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Feb 16 11

In the Nursing Home, Assisted Living, Home Health and Support, and Independent Living business, we HAVE to be available when the customer needs us, but are we?

by admin

At 10 pm, the family is asleep and it would be nice to be able to get some odd chores done such as going out and getting an oil change.  However, no place is open to provide this service.

If someone calls with a need in terms of support with an aging relative in the middle of night, are we as an industry ready to answer the call?

What about the weekend?

We have to be ready for our customer.  Okay, so who is the customer and when do they need us?

For nursing homes, the discharge planner for a hospital is a key customer and each one has a preferred time they would like to have their patient placed.  Do you know the key time for your local discharge planner?  If so, are you ready to support them with a smooth transition (nursing is on board, necessary medicines can be obtained, housekeeping is ready to welcome a new guest, etc.)?

When it comes to Assisted Living, adult children are often the key decision maker.  So, are we available when they need us?  If they work, and most do, we better be ready during the week at 5 pm to receive them, instead of us walking out the door to head home for the night.  Is it time for us to work Friday through Tuesday (go for it, take Wednesday and Thursday off and see how quickly your occupancy rises)?

Home Health and Support may be called upon at any time, are your systems in place to receive the call?  Have you engaged an answering service to help capture after-hour calls and let them know to page you or e-mail you with any calls?

Competition is stiff, and consumers have more and more reasons to delay reaching out for support.  When they do, we need to show them we care enough to be there for them when they need us, not when it is convenient for us.

Now if I could just find a place to change my oil.

Feb 7 11

Crawl before you walk; walk before you run; run a marathon as you turn 92. Is where you live helping you thrive?

by admin

February is the month of “gut” checks.

We started the year with resolutions to get in shape.  Fast forward 40 days and… if you are one of the 8000 individuals turning 65 each day in the United States, are you ready to own your future health status? 

As Bette Davis so aptly put it, “Getting old is not for sissies.”

Hence, doing what we can to ensure a healthy future is critical.  The number 1 factor according to BlueZones, a site set-up to showcase the lessons learned by studying the oldest lifestyle communities in the world, is to move naturally.  According to BlueZones, Americans burn fewer than 100 calories a day engaged in “exercise”.  We can get more physical activity naturally if we live in walkable communities, de-convenience our homes by getting rid of power tools and grow gardens.  Walking is the best activity for longevity. 

So, how about choosing one of the top cities in the United States to retire: http://www.walkscore.com/rankings/most-walkable-cities.php  San Francisco’s Downtown; New York’s Tribeca, Washington D.C.’s Dupont Circle or Baltimore’s Federal Hill? 

If you are living at a retirement community, is there a clean and safe walking path?  Is there a course set-up within your assisted living community to help track and count walking distances?

Sure, it would be great like the world-record setter Glady Burrill to run a marathon, even at the age of 92.   http://www.worldamazingrecords.com/2010/12/world-oldest-marathon-women-runner.html  Or start to thrive by taking a walk.

Jan 31 11

Does the Apartment Industry Reflect the Future of Home Health, Nursing Homes, Assisted Living and Retirement Communities? Now Accepting Small Dogs

by admin

Driving today, I passed by an apartment complex with a sign splashed for all drivers to see “Now Accepting Small Dogs.”  Assuming this apartment complex was not actually trying to entice small pups to select this location as a new home, I marveled at the specific nature of this marketing effort.  Instead of the more universal message of “Free Rent” or “If You Lived Here, You Would Be Home,” this community recognized the value of targeting a specific segment of the population.

As the economy is slowly making its way back, it is critical for home health, nursing homes, assisted living communities, and lifestyle communities (commonly referred to as retirement communities) for those 55 and better show the market that they can provide MORE value than if a prospect chooses to stay in their current circumstance.

Like the apartment complex, it is time for the senior care and housing industry to invest in key points of differentiation.  Just accepting small pets will not be enough to move the masses.  Instead, we have to boldly establish ourselves as experts in value, lifestyles, and as appropriate, care.  For example become “The only assisted living built for those with osteoporosis.”   By the way it is estimated that 55% of those 50 and better in the United States have some level of osteoporosis.  Or, make your mark as “The only lifestyle community for those 55 and better where four new businesses were started last year and five new not-for-profits were created.” 

In 2011, the senior care and housing industry has to differentiate to meet the customer where they need us to be.  What are you doing to adjust?

Jan 13 11

You say Assisted Living, I say Nursing Home. Are we on the Verge of the Last Assisted Living Community?

by admin

It once was that assisted living communities throughout America really did provide assistance, not full-care, for residents.  The staff at these locations used to be geared towards encouraging the independence of their residents within the context of the activities of daily living that a resident might need a helping hand.

This is changing. 

Sunrise Senior Living is one of the largest “innovators” of this strategy.  If they could care for a resident with enhanced supports originally reserved for nursing homes, then the resident would benefit by avoiding another move; the family would benefit by saving funds relative to their loved one living in a nursing home, and of course the provider would make out by charging for additional ancillary supports above and beyond “traditional” assisted living.

Today, many families are told by assisted living providers regarding their loved one:  “They will never have to move their loved one from here based on care needs.”  Really?

A key reason nursing homes exist is to provide those residents who have greater health care needs an environment where professionals are trained to serve.  Given the assumed fragile nature of the clientele, this environment is highly regulated at a federal level to ensure staffing ratios are met, along with customer expectations in some states like Maryland where a willingness to recommend score is captured and publicized. 

This same regulatory environment does not extend on a national level to assisted living providers.  However, it should not be surprising that if assisted living providers of today want to serve the role nursing homes once held, regulations are soon to follow. 

Welcome to the end of assisted living as we know it.

Have a review and rating of senior care and housing provider?  Please visit seniorDECISION.com today to share your thoughts.  Thank you.

Jan 4 11

In 2011, what if we built independent living and assisted living communities that people want to live in? 5 Key Messages for Developers

by admin

Welcome to 2011!  A great year in the making (assuming we all pitch in and make it so)!

For the millions of people who might choose to move into an assisted living or independent living community, what if developers built communities that people wanted to live in?

It is easy to focus on big amenities, but these nuggets for future developers focus in on some details for both assisted living and independent living communities:

1) Parking is your friend.  Cars are an essential part of aging and a key element of independence.

Many developers try to build the minimum necessary parking spots to save on upfront development costs.  However, this thinking:

A) Causes selling pains for those future residents that may want easy parking access

B) Limits the engagement a provider can have with the general community as “parking is limited” instead of becoming a community hub of events from poker tournaments to a venue for local musical talent.

2) Turn it down!  Ever worry that if you move to a lifestyle community for those 55 or better that you will have to hear everything your neighbor says and does?  Or if you are in an assisted living setting that the one person on the floor with their TV’s volume turned way up may be your neighbor?  Sound minimization should be a key consideration for developers. 

3) Keep it wide please.  “The hallways meet all requirements.”  Yes, but how are we going to get two motorized wheelchairs and three people through it at the same time?  If possible, add width to the halls because even if you are dealing with an “active” population now, in the future assistive mobility devices may be more and more mainstream.

4) Clean air, so good!  In today’s world, a community that houses a group of very important people, residents, should be built with respiratory sensitivities in mind.  Off-gassing from construction material should be kept at a minimum and fresh air flow given a priority at the table.       

5) Open for business.  More and more those who are aging will be itching for a place to build upon ideas and make businesses and not-for-profits thrive.  Dual purpose office space, both for staff and residents, could be in order.

Here is to making 2011 great!  Have a review of a provider?  Please visit http://www.seniordecision.com/ and share your valuable opinion.  Thank you!

Dec 27 10

Resolution for 2011, no more aging. Can the trends play out?

by admin
Life expectancy in 1910 for men was 48.4 years and women 51.8 years.  According to the CDC http://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2009/r090819.htm men now live until 75.3 years on average and women until 80.4 on average in the United States.  Hence, over the course of 100 years, we improved our life expectancy by nearly 30 years.  A very interesting presentation by Aubrey de Grey in 2005 suggested that we as humanity may be on the cusp of our first 1000 year old! http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/aubrey_de_grey_says_we_can_avoid_aging.html His question: if we treat aging as a disease and combat it, how many more years can we add to our lives?  30 additional years over the last 100 years is not bad.  What about another 50 in the next 25 years thanks to medical science or organizations like SENS Foundation http://www.sens.org/?
We are already redefining the industries of nursing care, assisted living, and home health. Aging to 1000 would require us to revolutionize on a whole other scale.
Dec 20 10

Babies, Seniors, and the Holidays

by admin

With the recent birth of our third child, the daily goal is back in place for my wife:  a shower.

In a world of chasing two children and catering to third, this may not seem like a monumental goal, but it is THE key goal by which each day’s success is measured. 

Having a purpose in the day has proven a key to a happy life (as referenced http://seniorhousingandcare.info/uncategorized/retired-living-in-an-assisted-living-or-nursing-home-community-what-is-your-purpose/), though the size of the effort in question is not as important.  Some ideas include to call a friend, send a letter, take a walk in a new area, read a new magazine or book, learn how to say “hello” in Swahili (Jambo), plant an herb for your new windowsill herb garden http://gardening.about.com/od/vegetablepatch/ht/window_herbs.htm , and the list goes on and on.

During the holidays and even beyond the holidays, seniors living in retirement communities, independent living locations, assisted living communities, or even living at home with the hope of graceful aging are challenged with all life has brought.  The longer someone lives, the more likely they are to content with factors of:

  • Financial limitations
  • Loss of independence
  • Being alone or separated from loved ones
  • Failing eyesight (and lessening of the ability to write or read holiday correspondence)
  • Loss of mobility and/or the inability to get to religious services
  • Loss of loved ones

The holiday season is particularly tough for many who may fall into a holiday depression. http://www.gmhfonline.org/gmhf/consumer/factsheets/depression_holidays.html

Society has an opportunity to turn this experience around.  If each person who knew a senior or of a senior who might benefit from some additional interaction, could take just ten minutes this week to reach out to that person, purpose could return for so many.  Within the ten minutes the key is to listen and engage the senior regarding their thoughts, past successes, and before leaving make a commitment to return to talk again because you enjoyed the conversation. 

Over time, each person needs to set their own path of purpose to find true meaning.  However, for those who have a hard time getting started, a friendly gesture is much appreciated.

Off to make sure my wife can get a shower today and claim success.  Happy holidays!

Dec 14 10

Holiday Lights Remind Us the Purpose of Senior Care and Housing

by admin

During the holiday season we are delighted by the twinkle and warm glow of lights throughout the neighborhoods.  Each light shines unique, and when coupled with other lights make a wonderful and beautiful scene.  Add in some snow, and the magic of this time of year is realized.  Yet, we know these beautiful lights took effort to untangle and hang.

Like with the lights, those who serve others in nursing homes, assisted living communities, and independent living communities; along with those that provide home health and home support, are challenged to find the unique element that shines in each of the people we touch.  Some key questions to ask (or ask again if time has elapsed since you first showed this level of interest):

What helps that person to sparkle?  Is there something from the past that brings a smile to the face?  Can a relative or friend provide valuable insight into what makes the person special?  What dreams do they have?  What dreams did they have that might still be possible to achieve in some form or fashion?

Though it takes some effort, in asking these questions and through the gift of time and truly listening, the millions of Americans who trust and benefit from choosing a senior care or housing provider, gain from the knowledge that they are indeed unique and special.

Dec 11 10

Quality of Life Plus Improved Life Expectancy Key Ingredients for Independent Living, Assisted Living, Home Care, and Home Support Success

by admin

The Centers for Disease Control in the United States recently reported that life expectancy decreased to 77.8 years, a 0.1 year difference from the high of 77.9 years just the year before when reviewing records through 2008.  But what about a quality of life index?  http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2010/12/10/life-expectancy-cdc.html

According to a review of 194 countries by the magazine writers of International Living, France ranks at the top of the best places to live to enjoy a high quality of life.  The United States comes in 7th.  Life expectancy is a factor in this measure, but its influence is limited to the category of “Health” that accounts for 10% of the overall measure of quality, and even within “Health” it is just one seven factors.   http://internationalliving.com/2010/02/quality-of-life-2010/

Often a discussion among professionals in the senior care and housing industry is how do we articulate the quality of life factor that is provided relative to the choice of in-action that so many people take?

Within these two reports a road map materializes.  If the industry as a whole, be it independent living, assisted living, home health or home support can make the statement that both life expectancy and qualify of life improve when people choose their services, then we have a winning campaign.  This is where a site like www.bluezones.com may come in as a way to independently showcase an organization’s ability to prolong life in a quality way.  By benchmarking people when you first engage with them, and then even 30 days later showcasing what should be an improvement in both life expectancy and quality of life, you can highlight the true life value your organization delivers.

Dec 7 10

5 Top Reasons the Holiday Season is a Great Time to Sell Your Assisted Living, Independent Living, Home Health, or Home Support Services

by admin

Often I hear from sales people in the senior care and housing industry that the holiday season is the worst time to pursue sales.  Really?  Here are five key reasons to go after the sale RIGHT NOW!

1)    The weather outside is frightful, yet the thought of your service may be so delightful.  As weather changes, many of those 55 and better revert to a more isolated schedule.  Prospects are home more and so more likely to field your call of interest.

2)    Party Time, geez, what can I tell my family and friends about my plan?  Yes, people who are getting older, almost like high school students figuring out their next educational step, get asked a lot about their plans for the future.  If you can insert yourself with a campaign of “Let them know you figured it out on your terms,” you could create a winning answer for your client through the holidays.

3)    Who knew Aunt Marie required so much assistance with basic functions?  When family gets together for something like Thanksgiving, the day after the family rehash occurs.  “Wow, did you notice Aunt Marie really struggled to remember details?”  The idea that a loved one may need a change is at the top-of-mind.

4)    Time, oh give me time (off that is).  The holiday season has family together quite a bit and key influencers in the family are taking time off to spend with each other.  Historically, informing interested parties that you are holding a day-after Thanksgiving open-house draws in those that may need to make a decision sooner.

5)    Follow-up is follow-up is follow-up.  During the holidays you have a natural reason to call up and see how a prospect is doing.  Regardless of your outcome during the holidays, your sincere interest during the holidays will make it that much easier for you to follow-up in January as well (should that be necessary).

Feel free to share other reasons making a sale for Assisted Living, Independent Living, Home Health, or Home Support works during the holidays!  Enjoy from http://www.seniorDECISION.com!