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Study Shows Physical Environment Has Direct Bearing on Resident Satisfaction

Press Room – 2008 NIC Press Releases

Study Shows Physical Environment Has Direct Bearing on Resident Satisfaction

Paper Wins Top Award from NIC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 25, 2008
Contact: Renee Tilton, (410) 626-0805 or

Annapolis, Md. – The results of a new study that can help operators better understand the relationship between the environments they provide and how they impact their residents was the winning paper in the 2008 Seniors Housing & Care Journal. The paper, entitled “A New Tool for Evaluating Senior Living Environments,” was written by Susan Rodiek, Ph.D., NCARB, Ronald L. Skaggs Professorship in Health Facilities Design, Department of Architecture, Texas A&M University.

The peer-reviewed Journal, published annually by the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry (NIC), contains applied research papers of interest for providers, financiers and developers involved in the industry. The author of the first prize article is recognized at the Annual NIC Conference, and receives a plaque and $5,000 cash award, which is sponsored by GE Healthcare Financial Services.

“The quality of the physical environment has a major impact on residents’ quality of life, staff satisfaction and market appeal,” said Rodiek about her winning paper. “Yet in spite of its importance, few instruments have been developed to sensitively and objectively evaluate environmental conditions in assisted living settings. That became our motivation: to see if such an instrument could be developed and could also be adapted for use by operators.”

“One of the main difficulties in evaluating the physical plant is the large number of elements present in any environment and the complex interactions between them,” continued Rodiek. “We attempted to overcome this problem by considering ‘affordances,’ a term coined by psychologist James Gibson to mean the actions or behaviors supported by a given environment. By considering the behavior that is supported by an environment, we could therefore account for the impact of all the main relevant environmental features at the same time. Instead of assessing individual elements, we focused directly on how well the environment supported resident needs.”

“This year’s submissions were impressive in their scope and depth,” said Robert G. Kramer, president of NIC. “We believe these papers demonstrate the ongoing importance of applied research for advancing the seniors housing and care industry.”

Two other papers in the Journal were given honorable mentions. The first, a paper on “Leadership Competencies and Employee Satisfaction in Nursing Homes,” was co-written by Jean Abraham, Ph.D., assistant professor of Health Economics, Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, and Leslie A. Grant, Ph.D., associate professor of Health Care Management and Director Center for Aging Services Management, Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota. The paper acknowledges that job satisfaction is a key driver of organizational performance in nursing homes, then provides empirical evidence that facilities’ leadership competencies matter more than pay or other factors in predicting levels of employee satisfaction.

The paper that received the second honorable mention, “The Impact of Erickson Communities on Existing Markets,” was written by Susan B. Brecht, president, Brecht Associates, Inc.; Kathryn L. Brod, SVP – director of Senior Living Research, Ziegler Capital Markets; and Nicole D. Muller, consultant, Brecht Associates, Inc. Using data rather than conjecture, the study seeks to answer how the entry of an Erickson Community impacts the market for existing senior living communities. Interestingly, the results of the paper suggest that senior living providers (including Erickson Communities) benefit from one another’s successes and that “the right products that are continuously ‘engineered’ to be responsive to the preferences of buyers” produce the most successful occupancy results.

Other papers in this year’s Journal were: “Marketing Apartments, Townhouses and Condominiums to Seniors,” “Assisted Living and Low-Income Older Adults: Has Access Increased?,” “Preparing for the Baby Boomers: Lifelong Learning and Civic Engagement in Active Adult Communities,” “A Comprehensive Individual and Organizational Wellness Assessment of Older Adults,” and “Site-Level Environmental Support of Active Behavior and Fall Prevention for Seniors.”

Linda Hollinger-Smith, R.N., Ph.D., FAAN, director, Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging, served as managing editor of the Journal and oversaw the process of selecting the winning paper. Joan Hyde, Ph.D., CEO, Ivy Hall Senior Living, David A. Lindeman, Ph.D., HealthTech, and Margaret A. Wylde, Ph.D., President/CEO, ProMatura Group, LLC, were editors.

Copies of the 2008 Seniors Housing & Care Journal are available through NIC for $95. Limited quantities of the Journal from previous years are available for $50. To order, visit

About NIC

Founded in 1991, the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry is a nonprofit organization providing information about business strategy and capital formation for the senior living industry. Proceeds from its annual conference – scheduled next for Sept. 23-25, 2009, in Chicago, Ill. – are used to fund research and data that lead to informed investment decision-making to advance the seniors housing and care industry. For more information about NIC, visit or call (410) 267-0504.

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