Category Archives: Strategy

Best Practices for Marketing Senior Living Communities Online

Meeting Seniors “Where They Are”

In today’s digital world, more and more people are using the information available online to research companies, engage with brands and aid in their decision-making process. Although information gathering is instant in this digital space, the decision-making journey may take weeks, months or even years. This is especially true with big decisions that can be emotional or cause significant life changes, such as selecting a senior living facility for yourself or a loved one. For this reason, it is critical that you are willing to meet potential residents and families wherever they may be in their decision-making process.

Why you should be meeting seniors online

Social media and other online channels provide an excellent opportunity for you to showcase your senior living design, facility, staff, programs and more to a wide audience of both seniors and their families. A Pew Research Study found that up to 59 percent of seniors aged 65 and up use the Internet, with 71 percent of those using it every day. This time spent on the Internet is often spent browsing and researching, comparing and reading reviews. According to BrightLocal, 97 percent of people read online reviews for local businesses in 2017. In this same study, 73 percent said that positive reviews make them trust a local business more. And when it comes to long-term care for a loved one, there is nothing more important than trust.

How to meet seniors where they are online

The opportunities to build trust by leveraging social media and online reviews with residents and families may seem a little daunting to some senior living communities. After all, how can you be sure that disgruntled residents or employees don’t tarnish your reputation online? To best meet seniors and their families “where they are” and build trust with your facility, there are a few best practices for marketing senior living communities online:

  • Be present on more than one platform. To meet seniors wherever they may be in their decision-making process online, your senior living community must be present in more than just one space. This means moving beyond your senior living facility’s website to also include social media platforms such as Facebook®, which is the one of the most trusted review sites, according to BrightLocal.
  • Engage with potential residents and families during their research process. One of the best things about social media is the opportunity it creates to engage with individuals in an instant. Social media posts and direct messages allow you to move past a traditional contact form on your website, and respond to questions and feedback instantaneously.
  • Show off your facility. Facebook can provide a great platform for marketing senior living communities online through sharing your favorite resident stories, photos of your facility and updates on programs and amenities that you offer to residents. Remember, though, to get permission from anyone featured in your posts, whether they be employees, residents or family members.
  • Make the most of your resources. Facebook is an excellent free resource to provide information to seniors online. According to Pew Research Center, 62 percent of online adults aged 65 and older use Facebook. Include basic information in your senior living facility profile such as your phone number, address and website for a complete resource for seniors and families who are in the decision-making process.
  • Hear seniors out. Online reviews, either through Google® or a social network like Facebook, are the perfect place to turn when looking for senior’s feedback on your senior living community, programming and more. Use these reviews as a sort of checklist when looking for changes to implement in your facility.

Let us help you meet seniors where they are

Is your senior living design an area of concern when marketing your senior living community online? Community Living Solutions can work with you in the master planning of your facility design to evaluate your current situation and provide solutions. Contact us or call (920) 969-9344 for a full market assessment to help determine your future facility design and programming needs.

Board of Directors Management and Communication

How to keep open communication during senior living construction projects

Open communication among board members is key for many organizations, yet senior living facility leaders often face challenges with achieving this goal. Most board of directors are made up of a diverse team of members that brings expertise in various aspects of the organization’s business, so keeping the lines of communication open has a direct impact on your board of directors management, as well as ensuring everyone understands who is in charge of which decisions.

This is particularly important during a major capital investment initiative, like a building project. For a board to directors to effectively oversee a building project, members need relevant planning information and progress updates to help identify project-level risks, the probability of a negative event occurring, the estimated impact if it does occur and potential mitigation strategies.

3 tips for communicating during a building project

So, how can executive teams effectively conduct board of directors management during an important building project? We’ve put together several tips to help teams keep on track:

1. Don’t overwhelm with data
Boards are there to strategically direct management for success and growth—overwhelming members with data puts them in the weeds and off the strategic path. Provide members with the key information points they need to make informed decisions.

Unfortunately, there sometimes is a disconnect within organizations regarding what information is useful for the board of directors. For example, some managers prefer providing board members with as much information as possible to avoid lack of transparency. Yet, board members often say they prefer information presented in ways that highlight the key issues to stimulate discussion and debate. This could lead to less transparency and neither party’s objectives really being achieved.

Knowing what information is useful to your board members is critical. Ask them what is relevant, and what is overwhelming. Keeping the discussion open and honest will help you clearly communicate the project goals and status and help avoid any unnecessary meeting preparations.

2. Keep board of directors engaged throughout the project
In a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey, directors report that they would like to spend more time on strategic planning—and capital projects (like new building projects) are frequently the realization of that strategy. Starting a building project with input from your board of directors up front will help keep the team engaged and excited about the future development of your facility. Regular status updates on the project will also keep the lines of communication open, allowing for well-informed decisions throughout the project.

3. Tap into outside subject matter experts
The use of outside subject matter experts can support executives when an unfamiliar business opportunity or situation arises. Not everyone is an expert when it comes to building codes and senior living construction trends, so tapping into these experts can help clarify and provide reassurance to the board of directors as your building project moves forward.

How CLS can help

At Community Living Solutions, our team helps bring a seamless transition from architectural and strategic planning processes through construction and completion. Our clients work with us because they view us as a trusted advisor. We earn trust through open, honest communication and standing by what we do.

When we begin the strategic planning process with a client, we start by gathering data and holding focus groups with board members. During this session, we ask, “What will make this project a success in your eyes?” By doing that, we capture all the ways board members define success—more often than not, each one defines success differently. We then track these success measures throughout the project to ensure we are meeting expectations.

We’re at your side through decision making and follow through, building consensus among your board of directors and key stakeholders. In other words, we’ll help guide you through board of directors management for your building project. If you’re looking to start your next senior living construction project, contact us for a free consultation or call the Community Living Solution team at 920-969-9345.

Build Community with 5 Customer Experience Best Practices

Customer Experience Design for Senior Living Communities

Ready or not … 2020 is right around the corner and it is brewing a perfect storm for senior living community customer experience. Not only is 2020 the year AARP® estimates an unprecedented 117 million Americans will need health assistance of some kind, it’s also the year Walker Info reports that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key differentiator between brands. Senior living communities can expect increased demand and competition while residents simultaneously mandate landslide changes to your customer experience offerings. Turn these changes into opportunities by incorporating customer experience best practices into your senior living design.

But first, what does customer experience look like for your senior living community? Customer experience is a culmination of all interactions a customer has with your community, regardless of channel, throughout the customer lifespan. From the first time a potential resident or their family visits your website or walks through your doors to daily interactions with staff members and every bill they pay, it all adds up to create their total customer experience. Here are five customer experience best practices customized to get senior living communities started.

1. Put people first

Senior living is a people business, and putting your people first can make a big impact. McKnight’s shared an example of a customer experience supervisor who visited residents to build community while also asking about facility concerns. This personal effort lowered formal complaints and helped residents feel their concerns were heard.

Other simple ideas include:

  • Treat residents as respected friends throughout the organization. Train younger team members on generational communication differences so all residents feel respected and cared for.
  • Determine what communication channels residents and family members prefer to use. Whether phone, email, chat, text or face-to-face, find ways to seamlessly incorporate preferred channels into your processes. For example, many family members work full-time and are not available during the day. Make sure there is an after-hours bill pay or questions line they can use.
  • Make sure residents can get an answer with the first person they ask. Train and empower your entire team to find the right answer to any question.

2. Learn from your community

Customer experience often draws on interviews, focus groups, satisfaction surveys and other listening tools to learn about opportunities from your customer’s perspective. If you’re not ready to conduct formal research, start documenting interactions with community members and using both positive and negative feedback to better understand your team’s strengths. Collect this data to gain understanding of the most common issues your residents are facing. Solve those issues before going any further, and ask your community for feedback on the new solution.

3. Define the customer journey

Whether your team collects formal or informal data, use what you’ve learned to map all customer touch points. Create a customer journey map by identifying each audience group, specific group goals and all interactions with your community along the way. For example, a family member may encounter your community in the following places:

  • Online when researching senior living communities for Mom or Dad
  • At an initial visit
  • On move-in day
  • During regular visits
  • When helping pay the bills

Each touch point might include several unique interactions. At each touch point and interaction ask yourself (or even better … ask the customer):

  • What’s his or her goal?
  • What barriers is he/she encountering?
  • How does the interaction make the customer feel?
  • What questions does he/she have?

Opportunities for enhanced customer experience emerge from each customer-community interaction.

4. Pair customer needs with customer service enhancements

Your community provides wellness, housing, community, nutrition and medical services, plus so much more. People have needs in each of these areas, and any place there’s a need, you have an opportunity to enhance the customer experience. Draw on technology for innovative ideas to meet needs in each area. Even if your community doesn’t use the latest gadget, care-driven technology may spark ideas for enhancing care in your community.

5. Implement, test, measure and repeat

Every customer experience enhancement may not be the end-all-be-all to solving a resident need. Seek feedback from your community and gather new ideas, and repeat the process. Community members will notice the effort and enjoy the process.

If some of your customer experience barriers involve limitations with your facility, contact us for a free consultation or call the Community Living Solution team at 920-969-9345.

Focus on Wellness in Senior Living Communities

Senior wellness programs improve quality of life

Wellness, as described by the National Wellness Institute, is an active process through which people make health and lifestyle choices toward a better life. For those who strive to improve their quality of life, they reduce their dependency on others and thrive from care tailored to their unique medical and non-medical needs.

That’s why senior wellness programs, especially in long-term senior living communities, are becoming more popular. Wellness programs offer residents opportunities to be more social, be active and promote a healthy lifestyle within the community for a better quality of life. Wellness programs have been known to help with overall well-being. Issues like depression, reduced mobility, lack of independence, safety concerns, and age-specific health issues can be addressed through senior wellness programs.

Many long-term care senior living facilities are recognizing these benefits and are beginning to offer a variety of wellness programs including nutrition, exercise classes and other mindfulness activities.

Wellness trends in senior living communities

Let’s take a look at the latest wellness trends that long-term care facilities are adding to their communities.

  • Aquatic pools: Swimming is an ideal workout for the elderly, mainly because of low impact exercise has a low risk of injury. Water exercises benefit all muscle groups in the body for a complete workout for seniors. Pools offer excellent walking lanes as well.
  • Therapy pools: Typically, therapy pools offer a warm-water experience and can help with lowering heart rate, blood pressure and stress. Aqua yoga and Pilates classes are hot trends in therapy pools.
  • Open exercise space: Staying active longer in life shows to improve strength, balance and ability to perform activities of daily living and maintain a healthy and long-lived life. Open multipurpose spaces, with hideaway storage for equipment to help reduce clutter can make the environment attractive, yet practical. Group low-impact aerobics, yoga and other classes designed for seniors are ideal to host in this space.
  • Nutrition programs: More long-term care facilities are focusing on nutrition programs as part of their overall commitment to wellness. Multi-purpose spaces are a great area for nutrition classes, where group discussions and education for proper senior nutrition in mind: lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and plenty of opportunities for hydration.
  • Meditation rooms: Setting aside places for guided, or self-lead, meditation can help residents focus on mindfulness. A study in Journal of Social Behavior and Personality reportedly found that seniors who practiced meditation had significantly fewer hospitalizations. Other benefits of mindfulness include decreases in physical pain, reduced stress, and increases in relaxation, energy, self-esteem and even cognitive functioning.

Get the local community involved

Wellness programs do not have to be limited to your residents. Opening the space for the public to participate in wellness programs can be a great way for residents in long-term care facilities to help connect with the local community socially. Welcoming the public in this way also introduces your facility to the community so they can get to know you before they need you.

How to start a wellness programs for seniors in long-term care

Preventative programs, like senior wellness programs, are a great way to promote a healthy lifestyle for a better quality of life. Over time, wellness programs will move from a trend to the norm for long-term care senior living facilities. Ask us about how to implement spaces for wellness programs into your current campus or a new facility. Call (920) 969-9344 for a free consultation.

How Intergenerational Programs Benefit All Ages

Bridging the gap through connectedness

As an increasing number of Americans age, the gap between young and old becomes larger and larger. And with it, comes gaps in knowledge of each other’s generation. Intergenerational programs offer great ways to help bridge these gaps, encouraging people of all ages to connect with one another, build meaningful relationships and work together on programs that help entire communities. These programs not only offer many benefits, but they are easy to adapt within your senior living facility.

What are intergenerational programs?

Intergenerational programs bring together seniors and young people to build unexpected friendships, learn new skills and encourage community service. Intergenerational programs can range from planned, all-day activities to casual, hour-long discussions. Examples of intergenerational programs include teens pairing with seniors to give tech lessons, providing companionship or assisting with everyday errands, or seniors mentoring youth, offering childcare services or teaching oral history. These programs can also bring both sides together to work on community service projects, such as cleaning up a local park or raising funds for a local charity.

Intergenerational programs benefits

Intergenerational programs offer numerous benefits to people of all ages. These programs encourage relationship building and engagement in the community, which can help prevent isolation and depression in seniors. According to Generations United, intergenerational programs even offer health benefits to seniors. Older adults who work regularly with young children burn more calories, have fewer falls and perform better on cognitive tests than those who don’t.

These activities also provide opportunities for seniors and their younger counterparts to interact with each other and gain a better understanding of each generation, discouraging ageism toward seniors and teaching teens how to speak to and build respect with their elders. These dynamic partnerships can also provide kids with a role model, and participating in these programs regularly can keep them out of trouble. Intergenerational programs that double as community service or volunteer projects can also help teens earn credits for school or explore potential career opportunities.

H2: How to adopt intergenerational programs in your facility

The options for incorporating intergenerational programs into your senior living community are endless. Building weekly or monthly programs into your senior living facility builds routine and stability for both age groups and encourages relationships to grow over time.

To bring intergenerational programs into your facility, contact the guidance counselor at your local schools or send newsletters to your residents’ families. Many family members and grandchildren would love the chance to share in these activities and provide a loving environment to seniors who may feel isolated. Even seniors who participate in activities and have family members close by will benefit from interaction with local youth.

Here are a few examples of intergenerational programs that you can try adding to your facility:

  • Reach out to a local high school class to see if they would be willing to teach basic computer or mobile device skills to seniors.
  • Set up monthly oral history lessons from seniors, with a theme or topic each meeting.
  • Invite local organizations to hold meetings in your space, giving seniors the opportunity to stay engaged in the community while feeling a sense of accomplishment.
  • Partner seniors with youth to offer mentoring or tutoring.
  • Schedule teens to stop by your senior living facility each week to spend time with seniors to help them with simple tasks, such as running to the post office or drugstore.
  • Consider adding a childcare space to your facility. This interaction with young children has been shown to improve seniors mental and physical health.

If you’re still at a loss of what programs to offer in your senior living community, just ask. Asking seniors what they need help with or what activities they would like to participate in will make them feel valued, and give you some fun ideas for intergenerational programs that you can adopt in your facility.

H2: How senior living facilities can encourage intergenerational programs

As the needs and expectations for senior living communities grow, so do the needs for the facilities they run in. In order for a senior living facility to encourage participation in intergenerational programs, the facility must allow for multiple uses and offer a comfortable environment for people of all ages.

Considering factors like facility efficiency, room for expansions or upgrades, evolving technology, and recreational opportunities are all important when deciding to add intergenerational programs in your senior living facility.

If you’re looking to adopt some of these programs in your facility, contact us at 920-969-9344 to see how we can make your facility friendly to all generations.