“Just Go in Your Diaper…”

“Just Go in Your Diaper…”

"Just go in your diaper…"

“Just go in your diaper…”

My good friend’s mom fell on the Chicago ice in zero degree weather.  She called out for help and no one answered.  His mom was literally laying on the sidewalk in Chicago with a dislocated shoulder and a very bruised hip.  She was lucky to have her cell phone in her pocket, but at 93 years old could not figure out how to call 911 on the flip phone.  Then she was double lucky to have her wireless house phone to actually call 911 for help.

So my friend flew from Seattle (Home of the famous Seahawks) to Chicago to go help his mom.  What a burden for an adult child to be responsible for an aging parent who lives across the country.

The mom’s doctor highly recommended a rehab community and said it was excellent.  My friend checked his mom into the rehab and went back to her house to sleep.  Well, the mom ended up calling him at 4:00 AM and said, “Get me out of here!”

This is what happened…  When the mom hit the call light to go to the bathroom, a very pregnant caregiver appeared and said, “I can’t lift you, just go in your diaper.”  Later, when the mom hit the call light again for some water, another caregiver appeared and said, “You still have water left in your glass, drink that first.”  Then she just walked away.

In the morning, when the mom complained to the head nurse, the result was angry excuses.  So the mom called her doctor and heads started to spin at the rehab.  The administrator came in to apologize and then the head nurse suddenly became nice.  The mom was told that she would never have to be with the two night caregivers again.

Unbelievable.  It’s hard to imagine that a 93-year-old mentally sharp senior had to shake up this Chicago rehab community.  I wonder how the other residents faired with this “motley crew”?

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.

 

Is Advocacy the Answer for Assisted Living?

Is Advocacy the Answer for Assisted Living?

Is Advocacy the Answer for Assisted Living?As a daughter with a mom in skilled nursing care, the PBS documentary entitled “Life and Death in Assisted Living” really upset me.  My mom has vascular dementia and I have been her advocate for the last 7 years in assisted living.  Those of you who follow my blog know that I moved my mom 1000 miles into a skilled nursing care near me – about 10 weeks ago.  This transition happened because I was 100% in tune with my mom’s needs.

We all know someone who had a horror story during a hospital stay.  Last week one of my colleagues was shocked to walk in and find her dad in soft restraints after heart surgery.  He was 82 and not coming out of the anesthesia well.  The nurse said that she did not have enough staff to help him, so she had to use soft arm restraints.  My colleague asked if they could please remove the restraints.  She and her mom each took one arm of her dad and literally held him thrashing around all night with no sleep.

Every senior or human being needs an advocate to make sure that the care they are paying thousands of dollar per month in any level of care is being provided.  Trying to be a good advocate for my mom and living two states away – just about killed me.  You have to have eyes on your loved one or pay someone to come in and be your eyes – particularly when they have dementia.

When a senior has dementia, like my mom, they get to the point where they cannot communicate all their needs, pains or desires to either caregivers or family members.  There needs to be an advocate who truly knows that person and can look for and understand his or her unspoken needs on a regular basis.

If my colleague had not shown up to be an advocate for her dad, he would have been in soft restraints all night.  If I had not flown in every few months to see my mom with my own eyes, areas of concern would not have been addressed.  My mom had good care in assisted living with a caring staff, but she is my mom and I know her best.

It always makes me sad when a future senior resident considering senior housing has no family or only distant relatives.  They may ask a lawyer or a niece in Canada to become their advocate or power of attorney.  Will this remote person advocate properly on his or her behalf – if the senior can no longer communicate verbally?

There are great senior housing options available with loving caring staff, but it is always wise to have an advocate that knows your unspoken needs when you can no longer speak on your own behalf.

Tip:  Future residents and their family members need to do their homework as they explore all senior housing options including assisted living.  Always ask what the longevity of staff is at each retirement community, assisted living, memory care or skilled care nursing that you are considering for yourself or a loved one.  Staff turnover is an indicator of an underlying management or ownership problem in all levels of senior care.  Look for communities with longevity of staff.

Diane Twohy Masson is the best-selling 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.

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

Moving Mom 1000 Miles – Assisted Living to Skilled Nursing

Moving Mom 1000 Miles – Assisted Living to Skilled Nursing

Diane and her Mother

Diane and her Mother

Well, it is a complicated process moving a parent from an assisted living to skilled nursing.  Add 1000 miles into the equation and prepare for asking a tremendous amount of favors and help with no physical eyes on the situation. This is my story…

My mom has lived in a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Seattle, WA for 15 years.  For the past 7 years, she has lived in Assisted Living.  Her ailments have progressed to diabetes, severe vascular dementia, incontinence and now all symptoms indicate breast cancer.  Short-term memory loss and 90 years of age does not equate to any invasive procedures or surgeries.  When I visit her one-day, she has no memory of my visit the next day.

I could not stomach her completely alone (no children in the same state) and moving to the next level of care or a hospice community.  So my husband and I decided to quickly move her to Southern, CA, before she could not travel anymore.

All professionals who know my mom and I have been very supportive of this move.  Here are some of things that had to be put in place for this transition: Coordinating with the assisted living team where she lives, a nurse consultant to assess her and be our eyes in another state, her doctor, a home healthcare agency to take her to the doctor, the social worker at the HMO, the skilled nursing community that she was moving to, the federal government regarding her medical insurance and a Medicare representative.

The paperwork and logistics included filling out 27 pages of a Medi-Cal application, finding 22 additional documents for Medi-Cal, providing all the information that the new skilled nursing required, buying plane tickets, combining all our plane seats into one row, having someone drive my mom and us to the airport in Seattle and having Freedom Village Skilled Nursing pick us up at the airport when we arrive in California – whew!!!!

My mom does not know that she is going to move, because she cannot mentally process anything beyond 30 seconds in the short term and it would create anxiety for her – not understanding.

I am going to continue sharing my story as this moves takes place over the next few days.  Prayers and patience are needed to survive this.  I am excited for my mom to be located by our family in California and terrified of travel day.  I am her protector and don’t want her to suffer in anyway emotionally or physically.  It’s thrilling that my company in California is welcoming my mom with open arms – thank you Freedom Village.

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

Marketing a Twenty-Year-Old Senior Living Property?

Marketing a Twenty-Year-Old Senior Living Property?

Twenty-year-old Retirement CommunityIs this you?  Then you are in one of two situations – either your owners have renovated in the last 5 or 10 years or everything in your senior living property is original…

1) A Renovated Twenty-Year-Old Senior Living Community?

If your retirement community owners have renovated – thank your lucky stars!   It is awesome to be able to tell prospective seniors that a great sign of a quality organization is how well the building is kept up.  Tout the age of your building and make it a plus for future senior residents.

Yes, you may have limited community space or smaller apartments than your newer senior living competition, but competition could have insurmountable debt from financing in the last 5 years.  I am finding that older communities have more flexible payment plans for seniors who are considering an entrance fee for a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC).

2) Original Furnishings and Tired Looking Senior Living Community?

Do you need to avoid the PUMPKIN carpet that has multiple stains in the dining room?  Are the couches covered with throws, because of the discoloration?  Is the carpet threadbare in spots?  This is a sales person nightmare.  What can you do?

Well, there are many in our industry who face this daunting sales task everyday!

You have two hopes in my opinion.  First, let’s hope that your quality of care is amazing and secondly that the operations team has done everything in their power to have a clean, fresh smelling building.   The best defense is often a strong offense.  You can say, “You can go down the street to live in a newer building, but no one can come close to us on the quality of our care.  So you have a choice.  You need to decide if the cosmetic appearance of a community is most important to you or if it is more vital to you in how your loved one will be treated and cared for in the coming months and years.”  Wow!  This is a powerful statement to make!

What would you pick if you were comparing two assisted living communities?  Remember to think like the customer!  Boomers want their parents to live in a nice community.  Surface people will only consider appearances.  Educate the boomer children to determine that care is most important and they will look past the frayed furniture.

If your retirement community has lousy care and looks old, just quit… or there has to be some redeeming quality that you can highlight.   Become a senior living expert in your area, know your competition and accentuate your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.

Please share your marketing success or struggle story, if your retirement community is twenty years or older…

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com.  If your curiosity is piqued to inquire on Diane’s availability to speak at a senior housing conference (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) – please call: 206-853-6655 or email diane@marketing2seniors.net.  Diane is currently consulting in Southern California for Freedom Management Company, the proud debt-free owners of Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California.  For more information: Twitter: @market2seniors Web: www.marketing2seniors.net Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/

I’m Not Ready Yet!!!!

I’m Not Ready Yet!!!!

When you hear a senior prospect or family member say these words – what runs through your mind first?  How do you respond?  Do you believe them?  At every encounter with a prospective resident, someone always buys the popcorn – either the sales person or the senior!

Recently, I was going through some retirement community’s databases and lead after lead after lead had a “NRY” as the number one response in the notes.  I had to ask, “What is “NRY”?”  The retirement counselors in unison said, “Not ready yet.”  I thought quietly to myself, “Why the heck would anyone put such a negative assertion in his or her database?”  The next time they look at the lead, they are going to immediately think that it’s a crappy lead.

I believe that every lead is great!  If someone hangs up on me, the prospective resident is just having a bad day.  I have actually called these back again and they have been receptive, come in for a tour and eventually moved in.

When someone says they are not ready yet, do you blow the person off like I see some sales people do?  Are you just looking for a quick sale on a silver platter or a 30-day move-in?  Well then you are missing a ton of sales and this is why the occupancy is down at your retirement community.  Real sales people know that persistence pays off.  I have called people every month for one year and then they turned into a sale!  Those can be the most gratifying sales!

Do you have a Negative Nellie working your precious (expensive) senior housing leads that could be potential move-ins?  Believing Betty understands that each lead could be worth thousands of dollars and calls with enthusiasm and passion.  The customer needs to hear us smiling through the phone and feel our energy and excitement when they arrive in person.  We need to believe in our leads and keep calling them back…

When someone says they are not ready yet, they are one fall or one diagnosis away from suddenly wanting to move immediately.  Don’t schedule the next call for one year away, because it’s not the golden goose quick sale.  Understand the frailty of the senior customer and schedule to call them on a quarterly basis or your competition will get this move-in instead of you!

So when a senior tells me that they are not ready yet…this is great…they are interested for the future. The first thought that runs through my mind is: I need to educate them more about the lifestyle!  The second thought I have is: What did I miss saying?  Did I build enough value for health services?  After I learned about them through discovery, did I tailor the tour to their needs?  I need to fill the retirement community today, one year from now and 5 years from now!  So if someone wants to wait a year or two, no problem… my positive contact with them can speed up their decision.  Then when they suddenly want to move in, whom will they think of first?  Well, the nice lady on the phone who was never pushy and always had their best interests at heart…of course!

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com.  If your curiosity is piqued to inquire on Diane’s availability to speak at a senior housing conference (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) – please call: 206-853-6655 or email diane@marketing2seniors.net.  Diane is currently consulting in Southern California for Freedom Management Company, the proud debt-free owners of Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California.  For more information:   Twitter: @market2seniors Web: www.marketing2seniors.net Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/