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Jewish Senior Living magazine   2017/2018

A LOOK BEHIND THE FRONT DOOR

When the Jewish Home of San Francisco welcomed its first residents in 1891 – a dozen of them, to be exact – an unassuming two-story building at the corner of Mission Street and Silver Avenue was all that comprised the community.

While it may be clichéd to say a century-plus has dramatically changed the Jewish Home’s landscape, there is nothing trite about stating that time has left its foundational belief – to help older adults live, grow, and flourish – untouched.

The Jewish Home has embarked on its most pivotal chapter yet: a $140-million investment, 270,000 square feet of new construction – all translating to nearly 200 assisted-living and memory-support units, located in the Lynne & Roy M. Frank Residences, and Byer Square, a one-stop hub of services geared to connect even more Bay Area seniors and their families with the professionals and programs they need and want.

The man guiding this vision is Daniel Ruth, president and CEO of the Jewish Home for the last 15 years. Jewish Senior Living sat down with him to discuss how his three decades in the senior-living field have prepared him for this endeavor, what challenges a new generation of older adults will bring, and how this transformation will help breathe new life into one of San Francisco’s oldest and most historic districts.

Jewish Senior Living: In your opinion, what shapes a good leader?

Daniel Ruth: I’ll use the pro ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky analogy. He had an ability to see around corners. He’d make passes to where players would be, not where they were. He anticipated their movements on the ice. In health care particularly, you need to be a visionary. I aspire to be this. With all the economic, funding, and regulatory challenges, it’s trying to sort through where the world is going. You have to think through all the different trends and figure out how we can design a health-delivery system that assists and supports healthy aging.

What business leaders or companies do you admire?

On my desk, I have four bobbleheads of people I admire and respect. One is Steve Jobs; his focus resonates with me. I’ve been using Apple products for 40 years. When the iPhone came out 10 years ago, there were other smartphones that all had different components, but the iPhone merged those existing technologies and changed the entire user experience. What I think will be transformational about Byer Square – and how it’s analogous to the iPhone – is that we’re going to change the end user’s experience by collating various programs and services on one site. The other three bobbleheads are Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, and Michelle Obama.

How will the Jewish Home meet the need for lower- and moderate-income seniors?

Six or seven years ago, we had an original vision for an entry-fee community model. Unfortunately, this model primarily catered to the upper-middle and upper classes, leaving behind those moderate- to lower-income seniors. This caused us to completely shelve this approach and move to a purely rental product. We want to serve a much broader swath of the community, to build a product that is within reach of the moderate-income demographic.

The Lynne & Roy M. Frank Residences, our assisted living offering, will be priced to align with middle-income seniors. We’re adding tens of millions of dollars to our Jewish Home & Senior Living Foundation to support the most financially vulnerable in our community. This means our residences and services will be within reach of everyone economically.

How does your model help protect you from trends or policy decisions outside your control?

One of the reasons we moved away from an entry-fee product and smaller consumer base was to help insulate ourselves from economic downturns and things outside our control. We also feel the design of our residences, and their size and price, will appeal to a larger portion of the community.

When I started with the Jewish Home 15 years ago, we were one of the largest Medicaid skilled nursing providers in North America – 90 percent of our funding came from Medicaid/Medi-Cal. By having all our eggs in one basket, it was very difficult to withstand funding or policy changes. We had to diversify. Now we’ll have six or seven different services and product lines, which reduces our reliance on Medicaid-funded programs.

How do you maintain a balance of Jewish traditions while opening your doors to a wider spectrum of the community?

We’re genetically encoded with the Jewish community. The Jewish Home was one of the founding entities of the Jewish Community Federation, and we continue to enjoy a very strong relationship with them. We work closely with many of the local synagogues, and we have the most extraordinary and highly respected full-time rabbi, Shelly Marder, who has this magical way of working with all our different constituents and maintaining traditions. We’re not isolationists; we’re curious about taking on world issues. Our mission statement is to enrich the lives of older adults – it doesn’t say Jewish older adults. We’re part of a broader world. By contributing programs, services, research, and funding to broader world solutions, we believe that ultimately benefits the Jewish community and beyond.

What role will the Jewish Home’s redevelopment project have in helping revitalize the Excelsior district and surrounding neighborhoods?

There’s an opportunity for us to better engage with, embrace, and support our neighbors. With our location at the corner of Silver Avenue and Mission Street, we’re extremely proud to be the front door to Excelsior, and we’re proud of our history. We’ve received some fabulous feedback from neighbors about our project, and we’ll be opening on-campus spaces for them to use. It’s our hope and belief that this $140-million investment will further revitalize the Excelsior and surrounding areas.

How has this project been received throughout the Jewish community?

It’s been endorsed by our Jewish philanthropic community at an unparalleled level. We’re tracking to exceed our initial fundraising goal. People are giving more and we have new funders. Aging is so much better understood in terms of how it’ll affect all of us that people are more concerned than ever with the issues, policies, and economics surrounding it. Donors are recognizing and embracing our approaches to address these issues of aging, and this has contributed to a level of support the Jewish Home has never previously seen. 

proposed

OUR TRANSFORMATIVE PROJECT FOR THE AGES

To Live …

To Grow …

The redevelopment and transformation of our campus will:

Our project will include:

To Flourish …

The innovative new 45,000-square-foot Byer Square will serve thousands of individuals on a yearly basis.

This non-residential community of services and support (both on our campus and virtually “in the cloud”) will include:

We honor and celebrate our elders, the people on whose efforts and sacrifices our prosperity is built. We owe our older adults a model of care, programs, and services that is enriched by opportunities to live fully and creatively, to grow and flourish.

Our organization has had a remarkable history for nearly 150 years. Now, in the 21st century, we are creating a legacy for generations to come.

byer square logo

SHAPING UP Byer SQUARE

Byer Square is a physical place as well as a virtual location that provides services, support, and community for older adults and their caregivers under one roof. That roof will be physical – a bustling site on our Silver Avenue campus – and virtual, “in the cloud” (i.e., the Internet; a data center of servers connected to the Internet).

Envisage this:

  • Wellness and fitness
  • Information and referral
  • Retail
  • Medical (Western/Eastern)
  • Nutrition
  • Care navigation
  • Caregiver support
  • Support groups
  • Behavioral health
  • Educational classes and workshops
  • Arts and ideas lecture series and seminars
  • Finding community through social interaction that includes learning with others, playing games, or joining an online support group.
  • Receiving physical therapy after a stay in our short-term and rehabilitation services unit.
  • Benefitting from the “Getting Back To Life” program in our fitness/wellness boot camp for older adults and caregivers after completion of physical therapy.
  • As an adult child living out of town, securing care coordination and navigation (individualized help with overcoming any healthcare-system barriers and getting timely access to quality medical and psychosocial care) for her parent in the Bay Area.
  • Remaining close to a spouse who lives in one of the new memory-care suites and, in between visits, volunteering at at our campus and enjoying a swim in the new pool.
  • Sharing a love of learning as a retired teacher continues to inform and interest through Byer Square’s Life-Long Learning Institute.

Whichever way you look at it, Byer Square will be unlike anything in or beyond the Bay Area.

 

Disclaimer

Website content that still bears the names Jewish Home of San Francisco and Jewish Home reflects material that is in circulation or was published before we became San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living – on which Jewish Home & Rehab Center, our acute geriatric psychiatry hospital, and the new Lynne & Roy M. Frank Residences and Byer Square are located. Wherever possible, new and updated website content will bear our new names.

 
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