By Steve Moran

Never do I go to a conference where I don’t end up attending at least one session that leaves me feeling disappointed (like it was wasted time I will never get back). No one’s fault really … just the nature of conferences.

The newly launched fall Senior Living Innovation Forum in Nassau, Bahamas, defied this truth, so more content to come.

As we dreamed together of the possibilities and problems of senior living, I found myself making a list of missed opportunities, or perhaps more accurately untapped ones. This list is far from complete, and I would love your contributions to it.

Possibilities …

1. Getting creative with the workforce. Some of this is beginning to happen but not nearly enough. Here are some possibilities:

  • Residents working for pay. There are so many things residents could do in a community for a few hours a week. Front desk and accounting functions are just a few.
  • Hiring older workers, those people over age 60 who are looking for an encore career (something Bob Kramer is talking more about).
  • Helping team members get citizenship. It has been a huge win for Goodwin House in Virginia.
  • Incorporating nontraditional scheduling that meets the needs of your team members. There is nothing sacred about 7 to 3, 3 to 11, 11 to 7.
  • Asking team members what would make their jobs better.

2. Making creating experiences the No. 1 priority. One of the speakers was Bill Bullock, who is president of Margaritaville Latitudes. There are many lessons from what they do, but one that is HUGE. They are 100% focused on creating a great living experience.

This is perhaps the single biggest industry failure. In most organizations, the life enrichment leader is the lowest-paid person and lowliest member of the leadership team. They have the smallest budgets and have to fight the hardest to get even that.

Even though … the community, communal living experience is the one thing, the only thing, that an older person can’t get at home.

3. Integrating into the local community. Senior living has dining, meeting spaces, and people who were smart enough and motivated enough to make enough money to afford senior living communities. Imagine having space where service clubs and affinity clubs come to do their thing. Imagine having a full-service restaurant, and those things could be their own profit centers.

Do this, and when consumers need senior living, they will only think of your community.

4. Creating a coworking space. I have written about this before, and I continue to believe that if there were coworking spaces for budding entrepreneurs, it could be an amazing incubator for new businesses, and they would have the ability to tap into the wisdom and expertise of residents. It might even be that we would start to see these bright leaders create better products and services for senior living.

5. Embracing emerging technologies like robots, voice, and AI. Residents are often more willing to embrace these technologies than the communities.

What would you add to this list?