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New Faces of Change–Interview with Michelle Rassler

Larry Zook interviews Michelle Rassler, Vice President of Operations/Executive Director of Landis Homes.

Michelle Rassler joined Landis Homes in May 2018 after serving for nearly three years as CEO of Laurel View Village near Johnstown, PA. She comes with decades of experience serving in Continuing Care Retirement Communities including time at Frederick Living, which is also a member of Mennonite Health Services (MHS) and Anabaptist Providers Group. She leads an Operations Team which guides the day-to-day activities of Landis Homes. She supports and gives oversight to the following departments: campus services, dining services, healthcare/personal care, life enrichment, outcome management, pastoral services, residency planning, residential living and volunteer services

Michelle, what went into your decision to join the team at Landis Homes? What excites you about joining the team? Over the years I was connected to several team members through member organizations such as APG and LeadingAge. During that time, I had the opportunity to tour many areas of the campus and to see the renovations and new building that were taking place. In addition, I have been paying attention to Landis Communities and the steps that have been made towards serving residents in other venues. All of these together with the exceptional reputation went into the decision. I am excited to join the team at a time of change. We have so many exceptional team members and engaged residents that will come together to work towards a successful future. While working through change can be challenging, the building of team through this process is often significant.   

What has been the most pleasant surprise as you have learned to know the team and residents at Landis Homes? I’ve so enjoyed the level of engagement in our conversations about life and work at Landis Homes. There have been many open and robust conversations. How quickly they happened has been a pleasant surprise.

In all jobs there are challenges. What do you see as some of them here? The pace of change in senior living is incredible and there is a need to have open dialogue that leads to action. It will be important for us to be nimble as an organization in order to have continued success. It will also be important to communicate well so that we are moving forward together.

What are some of the ways Landis Homes is looking to become even more efficient and stay relevant in a rapidly changing environment? Growth, transition, people, technology: Changes in all of these are present at Landis Homes as in other similar communities. Our Vision Statement calls us to be Leaders in Serving. As a part of that, as well as in living out our guiding value of Stewardship, we recently took part in an operational assessment process. This effort was led by RKL, a nationally-recognized organization based in Lancaster. It builds on similar efforts done in 2006 and in 2012, both of which provided significant areas of savings. RKL took a thorough look at all departments, programs and services to identify existing best practices and to look at opportunities for increased efficiency, productivity, cost savings and revenue enhancement. It is good to have them serve as an external “eye” to provide benchmarking, best practices, opportunities for improvement in various systems that we use, and also to provide recommendations to enhance revenue or eliminate extraneous cost.

Following the assessment, the Landis Communities Leadership Team reviewed the report and created a list of priorities for action. The Landis Homes Operations Team is working to bring the recommendations to life. We have an opportunity to look at process and structure changes that will serve our residents, families and team members better. Through all of this, we need to keep our core values and our mission to serve by honoring and enriching lives in a community of Christ-like love in the center of our decision-making. Our core value of Stewardship, defined as, “…devoting ourselves to faithful and responsible use of resources entrusted to our care…,” is a leading driver for having the assessment take place regularly. We have a responsibility to our residents and our team members to use our resources wisely. This includes our people, our land and our finances.