By Susan Saldibar

Let me ask you a question. When you’re 75 or so, what would you rather be talking about when a grandchild visits you, or around the dinner table at a family gathering – a great lecture you attended on the “5 most dangerous movie scenes ever filmed”? Or, (as eyes roll back) how nicely the guy with the ukulele played “Tiny Bubbles” during a performance at your community?

This isn’t a joke and I promise I’m not here to trash Don Ho. But there is a point that needs to be made. What have you done lately to give your residents that better conversation to have with their grandchildren? What have you done to educate and inspire the individuals living inside your communities?

Are You Lifting Up Their Intellect? Or Dumbing It Down?

The problem is that somebody, at some point, decided it was easier to just re-tread the stupid stuff rather than take a giant leap forward to provide access to something really special; something that gets the heart pumping and the brain synapses connecting. 

Now somebody has taken that giant leap. It even has a new description. It’s called “edutainment”. I talked recently with Steven Schragis, Founder of One Day University (a Foresight partner), and Kevin Brennan, Managing Director.

In my humble opinion, they’ve broken more ground in a year with their live streaming lectures, delivered by world-renowned professors, than this industry has in the last several decades.

And it’s so right-on and simple, it’s brilliant. 

Steven likes to ask people, “Think back to your favorite college professor and remember how great their classes were. Now imagine you could go back and have that kind of experience again.”

One Day University gives everyone the opportunity to escape for an hour and take your “favorite” class; not just any class, but one you can pick that is conducted by world-class professors who really know (and love) what they’re talking about.

I’m So Down for This

The way One Day University works is simple. 

  • An average subscription costs a community $100 a month. 
  • Your community gets unlimited access to, well, everything. 
  • They feature about 5 live streaming events per week (which are archived afterward).
  • They offer a robust library of over 500 events. And there are a ton of topics. To name a few of my favorites:
    • Presidential leadership: Can We Ever Elect Another Washington, Lincoln, or FDR?
    • A Brief History of Classic Television: From Lucy Ricardo to Tony Soprano
    • Who Else is Out There? Intelligent Life in the Universe 
    • The Psychology of Boredom
    • The Musical Genius of Frank Sinatra
    • And my personal favorite . . . How Did They Ever Shoot That Scene? The Most Challenging and Dangerous Movie Sequences Ever Filmed

There’s also one called, “What’s Wrong with Congress?”. Can you imagine the Q&A on that one?

The Possibilities

What if you built an entire set of programs around One Day University? 

Just as an example, you could take these streaming events and invite prospects. Think of how refreshing it would be to listen to Yale Professor Marc Lapadula talk about “The Genius of Alfred Hitchcock” instead of your sales guys waxing on about your putting green and new improved hair salon? 

How about showing “What’s So Great About Champagne” and building a brunch around it? Or “Beyond Chocolate and Vanilla: The Delicious History of Ice Cream” and doing a gourmet ice cream tasting event?

My brain is going a hundred miles an hour here, but you get the idea. It’s fresh. It’s new. It’s stimulating. It’s adult fun. Not words we typically associate with senior living. And that’s the point.

So imagine the impact something like this could have on lead generation.

Can you imagine the pull this would have on a new retiree looking at CCRCs and noting the importance placed on stimulating events and activities built around world-class lectures?

And how attractive would this kind of programming be for an adult child looking for a new approach to assisted living on behalf of a parent who has always loved to learn? Why should they stop now?

The Tools for a Better Resident Experience

Maybe it would also help you get and keep better activity directors.

It’s easy to pile on life engagement and activity directors for their supposed lack of creativity. But maybe you’re not giving them the tools they need to deliver a quality experience for residents. And maybe it’s that drip, drip, drip of cringe-worthy videos and having to conduct boring activities that turn them off and send them packing.

Think if they could look forward to great lectures just like the residents, given by great professors on really cool topics? Make it more worth their while to come to work every day. Give them more topics of conversation with residents. Give them something to talk about outside work. Maybe even help prop up your Glassdoor ratings?

At $100 bucks a month, the ROI on this is absolutely insane.

You probably spent more on that fire dancer event you held last month. This is so affordable that you’d be crazy not to at least try this out. (As of today, over 400 senior living communities are One Day University Community members. So, without question, it can be done.) 

Don Ho impersonators strumming away at “Tiny Bubbles” had their moment, fifty-odd years ago, along with all the other outdated and silly stuff that is pushed at seniors by communities lacking imagination (or energy).

Today’s seniors (and I’m one) are turning their attention and minds towards things that keep them growing and learning and having pride in conversations again. One Day University deserves kudos for being one of those things.

Am I putting too much stock in One Day University?

The best way to answer that is to try it out for yourself. But put a program around it – social media, blogs, campaigns. Get people excited. Share the experience outside your doors. See what happens. And tell us about it!