As a self-professed strategic thinker with years of experience in all realms of senior living, Richard Nolden is the perfect fit. The resident of McHenry County recently accepted the role of administrator at The Springs Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center at Monarch Landing senior living community in Naperville. “This is a great operation that I’m blessed to have the opportunity to work with. I’m proud to be able to be part of this team.”
Nolden began his career after graduating from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Business Administration. “I was hired by a senior residential community in Joliet, working with the board of directors in fundraising and development,” he said. “I moved into an operational role and became a licensed nursing home administrator.”
After six years Nolden said, he decided to go out on his own in order to nurture his “entrepreneurial spirit.” He recalled, “As a nursing home administrator, I was seeing how the industry was changing, and how there’d be increasing emphasis on getting people better. I thought that was an interesting niche, working to restore the highest level of functionality rather than just aging in place. I decided to launch a contract therapy business, employing physical, occupational and speech therapists, who were placed with home health agencies, hospitals, and nursing homes.“
Soon after that, Nolden started a second business which was a direct result of his experience with his therapy business. “It was difficult to hire enough therapists; they were an especially precious commodity. I had a British business partner who recruited therapists from the United Kingdom, India, and South Africa. I handled the immigration work and placed them, and they’d come to work in the U.S,” he said.
About 11 years ago Nolden said, “things started changing in the therapy world as the bigger fish started eating the smaller fish. My exit strategy was to sell my company to a larger company.” He did so and returned to healthcare, joining Providence Life Services. There he held a number of different roles including administrator and VP of Health Care Strategy across the full span of services including independent living, assisted living, health care, home health, and hospice. “In the full spectrum of senior health care and senior living, I’ve done most of what you can do other than being a practitioner. I have a broad range of experiences, which prepared me well for all aspects of this industry,” Nolden said.
During his tenure at Providence, Nolden worked with Mark Trnka, the current executive director of Monarch Landing. “We enjoyed a great working relationship, and through the years, we’ve kept touching base with each other. Last fall, I came to visit The Springs and was very impressed with what I saw here,” he said. “The building is very nice. It presents well, and that is important. This is an ultra-competitive field, and in order to be successful, you have to have the highest occupancy possible. I knew I could partner effectively with Mark; that we could play to each other’s strengths. There’s something to be said about working with someone with whom you’ve already worked successfully.”
Nolden continued, “Mark took me for an extended tour. It was clear that he knew all the staff members by name, and it impressed me that the staff made eye contact and greeted us. It’s a warm culture and that’s a good indicator of positive things. I talked with residents and family members. There’s a high degree of satisfaction. It’s a high level of services. I wasn’t surprised. I’d expected to hear that, but it was nice of course to have that validated.”
Nolden said that senior living is an evolving industry. “We’re increasingly seeing a higher acuity level of residents and guests. Five years ago, someone who would be on the med-surg floor at the hospital, is now being discharged to recover and rehabilitate here. Everything in healthcare and senior living keeps changing, and this presents a lot of opportunity for strategic people to determine how to best fit in.”
Nolden concluded, “I’m excited to be working with this team. There’s a world of potential. When you have good people, you don’t want to get in the way or micromanage. You want to support your team and give them what they need to be successful, and everything works out well.”
Read article in the Daily Herald.