Council Fellows

March 11, 2024

Fellows Alumni Spotlight: Kim Elliott – Chief Nursing Officer, Brookdale Senior Living

Fellows Alumni Spotlight: Kim Elliott – Chief Nursing Officer, Brookdale Senior Living

Kim Elliott joined Brookdale in July 2014 and has served as our Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer since August 2021. She previously served as our Senior Vice President of Clinical Services from July 2014 until August 2021. Elliott has more than 27 years of experience in senior living and has developed a care philosophy based on the importance of individualized care, personal choice and resident independence. Before joining Brookdale, Ms. Elliott served as Senior Vice President of Clinical Quality and Compliance for Centerre Healthcare Corporation and Director of Compliance and Risk Management for Kindred Healthcare. Ms. Elliott received a BSN in nursing from the University of Kentucky and a Master’s degree in nursing with a nursing executive specialty from Chamberlain University. She serves on the Argentum Clinical Quality Executive Roundtable, on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the Central Florida University School of Nursing, as a member of the Nightingale Society, and as a member of the 2022 Nashville Healthcare Council Fellows cohort.

What inspired you to enter healthcare? Tell us about your career journey.

While in nursing school, I recognized the need for quality nurses that could bring about positive change in the care of seniors. In the 1990s, the delivery of senior care was antiquated and lacked a person-centered approach.  I specifically remember the moment I was driving in the car and heard the Michael Jackson song, “Man in the Mirror”, the lyrics… Who am I to be blind, pretending not to see their needs? I knew that I could not walk away and not do something about this pull toward the industry. Since then, I have dedicated my career to making a difference in the lives of seniors. Every senior is someone’s wife, husband, mother, father, grandmother, grandfather.

What are you currently focused on?

With more and more seniors living with multiple chronic conditions, our residents and families are trying to navigate a complex healthcare system.  While the macro environment of healthcare in the U.S. is transitioning to value-based care, Brookdale is leaning in.

While traditional Assisted Living companies focus more on activities of daily living, she is focused on positioning Brookdale as the leader in the industry in delivering value-based care and outcomes.

We developed a new care delivery model for Assisted Living that produces value-based outcomes called Brookdale HealthPlus.  It is a proactive approach to add care coordination, management of chronic conditions, preventative care, and support for our residents and families.

Brookdale HealthPlus is community-based and technology-enabled.  Every resident in a Brookdale HealthPlus community benefits from the program, including the benefit of a care manager who is a registered nurse.

We support our RN care managers with up-to-date technology and communication tools to enable responsive, effective care coordination with our residents’ primary care providers and other specialists.

The RN care manager monitors the overall health and well-being of the residents and helps coordinate onsite healthcare, organizes care transitions, coordinates referrals, and makes arrangements for follow-up visits.

Brookdale HealthPlus is designed to enhance health outcomes by focusing on preventive care, chronic condition management, and timely coordination of care. 

An independent third-party confirmed urgent care visits were 78 percent lower, hospitalizations 36 percent lower, and a 65 percent higher annual wellness visits completion rate for Brookdale HealthPlus residents compared to seniors residing in other senior living communities or living independently. 

Brookdale HealthPlus helps improve residents’ quality of life and helps prevent avoidable emergency room visits or hospitalizations—in partnership with their families and healthcare providers.

What challenge do you most want to solve in healthcare?

I want to help more residents benefit from personalized and coordinated care.

While healthcare spending exceeds 4 trillion each year, adults over the age of 65 are the bulk of healthcare spending. Our industry has more than 45 years of experience caring for seniors. We should be the experts who bring solutions to healthcare in the US.

By focusing on preventive care, effective management of chronic conditions, and coordination of urgent care needs, we aim to further improve overall health outcomes and promote a better quality of life for our residents.

How did the Council Fellows program influence your life or career?

The Council Fellows program helped encourage me to think boldly and broadly about how best to solve the challenges of aging for our seniors and their families.

The Council Fellows program also helped connect me with other innovative leaders so that we could collaborate on potential solutions and work to improve overall health outcomes together.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The importance of self-care: sleep, healthy eating, exercise and maintaining a routine. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic, I shared with our teams the importance to take time to step away and recharge.

Tell us something about yourself that isn’t on your resume.

I grew up on a farm in rural Kentucky working daily on the farm growing tobacco, raising cattle and chickens, growing soybeans, wheat, corn and hay.

I raced BMX bikes as a teenager.

As a young child, my career aspiration was to be a beautician or opera singer…and I can’t sing.

What are the most critical changes the industry needs to make to face the future effectively?

One million new seniors are expected to enter our target market every year through 2036, and currently only 11% of our target population is living in senior living, so  we must prepare to manage a larger population of seniors who are living longer with more complex needs.

We must work together to innovate and find more ways to provide value-based care and support the whole person- both their physical and mental health. 

As our population ages, more and more people are living with chronic conditions and need assistance outside their homes.  Additionally, according to the U.S. Surgeon General, loneliness is the next big public health threat because it harms both individual and societal health. It is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death.  

Our Brookdale communities provide support for chronic conditions as well as offer a strong sense of community to help combat loneliness.

How have you built confidence and/or resiliency over the course of your career?

The single greatest skill I have refined throughout my career is cultivating resilience.  I became a single mother early in my career.  As you might imagine, that presents unique challenges, but it also allowed me have great empathy for others, a greater understanding of my capabilities, and in time it helped me prove to myself just how strong and capable I can be.

I have also had the privilege to work with strong female leaders who have shown me the way, demonstrating that the only one who can set limits is you.  I love the Vince Lombardi quote, “the difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”

When women in leadership can often be less represented, how can women develop strong leadership skills?

I am a firm believer in leading with empathy and prioritizing connections with others to form meaningful relationships.  I think this allows all of us to be the most effective leaders and ensures others are also included. 

It’s also important not to get stuck in your head and distracted by a perceived difference between male and female leaders.  You belong at the table and in the conversation, and you bring value.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

Be inclusive and help mentor the next generation of leaders.  Nobody gets to where they are without help along the way.  Be that help to as many others as you can.  You may be surprised how much they also teach you.

Know you are capable of more than you may realize.  Accept challenges and push yourself to take on stretch assignments.  Even when you think you have done enough, think again, there is probably a bigger accomplishment in the near future.   It’s the best way to grow both professionally and personally.

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