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Rethinking Operator Relationships – A New Approach for Developers

Rethinking Operator Relationships – A New Approach for Developers

Episode 7 – Description: In the future, both owner and operator must partner to ensure the vision of every new senior housing community is fulfilled. The developer’s in-house disciplines must connect with the operator’s programming to deliver best-in-class expertise in health care, marketing, and resident engagement services. Today, we sit down with Paul Griffin III, Founder and CEO of Griffin Living, to break these components down for our audience.

Link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1367455/episodes/8209157

 

Tod Petty:

Hi, my name is Tod Petty, and you have arrived at the Senior Housing Unfiltered podcast. This is the March 2021 episode, and I’m your host today. Each month, my team creates a monthly podcast to highlight the impact makers in the senior housing industry. Quite frankly, our goal is to influence the direction of an industry we believe is stuck in ancient cultures. We launched the podcast in 2020, and we’ve been conversing with all types of people since our inception. Each month, my team tracks down entrepreneurs, leaders, and other heroes from the senior housing world. We search the industry for the celebrities as well as the hidden gems.

Today, on the show, I sit down with Paul Griffin III, who is founder, president, and CEO of Griffin Living. Paul leads an award-winning real estate development firm specializing in innovative senior living communities. I’m excited about my interview with Paul today. Our topic, Rethinking Operator Relationships. We know, in the future, both owner and operator must partner to ensure the vision of each out of the ground senior housing community is fulfilled. The game has changed. The developer’s in-house disciplines must now connect with the operator’s programming to deliver best in class expertise in clinical sales and marketing and engagement programming.

We’re going to break all this down for you on today’s episode. I’ll be right back after the broadcast with some final comments. Let’s jump right into the program. Enjoy.

I think that’s why you’re so forward-thinking on your assisted living model, because you’re putting in components, even in assisted living, that allow people to either psychologically hold onto a belief that they’re not as needy or it allows them the opportunity to remain independent because you have washers and dryers in your suites, you have a kitchenette in your suite. They’re two room. They’re larger than the normal suites. It still allows for a person to have an independent feel and lifestyle versus a 300 square foot suite with no amenities, no kitchen amenities. You’re commingling the laundry down the hallway. It allows a person a different opportunity to participate in their care.

 

Paul Griffin:

I think that we feel that that’s an important attribute. I don’t know, at my house, there’s a gym. Do I use it? No. But, it’s there. I know it’s there. I feel good about it. I have a swimming pool and a big deck. Do I ever go out there? Hell, no. It gets too hot or too cold. I just don’t use it. But it’s there and I know it’s there. I think, psychologically, we have that aspect to our lives all the time. Maybe a fancy restaurant in the neighborhood. Maybe a museum or a library. Do I read? No. But the library’s there, that’s a good thing.

I think that, for our seniors, knowing there’s still a kitchen there and it works, you can use it, refrigerators, and all the cook tops, and washer, and all that stuff. The laundry room is there. I think the laundry facility was surprised me, but it makes perfect sense that we’ll send our caregivers in and do our residents’ laundry in their room for them, so that their laundry doesn’t actually go downstairs and get commingled in commercial washers. Not something I personally think about much, because my laundry goes to the local laundry and gets washed. I guess they do it separately than other people’s. I have no idea how they do it. I can see, if it’s something that feels like you’re in your apartment, and it’s self-contained, and I can go downstairs and have breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or go have a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee, or anything I want, and it’s there. It’s there, I can do what I want. You know what? I think that would be very nice, free, a little bit liberating.

 

Tod Petty:

I totally agree. Having been in this industry for a long time now and actually lived in assisted living, the single biggest problem, outside of the residents might not enjoy the food, is the laundry. Those washing machines eat socks. They eat clothes. You can’t find them. To have the client with the ability to do their own laundry, because a lot of them still can, they feel very independent.

 

Paul Griffin:

Sure. If they can, they should. I’m sorry, Tod, but you’re right. If they can, they should. If they can make their bed and they’re used to doing it, don’t take it away from them. You might think you’re actually helping them, but you’re not. You’re taking something else away. Losing socks and things, yeah, it happens already at my house. I supposed it’s a bigger situation, absolutely.

 

Tod Petty:

Exactly. We’re more tolerant with our own washers and dryers than we are in the community, though.

 

Paul Griffin:

I didn’t know, so washer and dryer is the big deal after quality of food.

 

Tod Petty:

We hear it. It’s probably the biggest complaint. Yes, because clothes get lost. They’re not supposed to be commingled. A lot of times they are. The other thing is your laundry goes missing for a week. You have limited control as an older client in a building. If it doesn’t come back, where is it? What you’ve done with your community by putting the washer and dryer into the resident’s room, it allows interaction with the caregiver while they’re in the room with the resident. If they’re not doing their own laundry, they’re in the resident’s room. They’re doing the laundry, and there’s more interaction. Programmatically, you’re creating more interaction, putting pressure on interaction, which is very important for the senior to thrive. I think it’s a game changer. Like you said, if you want to get into the infection control is we’re not commingling, there’s less infection, cross-contamination. In a post-COVID world, that’s all very important.

 

Paul Griffin:

Absolutely. I think the caregivers, and house cleaning staff, and all that, are major point of contact for people. I know, just here in my office, people walk in the door to ask questions. Our housekeeping staff here come in and visit me all the time, and I really enjoy the few minutes I can spend with them and talk to them about their families, and feel like I get to know them through the years. I think that everybody you come in contact with just becomes part of your society. In an apartment or a senior residence that we’re doing, I think all of that is going to come to play. I know loneliness in COVID’s been a huge issue, while the industry’s really tried to protect our own staff, for one thing, from getting sick from each other, and our senior citizens from getting sick. Infections or viruses are so deadly to them.

But then, the loneliness, I think we’ve done a great job as an industry. I haven’t heard a lot of general incidents of COVID outbreaking and creating great disasters, other than in New York. I think that’s a New York problem. I think the industry’s done well, but my gosh, the effect of the loneliness in this last year by taking our residents and not being able to have them come out, we don’t really understand the damage about that yet. We might not, because the generation may pass away without us really ever finding out. It’s not like they’re going to live on and 10 years tell us what it was like. Yeah, this idea of how we’re going to manage it. Yet, and Tod, we have to manage forward. I mean, the viruses were always here. COVID just put it in our face and said, “Guys, deal with this seriously.” We are, the industry is. But we have to, while we’re dealing with it, also how are we going to be able to deal with virus and still not bury our residents in a corner where no one can see them and they’re just lonely?

 

Tod Petty:

Well, Paul, I think you’re striking a chord there that it really, from the time I first met you four, five, years ago, just so resonated with me. Because, I’ve worked with a lot of different developers, a lot of different groups, to bring senior housing out of the ground. But when I began working with your group several years ago, you were on a quest to really make a difference in the resident’s life. I know you guys have beautiful buildings and just first class multifamily and senior housing projects. One of the things I noticed the quest you were on is you really wanted a different experience for the resident. You seem to have an understanding. I know this from Bebe, your VP of Healthcare and Wellness at your company. You seem to have an understanding of all the changes that are taking place. You know this was a health care play, a health care model. There has to be health care within the building. It can’t be secondary. It’s not commoditized. It can’t be ignored.

Whether it’s the Harvard Medical Research Board, whether it’s Harvard Medical, or even some of the most recent books on aging, I’m thinking Live Long Die Short, they’re all about that, one, we thought that we couldn’t really control aging, because it was genetic. Well, that’s not true. 75% to 80% of how we age, we can control. The things we thought were the biggest contributors to mortality are actually not. The single most contributor to whether you do well or not is relationships, social interaction, and connection with other people, with relationships. People that are denied that don’t do very well. I’ve been restraining from posting on LinkedIn really what the articles that are now coming out from people, very good reputation, very educated backgrounds, talking about, hey, we did mitigate some of this COVID-19 outbreak, but our seniors have suffered, because they’re not getting the interaction they need.

I thought we would talk a little bit about what you’re doing in your buildings to make sure they’re going to get the health care they want, to expand the health care offering as we’re able to age in place and the rules change, and also to make sure there’s engagement. We’ve looked at this and called it successful aging. We’ve come up with eight elements on our side. A lot of it really comes from the time I spent with you and your time figuring out what we needed to do in the buildings. I’d just like you to share some of your vision with the audience today, Paul.

 

Paul Griffin:

Yeah, I appreciate the question, Tod. I will say, Tod, and this is important, I mean, I’m learning every day from people like yourself, people that been in the industry and working with residents and staff. There’s new ideas. I think, in any industry, when we start to get myopic or start thinking we understand the issues and the answers, and been there, done that, kind of attitude, that’s when we fail. The demand and the needs, as well as the supply, are dynamic. They’re dynamic in every industry. They’re certainly dynamic in senior housing and senior lifestyles. We have the Silent Generation are certainly longer lived than the Greatest Generation, so that would be my mom and dad, or your mom and dad, our parents. We, the boomers, will be coming up. We’re healthier than our Silent Generation, our parents were. We’re going to live longer. Therefore, there will be more need for different housing solutions, different lifestyle solutions, for all of us.

Gosh, I mean, the demographics, 10,000 people a day now turning 76 years old as the boomers move in. That’s not even touching our senior housing solutions yet. They’re not even there. We’re an equilibrium in some markets. The Griffins are pushing into more urban kind of markets where it’s more difficult to get the housing approved and bring it in. There’s supply constrain and under supply, so we’ve got an angle. There’s other markets where it’s easier. Maybe, right now, the markets are being fully met with the supply that’s coming in. It’s a temporary thing. This industry is going to be hit by a tidal wave.

Tod, we keep reading Wall Street Journal and other articles, nursing’s dead, the industry’s over, people aren’t really ever going to use it, a bunch of nonsense. Skilled nursing, as a solution of what people would pay $180 a day for what their insurance companies would pay for, that was ending already because it wasn’t an economic solution to a problem. Assisted living is a more economic solution. Independent living and the 55-plus, or age restricted living, are economically well thought out, well driven, supply to the demand. They were growing and they’re still growing. COVID slowed everything down, but it didn’t slow the demand down. There isn’t a better solution.

I read these articles, so home health care so people can stay home. Well, let’s go back to the fundamentals that you were talking about, Tod. Home health care, I’m 90 years old, I’m at my daughter’s house. She’s 60. She’s working. My grandkids are raised and out of the house, or college and beyond, so I’m doing what all day long? I’m at the house by myself. They got a caregiver that comes in. Okay, caregiver comes in. They’re good or bad, or it depends on what day it is in that business. They change all the time. It’s not a steady staff. There’s no management of the staff. They come in and work. They have a management company maybe they report to, but really they hire somebody who they send into your house. The sickest people I’ve met, two deaths and one man that we work with here that you actually know was very ill in the hospital, all brought in by caregivers to their parents’ houses, not by assisted living centers.

Going forward with the home health care model, in the evening, the 60-year-old daughter is home. If she’s not a stay-at-home– if she’s a stay-at-home, maybe she has more energy– but if she’s working all day long, busy all day long, she’s coming home, home health care leaves, she’s home, she’s tired, husband’s coming home, he’s tired, how much great quality of life is there really? The morning, they’re up and leaving. It is a solution that a lot of people will pick, but it’s not the solution. We’re reading about this stuff, Tod, is that’s really the way things are going, and this conjugant care is over as an editorial stance that our major media has been taking through COVID. It’s not real.

Fact is, is you’re saying, we can deliver safer, more engaged emotionally and socially, better health care, which we will talk about. We can deliver better restaurant animated foods, animated meals, more activities outgoing at whatever level you happen to be living, and for less money. And it’s cheaper. There’s no way the economic model and the actual output is better with what we’re delivering. This industry is growing. I just get tired of reading a report or writing something that just is not based in reality. It’s just something to say.

 

Tod Petty:

Yeah, no, I totally agree. I’m hoping we can get the message out with this relevant content and others in the industry. Because, I totally agree with you on, first of all, probably in the past, seniors did everything they could do to stay at home, thinking they were independent. We know where all that leads. It leads to decline, ultimately, if they don’t have interaction. I’ve watched people fight to come into communities wanting that independence. Once they finally gave up, and came in, and had social interaction, they thrive. My own family, I’ve seen that.

What a lot of people don’t know either is that there is more oversight and licensure governance, that’s not all bad, we need some of that, in our communities than there are in home health. People in home health-

 

Paul Griffin:

Tod, just your staff and our staff, we have managers managing our caregivers. It’s not just send you out to somebody’s address. There are checks and balances all the way around, which if I’m a resident or 60-year-old daughter, I really do want to know. I maybe have a great caregiver right now and they could deliver it at my house and they could deliver it at this residential community, but I don’t know that that’ll always be my caregiver. I don’t know that that’ll be a caregiver that’s there on a moment’s notice all the way around the clock when I’m sick unexpectedly, or caregiver’s daughter’s having a baby or something and is gone, and now I got someone else that I don’t know. No one really manages until something bad happens and find out, “that was a lousy person.” I mean, all kinds of stuff.

Also, Tod, in the industry and at your company you guys are delivering, the industry really is delivering, the caregiver staff that’s going into the apartments and visiting with the residents and seeing how they are, checking certain vital signs depending on who they are at different times of the day, and more often depending on what their needs are, delivering medications as prescribed, rather than… We know that they’re licensed. We know they’re doing. We’re able to check them. In illnesses, I think the check to check up on somebody in the evening or at nighttime and say, “Oh my gosh, you’re running a temperature.” Maybe the resident just says, “I don’t feel well,” and, “Let’s just check that temperature. No, that’s really high. We’ll call our nurse or LVN, the nurse-

 

Tod Petty:

LNV, LPN, depending on where you’re [crosstalk 00:20:26].

 

Paul Griffin:

Yeah, if you call them. Yes. That person can come down and see them, and that way you’re not just either calling the ER or ambulance to take them to an ER just because. You’re not wondering, “Should I be calling…” You’re not calling the 60-year-old daughter saying, “Well, now you got a problem. Your mother’s running a temperature tonight.” You actually can bring the licensed nurse level in to have a look also, especially at night. You can then make a better decision. You can use your Zoom medicine to have a doctor if you need to look at it and weigh in on it before… I mean, a lot of steps you can go through to say, “Do we call an ambulance and put you through checking in in an ER?”

Frankly, you know people getting sick, the sickest I’ve been, the sickest I think I’ve ever been is sitting with my wife’s dad all night when he had pneumonia in an ER from an assisted living and picking something up in the ER. I was deathly ill. That’s just because you’re run down and you’re going through those. There’s just a lot of crap flying around in those buildings. And the expense. Frankly, just the expense of calling an ambulance at a drop of a hat. But then, you don’t want to not. You can’t put the caregiver person at a decision and say, “Well, if you don’t call an ambulance, this person gets really sick, it’s on you, on our company, but on you. If you do call them, you’re safe, but what you put your resident and their 60-year-old through is not fair.” I think we bring a lot by those checks and balances that we have and that your company really offers.

 

Tod Petty:

Well, and the way to do that, Paul, for the audience to fully understand, that without you dedicated to building a building with robust wifi-

 

Paul Griffin:

Yes, you have to.

 

Tod Petty:

If that doesn’t exist, we can’t do telehealth. And so, you just can put a building up and not have robust effective wifi. If you don’t program into your budgets your LVNs and your LPNs, like you guys do on your side, that are passing the meds, then you don’t have a qualified person to be able to do an assessment. If you do not have the resources to do a nurse on a stick or to do vitals, you can’t provide the health care professional with temperature and the things they need to know. Again, a lot of people feel a lot like, just build a beautiful building, don’t involve yourself in health care, and we’ll get by. It’s not going to work that way in the future. We have to be involved in providing the 24 hour oversight and connecting them with some help to mitigate the decline or the reversal of the resident.

 

Paul Griffin:

I think that the ability to really offer health management and care is just a huge part of the business. Bebe Reed, that has joined us, and knows you, I met Bebe with you many years ago now. She’s explained so much of this and how it actually… “So, tell me, Bebe, walk me through the evening. What is this really like. When you’re on the floor, what happens?” It’s nothing like we imagined as developers or even people living in our communities with our loved ones. It’s really the boots on the ground managing at night and other times when it’s not convenient and what our residents really need and what we put them through is a big part of what Bebe is explaining to us.

Bebe, from our staff, as a developer, working with Bebe, and then with Bebe working with you is important to us. Just like we want managers managing our health care and our kitchens, and all of that, we want you to manage that on-site active staff. We think you’re better at it than we are. We think that we can bring, if we can understand what we’re asking you to do and we can understand what we expect and what’s reasonable to expect, and then we can also be creative and say, “Hey Tod, got a new idea. Try this one in our building,” and have it make sense. Using Bebe, and ourselves, and our people, we’ve got a good formula for success.

If we tried to reach through and do it ourself and… Could we do it? I’m sure we could. But I don’t think we’d be as good as we can be about these important aspects, which is the caregiver and the life in the building, as we can working with our people who can do the real estate development, can think about the issues, and then be sure that we’ve put in all the infrastructure, and be sure we’ve put in the budget in managing the project that we could work with your group, and have you manage them, and really bring the level of service and care that we really think we’re looking for. It’s a good team approach, which I like.

 

Tod Petty:

Yeah, it’s very exciting, Paul. I mean, my 15 years, I was in home health. I have a respiratory therapy background. And so, the changes I’ve seen are really exciting to me to see the way senior housing has changed into beautiful buildings with robust amenities, hotel resort type atmosphere. And now, we’re finally going to put the health care that it probably needed, needed to move to. We’re going that way. We’re going to be able to put into and see a great model for the future customers. Well, I wanted to ask you, if you’d share a little with the audience, and I don’t know what you can share, but I wanted you to share a little bit about what you’re going to be putting in your buildings going forward. You have a beautiful building coming up in Simi Valley. You’re going to have stuff coming up in Georgia. I know you’ve been doing a lot of research on the technology. Can you talk a little bit about that?

 

Paul Griffin:

Sure, Tod. I mean, we’re trying to reach out. Just as you said, Tod, the most important part is really is the care. I mean, we’ve got to have that first. One of my favorite buildings that I’ve ever been to was actually really inexpensive. It was Boca Raton. Husband and wife were pharmacists and they purchased it. They loved their residents. They were putting two residents per room so they could cut the price way down. I met their chef. Their chef was engaged with all of them, their activities. Look, it was all about the lifestyle. It wasn’t a fancy building, but it was great. This couple were really engaged and loved what they were doing. We were looking in Boca Raton about a big fancy building, or we’re out in Simi, and West Lake, Georgia. We’re talking big fancy buildings. That’s just the infrastructure, because we can develop it. It’s great. It’s a different segment. At the end of the day, it’s nice to have a site.

It’s like, look, for our families. You could raise your family in a beautiful suburban house, big, fancy looking thing, but it’s still about mom, and dad, and kids, all the issues we face. Family still better be family. It doesn’t care how big and fancy. Sometimes, the bigger and fancier the house, the less the family focuses on… Fancy’s not always better. I think it’s really the same thing for seniors. Yeah, we’d like to deliver the big and nice, and we can develop that infrastructure and manage costs so that that can be done at a reasonable price for our customers. The family, if you will, is still the caregiving and the restaurant. We really want animated foods. I want a great chef. We hired a couple of great chefs out here, they’ve run restaurants that we’ve liked, and talked them into come and work for us. “You don’t want to run the business side of a restaurant. It’s a pain in the neck. We’re good at business, you’re good at creative meals and what have you.” That’s a little different than the industry.

For an operator here, it’s a little different. They don’t think that way. I think we’re getting the eyebrows up. “Wait a minute. You want to do what?” We say, “Yeah, that’s really what we want to do.”

 

Tod Petty:

I know you demand excellence, so it’s what you expect. I know you have high expectations.

 

Paul Griffin:

Tod, I think we all have to push ourselves that way all the time. I really want you to push me all the time too about things that you see or ideas that Bebe has. If we all push each other, we’ll stay in front of the growing demand. Really, we, Tod, baby boomers aren’t going to accept what silent generation accepts in the way of lifestyle. They are much more to themselves. Boomers, we’ve been coddled all our lives. I’m middle of the boomer, believe me I know. We expect more and we demand more. As boomers move in, the world’s going to change. For you and I, we’re going to be in front of it, because we’re thinking about it before it happens. As it gets here, we’ll be relevant. Buildings we’re building now will be relevant then. The buildings we build then probably will be a lot more than they are today.

The guys that build for just enough for the Silent Generation that have been around for a few years, or even guys who are finishing today, those buildings may have some issues about being repurposed or having to be really discounted into cash cow positions in terms of the income coming through and be really much more value driven proposition than our buildings, which we’re hoping ours are value plus more amenities and more lifestyle amenity.

Tod, I think, in terms of our buildings and what we’re doing, just from real estate development from all of these years and the billions of dollars in projects that we’ve developed, architecturally we want to always walk into any building, whether it’s a house, an apartment, a hotel, in my office building, anywhere we want to do, we want to look up and out at light and space. You want to look in a building and feel like your breath goes in and you look out, and you feel good. It’s expansive. That is an architectural design. It is absolutely having to go into it and say, “What trade-offs I’m going to make to do it,” but it’s not really that difficult.

I find that it requires architects that are better about those thinking about what it’s like in the entry of any building. If you’re just building for, I have this much space for an entry, I have this much space for a greeting area, I’ve got this much for my grand activities room, I’ve got this much for my nursing, I can get all that in the same square footage, I can get it very efficiently done, but your heart doesn’t lift when you walk in the door. You’re just walking in a door. That is just architecturally something that we do to set ourselves apart. I know other architects and developers can and will do it. I know at hotels you can see the difference all the time. You know, when you walk into hotels, which one you go into and say, “God, that was just like, exciting, walking in the door,” and that one’s like, “Oh, it’s a hotel. Get my bags checked in.” That would be just an example, I think, that most people could relate to as you’re thinking about it.

We want to walk in our buildings and look out across the entry through the main activity rooms. I want the main activity rooms to be two and a half to three stories tall in the middle. I want to have two and a half to three stories worth of glass looking out the back into the tire width of the room, so you walk in and out. I want water, major fountains, in the courtyard areas in the middle of the buildings that everybody looks into. Certainly, from the front door, you look across the room out the back at fountains. Here, in California, I want you looking at giant lemons on the trees. I want you looking at big bougainvilleas, the pretty red flowers shifting around. I’m just trying to paint in your mind what you’re looking out at.

Main activity room, we really want to have activities going on, several, two or three at a time, art projects, whether it’s another presentation, Boy Scouts, or choir, or a historian or somebody. Want to have other there maybe quietly sitting running their mahjong or something. We want to make sure that there are right activities or right scale of… But that takes more money, as an operator, for us for activities. It’s not that much more, Tod, but we have to make a deliberate decision of, yeah, we’re going to spend the money to do it. We have to have the confidence that our customers are willing to pay slightly more to live, because we have those activities.

Our kitchen, really, I need a menu. I need people to order from a menu. I need them to have a selection. I need to have Sundays be a nice brunch with carving station kind of thing, or omelets, what have you, waffles. They need to have a Thursday night something, steak nights or something. On Tuesday, tacos. I need to have things happening. That is a commitment to restaurants, which is a major part of people. You said, you started, I said, “Look, food is one of the main areas, and laundry, and I’m throwing activities,” and we’re both assuming the health care is there. We are there with health care, so absolutely got to do all of them.

Tod, I think you do. When I met you, I was happy and wanted to work with you. We’re excited about this. We’re excited to have Bebe here, because she understands from the health care side. I understand menus. I eat well. That’s something I understand.

 

Tod Petty:

Well, your team understands technology too. You understand that when the client comes under your porte-cochere that there needs to be beautiful music playing to set the mood when they walk in. You understand aromatherapy has to be delivered, and you have to program for it. Music throughout the building. Like you said, natural sunlight is in the physiology of the residents creating vitamin K and D. All this creates the paradigm in a person’s mind. It translates into a great experience that I do believe, we both had talked about this, that people will pay slightly more for and that people will gravity toward a solution that will give them a better outcome.

 

Paul Griffin:

Tod, for the sound, we spent more money for the way that we put the sound delivery systems to different parts of the building. There are different sounds depending on where you are in building and what time of day it is. Some might be some soft music, some might be just outdoorsy birds chirping or something else. We don’t want you to ever quite put your finger on what you’re hearing, but just notice that you feel good. The aromatherapy went to the group that does the scent management for Four Seasons and Neiman Marcus. They’re very good at it. You go into those places, they put you in the right mood. Our scents, from outside the front door, is one outdoors. It might be citrus blossom or [inaudible 00:36:31] depending what season it is. Inside, as I walk in, it’s maybe a different, in fact it is a different, kind of a scent. If I’m back down where the residents are, it’s a little bit different again.

The sights, the light, the lighting. We high-end lighting consultant, and they use very different temperatures of lights depending on where you are. The clarity, I think of good lighting as just being crystal clear. It’s not yellow. It’s not white. It’s just crystal clear. It feels like daylight, but it’s not blasting your eyes. That wasn’t horrifically more, but it took some engineering dollars to figure it out. These guys do high-end offices and executive suites. They do hotels and what have you. It’s just a commitment to it. I think we just create the environment to walk through in the building.

That’s the one thing we can do as a developer is really deliver the infrastructure where you’re going to live and make it feel uplifting and positive, so that during the day…. The most positive thing you can have is nothing is particular bothering me. I’m not hot. I’m not cold. It’s not too bright in my eyes. It’s not too dim. The sounds here are soothing and engaging. The smells, I don’t know, but it just smells good. You can’t exactly put your finger on any one of them and say you notice any of them. If you notice any of those in our building, we did it wrong.

 

Tod Petty:

Right, yes.

 

Paul Griffin:

Yeah, it’s just how I feel. You just feel uplifted and positive. That positive feel should just be for everybody that comes in. Our staff, our 60-year-old daughters, our residents, everybody that comes in they should feel that way. I don’t know what it is, but I feel good when I’m there.

 

Tod Petty:

Absolutely.

 

Paul Griffin:

We’re working with another one, another consultant. I think this is going to be wild if we can get it to happen, Tod. We’ll see. It’s a group that does concert halls and museums, and high-end kind of places all around the world. I don’t know how they do it exactly. It’s projection, but that’s not exactly right. But, it’s like holograph, so you walk in and you think you’re looking at a koi pond, and it’s really just on the floor. You put your finger in it, and the water dips out in concentric circles. Or you’re looking at a… “Gosh, is that a waterfall coming off the bar right now? Did a fish just flop down there?” I mean, it’s just that kind of thing. They show me examples of how they do that stuff. I’m thinking, “That sounds pretty wild.”

That level of animation isn’t so much. I think it’s fun. But what I’m really looking for, for a senior building that I really think would be just awesome for the industry if we could start doing this, is to go in the pre-dining rooms, which we’re making a little bit larger in our buildings, an area just to gather before you’re eating, if could get in that area and they could turn that whole pre-dining area into, say, it’s Polynesian night, you could turn the pre-dining area into Waikiki Beach. You think you’re standing on sand. You’re looking at waves. You could go over and touch them if you want. You see palm trees waving, and you swear you’re there. If you could do that kind of thing, and that way we could just bring life.

You’re unable, as a resident, to be out as much as maybe you had been in your life. You remember, maybe you’ve never been to these places, but life is coming to you. We’re bringing it to you, and you feel like you’re having these experiences. That would just be awesome. That’d be great for our residents, and for staff, and for everybody.

 

Tod Petty:

Oh, absolutely.

 

Paul Griffin:

Again, we haven’t pulled it off yet. They’re telling me they can do it. It’s not ridiculously expensive. You have to commit to it. Boy, Tod, I’d love to see the industry start to shift in these kinds of directions. Some have other solutions better than ours, but this is where we’re looking and wanting to be relevant in this conversation. The winner, if we’re all good at this, and we’re all pushing each other, will be our customers, our residents.

 

Tod Petty:

Yes, I totally agree. I always say every community has a unique value proposition. The deal there is the members of that community have to figure out what they can deliver to an audience that will attract themselves to them. I love everything that we’re talking about. The more I read coming out of Harvard Medical Review and the more I understand that the lives that we live is governed by the thoughts that we think and the subconscious thoughts we’re not aware of, and everything we can deliver to a senior, whether it’s aromatherapy, digital signage, hologram experiences, all affect them subconscious, which affects their outlook and makes their lives more relevant. This is very powerful.

 

Paul Griffin:

I mean, Tod, for me and you… Sorry, Tod, I didn’t mean to step on you there. Yeah, for me and you it is too, though, Tod. Think about how we go through our day. Mostly, we’re at home having some dinner hopping in bed, or we’re in our office. They’re still our experiences enough to emotionally feel engaged enough that we’re happy. Our residents, same thing, only we’ve got to bring a little bit more of it to them.

 

Tod Petty:

Absolutely.

 

Paul Griffin:

Memory care, it’s a big issue. There is a doctor that was out here at UCLA. He’s a top researcher at it. I think he’s moved up into the Bay Area now, but he’s a top guy at this. I’ll get his book that I’ve been reading, I’ll send you a copy too. He’s saying, and I apologize, I don’t remember his name right at the moment, but I’m very intrigued, he’s saying that managing lifestyle issues even by the time we’re in our 70s can make a huge difference on your ability either to continue with the clarity that you have or even bring back a lot of clarity of your thought that you may be losing. I just think that is amazing. Because our hearts are working better, we’re not dropping over in our 40s and 50s of heart attacks, our cancers are being managed much better than they were, memory care’s the next one.

According to this doctor, anyway, there’s no silver bullet. It’s not one thing, but probably 10 things that we’re going to do. Everybody’s got a little different reason why they maybe succumb to more serious memory care. But it can be managed. If we could bring that to our buildings too, even starting with their families as people are thinking about assisted living, but maybe by the time they get into independent living, let’s bring those changes and maybe keep them clear for longer. Tod, what if we can keep people, instead of living for two to five years, if we could them to live from five to eight years, because we did a good job, and they were happy. They only will live longer if they are happy.

 

Tod Petty:

Yes. Well, I’d love to have another episode with you to talk about the Montessori dementia programming that you’re trying to put in your buildings. I think that would be a great topic. We could also bring in some of this research that’s being done to slow down the progression of dementia. There’s a lot of new breakthrough stuff coming. Paul, I’d like to do this before we go, would you just share a little bit, and we may put this at the beginning of the podcast, but I’d like you to share a little bit of how being successful in the multifamily space for all those years and how you transitioned to senior housing, what caused that quest? What led you into this? I’m so glad it did, what led you into the frontier of senior living?

 

Paul Griffin:

Well, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention, Tod. We were master planned communities for several generations. My father was doing hundreds of millions of dollars every year, and I picked it up about 40 years ago. Is that right? 20, yeah, 40 years ago. I came into it 40 years ago. I picked it up 30 years ago. Dad, bless him, was about my age now, and said, “Great, good to have you, son. Bye.” I can’t know it feels sometimes. Anyway, I enjoyed master planned communities, and the size and the scale of business. It was great. Being the size and volume that we were, dealt with great professionals in the company and in the industry. Deloitte, Price Water House, McKenzie, all those groups. It was great.

The recession in 2008, we were actually doing fairly well. It just kept getting worse, in 2010, ’11. By that time, there was no money to beg, borrow, or steal for capital for projects. [inaudible 00:45:46] projects are large enough to take a lot of cash. It’s a hoard of capital if you take for each one. There just wasn’t any around. I ended up in China. Chinese, I met such dear people. Truly, they’re kind, good, people. They gave me a billion dollar credit line, a billion 200 million actually. Credit line, let’s go into America, but start with seniors. We have a problem with seniors. We’d like to back you in development and care, because we have a problem here. We’d like to see the technology developed and bring it.

I spent a lot of time in China in different senior facilities around China, what they’re doing and their solutions, what we might be doing. They were pretty far ahead of us, actually. They’re just so much bigger. Everything they do, there’s so much of and they need so much more of everything. That did get us started with our first senior… It was a senior apartment project that we did just to stick our toe in the water. We won a gold medal for United States that year for the best project. That surprised us a little. First one going into seniors was fun. Did a speed dating for seniors night. [Torando 00:46:59] in our marketing group. I laughed. They had traffic backed up out to the boulevards, and police coming and having to stop traffic and close the thing down. I just died. It was a fun group of people. The big activities and rooms and all that, it got me really intrigued and it moved my passion.

The master planned family communities are great. I do like them. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older too, but I really started to pay more attention and visit big projects of independent living, and assisted living, and memory care, and all that stuff. Some of them had skilled nursing attached to it. It was really fun. To start to understand and see this was really fairly young industry actually. It’s been around for a bit, but as industries go in the US, it was fairly young and dynamic. Because the age cohorts were shifting over to the next group, which will now shift again into baby boomers, it made it even more exciting and interesting.

For me, it was really just reignited my passion to something new. That, Tod, really, it’s a development. I’ve built $10 or $12 billion in building myself in my career. It’s not that. We do a lot of it. We’ve done a lot of it. It really is my passion got to be about our residents and understanding their daughters or sons that are seeing to them and understanding the caregivers and the restaurants, and all the people. It’s like I found a whole new life in this, and I’m just loving it.

We offer, what we bring, Tod, may be real estate development. We get approvals, and we can get buildings built. That is a means to an end. But the end is really what you’re doing every day. I’m just privileged to be part of it now.

 

Tod Petty:

Well, Paul, this has been great. I mean, it just is so edifying to me to hear your vision and your passion. The operators need good developers that believe in more than the building. You definitely have a passion for the seniors and trying to make a difference in their lives. I know you’re trying to make a difference in our industry and not leave it the way you found it. And so, I appreciate that.

Wow, what a great conversation with Paul Griffin. If you want more information about Griffin Living and how they’re changing the industry and their current developments, you can simply go to griffin.com. I want to thank everyone for attending this month’s broadcast. Don’t miss April 2021. I have a special guest, and we’re going to be talking about a new model that’s emerging in the senior housing space. What a new model out of the ground is going to look like? It’s going to include a new pricing matrix, a new product offer, a new memory care program, pathogen mitigation, everything you could think of and dream about in a new model needed for our industry. I’ll see you next month. This is Tod Petty with Lloyd Jones, Senior Living Unfiltered. God speed.