This phrase may be overused but what does it really mean, if anything? For the last two years and more we have been battered by the Covid 19 pandemic going from one version to a second and now a third which supposedly is less virulent than the first two. So, what have been the impacts on the senior housing industry? Zoom no longer only refers to a speed, it has become a standard way of communicating that is enhanced by our ability to “see” one another. Virtual has virtually been redefined as another way of staying in touch. While in-person conferences have been resumed, I have no doubt that their attendance has been diminished by concerns about travel and being in settings with large numbers of people. The “new normal” is a lonelier place than what we were used to. Thanks to the vaccines we all feel safer on an individual level but it doesn’t mean we will be gathering in large numbers again in the near future. But now we have time to renew old friendships and wonderful things can come of that. I’d love to hear your thoughts. And I send my best to all of you.
As an industry we continue to rediscover how to conduct business during the ongoing pandemic. We offer a variety of services that may meet the current needs of your community including-
- Competitor Updates – conduct telephone conversations and website reviews with existing competitors and prepare an updated profile of each with an emphasis on what has changed (such as fees, expansion, repositioning)- we could also identify/survey any new competitors that have opened since our original report
- Demographic Updates – provide an updated demographic profile of your target market based on current and projected data – and compare it to our previous analysis of demographics
- Market Area Definition – obtain current information on resident origin and compare this to how we defined their MA previously to see if there have been any significant shifts. If we also do the Comp Updates that might shed some light on why the MA has shifted (assuming it has)
At the Spiezle architectural firm’s recent Aging Forward Executive Roundtable conference, Steve Lindsey, CEO of Garden Spot Village, gave an inspiring presentation on being supportive of the staff’s best efforts. He referred to the concept he delineated as Coaching and he structured it in a way that was reflective of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The bottom of the triangle was Task focused and included basic competence and security and performance and related both of those to the supervisory roles. But the majority of the triangle was all about coaching and was focused on development of the team members. Starting with Relationships, it moved up through Contribution, Grown & Development, Best Self and Legacy which was at the top of the triangle. This structure, which is employed by Garden Spot, is designed to support each employee’s efforts and abilities to make a difference in in each other’s lives and performance as well as the lives of all of the residents. It is a paradigm-shifting structure that establishes a format that enhances the ability to “discover the BEST Version of YOURSELF and fulfill a LIFE OF PURPOSE. Just imagine what implementing this approach would contribute to the lives of employees and residents of senior housing communities.
One of the downsides for the aging population is the loss of a spouse, other relatives and friends. This has accelerated as a result of Covid 19. Loneliness is known to be a threat to your health. According to an article published by the CDC “social isolation significantly increases a person’s risk of premature death and… may rival those of smoking, obesity and physical inactivity”. Loneliness results in several other increased risks including heart attacks, strokes and depression. Of course, in this year of Covid, socialization has been severely restricted. It appears that with the help of the vaccines, we are beginning to emerge from the “lockdown” mentality and behaviors.
The benefits of socialization include reconnecting with friends and family members. Carefully engaging in small group activities and returning to things such as enjoying a meal at a restaurant with friends improve the quality of life for all of us. So, let’s be careful and joyous as we recreate what was known as a normal life.
Getting vaccinated against Covid 19 has deservedly taken up a lot of space in the media and cases are dropping as a result. Nonetheless, there continues to be hesitancy among some of the population. This seems to be based on concern arising from the spread of misinformation, particularly on social media. A strong argument can be made that getting vaccinated is not only good for you and for your loved ones, but good for the community in general. We’re not suggesting that getting vaccinated should lead to massive gatherings of crowds at the beach or inside small, tightly packed venues. We do believe that getting vaccinated has already proven to be an effective way of resuming something like a normal life. Just look at the family gatherings that were portrayed on the TV coverage of Mother’s Day. Families who hadn’t seen one another, hadn’t shared a warm hug, were finally reunited. The emotional benefits couldn’t have been more obvious. So, get vaccinated! It’s free and its good for everyone.
A significant message that must be conveyed is that seniors or older adults are not “the other” – they are us. And if we endure, we will be them. How this segment of the population is portrayed is directly influenced by the words that we use to describe them. Let’s explore how language can create a positive image of those who may have more to contribute to society because of the depth of their experience throughout their lives. Here’s one good example: replace the word “still” with “continuing”. “Still” suggests a type of surprise that seniors remain involved in their lives in a productive way. Continuing clearly communicates the fact that many older adults have not stopped being involved in giving back to the communities that are important to them. These communities might include the local area in which they live, their places of worship and service organizations. Other positive words are “mature” and “experienced”. They attest to the values that older adults bring to decision-making whether it relates to their friends and families or other organizations and activities with which they are involved. So, let’s think about older adults with positive and productive words and phrases. They’ve earned it.