Innovation Essentials: Revera Senior Living

December 3, 2019

In this episode, we wanted to find out, “How can teams use co-creation to innovate?” To get best practices, InnoLead spoke to Patricia Barbato, Senior Vice President of Innovation at Revera Senior Living. 



Molli DeRosa: Hey, you’re listening to Innovation Answered: Essentials, a special podcast segment for innovators on the go, brought to you by innovation answered. In each episode, we’ll break down one of our articles with the writer and read it aloud for you. I’m Molli DeRosa for InnoLead. Our focus this week is innovation at Revera Senior Living, tackling challenges of aging collaboratively in the senior care industry.

Before we read the article, let’s chat with Kaitlin Milliken, Producer of Innovation Answered, who spoke with some of our various thought leaders about executing ideas and engaging with innovators externally.

So, Kaitlin, what are some of the key takeaways from your interview with Revera Senior Living?

Kaitlin Milliken: Yeah, so Revera runs over 500 senior living communities across North America and the UK, and their team is really fantastic at co-creation in a few different ways. They’re working with startups that are focused on aging. So they partner with Aging 2.0, which is a network for organizations and entrepreneurs that want to improve the lives of older adults. And they’re work with these startups to test new technology in their facilities.

On top of that, they’re innovating with staff, residents at their facilities, and their families. So they run annual innovation challenges where caretakers, residents, people who are in the resident’s lives can submit ideas for how to solve a specific problem.

The company also has three corporate positions for their residents, which is really cool. I’ve never seen anything like that anywhere. So they have two resident innovation ambassadors and one chief elder officer. So these folks live in the Revera communities. They meet with new employees, when they get hired on to tell them about innovation. They run focus groups for when there are new things to make sure it’s stuff that residents actually want to see and change that would be beneficial, and they give feedback and their user perspective on new ideas, which is really exciting.

Molli DeRosa: And could you talk about the work Revera Senior Living has done in the company’s annual iChallenge?

Kaitlin Milliken: Yeah, so Revera’s iChallenge actually won an InnoLead Impact Award in 2018. So this is an initiative that we saw making a really big difference in this community. So this is an Innovation Challenge that involves staffs, residents, and family members, as I mentioned, and they submit ideas around a certain topic. Falls are really big cause of injury for elders. So keeping people safe, was a really big thing for them. So basically, they gathered a bunch of ideas. They were judged regionally by location. And the best people then got to pitch to a core team from the headquarters. So that’s Trish, their resident innovation ambassadors, and the chief other officer and they were given prizes that fall in a gold, silver and bronze category.

So after the awards are given out, the ideas start to get piloted and communities. And Trish and her team decide what has allowed impact or what needs more time to be incubated before it gets to be rolled out. So for the challenge about falls as of 2018, there was a 40 percent reduction in falls after implementing new ideas like under bed lighting to help get people safely from their beds to the restroom. So that’s a really important issue that they’re working on, and it’s making a big difference.

Molli DeRosa: So what advice did Patricia Barbato, the President of Innovation at Revera give to other innovators that you could relay to some listeners?

Kaitlin Milliken: Yeah, so there were two really important points. One was aligning innovation efforts with operations. So the first time they ran their iChallenge, the innovation team wasn’t aligned with Revera’s operations team schedule, which made implementing testing and scaling new ideas really difficult. So now they bring in operations really early on to make sure that things are all synced up in their calendars and they could secure funding and work together in harmony. They also wanted to make sure that they’re aligned on topics and issues. Because they share the same business goals. So that’s the first thing.

The second thing has to do with always bringing in your end user. So the company’s chief elder officer Her name is Hazel. They call her Hurricane Hazel McCallion. She seems like a lot of fun. So she was told Trish that you shouldn’t change the soup spoons without asking your residents first. You don’t want to make a change unless it’s going to be for the better. Unnecessary change doesn’t help your end user, and change that makes things worse is obviously not what you want to do. So, making sure you’re bringing in the right people along the way.


Molli DeRosa: So what can we take away from Katie’s article? Testing and trying out technology can lead to really gainful ideas, and anyone at any age is capable of innovation. Let’s jump right into the reading. If you’d like to follow along visit

[Kaitlin Milliken read the full article on innovation at Revera Senior Living.]


Molli DeRosa: Thanks for reading, Katie. You’ve been listening to Innovation Answered: Essentials, a special segment from our podcast for corporate innovators. This episode was written and produced by me, Molly DeRosa. Special thanks to Kaitlin for her insights. We’ll have more of these special episodes coming soon, where we’ll be discussing and reading more articles from InnoLead, so you’ll never have to skim. If you’d like to read more, visit our website, and click topics. For more episodes of our podcast visit If you love this show, you can rate and review us on Apple Podcast. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.