Lifesprk CEO Joel Theisen Earns Spot On LeadingAge Minnesota’s 50 for the Next 50

LeadingAge Minnesota recognized 50 professionals who are innovators and leaders engaged in transforming and enhancing the experience of aging at their Annual Meeting 50th Anniversary Dinner. These 50 individuals are considered both innovative and influential leaders who are charting the course for the next wave of older adult services that will empower Minnesotans to age well and live fully. Lifesprk is excited to announce that Joel Theisen, RN, CEO & Founder has been named to the list of LeadingAge Minnesota’s 50 for the Next 50.

“50 for the Next 50 are pioneers, challenging the status quo to transform and enhance the experience of aging” said Gayle Kvenvold, President and CEO, LeadingAge Minnesota. “These leaders are making forward-looking innovations in service delivery, elevating the profession of caregiving and best preparing Minnesota for the future needs of its aging population. We are energized by what lies ahead with the mix of these experienced and next generation leaders at the helm.”

Joel’s vison began while he was 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.

An influencer, change-maker, and innovator, Joel believes seniors deserve a better way to age in this country. After witnessing first-hand seniors on and off what he’s coined ‘the roller coaster of health crisis’ robbing them of their independence, control and wisdom, he knew it had to stop. His vision was to create a whole person population health model for senior care that eliminated the roller coaster while putting the spark back into seniors’ eyes. Joel has never wavered from his mission and the proven outcomes Lifesprk clients receive from his approach demonstrate this model is successfully achieving Triple Aim – improving the health of Minnesota seniors, reducing the cost of care for both the individual and healthcare system, and improving their experience (we like to call that ‘living a sparked life’).

Bob and his family getting ready to sail in Twin Cities, MN

At the same time, Joel has been a catalyst for change among Twin Cities health and senior care leaders through his strong commitment to partnerships and building seamless continuums of care with a focus on the whole person. Every partner that Lifesprk has touched has been influenced by Joel’s thinking and drive for breaking down the silos of excellence that restrict and inhibit true person-centric care which is at the heart of population health. Joel has also mentored and nurtured leaders from other organizations, inviting them to thought-leadership labs, mutual learning opportunities, and even Lifesprk’s Leadership-in-Training program, which was designed to develop Lifesprk’s own leaders.

But it takes more than just a model to create change. It also takes people, the right people, to be the change-makers. Joel has focused just as much energy and vision on creating a ‘sparked’ culture at Lifesprk filled with people whose belief in the company’s mission of sparking lives means more than a job to them, it’s a way of life. He has empowered the team to believe what he believes and to do whatever it takes to change the experience for seniors. He knows from experience that employees who aren’t engaged or don’t believe in the mission of our company can’t share their passion with each other or our clients. If that doesn’t happen, our clients’ lives can’t be sparked, and neither can our team’s.

“In fact working with sparked people is critically important to creating change,” said Joel. “It’s why we seek working with like-minded people who believe what we believe, like Jennifer Anderson who has also been recognized for a 50 for the Next 50 who has worked with Lifesprk for many years. We also congratulate our colleague for this exciting honor.”

Re-shaping the future of older adult services

“As the aging population continues to grow we need to do more than just accommodate the growth,” said Joel. “If we continue down the current path of reactive, medically-driven care, the costs to seniors and the health care system will only grow.”

Statistics show that 1 in 5 people aged 65 and older are re-hospitalized within 30 days; 1 in 3 within 90 days. Despite significant efforts to reduce readmissions over the past several years, existing models have struggled to stop the cycle and achieve Triple Aim. Research also shows that 90% of the factors that shape poor health outcomes are due to reasons other than health care with the largest being behavioral patterns. Yet few options exist to address the full scope of challenges many seniors face beyond just physical health. When left unchecked, these challenges can lead to frequent ER visits and hospitalizations, putting seniors on the roller coaster of readmissions and costing our society in multiple ways.

“Isolation is fatal,” adds Joel. “To change the future of aging we need to stop operating in ‘silos of excellence’ and partner to provide seamless solutions. Being named one of LeadingAge Minnesota’s 50 for the Next 50 is a great honor that shows we are on the right path to changing the aging experience.”