It used to be what we sold in senior living was a lifestyle/living experience that allowed older people to have amazing last chapters of their lives. By providing them the ability to create, change the world, make new friends, and interact with old friends. Maybe though we have thrown in the towel on that ideal . . . and it makes me want to cry.
A New Focus
It has been a while since I spent much time knocking around senior living organization websites. Clearly something I need to be doing more often. What I found, frankly shocked me.
- At the top of many websites, and in many cases dominating the website, was COVID-19. While I think it is critical to address the issue, I am completely convinced that when senior living prospects land on a senior living website they are not primarily looking for information on COVID-19. Or even how that community is addressing COVID-19. They are there to solve a problem for themselves or someone they love.
- Pretty much all that is talked about on many of the sites are the levels and kinds of care the organization provides as opposed to a lifestyle. On one hand, I get it. Care is the low-hanging fruit. But I am quite sure it will never make consumers go “maybe I should consider senior living instead of staying home”, which is a choice and not a need.
We have this great opportunity to advance senior living in the eyes of the public. The pandemic has made social interaction so much more problematic for older people who are more at risk. It has made everyday tasks like shopping, going out to eat, going to the pharmacy, the doctor, or other medical appointments so much more problematic.
There is this thinking, this notion, that maybe we have even bought into the idea that, because of COVID-19, home is safer than senior living. It is clear that home care agencies are tapping into this narrative.
THERE IS ZERO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THIS PREMISE.
There is no question that we reacted swiftly, putting maximum effort into isolating residents. And it may turn out that we were overly aggressive to the point of doing some harm. But in the short-term what else could be done? Today though, most communities are figuring out ways to reconnect families and to reconnect residents with residents.
We are the best option for a vibrant wonderful life for many, many older people who are missing out on what we have to offer. Some of them are missing out because we are not getting the story right.
The Story Problem
In researching this article that is so critical to the senior living industry, I did not find a single resident success story at the top of the web page. These stories are there, in every one of your organizations. Lives that are radically transformed by moving into your community. Those stories should be front and center on your websites. I beg you to find those stories and tell them.