ALFA conference goers share successes, frustrations, advice, and hope

Staggering out of my final educational session at this year’s Assisted Living Federation of America Conference & Expo, hand throbbing from note taking and head swimming with ideas and inspiration, I marveled as a horde of attendees pushed past me to rush not to an awaiting bar, but to yet another session in another stuffy room—on a beautiful, sun-drenched late afternoon in Orlando.

What is it about this particular group of attendees, I wondered, that compels them to rotate in and out of multiple sessions, not just to rack up those coveted CE credits, but to actively participate in discussions until they’re practically kicked out of the room at the hour’s end?

Sure, ALFA President/CEO Rick Grimes spoke proudly of his dedicated membership—but hey, he’s paid to do that. But what I saw for myself confirmed his conviction: these are some seriously focused professionals. That’s not to say they’re stodgy; I hoisted more than a couple highball glasses with this hearty crowd. They work hard and play hard.

Owners, operators, consultants, and nurses mixed easily and in large and more intimate venues shared their successes, frustrations, advice, and hopes for the future working in this constantly changing and uncertain industry.

I didn’t sit through a single dud of a session (amazingly) and I even found myself rapt with attention at the wonky, policy-heavy ACO overview. Presenter Sarah Katz of The Advisory Board Company displayed a keen intelligence, with a firm grasp of the head-spinning complexities of this confounding movement bearing down on the healthcare industry.

Surprisingly, my favorite session turned out to be the clinical topical forum. Here, a packed room of nurses and other clinicians shared their experiences with resident acuity and service coordination. They face daunting and mounting challenges from increasing acuity levels and complex care. I’ll write more about this and other compelling sessions I attended in coming days. Stay tuned.

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