Do Any Skilled Nursing Communities Describe Lifestyle? (Part 1)

After working in senior housing for 13 years, I thought the majority of skilled nursing communities had broken the mold of institutionalized care from the past.   After recently touring three skilled nursing communities in one day for my mom, I have changed my mind.  The old skilled nursing concept of institutionalized seniors that helplessly live boring lives of eating, bathing and sleeping – still seems to exist.   The admission folks did not paint a picture of any type of lifestyle such as: music to lift spirits, social activities to engage the mind or fellowship with other residents, volunteers or staff… I was shocked and discouraged.  So in my examples, I have to call them facilities and not communities.

The first facility offered to show me their only available bed.  It was down a dark hallway with no natural light.  The available bed was the middle bed of three-bed ward.  Almost everyone was in bed at 2 PM in the afternoon with the curtains shut.   Everyone else was in a wheel chair.  The dining room had no chairs.   There were institutional lifts and medical carts in the hallway.   This tour guide did not mention how my mom could enjoy anything!  She did not offer an activity program or talk about the quality of care.  All she said was, “You will be lucky to get a bed and take it when it comes available.”  I had to ask to see the dining room and had to request an activity program and menu.

The second facility had a slightly friendlier admission person.  This person showed us an available bed and then proceeded to talk about the majority of residents wearing diapers.  He actually said, “Don’t worry that the two-bed rooms only have one bathroom, most residents don’t use them – because they wear diapers.”  What???  Are you kidding me?  Why would you tell us this?  Then we were shown the dining room with an activity happening – a funeral.  We were told they had a monthly funeral for all the residents that were gone.  Wow, that sounds like a depressing activity to look forward to every month.  I thought he would follow up by talking about some vibrant activity, but he did not.  He did not talk about the lifestyle my mom could enjoy, how they keep residents engaged or the quality of the care that my mom could enjoy.  I had to request an activity program and menu.

The third facility had the most unwelcoming receptionist.   I said, “Hi, can we have a tour?”  She said, “Oh, you want a tour?” (In a very bored voice, like maybe we would not want a tour).  I said, “Yes, is a tour possible?”  She said, “Well — Mary can help you with that, she’s in that room.”   She pointed us toward a doorway, so we had to approach the room… They did not accept Medicaid, even though several websites said they did – so no tour was offered.

Several years ago, my sales and marketing office was located in a skilled nursing community.   Some residents were very ill, but others led lives with hope and purpose through wonderful activities.  I personally saw the joy and loved the ice cream cones served by volunteers every Friday afternoon.  The admissions person was a lovely woman who painted the picture of living the best quality of life that someone could with the best possible care.

So my number one question, after touring three skilled nursing facilities, is do skilled nursing communities currently describe lifestyle for incoming long-term care residents?   Thank goodness we were not in rush to place my mom immediately, since she is safely in an assisted living community.

Diane Twohy Masson’s top 10 ways to discuss lifestyle for long-term care residents in the skilled care nursing admissions process will be coming in part 2.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at  For volume discount pricing or to inquire on Diane’s availability to coach and/or train your senior living marketing team (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) – please call: 206-853-6655 or email  For more information:  Twitter: @market2seniors Blog: Web:

1 Comment

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