Silverado Senior Living: Loren Shook, President & CEO

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“We want to be part of the cure,” says Silverado Senior Living Inc. President and CEO Loren Shook.  “We do that by giving our residents life and our staff life.”  Founded just over 10 years ago in San Juan Capistrano, California, Silverado is exclusively focused on memory care.  Silverado offers a complete range of services for the elderly suffering from memory impairment including on-site assisted living, hospice and home care, and a care manager program.

The organization’s vision has always been to improve the quality of life of individuals suffering from memory-impairing diseases.  “Breaking the traditional model of sedation and segregation, we believe that blending the medical model with the social living model produces the best possible clinical outcomes and quality of life,” says Mr. Shook. “Those we serve need stimulation; they need interest in life. We are constantly amazed by the success stories at Silverado.”

Giving Life to Residents

Mr. Shook practices what he preaches.  95% of the rooms at Silverado are companion rooms, that is, most residents share a room with one other resident.  “There’s always something going on.  In the typical 100 bed community, we’ve got 30 to 60 birds, 6 or 7 cats, a few dogs…we’re doing whatever it takes to give our residents the freedom to live,” says Mr. Shook.  There is also an “open door” policy in place during the hours of 7a.m. to 9 p.m. that allows residents to enjoy the secure grounds – many locations have swimming pools and golf greens.  Residents can take in a movie or visit the surrounding community with a family member or Silverado companion. Silverado staff members are invited to bring their children to work so that they may interact with the residents.  In addition, formal intergenerational programming is widely implemented at Silverado communities.

Silverado also believes that their residents should not be restrained.  While the use of restraints is a commonly accepted practice to keep patients from falling and injuring themselves, Silverado has again adopted a philosophy somewhat different from traditional beliefs.  “We have found that our residents are much better off both physically and mentally if they are not restrained,” says Mr. Shook. “They have better balance and stronger muscles.  In fact, our fall-and-fracture rate was only 1.1% in 2006 and even less in previous years.”

“You can do anything you want with Alzheimer’s,” says Mr. Shook. “We’ve taken residents on cruises.  We even had a resident in one of our communities that previously won an Academy Award for his career in stunt work.  The resident was invited to the annual awards ceremony for stunt men, however, his son could not take him to the ceremony since he lived out of state.  With the help of a caregiver at Silverado, our resident was able to attend the black tie ceremony and had his picture taken with the night’s speaker and guest of honor, Arnold Schwarzenegger!”

“We take care of people through the end of life. 98% of our residents will stay with us until they pass.  The industry average is closer to 50%,” says Mr. Shook.  With licensed nurses on site 24 hours/day, 7 days/week and medical directors who are leaders in their fields, Silverado is able to offer some of the best care available to seniors with memory-impairing diseases in the U.S.  Considering that Silverado takes on some of the most complex and challenging cases, quality clinical care is top priority.  “We measure success in terms of how many residents are walking now that could not before, how many are feeding themselves that could not before,” says Mr. Shook. “Today, those numbers are 1860 and 1480, respectively,” he adds.

Giving Life to Staff

“We are continually pressing the envelope to offer better care to individuals with memory impairments,” says Mr. Shook. “One of the most significant challenges we face is finding the right people to join our team. Facing the illnesses we do everyday can make it difficult work in this environment. Individuals who join our staff must firmly believe that love is greater than fear and make decisions from that perspective.”

With 2,000 employees operating in 26 locations across three states, Silverado boast a low turnover rate of 34% in an industry in which turnover typically averages 50% to 150%. “Our associates truly make a difference in the lives of others.  Silverado changes the world in the way memory care is served in every community and every office location,” says Mr. Shook. “In order to continue to make that a reality, we need to recruit, retain and develop the best of the best.”

With a focus on growing leaders and enriching the culture, Silverado has earned many awards for their training efforts and mentorship programs.  The company has also been recognized as one of the country’s 10 best practice companies for providing a “Psychologically Healthy Workplace” by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Silverado’s staff also has a lot to be proud of.  The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) recognized a Silverado caregiver as the “National Hero of the Year” and another was recognized as the “Community Hero of the Year” by the Texas Assisted Living Association.

Giving Hope for the Future

Firmly committed to being part of the cure goes beyond improving the quality of life for residents at Silverado. The organization has also partnered with top research institutions including the University of California, San Diego, UCLA, USC, University of Utah and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas to contribute to countless research projects over the years. They are currently collaborating with USC on a study about the impact of social interaction on individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.  In addition, through a strategic alliance with InTouch Health, Silverado is at the forefront of industry innovation, providing a testing site for healthcare technology enhancements.

“When you touch the human spirit, incredible things happen.  Things that medicine can’t explain,” says Mr. Shook. “It’s our proven success and the realization that each one of us makes a difference – from the caregivers seeing residents everyday to the contractors working to improve our communities to the lawyers managing our business deals – that keeps us motivated and constantly looking ahead.”
Mr. Shook notes that, 10 years ago, when Silverado Senior Living was nothing more than a business plan on paper, he never dreamed that the organization would achieve so much.  And he has big plans for the future, including a goal to become the global leader in providing care for chronic disease victims by the year 2020 and stronger focus on developing innovative, research-based solutions to the problems encountered by residents and their families.  He adds, “Silverado has lived its core value to change the world and proved that small organizations can make a big difference in the lives of others. We will continue to make our mark.”

-by Meghan White

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