JP Venoit , the new CEO of Masonicare, discusses the “Silver Tsunami,” and the importance of planning ahead for your parents and family members as they get older.
“No one wants to talk about it, or think about it,” says Dunaway, ” it’s Peter Pan time – but then something happens – and you’re on the clock and you have to make a plan.”
According to Venoit, many see planning as preparing living wills, but really it’s about planning for the future. “Waiting for your mom or dad to be in the hospital, when you feel pushed into finding a place for them to stay, is not the optimal time to be making that decision.”
With the baby-boomers getting into their 70’s, the elder care industry is going to see a mass influx of people needing facilities and services. On a whole, Masonicare offers a continuum of care – from home care to acute care in a hospice.
“But what if you have made a plan,” asks Dunaway, “and then you get into an accident…can you kick up your plan to another level?”
Venoit explains that Masonicare has a full compliment of services. “If someone needs more care with assisted living – or home care – or skilled nursing – we offer all of those services that you can plug in at anytime.”
Venoit began his own journey with Masonicare in high school, when he worked for the Wallingford facility as a waiter.
“I thought it was going to be a simple part time job…I played sports and wanted to be Derek Jeter,” Venoit says half jokingly.
After college, Venoit had high aspirations for himself financially and chased those dreams by working for a Fortune 500 company. However, his past experience with Masonicare made more of an impression on him than just a simple part time job.
“I loved working for the organization,” Venoit explains, “and talking with the residents about their experiences, and hearing the real history of what happened in World War II.”
It was a casual walk into the cafeteria, but this time as a Fortune 500 employee, when Venoit experienced a paradigm shift. “I was walking down the stairs, and the CEO was walking up. I said ‘hello,’ and he looked at me, and without a word, he looked down and kept walking up the stairs. That’s when I knew I was done.”
That same day Venoit resigned from his job, and went back to work for Masonicare, where he was named CEO in October of 2016. ” I realized it’s not about the money,” he says, “it’s really about what you do in your heart and how you make a difference.”
As CEO, Venoit emphasizes that when you come to a facility, it’s not to end life, but to “fulfill life.” He explains, “the days of having individuals thinking they’re coming to an organization to die is actually the complete opposite. It’s actually coming to fulfill a life dream – or a tier to really blossom.”
“It’s like an end zone dance,” says Dunaway, “you can say…I did pretty well, thank you very much!”
Venoit agrees, pointing out that many people who come to the facility often say they wish they had done so three, five, or ten years, earlier.
Most recently Masonicare opened up a new facility in Mystic,Connecticut, which has 179 apartments with independent, assisted and memory-support, assisted living.
“Its important to check out these places in advance,” says Venoit. “We also have an in-home care company that covers the entire state. To us, your home is your home, wherever it is – be it your home you’ve been living in for 50 years, or moving into one of our facilities.”
Dunaway touches on the financial aspect, asking, “If you’re doing home care, does this come out of the kids pockets, personal savings account, or medicare/medicaid? ”
“Some pieces are covered by medicare and some are out of pocket,” explains Venoit. “Homemaker companionship is predominantly private pay, and home-care is Medicaid.” In essence, there is no “cookie cutter” situation for any one person, which is why Masonicare offers a help line to assist people with the process.
Masonicare was originally set up for the Masons, but is now open to everyone. It all began in the 1800’s when the Connecticut Masons sent the Illinois Masons $1,000 after the Chicago fire. Illinois sent back $332, which became the seed money to grow Masonicare into what it is today. Venoit describes the organization as “a big puzzle with who we are, and our mission is our promise.”
The former baseball player who had big dreams of playing center-field, now finds himself in the center of a more heartfelt puzzle, gluing all the pieces together, “so we can take care of that one customer all the time.”