Monthly Archives: April 2017

Promote Healthy Living with Unique Senior Living Activities

National Nursing Home Week® recognizes diversity and individual talents

Every community offers a wide array of senior living activities for their residents. And, for good reason. They know the extreme importance physical and mental activity, as well as socialization, have on residents’ health. As people age, support from family and friends decreases, which oftentimes increases stress, depression and anxiety.

But, by forming a community—or a family, of sorts—within long-term care facilities, residents show improved quality of life and are more able to combat the effects of social isolation. As many of us recognize National Nursing Home Week, starting on Mother’s Day in May, we rally around 2017’s theme “The Spirit of America®,” which celebrates the bond among staff, volunteers and residents as well as the uniqueness each resident brings to the senior living community.

Importance of activities in long-term care

Medical caregivers often refer to the six dimensions of health—emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual and vocational—that interconnect and provide a picture of a person’s overall health.

As we mentioned, activities provided in long-term care communities have a positive effect on the emotional dimension. These activities also improve the remaining five dimensions:

Intellectual: Games, reading and journaling stimulate the brain and help offset the symptoms of dementia and other memory issues.

Physical: Movement releases endorphins, the hormones that improve mood and provide natural pain relief.

Social: Forming new friendships and other social connections give life meaning.

Spiritual: Activities that promote and strengthen individual beliefs provide hope and enhance empathy.

Vocational: Those who practiced life-long hobbies or professions may find ways to continue in these vocations in some way, giving them a sense of purpose.

Unique activities for the elderly

In the spirit of this year’s National Nursing Home Week, you may want to consider new activities that promote the individual and allow him or her to share heritage, culture and experiences. Here are just a few ways to do that:

  • Host a meal that includes dishes from cultures or areas of the world your residents identify with. You may also want to incorporate music and dance from those cultures to add to the celebration.
  • Help residents preserve their life stories by helping them write a journal of memories or create scrapbooks. In this way, residents are essentially developing their legacies, which can give them meaning and be a source of gratification.
  • Find ways residents can continue to engage in hobbies, whether they care for a garden plant or two, do simple woodworking or sewing, take part in a cooking demonstration, or move beyond arts and crafts to watercolor painting.
  • Consider ways younger generations can get involved beyond typical music or theater performances. Can they teach seniors to use modern technology? Can youth take part in or maybe even teach a new hobby? Intergenerational activities not only create lasting bonds but boost empathy in both generations.
  • To honor your veterans, consider dedicating a wall in your community to the memory of their service. Post their veteran photos and talk about the history of their service. Interviewing veterans about their service would be a great intergenerational activity for school and scouting groups.

Expand activities beyond your facility

It’s important to foster relationships with seniors outside your community, as well. Consider operating an adult day care within your long-term care facility and incorporate senior living activities into their day. Or, open your doors to the community in the evening or on a weekend to showcase the fruits of these activities, such as the scrapbooks of life stories or the veterans’ wall.

Every touchpoint you make in the community keeps you top of mind when seniors and their loved ones are considering options for long-term care.

Contact us for help

As you celebrate National Nursing Home Week, we hope we’ve given you new ideas for senior living activities to celebrate the individual within each resident.

And, if you are considering updating or remodeling your existing facility or building a new senior living community, contact us or call (920) 969-9344. See how we create designs that not only provide a welcoming atmosphere for residents but also for community members who may want to engage with you in these activities until the day comes that they join you as a member of your senior living community.

Senior Living Design to Grow Market Appeal


How to implement senior living industry trends into design

At Community Living Solutions, we’ve been incorporating the latest senior living design trends into our clients’ projects to help boost their facilities’ appeal to prospective residents and their families. In addition to using national trend research, we conduct a thorough market analysis as part of our master planning initiatives to ensure we are providing the right solutions for the right facility.

This senior housing market analysis takes into account socio-demographics, short- and long-range population projections, a competitor analysis and much more. You can read about our market analyses in more detail in our blog, “Taking Your Senior Living Facility from Concept to Completion.”

What we’ve learned through market analyses

After conducting numerous market assessments, we’ve found many similarities that allow us to apply design concepts with confidence for senior living communities, including the following solutions:

  • Prospective residents look to their own existing lifestyles in forming opinions about senior living design and function. In short, rural and metro markets differ in dynamics and preferences.
  • Residents in smaller markets desire more flexibility.
  • Seniors and their families prefer campuses that offer the full continuum of living options in one place.
  • The market places significant importance on memory care services.
  • Senior living facilities that offer community services and amenities are highly successful.
  • Nursing home design trends favor privacy and a homelike appeal.
  • In the next 10 to 15 years, baby boomers will seek more “luxury” living than their parents. Read more in “Baby Boomers Driving Senior Living Trends.”
  • Future residents and facility leaders share concern about the ability to pay for long-term care.
  • Prospective residents and their families turn to marketing materials from such organizations as AARP® and internet directories to help them choose a senior living facility.
  • Internet search is widely used in finding and choosing facilities. Senior living communities need a professional website that is search engine optimized and contains valuable information to help future residents make choices.

How to match senior living design with consumer preferences

Consumer preferences also have marketplace trends and we incorporate them into our senior living design, including:

  • A sense of community and small, comfortable gathering spaces, including theaters, pubs, cafes and coffee shops
  • Outdoor gathering spaces
  • Incorporating the outdoors in the design to utilized natural lighting
  • A home-like atmosphere in both private and community living spaces
  • Flexibility to offer a continuum of care as needs change

Iowa Certificate of Need Process

A market needs analysis may identify demand for additional nursing home beds at your facility. If you choose to capitalize on this opportunity, senior living communities in Iowa must obtain a Certificate of Need. Community Living Solutions has experience with the Iowa Certificate of Need process, and we are happy to help our clients navigate it toward a successful award.

 Get more on how senior living design boosts market appeal

If you’d like to learn more on how conducting a market analysis leads to senior living design that appeals to your market, contact Vice President of Design and CLS Partner Duane Helwig at (920) 969-9344. You can also learn more and see before and after designs by attending a presentation Duane is co-presenting with Patricia McCullough of Health Planning and Management Resources at the LeadingAge Iowa 2017 Spring Conference.

How to Improve Caregiver Recruitment

Tips to find and retain quality healthcare staff

If there is one issue top of mind for senior living facility leaders, it’s finding and hiring qualified staff. The tight healthcare labor market, felt especially hard in rural areas, leaves senior living facilities struggling to find caregivers for their residents.

Unfortunately, caregiver recruitment is not an issue that will be solved anytime soon. According to the federal Administration for Community Living, the number of U.S. senior citizens is expected to more than double by 2060. The phenomenon even has a name—the “silver tsunami.” With that burgeoning population, we’ll need more caregivers than ever.

Wisconsin comes to aid in healthcare staffing

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker heard the plea from senior living leaders and other healthcare organizations and launched in March 2017 the Wisconsin Fast Forward training grant for healthcare. This healthcare workforce program provides $3 million in grant funding to train workers in health science, healthcare and other similar positions. The grant announcement was made at River Pines, a Grace Lutheran senior community in Altoona, Wis., which opened in 2016 with a person-centered household design completed by Community Living Solutions. River Pines has been lauded for its living and work environment, as well as its unique approach to resident care.

While the grants will be an enormous help to those who apply for and receive them, shortages of caregiver candidates will remain.

How to recruit CNAs and other caregivers in today’s market

Many of the traditional recruitment efforts—online job postings, job fairs, employee referrals, open houses—all have a place in your healthcare recruitment strategy for CNAs, nurses and other caregivers. But, in today’s job market, it’s just as important for you to be connected as it is for job candidates.

Making connections on social networks, especially LinkedIn®; developing relationships with local schools; and asking employees to talk about job opportunities wherever and whenever possible will all extend your reach beyond traditional recruitment practices.

Some senior living facilities are finding success in rather unique ways; hiring candidates to fill in for roles as needed within the facility, rather than taking a permanent position. After about the first year, the employee may then settle into a desired role, where they are more likely to remain rather than finding employment elsewhere. Likewise, other facilities have tapped skilled talent who are not currently in the labor market, perhaps stay-at-home moms, retirees or students, who can work part time as needed.

How to recruit millennials

Creative tactics also are needed when attracting millennials, the generation that makes up the largest portion of today’s workforce.

Three things are important to millennials as they search for their next employer:

  1. Use of technology
  2. A sense of purpose
  3. A desire to advance in their career

Technology: As part of your recruitment efforts, show millennials how you are using technology at your facility. Whether the technology is used to make your facility more efficient or whether you offer activities that teach residents about the latest tech gadgets, millennials will appreciate—and expect—the use of technology in your community. At River Pines, for example, the technology that supports caregivers gives them more time to do what they love—interact with residents.

Sense of purpose: It may go without saying that a senior living community has a huge sense of purpose. Millennials want to see you live that purpose, as well as your company values, day in and day out. Let your purpose and values shine during each step of the recruitment process.

Career advancement: Millennials want to be future leaders. As part of recruitment, have them talk to staff members who advanced in their careers while at your facility. Millennials want to know they will be supported in professional development and in creating a career path.

River Pines is a great example of how design and facility amenities for residents also serve as amenities sought after by caregiver candidates. River Pines is spacious, bright, airy, and most of all, home-like. Residents and staff have access to technology, the outdoors and relaxing multi-purpose areas. They call it concierge care.


Shortages in caregiver staffing are expected to remain with us for many years to come. By setting yourself apart from your competitors in recruitment efforts, you’ll have greater success in recruiting and retaining qualified candidates.

If you are interested in learning more about senior living architecture and construction or issues facing senior living facilities, read our blogs.