Nation’s First Program in Assisted Living Administration Enrolls 100th Student

Posted: March 21, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Daniel Walsch

George Mason’s program in assisted living administration, the nation’s first undergraduate and graduate curricula dedicated to the field of assisted living, has enrolled its 100th student.

“Our goal was to re-invent curricula in long-term care to address changing housing and care preferences among the nation’s seniors,” says Andrew Carle, program director. “Assisted living communities in the United States have grown to outnumber nursing homes by more than two to one, yet when we started, there were 106 university programs in nursing home administration and none offering both upper- and lower-school curricula for assisted living.”

Mason began offering undergraduate course work in this program, which is in the College of Nursing and Health Science, in 2002. The following year, graduate classes were added.

According to Carle, the program has already received national attention for its innovation. One example, he notes, is its “hospitality” internship at Walt Disney World Resorts in Florida. “Much of what is desired by consumers of assisted living relates to receiving a high level of hospitality-type services,” explains Carle. “Our partnership with Disney helps our students add this talent to their skill set.”

Another innovation is the program’s “Mystery Shoppers” assignments in which students contact assisted living communities pretending to seek care for a loved one. Started in 2004, the effort grades contacted communities in five areas of performance, with cumulative results reported in a national industry publication.

Seed monies to develop the program were provided by Sunrise Senior Living, the nation’s largest senior housing provider with nearly 400 communities in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Germany. It is headquartered in Tysons Corner, Va.

“The success of this program is a positive sign for our industry,” says Teresa Klaassen, Sunrise’s chief cultural officer and cofounder along with her husband, Paul. “The number of people aged 75 and over is expected to more than double in the next 15 years, so it was critical that we establish and educate administrators as a part of a recognized profession.”

Additional information about Mason’s program in assisted living administration may be found at www.assistedliving.gmu.edu.

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