Residents at Kendal affiliates have agency and voice. They serve on the boards and committees that make many of the decisions about their affiliate’s priorities. They plan activities and events that matter to them, rather than wait for something to happen.
A key ingredient to what is special about Kendal is its staff — more than 2,500 nationwide. From the outset of being hired, staff members are part of a workplace that embodies professionalism, continual learning and mutual respect. Career advancement within the system is frequent and encouraged. Residents and staff together create a sense of community that improves quality of life and well-being for all.
Kendal, with its 12 affiliates, is structured on what is called a federal model. Each affiliate is locally owned and managed with its own, independent board of directors. The Kendal Corporation offers expertise and support to the affiliates, individually and collectively. Staff and volunteer leaders at all levels are committed to Kendal’s mission.
Governance takes place locally, not at a headquarters removed from the people served. Residents are informed about financial and other matters in which they have an important interest. They serve on their community’s board of directors. Assets are kept within local Kendal organizations and not put at risk to fund new developments in other places.
A note about names as you look across the Kendal system.
You’ll see some communities listed as “A Kendal Affiliate,” while others are called “Kendal at ________” or “Kendal on ________.” All of these communities are full Kendal Affiliates. Identification as “A Kendal Affiliate” does not indicate a different level of affiliation. Several established communities that later affiliated with Kendal and retained their original names—e.g., The Admiral at the Lake—are identified as “A Kendal Affiliate.”
Kendal residents at all affiliates, no matter the specific community name, benefit from on-the-ground autonomy and from the reputation and strength of a highly respected national brand.
One of the benefits of the Kendal System is the ability to innovate, test and share model practices related to healthy aging. Successful programs in one community can be implemented, often with local adaptation, elsewhere. Many of these practices are making measurable improvements in the lives of older adults.
For example, Kendal at Ithaca pioneered the use of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction with residents and staff more than 10 years ago. Learning and doing these simple practices in a supportive group setting has resulted in such benefits as improved sleep, lower blood pressure, greater self-control, improved digestion and less pain. The Ithaca experience helped inform mindfulness practices in other Kendal communities to reduce stress and enhance well-being.
The Admiral at the Lake in Chicago became one of the first retirement communities in the country to widely deploy Amazon Echo voice-recognition devices. The program extends far beyond just handing out new technology. The devices are preloaded with custom tools and information that can compensate for vision and mobility limitations. Anecdotally, the results are positive. Admiral is now more rigorously studying the impact of this technology to enhance older people’s lives.
Kendal has long committed resources to research on the prevention, treatment and care of people with dementia. Kendal at Oberlin, for example, has created a “small house” environment for people with mild to moderate cognitive changes. It was designed with residents’ comfort, safety and curiosity in mind. Research is showing the benefits of these types of environments.
Kendal Affiliates are unique in that programs, events, education and trips are organized and coordinated by residents. Every week, something is happening–from trips to take in a new museum exhibit, to line dancing, woodworking, and more.
We like to say that unlike a cruise ship with an “activities director,” residents chart their own course. They volunteer (and receive the budget) to make interesting things happen in their community. They create and serve on the committees that matter to them, and each board of directors has resident representation.
Not Much Happens Without Resident Involvement in Kendal Communities
Kendal sprang from Quaker roots. In fact, the name “Kendal” was chosen for a town in northwest England’s lake district, where the Kendal Fund was established centuries ago to help meet the expenses of traveling Quakers.
Residents profess faith in many religions (or no religion), but Quaker principles continue to guide Kendal and its Affiliates.