By Steve Moran

Since at least 1886 runners have been on a quest to break the 4-minute mile. Many thought it couldn’t be done, some experts predicted that the effort to hit a 4-minute mile would cause the runner’s heart to explode.

Then in 1954, Roger Bannister, at age 25, clocked 3:59.4. Since that time more than 1,400 runners have broken the barrier so that it is now the minimum standard for star middle-distance runners. The current record stands at 3:43.13 so nearly 17 seconds faster than the once impossible standard.

You might be thinking, sure, but shoes, tracks, techniques have gotten so much better since then. All true except that once Bannister broke the record, that same year, in fact just 46 days later, John Landy broke Banister’s recond and the following year 3 runners broke the record in a single race.

The Belief Problem

So it is worth asking, why did it take nearly 70 years of trying to get there? And then why did it take only 46 days for it to happen again? And then again and again?

The general consensus is that the reason it did not happen sooner is that everyone believed it was an impossible, unattainable goal. As I look at senior living I find myself “believing” we have a belief problem in a number of areas.

What if We Believed?

Here are 6 areas ripe for improvement, if only we believed:

  1. Life enrichment should be seen as a profit center and not a cost center. Life enrichment is the single most important reason for senior living to exist. It is our value proposition, more than providing care, if only we believed.
  2. Staff turnover can be sub-20% per year. And team members will love coming to work every day. Not only certain charismatic leaders can do this, if only we believed.
  3. Senior living could be as ubiquitously desired as smartphones, tablets, and dining outToday senior living is desired by only a very tiny fraction of the older population, it is desired by only a tiny fraction of senior living leaders, so no wonder. Perhaps the problem is that senior living needs to really be intergenerational living that serves older people, if only we believed.
  4. Senior living operations can be leaner and provide a better product. There was a time in the distant past, where most senior living communities did not have a separate sales department. Sales was done by the executive director and his or her team. There was a time when residents took much more responsibility for entertaining themselves, for creating purposeful lives.

    There will be a time when every senior living community has robots and that those robots will save FTEs and be fun. There is so much more, if only we believed.
  5. Senior living is the answer to healthcare cost containment in North America. Much worse in the US than Canada, but cost creep is a real and dangerous plague on our healthcare systems. With aging populations, it is getting worse every year. In senior living, we can do more for less in a superior environment, if only we believed.
  6. Every senior living community can be at greater than 95% occupancy (even in the time of COVID). There are some organizations and some communities that do believe and they are experiencing unbelievable occupancy levels. There are so many things we could do to make this happen, from better programming to more effective selling and storytelling, if only we believed.

What would you add to this list?