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Behind the Scenes: LeadingAge South Carolina

By: Linda Dove

  As everyone has learned, it “takes a village” to make things happen – an assertion that Bishop Gadsden leaders and team members would heartily endorse. In BG’s case, the village extends throughout the state of South Carolina and onto the national stage. The vehicle: LeadingAge South Carolina. BG leaders and team members often cite LeadingAge when discussing new initiatives, special projects or pertinent figures. Time to go behind the scenes to learn more about this important contributor to life on the Bishop Gadsden campus. LeadingAge South Carolina is a statewide group of more than 25 non-profit life plan communities, skilled nursing facilities, and affordable housing, home service and hospice providers that work together, learn from each other, and share a commitment to provide quality care and services to older adults. It was founded by a small group of not-for-profit facilities for the aging in the 1980s. Since then it has grown to include a range of non-profit entities, as well as businesses, and associate individual members with an interest in long-term care and support for seniors. SC members employ over 8,000 staff serving more than 10,000 older residents. The national LeadingAge Association, comprised of 38 state groups and headquartered in Washington, DC, represents 6,000 communities and organizations working with the aging. “It would be hard to overestimate how important our relationship with both the state and national LeadingAge associations has been to the growth and development of Bishop Gadsden,” says CEO Sarah Tipton. “We learn from each other; we support each other; and we grow together. No day goes by that I am not in contact with some member of the state or national group. Asking questions. Sharing experiences. Learning and sometimes teaching.” While the Bishop Gadsden team often cites the help and support from the state and national groups, BG team members and leaders ‘pay it forward’ providing important leadership to both groups. In the past, Bishop Gadsden has had strong representation on the Board, including Sarah Tipton and Katie Jayne. The team’s commitment will expand further next year when Kimberly Borts, BG’s Vice President of Mission and Communications, begins a two-year term as Chair of LeadingAge South Carolina. At the request of the State Board, Bishop Gadsden’s Chief Financial Officer, Lynne Kerrison, also will extend her term as Treasurer of the group. “I was surprised when I was asked to consider chairing the group,” says Kimberly. “Unlike many others on the board, I do not have my administrators license and while I have been in the field of senior living for 16 years, I tend to come at things from a different perspective. I do know that we are in the midst of incredible change as new opportunities are brought on by the rapid growth of an aging population. No question – I expect to learn a lot and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.” Kassie South, SC LeadingAge CEO, notes the importance of facilities like Bishop Gadsden working with similar groups. “Our members are not-for-profit. They are ready and able to innovate, to pool the combined knowledge, expertise and experience that is key to growth and stability. Bishop Gadsden is an especially invaluable resource in these days of challenge and change.” Training and retention of staff is a high priority for the Association and its subsidiary, The SC Institute on Aging, which sponsors a series of seminars and workshops, including a large annual conference allowing professionals at all levels to learn, network and share ideas. The SC Leadership Academy goes into more depth, offering selected management team members a year-long learning program. Aaron Roop, BG’s Senior Vice President, is currently part of the Leadership Academy class. LeadingAge supports a number of other programs including targeted legislative advocacy on policies important to the aging population, a shared purchasing organization, and access to consultants and educators who can provide advice and direction. Welcome to the village.