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 Amazon.com.  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 diane@marketing2seniors.net.  For more information:  Twitter: @market2seniors Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/ Web: www.marketing2seniors.net

Do you discuss T.E.A.M. with your senior living team?

Inspiration can be planned or it can come from out of the blue.  As I was setting up for a pancake breakfast at church, I was encouraging the other volunteers.  Then another volunteer inspired me – Michael said, “We are working as a “T.E.A.M.,” which stands for TOGETHER, EFFORT, ACCOMPLISH, MISSION.”

As we start this New Year with each of our senior living teams, are you going to give an inspirational talk to build a team approach toward filling and marketing your retirement community?  Why don’t you discuss T.E.A.M. (TOGETHER, EFFORT, ACCOMPLISH, MISSION) with them?

TOGETHER – we can support marketing!   It’s all about the first impressions each of us can provide the future resident and their family.  From the receptionist standing to greet every guest with a smile; to every director “accidentally” running into future residents on a tour; to housekeeping/maintenance paying special attention to the front entrance area, community spaces, restrooms and hallways; to a caregiver or staff member greeting guests in the elevator/hallway to say, “We look forward to you choosing to live here!” or “This is a wonderful place to work.” or “I would love to take care of your mom.”

EFFORT – is going the extra mile to be welcoming!  Can every employee smile and greet the customer who passes them in the hallway?  Out of the hundreds of communities that I have toured, only one retirement community in California blew me away when – every single staff person smiled at me during a tour.  A dining room server said, “We would love to spoil your mom.”  This community wide impression of caring and a happy staff was a huge “wow factor” for me.  I would want to visit my mom at this assisted living community any time.  That particular tour experience is forever itched in my “good moments” memory.

ACCOMPLISH – the occupancy goal!   With everyone working together to make residents, future residents, guests and family members feel welcome – it creates an atmosphere of positivity, good energy, compassion, homelike warmth and a feeling that everyone is happy and well cared for.  Does every staff member know the names of all the residents and continually use them?  Residents love this and they are your best referral sources too!  Your senior housing community will fill to the brim.

MISSION – is your retirement community’s purpose come to life!  Do marketers speak about your mission and/or values during a tour?  It can say a lot about your community when any resident will volunteer how much they enjoy living there.  Discuss how your team can live/show your mission, so future residents can see that your team walks the talk.  Differentiate your senior living community from competitors by showing how your unique staff is enhancing the lives of your residents through excellent service and compassionate care.

Showcase your senior living community through the T.E.A.M. approach!  Here is wishing your community 100% occupancy in 2012!

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com.  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 or memory care) – please call: 206-853-6655 or email diane@marketing2seniors.net.  For more information: Twitter: @market2seniors

Web: www.marketing2seniors.net Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/

 

What do you say to a senior living marketer who insists that this is a poor time of year to fill the building?

I say, “Bah, humbug.”  Anytime can be a great time to sell senior housing, if you BELIEVE.  It’s all about attitude!

When family members get together during the holidays, this is when they might notice that mom or dad has really slowed down.  A son or daughter might look around and see the dust bunnies collecting in the corner, the pie doesn’t quite taste the same or a parent keeps repeating himself or herself.

The siblings might say, “What do we do now, mom and dad should not be on their own anymore?”  A son may have flown in from across the country and only be in town for the week.  They may call your assisted living or memory care community and hope that someone will direct them through this transition, so they can secure their parent before they leave in five days.

Will your marketer be the compassionate educator and create an immediate solution to this adult child’s dilemma?   Or will negative Nellie say, “No one wants to move during the holidays!”  I know a senior living marketer who prides himself on 48-hour move-ins.  This can be one of the best times of the year to fill the building, if you BELIEVE.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com.  For volume discount pricing or to inquire on Diane’s availability to coach and/or train your senior living marketing team – please contact Diane Twohy Masson directly at 206-853-6655 or email diane@marketing2seniors.net.  Diane Twohy Masson is a seasoned senior living marketing coach with most recent experience as Corporate Director of Sales for 14 retirement communities in Washington, Utah and California.  For more information: Web: www.marketing2seniors.net Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/ Twitter: @market2seniors

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Diane Twohy Masson is a seasoned senior living marketing coach with most recent experience as Corporate Director of Sales for 14 retirement communities in Washington, Utah and California.  For the holiday special, volume discount pricing or to inquire on Diane’s availability to coach or train your senior living marketing team – please contact Diane Twohy Masson directly at 206-853-6655 or email diane@marketing2seniors.net.

Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full is also available for sale at Amazon.com for $39.95.

For more information:

Web: www.marketing2seniors.net

Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/

Email: diane@marketing2seniors.net

Twitter: @market2seniors