Recently I was visiting with a friend regarding her experience with her parents in assisted living. After 7 years for her mom, (Dad had passed about one year in), she continued to be extremely happy with their choice. This family could afford whatever they found and liked.

High Value Attributes

She commented that they had not chosen the fanciest facility they visited, but the one where her parents felt most comfortable. The characteristics that attracted them initially, and remained high value factors, were friendliness, cleanliness and longevity of staff. It wasn’t about fancy furniture, meals or the physical plant. After they moved in they found that the food was great and the residents had access to a wide variety of quality activities virtually from morning to evening.

What Would Mom Want?

This got me thinking about what my mom would have wanted if she had needed assisted living. (We lost her to cancer before that time came). My mom was a wonderful lady who could hold her own in any social situation . . . but she was also a girl who came to California from dust bowl Oklahoma in the back of a pickup truck and some of that stuck her whole life. My parents were married when she was barely 18 and Dad was a 20-year-old Navy seaman. A few years later, when Dad was tagged for officer training, she offered to leave him so as not to interfere with his new social status. She stuck it out and made the other young officers’ wives look pale in comparison.

Motel 6 Lady

But she never completely got over her feeling that she didn’t deserve or fit into “fancy” occasions or settings. She was a Motel 6 lady in a Hilton world.

I have visited hundreds of Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Facilities around the country. When I walk into a facility my benchmark is, always:

“Would Mom have been happy here?”

Of course there are the negative disqualifiers: Is the community clean? friendly? provide the care we need? But next . . . if I feel that she would have been intimidated by the surroundings — too fancy, too much hype, furniture she would hesitate to sit on — I can rule them out for my “Mom metric”. (I actually have an all-time favorite facility, but that is for another article. They know who they are.)

So, what is the lesson here?

As you market your facility and train your staff, remember that your prospect may not be the potential resident. The resident may not be there and may move in to your facility based on their family member’s recommendation. That is all great from a sales perspective, but how well will the resident fit in? Have your staff inquired about their background and real interests? Will your staff have the proper tools to bring them into the social circle or will they sit in their room and deteriorate?

Bottom line: will they stay long term?

What would your Mom want?

Pat Moran