Gerald Hamilton currently serves as chair of the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) Board of Directors. He is the co-owner of BeeHive Homes and has 35 years of experience in health care management as an assisted living facility owner/operator, licensed nursing home administrator, regional manager of multiple nursing homes, and consultant. After a successful career in nursing home administration in California, New Mexico, and Colorado, he started his own business to construct and operate assisted living communities.

Hamilton spoke with Provider about regulatory and legislative issues arising this year, connecting with officials, and his optimism for the future of assisted living (AL).

Provider magazine: How did you come to be involved with NCAL and advocating for the profession?

Gerald Hamilton: I had been involved for a number of years with our state affiliate in New Mexico and could see the value of being involved at the national level. I began with work on several committees, then moved to the NCAL Board, and eventually to leadership at NCAL.

PM: What are the key regulatory and legislative issues that AL providers will face this year? What are the challenges as an AL provider that keep you up at night?

GH: In the short term we’ve got to keep an eye on COVID-related regulations and mandates, i.e., the proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules and guidelines coming from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Then we’ve got to look for any trends in state regulatory changes to help our members stay on top of those.
I worry about finding enough staff. The workforce has changed dramatically, and we’re all still struggling with what to do to attract workers to our sector.

PM: How can an AL provider connect with their local, state, and federal officials to build relationships? What are the benefits of doing this?

GH: I think the easiest thing to do is invite them to come, see our communities, and meet our residents and staff. They don’t have a clear picture of what we do, and we are the experts in long term care. We need to tell our story. One benefit of doing this is that they then know who we are, and they will reach out to us for input when issues come up that affect our business.

PM: In your experience, how has a personal connection with an elected official truly helped your efforts to improve quality care for your residents? Tell us an example.

GH: Yes, I’ve gotten to know several of our state and national public officials on a first-name basis. There have been several occasions when they have called me asking for input or help on specific issues that they have been trying to resolve, such as running a troubled long term care community or how to address specific COVID-related challenges.

PM: As NCAL Board Chair and a provider, what makes you optimistic for the future of AL?

GH: I’m excited about our future. We still have a lot of freedom to innovate to meet our customers’ changing needs. We have the opportunity to get involved with things like population health management that can ensure collaboration with other providers and help our long-term viability.

PM: What would you tell someone just starting their career in AL?

GH: I would suggest that they take a look at different models and sizes of communities and learn as much as they can about all the roles in an AL community, just like I did years ago as an administrator-in-training in skilled nursing. It’s helpful to know the business from the ground up.