Dead Flowers on Valentine’s Day?

Dead Flowers on Valentine’s Day?

This is the arrangement the next day...

This is the arrangement the next day…

My sweetie didn’t intend to send me dead flowers for Valentine’s Day.  He saw a beautiful arrangement online and had it delivered to my office as a special surprise.  When I opened the box the flowers were closed, dried out, brown on the petal edges and shockingly in no water.  What??!!?  I pulled them out, read the lovely note from husband and put them in water to save them or bring them back to life.  My husband was upset when he saw them and said he never would have ordered them if he had known they would arrive in this condition.  He thought he had ordered flowers from a florist and they would arrive like the picture shown.

This Valentine snafu reminds me of how adult Boomer children select a retirement, assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing community based on the size of the apartment and what the lobby looks like versus the quality of care.  Almost every Boomer child wants the best for his or her parent, but some judge senior living community solely on external appearances.

In multiple states, I have encountered loving caring staff at senior living communities that have not been recently remodeled, with small apartments or don’t have enormous acreage.  It is very challenging to market these properties, but I have witnessed some amazing sales people overcome this dilemma.

They say the best defense is a strong offense.

Here is what one marketer said in Washington state about tired furniture in the lobby: “We don’t have a big brand new building with a lavish lobby entrance but what we do have is a very comfortable loving family atmosphere where our residents are the focus of our care and attention.”

In Utah, a retirement counselor working at an independent retirement community that needed remodeling would say: “We don’t have all the bells and whistles of the community down the street, but we are home to 120 residents and you won’t find friendlier staff or residents any where else.  I encourage you to meet some of the residents of both communities and judge for yourself who is happier.  Then decide where you want your mom to live.”

An assisted living community in California with less community spaces says: “Initially our community seems small but it is so much easier for our senior residents to live here on a day-to-day basis.  It gives the residents a sense of security to know they can navigate the community without getting lost.”

Does your senior living community live up the pictures in your brochure and what the sales people promise?  It’s never good to show a wonderful picture and deliver poor quality, like when I received the dead flowers.  If you don’t have the ideal gorgeous community, you can still be proud of providing the best care and services to your residents.

Please share your successes, failures or comment below to join the conversation and interact with other senior living professionals on what is currently being effective to increase occupancy on a nationwide basis.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available at Amazon.com with a 5-star rating.  The book is required reading at George Mason University as a part of its marketing curriculum.  Within this book, the author developed a sales & marketing method with 12 keys to help senior living providers increase their occupancy.   Masson developed this expertise as a marketing consultant, sought-after blogger for senior housing and a regional marketing director of continuing care retirement communities in several markets.  She has also been a corporate director of sales and a mystery shopper for independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled care nursing communities in multiple states.  Currently, Masson is setting move-in records as the regional marketing director of two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern California – Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California.  Interestingly, this career started when she was looking for a place for her own mom and helped her loved one transition through three levels of care.

© Marketing 2 Seniors| Diane Twohy Masson 2013 All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog post may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author, unless otherwise indicated for stand-alone materials. You may share this website and or it’s content by any of the following means: 1. Using any of the share icons at the bottom of each page. 2. Providing a back-link or the URL of the content you wish to disseminate. 3. You may quote extracts from the website with attribution to Diane Masson CASP and link http://www.marketing2seniors.net For any other mode of sharing, please contact the author Diane Masson.

 

Surprise Visit to my Mom’s Skilled Nursing Care

Surprise Visit to my Mom’s Skilled Nursing Care

Surprise Visit to my Mom's Skilled NursingI can’t stop thinking about my surprise visit with my mom yesterday.  I arrived Sunday afternoon about 2:30 PM to Freedom Village Healthcare Center in California.  She was not in her usual places – where was she?  A caregiver said, “Oh, your mom is down in the activity room.”  I said to my husband Chris, “We really need to pay more attention to the activity calendar, so we don’t visit during those times.  I want her to enjoy all the social times and I can visit her when nothing else is going on.”

We happened upon the activity calendar and all the activities were done for the day.  So what was she doing?  As we turned the corner, we saw my mom’s beaming face.  She was playing bingo.  The caregiver smiled at me and said, “Oh, do you want to take your mom?”  I said, “Absolutely not, let her enjoy herself.”  It was great to see pure joy – when she said, “Bingo!”

What was interesting to me was her interacting with the other residents and helping them play too.  My mom has severe vascular dementia.  When she speaks it is about 70% non-reality.  What a great activity to really stimulate her brain.  The caregiver said to me, “We decided to put on a bingo game for them, they like it and it gives them something to do.”

Well, bless those two caregivers who created an unscheduled resident activity to help with the resident’s quality of life.  This was a huge “Wow” for me and I can’t stop thinking about how happy my mom was.  For those of you who follow my blog, I moved my mom 1000 miles to be near me about three months ago.  This was the best day of my mom’s life here in California.

After each resident said bingo, the caregiver would call the resident by name and say, “You won a cookie.”  No cookies appeared.  I thought to myself, well the residents have dementia – they won’t remember the cookie promise.  To my utter surprise – cookies appeared at the end of the last game.  One cookie for each resident.  When the caregiver was handing out the last cookie, the resident said, “I don’t get one – I didn’t win.”  The caregiver said, “That’s okay, you are a winner for even being here.”  There are tears in my eyes writing this, because these staff went above and beyond!

As the afternoon progressed – my mom continued being animated and talking nonstop.  It did not matter that 60% was non-reality.  She was having a great time and I loved spending quality time with her.  Some people think people with dementia have nothing to offer in life, well, they are 100% wrong.

Please share your success, failures or comment below to join the conversation and interact with other senior living professionals on what is currently being effective to increase occupancy on a nationwide basis.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available at Amazon.com with a 5-star rating.  The book is required reading at George Mason University as a part of its marketing curriculum.  Within this book, the author developed a sales & marketing method with 12 keys to help senior living providers increase their occupancy.   Masson developed this expertise as a marketing consultant, sought-after blogger for senior housing and a regional marketing director of continuing care retirement communities in several markets.  She has also been a corporate director of sales and a mystery shopper for independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled care nursing communities in multiple states.  Most recently Masson was recruited to consult for two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern California – Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California.  Interestingly, this career started when she was looking for a place for her own mom and helped her loved one transition through three levels of care.

© Marketing 2 Seniors| Diane Twohy Masson 2013 All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog post may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author, unless otherwise indicated for stand-alone materials. You may share this website and or it’s content by any of the following means: 1. Using any of the share icons at the bottom of each page. 2. Providing a back-link or the URL of the content you wish to disseminate. 3. You may quote extracts from the website with attribution to Diane Masson CASP and link http://www.marketing2seniors.net For any other mode of sharing, please contact the author Diane Masson.
The Most Special Name in Skilled Nursing Care

The Most Special Name in Skilled Nursing Care

The Most Special Name in Skilled Nursing CareWhat is your favorite word in the English language?  It is probably your own name.  When a senior gets to the point of living in assisted living or skilled nursing care – his or her memory is most likely failing.  So the most magical word they can hear is their own name.

Recently I was blown away at the Freedom Village Healthcare Center in California.  My mom has lived there for about 2 months.   When I walked down the hall with my mom, every single staff person spoke to her with a smile.  They either said her first name or her last name “Mrs. Twohy.”  Then they would share some encouraging statement.  It was not just one or two staff.  We literally ran into about 14 staff on our walk and each made my mom feel special.  She smiled back at each one and it was wonderful to see her joy.

After having lunch with my mom and family in the outdoor fountain courtyard, my brother was taking my mom back inside and a staff person pointed at my brother’s hat and said, “Your name is on your hat.”  My brother was so surprised.  It took him a moment to realize that that this person knew his last name – Twohy, because our mom lives there in skilled nursing care.

So the staff not only makes my mom feel special everyday, but reach out to family members as well.  Noticing “Twohy” on my brother’s hat goes above and beyond and created a real “wow” for my family.  It showed me that every employee is committed to calling the residents by name and I was impressed!  Do staff in your skilled nursing care, assisted living, memory care and even independent living know every single resident’s first and last names?  Why not have a contest, so they can get rewarded for learning names today.

Please share your success, failures or comment to join the conversation and interact with other senior living professionals on what is currently being effective to increase occupancy on a nationwide basis.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com.  Masson’s book is required reading at George Mason University as part of the marketing curriculum.  She is currently consulting with two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern California – Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California. Connection and partnership opportunities: Email: diane@marketing2seniors.net

Ready for Boomers Texting Your Food?

Ready for Boomers Texting Your Food?

Long-term care foodMy husband Chris and I received this unappetizing text, with a photo of food, from our friend Dave in rehab.  This was the text:

Chris:  How are you, what are you doing?

Dave:  Nothing, this is my meal…

Chris:  That looks horrible.

Dave:  Yeah tell me about it.  This tastes as good as it looks – which is terrible.

Diane:  Which rehab are you at?

Dave:  XXXX in Federal Way, WA.

Diane:  The food looks disgusting, I am so sorry, how have the other meals been?

Dave:  Just as bad…

Would I ever recommend this place to anyone based on this photo – no way!  Get ready for the boomers texting their meals to their other boomer friends.

Institutional food is a thing of the past.  Most retirement communities offer chef prepared meals now.  The boomers have a discriminating palette and won’t tolerate bad food.

Are you proud of the food you are serving at your Rehab, Skilled Nursing Center, Healthcare Center, Long-term Care Facility, Assisted Living, Independent Living, Memory Care or Continuing Care Retirement Community?  Would you eat it?

Please comment to join the conversation and interact with other senior living professionals on what is currently being effective to increase occupancy on a nationwide basis.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com.  Masson’s book will be required reading at George Mason University in the Fall as part of the marketing curriculum.  She is currently consulting with Seniors For Living and two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern California – Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California. Connection and partnership opportunities: Email: diane@marketing2seniors.net

Moving My Mom 1000 Miles From Assisted Living to Skilled Nursing Care (Part 2)

Moving My Mom 1000 Miles From Assisted Living to Skilled Nursing Care (Part 2)

When my mom asked where we were going - I kept saying to lunch...

Every time she asked where we were going, I said to lunch.

Organizing a move of this magnitude is a pile of paperwork combined with a daughter’s worry of every possible outcome going wrong.

The long story short is it took my husband Chris and I, seven hours to move my mom with vascular dementia 1000 miles.  Is it the best thing for her – yes!  Did it almost kill me – yes!  But there were blessings along the way including moments and memories of complete clarity that I will always treasure. I still see my mom in my minds eyes as her former mentally astute self, but now she can’t remember what she had for breakfast.  Why I am moving my mom is shared in Part 1.

My Mom’s Moving Day

I had a 50/50 chance that she would be having a good day, when we arrived at her assisted living community for the move – it was a BAD day for her.  She was anxious, hungry and wandering around for some attention.  I talked to a caregiver and took her to breakfast in the dining room as my husband packed her suitcases.  The goal was for her not to be stressed out about moving and we accomplished that goal.

Two days before the move, we had organized her entire room and decided what we were taking, what had to be shipped separately and what was going to goodwill.  She never knew, because we took turns with her.

On the way back from breakfast, my mom sensed that something was up.  When four people were outside her door, she asked why.  They scattered and a caregiver gave the morning medications to her.  While she was eating we had gathered all her medications, personal affects and created a special bag to handle incontinence on the way – which was my greatest worry.

She didn’t want to get in the car, but Chris and I coaxed her in.  The drive to the SeaTac Airport was enjoyable for her.  My friend Stephen was the driver and he was wonderful with my mom.  The arrival at the airport with the hustle and bustle created immediate anxiety for her.  She thought that she was seeing Chris and I off and wondered when she would see us again. Chris said, that she was coming with us.  She said that she would not get on a plane.  Oh boy…thank goodness for anti-anxiety medications.

Getting through security was crazy, my mom’s bag beeped because of liquid medications.  So one of us had to be tested for bomb residue on our hands.  We all got separated, bags were being retested for bombs and my mom was all-alone for 3 minutes.  They ended up testing her for bomb residue – seriously!!?!  Then we headed out to the gate.

I ran to get lunch, because I had promised my mom Ivar’s fish and chips.  Every time she asked where we were going, I said to lunch.  She would immediately calm down.

We were wheeling her onto the plane and just as they were transferring her to another wheel chair to take her down the aisle, she announced that she needed to use the restroom.  I just wanted to get her on the plane, but we had to go back to the concourse and use the family restroom.  There was – of course – a wait for it.  We took care of my mom and I thought we would miss the plane, but a security breach had happened and we had to wait another 30 minutes to board.  All our bags, my mom’s medications and the lunch were on the plane.

When we finally got on the plane and I said we were having lunch.  My mom said her first funny, “Are you just saying we are having lunch or are we really having lunch?”  I laughed and pulled out the fish and chips.  We really had a great time on the plane, she knew she was on a plane and said she was having fun.  I brought family pictures for her to look at and a stuffed bear to hold.

My mom slowly processed the move on the plane.   She was excited about going to California and remembered being born there and going to college at UCLA.  She was happy, calm and smiling…

My mom was fantastic and the incontinence was not an issue, even after we landed – whew… The Freedom Village driver picked us up and we took her to her new home at the Freedom Village Healthcare Center.  In a week or two, I will describe the transition…

Please comment to join the conversation and interact with other senior living professionals on what is currently being effective to increase occupancy on a nationwide basis.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com.  Masson’s book will be required reading at George Mason University in the Fall as part of the marketing curriculum.  She is currently consulting with Seniors For Living and two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern California – Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California. Connection and partnership opportunities: Email: diane@marketing2seniors.net