, because this is a very industry-driven program. Everything we do through our industry partners, and Era Living is one of those partners. But then Matt has connected us with some other folks in the company. For example, in our class that we’re teaching right now… we have Marla Becker who is the Executive Director of Aljoya Mercer Island. We’ve had Karen Norby as part of that, who has that role of Regional Operations for Era Living.

“My very best part of the story was: When I very first started talking about this idea, I was introduced to a woman named Lynn Meyer. And Lynn Meyer is a resident at Aljoya Mercer Island, and Lynn and I hit it off like no other, and she’s just a dear friend of mine now. Every time I get over there, I go see her. She’s in class as well, all virtually, so the students get to hear from a resident. We’ve put together this little tour of Lynn’s beautiful apartment. Every time we teach the class, spring, fall, we try to have Lynn and Marla, and sometimes Karen, as part of that class every time because their message is so important.”

Dr. Swanger adds, “We have folks with degrees in psychology, sociology, human development, we even had a construction management major last semester. I’ve got two construction management majors in class this spring. So this is an industry that employs everyone. I mean, there’s a spot for people who are financing buildings, and maintaining buildings, and counting the money, and the nursing side, and the care piece, and all the operational pieces. Really, you could take your degree, sales and marketing, a huge one. You could take your major and apply it to this industry and population – there’s a spot for you.”

Learn more:
* Granger Cobb Institute for Senior Living: https://business.wsu.edu/departments/hospitality/institute-for-senior-living/
* Granger Cobb Institute Introduction on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mUOyixglPw&t=16s
* Nancy Swanger: https://directory.business.wsu.edu/Directory/Profile/swanger/

Answers for Elders: https://answersforelders.com/welcome-to-answers-for-elders/.
Era Living’s website: https://www.eraliving.com/

Answers for Elders is part of the SeniorResource Network: https://www.seniorresource.com/
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