In April, Sunrise Senior Living welcomed Jack R. Callison, Jr. as the new Chief Executive Officer. Over the past few months, Jack has immersed himself in Sunrise communities and culture while on an initial listening tour across the United States. Below are his thoughts following that visit.
Friends of Sunrise—
As my initial listening tour ends, I reflect on my several weeks travelling to different Sunrise communities meeting with team members, residents, and families, immersing myself in each community’s unique culture, and watching our mission in action. It was an incredible experience that not only reaffirmed all the reasons I wanted to join this great organization, but also makes me extremely optimistic about the days ahead in which we will continue to benefit all who call Sunrise home.
I want to extend a huge “thank you” to everyone I connected with in our communities in New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, Colorado, and California for making me feel so welcome. If I haven’t yet visited your region or community, be on the lookout because I’ll be back on the road again soon!
I learned so much from this tour and could not be prouder of our awesome, hardworking team members and all they do to care for, support, and bring joy to our residents. Our team members are truly heroes in orange and I am in awe of the inspiring stories from so many—some who have worked in their community decades, others with multiple family members who are also part of the Sunrise team, and countless who worked tirelessly over the past year and a half to keep residents safe, healthy, happy, and engaged throughout the unpredictable COVID-19 pandemic. I also got to see the smiling faces of our residents and learn firsthand how Sunrise’s personalized care and warm, welcoming environment has made a positive, life-changing impact on them and their loved ones.
What’s most exciting is that I could also feel the enthusiasm as our communities are welcoming brighter days with doors open to more visitors, activities, gatherings, and the in-person moments we have all been missing in these last 15 months. Communities even graciously welcomed me to join in on their fun with activities including chair volleyball, baking incredible Polish cookies, and lively happy hours. Spending time laughing and connecting with our residents and team members is certainly the best part of my job and truly makes my heart sing.
I also had the opportunity to participate in authentic, engaging conversations and receive honest feedback about Sunrise—what’s going well, new ideas for the future, and ways we can improve the team member, resident, and family experience.
Here are just a few of the many takeaways from my conversations:
Sunrise is a family that is grounded in our clearly defined mission and values. It’s clear that working for Sunrise is more than just a job—it’s a purpose-filled career where team members can see the difference they are making every day. They cherish the time they spend with residents and families delivering highly individualized care, and through their actions, bring to life the founding principles that set Sunrise apart.
Our team is second to none. At every community, I am amazed in the incredible tenure of our team, with stories of those who have served our residents for 10, 15 and even 20 plus years! This is a testament to not only the serving hearts that join the Sunrise team, but also to the incredible training and development programs that help our teams learn and grow. We plan to build on this strong foundation with a continued focus on team member retention and appreciation, and by expanding our team to bring more of the best and brightest talent to our industry. I was so energized by the ideas we discussed in communities to support our recruiting efforts, and it's clear everyone is committed to share more about what makes this a great place to work.
Consistent, transparent communication with families is essential to the trust they place in us. Families want and need frequent updates about their loved ones and to see and hear about what they’re doing day-to-day. The pandemic only reinforced this, especially when in-person meetings and visits were not an option. We are continuously evaluating how we communicate with our families and are committed to seeking new and improved ways to stay connected.
We are on the upswing and the best is yet to come. There’s no doubt the pandemic posed challenges to all of us in a number of ways. Thanks to high vaccination rates among our residents and team members, Sunrise communities are opening back up and establishing a “new normal.” There’s a sense of optimism and positivity among those who live and work at Sunrise. As always, we are committed to the wellbeing of our residents, providing high-quality, personalized care, and bringing the joy of Sunrise to even more seniors and their families. We don’t simply aim to get back to where we were before the pandemic, but will work with our team members, residents, and families to implement new practices that will make Sunrise even better. While Sunrise’s first 40 years have been amazing, I can’t wait to see what the next four decades have in store.
This listening tour is only the beginning. We will continue to grow, learn, and thrive. We can only do this by seeking and encouraging frequent, honest feedback and taking action on what we hear. We ask team members, residents, families, and our partners to talk about their Sunrise experience with community leaders, share their new ideas, and discuss what changes and improvements we can make. I, as well other Sunrise leaders, will continue to hit the road to hear as much of this feedback as we can firsthand as well as to extend our gratitude to the incredible team that makes it all possible.
My travels over the past few months have confirmed that Sunrise is an extremely special place with a lasting mission to champion quality of life for all seniors. As CEO, I am filled with great pride and a sense of home here, and I look forward to incorporating lessons learned from my conversations on the road as we continue to work together to make Sunrise an even better place to work and live!