By Steve Moran

The pandemic has been tough on every single senior living organization. Not one has been spared. Some found ways to first survive and then thrive. On the other side of the equation, some continue to struggle and some have simply closed their doors. When I look at senior living organizations that did well, are doing well, there are 9 things they did differently:

  1. They saw the pandemic as an opportunity – In the early days for everyone, it was a simple block and tackle risk management. But they then started to ask, how can we leverage the pandemic to get better? Opportunity areas included: Staff retention and appreciation, technology, sales, dining, and programming.
  2. They took great care of their people – I am not just talking about hero pay. We know you can’t pay people enough to love a terrible work culture. They celebrated and asked their team members, “What can we do to support you at work and at home?”
  3. They didn’t panic – They just dug in and said, “What do we have to do to keep residents and team members safe? What can we do to create great programming?” They evolved as the pandemic evolved.
  4. They put the needs of the residents first – They did much more than just keep residents safe. They said, “given our restrictions, what can we do to give residents great living experiences? How can we facilitate family and resident interactions?”
  5. They doubled down on the things they did best – Every senior community does some things better than others. They focused on the things that were already working well. And in some cases, stopped doing things that were not working well or not working at all.
  6. They went back to the basics – Food had to be simpler but done well, programming had to be modified but relationships strengthened. Care was critical and needed to be better.
  7. They worked cooperatively with their capital providers – They got done what needed to be done, making sure bills could be paid and residents served.
  8. They worked cooperatively with each other – There has likely never been a time when operators who are in some sense competitors supported each other. Things like sharing staff, finding PPE, talking through and figuring out new ways of doing things.
  9. They were transparent about everything – They were transparent with residents, family members, capital providers, and even the public. They communicated and over-communicated. When there were challenges, they talked about them and talked about what they were doing to handle the challenges.

    They were not afraid to say, “We just don’t know.” Finally, they spent a lot of time listening to suggestions, ideas, and even complaints. 

Are there other things you would add to this list?