Elderwood exec helps shape senior living options across New York

By Tracey Drury
– Reporter, Buffalo Business First

A Western New York health care professional is putting a decade of experience to work in hopes of helping both businesses and retirees find better, safer living options.

In 2016, Alicia Laible-Kenyon was appointed by the state Senate to serve on the statewide Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) Council and now serves as chair of the new regulatory and framework improvement subcommittee. Professionally, she serves as executive director of Elderwood Health Plan, a managed long-term care program.

Though Elderwood offers all levels of senior care, its holdings do not include a state-designated continuing care retirement community. So why join the council? Laible-Kenyon, a former social worker, said she felt a sense of duty.

“The governor was attempting to find representatives from across the state who had a background in health care,” she said. “There can only be one representative from a CCRC, but everyone on it has some industry knowledge.”

Though many retirement communities offer a varied continuum of care from independent living to assisted living and skilled nursing, the CCRC model operates more like an insurance product, guaranteeing resident members will receive all the care they need without having to leave the campus. It also costs more, with high entry fees and monthly charges.

With just 12 CCRCs across the state, including Fox Run and Canterbury Woods in this region, the model is still relatively rare in New York, especially compared to other Mid-Atlantic states like New Jersey, which has 29, and Pennsylvania, with 93. The council has been boosting its work to make the model more business-friendly to existing and potential organizations, while keeping serving the needs of residents.

“We’re really looking to industry experts to come in and tell us what the challenges have been in the past, what do you see as the major issues and what can we do,” she said. “We have that oversight and ability, so how we can improve the process for you.”

Chairing the new subcommittee — which has its first meeting on March 16, also allows her to make recommendations to the governor and state legislature to regulate and develop more communities, while providing oversight over public health law, regulations and policy statements.

“There are certain coalitions who have been asking for changes in how it’s operated and to better look at how public health law regulations and policy statements all interact with each other,” Laible-Kenyon said. “Ultimately, the goal is to protect members. While we want to make it as business-friendly and available as possible, we also have to remember that a lot of these protections are in place for a reason.”
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