The home care industry is ripe for change. While many agencies are adding technology for greater efficiencies and streamlined communication, those efforts don’t go far enough because they are still based on reactive support services, led by an aide, that do little to prevent future issues or optimize people’s wellbeing. There’s real opportunity to TRULY change aging. Joel Theisen, CEO & Founder of Lifespark visualized the opportunity early on in his career and he’s never lost sight of his mission and promise to change the aging experience.
For more than 12 years, Joel has been leading the home care and senior services industry with innovations and an unwavering commitment to sparking lives. “When you focus on sparking lives – helping seniors and their families to live the healthiest, most independent life possible with purpose and passion – you completely change how you approach supporting seniors and their families,” said Joel. “More importantly, you work to help them lower long-term care costs and minimize as much as possible their need for care.”
His unbridled passion to change aging, with proven results, is getting noticed. For the second time in six years, he has been named a finalist for the Ernst & Young (EY) Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Joel is among 24 other finalists from the Upper Midwest region which includes Minnesota, Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska. Winners will be announced in June.
“I’m honored to be among this talented and experienced group of thought leaders and change makers,” said Joel. “This award affirms what we at Lifespark believe – people want a different aging experience.”
Joel stresses the time is now for a major change in how we age in this country. “For too long, we’ve witnessed seniors on and off what Lifespark calls the ‘roller coaster of health care crisis,’ costing them in immeasurable ways. That’s why we developed our whole person senior care model to reduce hospitalization rates and long-term costs for seniors while helping them live ‘sparked lives.’ For me, that’s the greatest opportunity – to help seniors live passionate, purposeful lives while keeping costs down, not just for them, but the entire health system.”
Most senior care options primarily focus on physical health issues after they occur and few address other life challenges beyond health. There’s a lot missing from traditional home care options – (download a copy of ‘What’s Missing’). It’s the biggest driving force behind ‘why’ Joel founded Lifespark. What he and many of the health care professionals on our team have learned – when left unchecked, these life challenges are the issues that lead to frequent ER visits and hospitalization. This reactive, narrow focus costs seniors financially and emotionally, and contributes to skyrocketing health care costs.
But Joel’s passion for sparking lives developed long before Lifespark when he worked as a front-line nurse and a self-proclaimed student of culture. He learned two important lessons in those early years that shaped the authentic, transparent CEO he is today: there’s more to care than just the medical and it’s all about the people.
In 1997 at age 28, Joel envisioned, launched and scaled AdvoLife, a California-based investor-backed company, with $8.5 million capital, growing the ‘assisted-living-without-walls’ model to a $12 million run-rate before investors sold it in 2004. Joel shocked investors by leaving millions and walking away from his investment because he felt the deal wasn’t in the best interest of his employees or clients. With no job, strained financial resources and an uncertain future, he packed a U-haul with his wife and two young children and moved back to Minnesota to start again, determined to change the aging experience.
Fast forward to 2017 and Joel’s commitment remains strong. Today Lifespark has become one of the fastest growing companies in Minnesota earning $20 million in annual sales with no additional capital, a passionate team of 500+ employees, and serves as a catalyst for innovation in the health and senior care industries.
And there’s no stopping Joel. His work continues. It’s always been ‘all about the people’ – he believes seniors deserve a better way to age and the teams who care for them deserve just as much spark in their lives too. Do you agree? Share your thoughts…
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