Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Great Amenities, Wonderful Activities, But...

"Senior housing is 10% sticks and bricks and 90% programming and people," says Paul Mullin, Senior Vice President of Development at Silverado senior living communities. Silverado hosts events, offers a wide array of programming and creates fun spaces to help maintain residents' vibrancy. They've seen strong interest in additions like libraries, brain game centers and purposeful programming. Indeed, they identify the importance of enriching the quality of life for clients, residents, patients, families and associates as their top priority. Mullin says that with the growing wellness culture overflowing into senior housing, residents now expect to have more options to engage their physical, emotional, spiritual and social well-being along with more traditional assisted living and health care options.
Seniors visiting a library

A Place for Mom cautions, however, that while lavish features and a robust calendar of activities may sound attractive, many people later realize that fancy furniture, beautiful landscaping and a busy schedule are not necessarily sound indicators of quality senior care. A beautiful, modern and upscale facility is just as prone to oversights and errors as a community that looks a little dated.

A prime example of that is the example of a facility we recently visited that has a beautiful campus, cozy apartments and town homes, several dining options, and a full schedule of interesting activities. Unfortunately, this otherwise excellent community suffers from an unwieldy communications system. Residents are inundated by dozens of event flyers each week. Registering for an event that looks interesting requires a phone call or a walk to the office. There was no system to remind residents of upcoming events they had signed up for, resulting in many no shows and missed events. Many of the residents we spoke to had given up in frustration and now just threw out the stacks of papers as they came in without even looking at them. Even when they did see an event they thought was interesting, all too often the piece of paper got misplaced, or they didn't make it into the office to register in time. For obvious reasons, many of the residents we spoke with were extremely dissatisfied with the system. They felt that it hampered their ability to engage in the activities offered by the facility and made it harder to get to now other residents as a result.

It's not uncommon for senior living communities to invest millions of dollars in keeping their facilities modern and up-to-date, or to create an exciting array of activities for their residents, but missing the boat on small but vital details like the facility above compromises the quality of care and the level of engagement that residents actually experience.

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