After watching too many seniors on what he calls the ‘Roller Coaster of Health Care Crisis’ amid a ‘sick care system’ not a healthcare system, Joel Theisen, RN, CEO/Founder of Lifespark knew there had to be a better way. His vision for what home care could be stemmed from being a nurse on the frontlines delivering care and witnessing over and over again how seniors repeatedly cycled in and out of the hospital, costing them quality of life and costing the healthcare system billions of dollars.
Over his 25+ years in healthcare, Joel learned traditional, reactive home care doesn’t go far enough to spark lives, improve outcomes, or change the experience – it isn’t person-centric. “We were only focusing on the medical problems,” said Joel. “We weren’t stepping back and asking the ‘why’ behind what brought these seniors into the hospital or doctor’s office in the first place. That is an expensive approach. What’s worse, we were losing social capital. As seniors’ outcomes declined so did their ability to contribute to society in meaningful ways. And when that happens, poor outcomes are inevitable.”
Fast forward to now, Joel’s efforts to create a whole person senior care model are now demonstrating proven results in reducing hospitalization by 73% and emergency room visits by 52%, and increasing the number of clients who are living sparked lives. Lifespark’s whole person approach replaces fragmented care with the ability to follow a senior across multiple care settings to provide continuity and eliminate gaps that often send people back to the hospital. More importantly, it is person-centric and at the center of the plan is the senior who is driving the kind of experience they want by setting goals that involve not just medical, but purpose and passion.
Joel’s philosophy of whole person senior care and population health, coupled with his breadth of knowledge in the home care industry, has built his credibility and reputation as an innovative thought-leader in the marketplace. His work through partnerships, award-winning culture building, and sparking thousands of seniors’ lives has earned him an appointment as a Director At Large for LeadingAge Minnesota. “Joel will bring both his spirit of innovation and Lifespark’s deep understanding of home-based care to our Board’s work,” said Mark Anderson, Chair of the LeadingAge Minnesota Board of Directors.
These opportunities for partnership, collaboration and conversation are what sparks Joel. “I’m honored to work with LeadingAge Minnesota’s thought-leaders from across the state to collectively change the experience for seniors and how we view aging in this country”, added Joel. “There is tremendous opportunity to create better systems of care that put the person back in the center so we can better serve the growing senior population.”