Blair Quasnitschka – Effective Team Culture and Successful Senior Living Operations

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Blair Quasnitschka, FACHCA
Blair Quasnitschka, FACHCA

Blair Quasnitschka is a Sports Management graduate of Springfield College who “found his calling” 5 years after college following in his father’s footsteps of nursing home administration.

He spent the first 10+ years of his career in that space operating high-volume Medicare buildings and doing regional operations work for a provider that focused on short term rehab and addiction service/mental health populations.

While continuing his efforts in working with seniors, Blair pivoted towards senior living 3 years ago when he took the Executive Director position of a Continuing Care Retirement Community – Evergreen Woods in North Branford, CT, operated by Senior Living Communities out of Charlotte, NC.

Blair also serves as the Operations Mentor for the portfolio where he helps to onboard newly hired Executive Directors and Care Service Administrators, as well as conduct ongoing support of their ED’s in operations and sales capacity.  Blair was recognized as the Company’s Executive Director of the Year in 2019.

In addition to Blair’s formal professional work, he’s been active with the American College of Healthcare Administrators (ACHCA) on a local CT Chapter level (served as Director, Vice President and President) and more recently as a Director of the ACHCA National Board for the past two years.

Blair is a Fellow with ACHCA, the highest individual distinction. He has served as an Examiner for American Healthcare Association’s (ACHA) Silver Award submissions.

Blairs and his wife live in Central CT along with their two sons Maddox (6) and Jagger (5), and a new puppy, Luna). Blair enjoys playing the piano (33 years) in his spare time as well as for his residents and staff, playing golf (when time permits) and he’s an avid Kansas City Chiefs fan – 2019 Superbowl Champs!

  • Employee retention – the importance of it and the strategies we use
  • Covid precautions – balancing safety precautions against keeping residents engaged and thriving
  • The future of senior living
  • What does “ready” look like for seniors – in terms of making a decision to move from their own home to a Community

Hanh: [00:06:01] I was really inspired and I wanted to talk to you. Yeah.

Hanh: [00:06:07] So give me a story, a situation where music, how the isolated people like the seniors overcome crucial distancing and isolation. And how did that music impact the lives of the residents and the staff member?

Blair: [00:06:23] Sure. Especially at the beginning of this pandemic in Connecticut, we were probably pretty conservative from the beginning of shutting down our campus to a lot of communal activities. And it’s interesting. There’s not a blueprint really necessarily how to handle a pandemic from a.

[00:06:41] Psychosocial point of view, we have a lot that goes into what are you going to do clinically and safety precautions, but a lot of those safety precautions come then at the compromise of what are we doing, psycho socially.

00:07:45] And I would play for them in that fashion. And it gave people an outlet. Yeah, I would take requests and we had some couples that would get up and dance and it was moving. It was probably one of the more powerful things that I’ve been able to [00:08:00] be a part of and really proud to be a part of, uh, to help give people an outlet during, especially at the beginning of this, what was a very isolated time.

Hanh: [00:10:12] What is the importance of employee in senior living community.

Hanh: [00:10:19] To improve employee retention.

Blair: [00:10:22] I feel like we put such a, an emphasis on customer excellence and as it should be, that’s one of the platforms I stand on when I talked to the team all the time, my feeling is that customer excellence is much easily, more easily achieved when you have. A longer standing tenure with your team. Those team members become more vested in your operation, become prouder of the environment that they’re working in.

[00:10:49] So if you don’t focus on the front end of that, and that is solidifying your team members, I believe the idea of chasing and retaining customer excellence then [00:11:00] becomes a lot taller task to me.

[00:15:27] So I think it’s really important to remind the team members that what they’re doing does not go. Unnoticed and it’s appreciated. And we felt that, especially through the pandemic, I get a lot of credit to our residents and to the families who have constantly reminded me how appreciative they are, of what we’ve done here.

[00:15:45] We created a sort of a wall of fame to those testimonials. In our lobby when people sign in, there’s a whole wall of wishes and thank you to that. But again, nothing also replaces the day to day being out there and being in touch with your team members and lending a hand wherever you can. I think that accessibility and visibility is critical there.

Hanh: [00:17:45] What is the role of. Onboarding in terms of employee retention in senior living industry.

Blair: [00:17:51] And my role in that is to help the other executive directors and the other care service administrators see the value in how are we connecting with their [00:18:00] staff.

Blair:[00:18:56] a lot of times in dealing with the onboarding process, it may [00:19:00] be new ideas to some of the directors, or they may be things that they’re already doing. There are things I can always learn from them as well. So, me being in an operations mentor capacity, isn’t just a one-way street.

Blair:[00:19:11] I always try to, when I do a site visit or if I’m working with. A mentee, which I’m working with a few now it’s a lot of times I’m trying to grab some feedback from where they’ve been to. And how do I apply that to myself? It’s looking for opportunities where they can connect with their team members.

Blair:[00:20:05] The person that’s sitting in my position, that idea that those bridges have to be formed and that best happens when you’re rounding. And when you take the time to get to know your team members,

Hanh:[00:20:51] So how we conduct to our staff and to the residents. It’s full circle.

Blair: [00:20:57] Yeah. It’s about leading by example, which is [00:21:00] a bit of a cliche expression, but I, I also think there’s a lot of truth to it. If I put the expectation out there that it’s everyone’s responsibility to maintain our property, maintain our grounds, that they always look pristine.

Hanh: So how can you balance safety precautions in making sure that the residents stay, engage and thrive?

Blair: [00:22:21] Great question. And I think that tested. Everyone’s creativity. We needed to first secure the safety component. Okay. What does it look like? That residents need to have masks apparently and residents need to be kept away from each other. Apparently, those are the two big things. So, we thought of that first a safety had to be first, but.

Blair: [00:26:07] balancing safety against psychosocial and engagement. But. Yeah, I think we did it very systematically. We did it methodically. If you waited to see how the outside landscape worked and then developed our strategy under our bubble, again, it was a group effort.

Hanh: [00:30:06] Thank you so much for joining us this week and Bloomberg living podcast.

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