SAGE/IAHSA North American Study Tour:  The View from Boston

By Bob Lagoyda

IAHSA colleagues from Australia participated in a 15 day North American Study Tour earlier this month focused on the theme person-centered care and quality assurance systems by visiting aged care providers in Boston and Toronto.  The study tour was organized to coincide with the LeadingAge Annual Meeting in Boston; half of the study tour participants also attended the LeadingAge conference.

The study kicked off with a morning seminar on corporate governance, along with an overview of the U.S. health and aged care system led by Rick Stiffney, President & CEO of MHS Consulting.  During this kick-off seminar, participants were able to move into the learning mindset, exploring best practices in governance and leadership strategies. The group was also provided with an overview of U.S. health and aged care policies and programs.

The first day afternoon program included a visit to the Leonard Florence Center for Living sponsored by the Chelsea Jewish Foundation.  The mission at the Leonard Florence Center is to focus on improving and maintaining the health of each of the residents by focusing on a holistic caregiving model.  In caring for the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs of each of their residents, they endeavor to create an environment of possibility and growth, providing skilled care when needed to preserve or increase abilities and independence.

In the spring of 2007, the Chelsea Jewish Foundation took an immediate interest in the theory and implementation of the Green House® model concept for long-term care.  At that time, the model had only been built in the U.S. Midwest, where large stretches of flat land were in greater supply than in cities and other crowded metropolitan areas. Believing in their organization’s mission and confident that such a model could be built in a city, they researched the concept and met with Green House advisors to determine if a Green House could be created for an urban setting.  Working with U.S. federal and state officials and agencies, the Foundation began soliciting support and donations for its revolutionary project: the first urban model Green house that would also include the first specialized amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis (MS) and residences of their kind.

On Day 2 of the study tour, participants visited Lasell Village sponsored by Lasell College.  Designed on the scale of a small New England neighborhood, Lasell Village is located on a beautifully landscaped 13-acre site on the campus of Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburban community 10 miles west of Boston. Sponsored by Lasell College, the Village is home to 225 residents in its independent living apartments. It also includes Lasell Studios, a 9 apartment supported living unit and Lasell House, a 38 bed skilled nursing home. Open since May 2000, the Village combines the elements of retirement living, support services, lifelong learning, short-term rehabilitation, and long-term care

Lasell Village, invites residents to think of retirement in a whole new way — with an emphasis on active, intellectually enriched living.  The Village combines the security of a continuing care retirement community with the cultural, social, and recreational opportunities of lifelong learning.  Life at Lasell Village reflects the interests and imagination of Village residents. A focus on living and learning is the defining characteristic of Lasell Village, and one that makes it unique among retirement communities.  Although it is one of a growing number of college-affiliated retirement communities, it is the first to feature a formal, individualized and required continuing education program for residents.

During the afternoon of Day 2 the program visited Newbridge on the Charles sponsored by Hebrew Senior Life.  Set amidst 162 acres, NewBridge on the Charles is a vibrant retirement community in Dedham, Massachusetts that offers a wealth of choices in amenities, services and styles of homes.

There are so many reasons why NewBridge on the Charles is one of the most successful retirement communities in the country: 162–acre wooded campus; wide variety of beautiful apartments and cottages; dozens of on-site amenities; world-class health care; a lively, creative atmosphere; and a continuum of care that includes assisted living and long-term care.

The key to healthy living, they believe, is to never stop learning. At NewBridge on the Charles, one of their core missions is to provide new and innovative ways to learn, grow, have fun, and be creative. To create an optimal living environment, it’s all about choice and opportunity. Residents have the freedom to choose the activities they love most, as well as the opportunity to try something different and to challenge themselves in new endeavors.  NewBridge is a community designed for independent living offering flexibility to residents who enjoy scheduling their own daily activities while knowing they can be spontaneous at any given moment.

After a weekend to explore Boston and its environs, participants spent an entire day at exploring Carleton-Willard Village and Carleton-Willard at Home. Carleton-Willard Village residents find an incredible variety of activities and resources to keep them learning, growing, and living life to the fullest. Their natural environment offers tranquility with 72 acres of fields and forest, and Boston affords great cultural and intellectual offerings close to home.  A charitable, not-for-profit community, Carleton-Willard offers a flexible range of services, including independent living apartments and cluster homes, assistance in living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, and support for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

In 2009, Carleton-Willard established a sister organization, Carleton-Willard AT HOME, to serve those in surrounding communities who prefer to stay in their own homes as they age. AT HOME is now Carleton-Willard’s flagship outreach program, a way to bring some of the most important benefits of a retirement community to those living at home, and to do so in an affordable, high quality way.  Now serving six communities, AT HOME provides help with chores of everyday living, as well as the support and encouragement to stay independent, active and engaged in life.

The fourth and final day of the Boston program included a full-day forum hosted by the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMB) to further explore the study tour themes of person-center care and quality assurance systems.  Len Fishman, Director of the UBM Geronotology Institute (and former LeadingAge and IAHSA President & CEO) presided over an engaging program of prominent researchers and providers who shared innovative approaches to addressing challenges of providing person-center and quality programs to older consumers.


  • Day 1: Rick Stiffney, President & CEO of MHS Consulting, leads seminar on corporate governance.
  • Stiffney provides group with overview of the U.S. health and aged care system as well as best practices in governance and leadership.
  • Day 1: The SAGE group visits Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The center is an urban model green house created by Chelsea Jewish Foundation, the first of its kind in long-term-care.
  • SAGE Participants present an Australian gift of Aboriginal art to Barry Berman, CEO of Chelsea Jewish Foundation.
  • Day 2: SAGE delegates meet with a resident panel at Lasell Village in Newton, Massachusetts. Lasell is a small New England retirement community which focuses on life long learning for its residents.
  • The residents share their experiences living in an active ageing community like Lasell.
  • SAGE Tour participants engage with Lasell Village residents.
  • Lasell staff and residents are presented with a gift of art from SAGE.
  • SAGE delegates admire Lasell's displayed resident art.
  • Delegates are invited to tour the resident art studio and work space.
  • SAGE delegates get decorating tips from Lasell residents.
  • Day 3: SAGE participants visit Carleton-Willard Village in Bedford, Massachusetts. Carleton-Willard is a tranquil retirement community offering an active ageing lifestyle and an array of care services ranging from independent living to skilled nursing and memory care.
  • SAGE delegates tour Carleton-Willard's Heritage Hall.
  • SAGE participants admire Carleton-Willard's bocce court on a breathtaking New England autumn day.
  • Carleton-Willard's President & CEO Barbara Doyle show's off her award-winning Donna Reed Kitchen in the Memory Care Wing.
  • Tour partipants enjoy the Donna Reed Kitchen.
  • The vintage Donna Reed kitchen is designed to remind Memory Care residents of the kitchens from their youth.
  • SAGE delegates photograph the raised flower beds in Carleton-Willard's Memory Care garden.
  • Barbara Doyle points out details of the memory care garden to the guests.
  • Day 4: Delegates visit University of Massachusetts Boston (UMB), Gerontology Institute where it's Director, Len Fishman, hosts a full-day forum for the participants to reflect on their time in Boston and to further discuss themes of person-centered care and quality assurance systems.
  • Age & Community Services Australia CEO, John Kelly, gives an overview of the Australian health and aged care system.
  • Boston college Professor, Kevin Mahoney, presents on U.S. person-centered care initiatives.
  • Amy Schectman, President & CEO of Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly, talks about U.S. innovations in affordable housing.

For more information on IAHSA’s Global Connections Programme, click here.

Or visit the SAGE Study Tour website for information on the upcoming SAGE/IAHSA Tour in South Africa, March 2016.

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