Beacon Hill now holds the distinction of being the first and only retirement community in Illinois to be recognized as a Center for Successful Aging (CSA). The honor is from Masterpiece Living®, an organization that partners with senior living organizations nationwide in support of successful aging initiatives. The CSA recognition attests to the community’s exemplary strides in criteria set by a team of experts in the field of aging, including culture, leadership, outreach, team member engagement, resident engagement and purposeful programming. Beacon Hill is the third Lifespace community to be recognized as such, alongside Friendship Village of Bloomington in Bloomington, Minnesota; and Friendship Village of South Hills in Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania.
“Less than two dozen communities across the country hold this certification, so it’s truly a testament to the vibrant environment we’ve sustained over the years,” said Bridgette Walshe, executive director at Beacon Hill. “Successful aging isn’t just a program, it’s our culture here at Beacon Hill. We live and breathe it daily, and it takes everyone’s full involvement and dedication for it to truly work. It embodies both residents and team members as we help each other achieve our personal goals and celebrate our successes.”
Walshe pointed to a few successful aging initiatives from 2018 that exemplified this. There’s the English as a Second Language (ESL) program, which involved residents tutoring team members to help improve their communication skills. The community also partnered with Walther Christian Academy, a middle and high school in Melrose Park, Illinois, for a program that involved residents educating sociology students on how to age successfully. Then there’s the “Master Class in Living” and “Junior Master Class in Living” monthly events, where residents and team members gave hourlong presentations on personal experiences that led them to fully understand the art of living.
“Empowering residents and team members socially, intellectually, physically and spiritually is the foundation of such initiatives,” explained Marc H. Raben, lifestyle director at Beacon Hill. “Education has also been very important. It’s easy to earn people’s support once they have a full grasp of the benefits of our various programs.”
In fact, the lifestyle department at Beacon Hill is 90 percent resident-run. Raben sees this as pivotal to sustaining the culture of growth and empowerment at the community as it gives participants a sense of ownership.
Five-year resident Gloria Casper attested to this. “Successful aging to me means that I can do as much as I want to when I want to do it, and I have the opportunity to pick and choose what I’d like to do,” she said. “The opportunities here are phenomenal so you don’t see residents just sitting around. I was thrilled about the CSA because I know how hard it is to achieve.”
Although earning the CSA recognition is a major accomplishment, Walshe sees the milestone as sign of bigger things to come. “We’re incredibly proud, honored and thankful to Masterpiece Living and everyone who made this recognition possible,” she said. “However, this is simply fuel to the fire. We’ll continue to work diligently to ensure the Beacon Hill retirement experience is second to none.”
To learn more about the CSA initiative, visit mymasterpieceliving.com/centers-for-success-aging.