Broadmead, a continuing-care retirement community in Hunt Valley, has "been so much than just a place to work," said retiring CEO Rich Compton.
He has served as the company's leader for almost three decades. During that time, his parents came to live at Broadmead and his children worked their first jobs there.
He's seen the aged-care business transformed into a highly regulated business. He's also witnessed how the different expectations each generation has for a retirement facility shape how they are marketed and run.
As he prepares to leave Broadmead at the end of June, The Baltimore Sun asked him to share his thoughts on the state of the continuing care industry and its future.
What got you interested in working at a continuing-care facility?
I can trace my interest in aged care back to my days as a student at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and Community Planning. My faculty advisor was Mr. William Bechill, who had been the first Commissioner on Aging for President Lyndon Johnson in 1965. Our many talks inspired me to contemplate a career in the long-term care.
Call it serendipity or divine guidance, but in 1979 a Stoneleigh community friend, Glen Tipton, an architect at the time with CSD Architects, was building a "Lifecare Community" called Broadmead in Cockeysville, Maryland. This innovative concept in providing a continuum of resources to seniors in a shared-risk contractual format resonated with me and I instinctively knew that I had found my career niche.
This led to my appointment in 1980 at the first assistant director of Broadmead. I went on to open a new continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in 1983 called Duncaster, which is located in Bloomfield, Conn., and then returned to Broadmead in 1986 as the CEO, a position which I hold today.
How has Broadmead changed during your tenure?
Over my 27 years as CEO, Broadmead has changed significantly and yet incrementally. Initially my role was like being the head [of] a very big family and then gradually became more akin to running a family business.
Today, CCRC's are multimillion-dollar businesses, which are highly regulated and exist in an exceedingly competitive environment. We serve today's members of the "silent generation" and soon will be working with the "baby boomers. As I began my career, the "G.I. generation" was in residence, who more easily embraced community needs over individual preferences and spoke proudly of "deferred gratification" as a life principle.
Seniors today also have very different perspectives as to what they expect in their "elderhood." It is less about retirement and more about living in "a dynamic lifestyle community," which is our new tagline. And so today we have wellness centers, ATMs, mini-markets, dance floors, nature trails, swimming pools and several dining venues, from a faculty-club format to fine dining.
Also, during my tenure, Broadmead's financial strength improved by more than $30 million dollars, we achieved "A" bond ratings, remained accredited by CARF/CCAC [Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities/Continuing Care Accreditation Commission] at an extremely high level and our nursing facility received five-star ratings. And the average tenure of my leadership staff is over 15 years, with many employees with 20 to 30 years of service. It has been an honor for me to serve with them.
What are the most significant challenges facing the continuing-care industry in general and Broadmead specifically?
As I look ahead, incremental transformations will give way to a "white-water world" of change. Some would predict that we are on the verge of a "paradigm shift" in the field of aging services, where consumers will demand more individualized resources tailored to their specific needs. Organizations will need to be innovative in the development of new business models that are both flexible as well as sustainable. High-touch and high-tech solutions, which have been heretofore mutually exclusive, will need to be creatively combined to bring perceived value to the marketplace.
What's your advice for young people who are interested in a career in continuing care?
I would be remiss in not touting the Erickson School at UMBC at this juncture. This is an institution of higher learning, at which I teach, that is dedicated to the development of future leaders in the field of the management of aging services. A degree from the Erickson School will begin to open doors.
Opportunities for young people in careers involving resources for seniors have never been greater, as there are many like myself who will soon be entering retirement. This has been delayed somewhat with the economic problems in the world, but it will surely come.
Young people today seem to lack a measure of patience and a willingness to "pay their dues" in lesser- and lower-paying roles. And so my advice is to get in the door any way you can so that you can demonstrate your competence, productivity and value to an organization. The opportunities for growth will then come faster than you might think.
What do you have planned for your retirement?
I suppose it would be cliché to say that I have a "bucket list" that is longer than my arm but this, in fact, would be true. One of the unanticipated fringe benefits of working in the field of aging is that one has the opportunity to observe the possibilities in "aging gracefully."
I have never defined myself through my career and have always sought balance in my work and personal life. In addition to travel, golf, photography, teaching, grandchildren and the maintenance of two homes, I have already started work on my first novel in the historical fiction genre. Any more planning than this would seem too much like work.
Education: Bachelor's degree in sociology from Gettysburg College, 1969; master's degree in social work from the University of Maryland, 1974; master's degree in aging services from UMBC's Erickson School, 2008
Family: Married 45 years to Linda Compton; two children and four grandchildren
Residences: Lutherville and Lake Meade, Pa.
Richard F. Compton
Title: CEO, Broadmead and adjunct professor at University of Maryland, Baltimore County's Erickson School