What is your take-away from senior living sessions, new buzzwords, or real and valuable concepts that will improve the lives of your seniors and staff?

One of the realities of the senior housing industry is that we are very “fad” driven in our use of buzz-words. We are routinely adopting and discarding the newest trend in our industry.  I remember thinking this when the term “Paradigm Shift” was in vogue.  By the time it was being freely bandied about by my colleagues, I felt silly using it myself.  Like wearing parachute pants in the 90’s, it was passé.  People would snicker.  In subsequent years, the next term du jour entered our daily business vernacular…and then left.  The cycle continued with Company Culture, Employee Engagement, Emotional Intelligence, Customer Service Excellence, Continuous Quality Improvement, Best Practices, Empowerment, Blah, Blah and Blah.  Cynical me.  

Cynical, but not a skeptic Now, while I freely admit to cynicism, don’t label me a skeptic.  Big difference.  I am a full blooded, 100%, Grade-A believer and proponent of the concepts to which each of these terms allude.  However, I’ve worked for too many senior housing companies for too many years, where thesewords had the staying power of a bag of pop rocks.  An initial burst of flavor, only to fizzle and disappear on the tongue.  “Wait, I was gonna eat that!   It sure seemed delicious.  I’m still hungry.”  *Sigh* Whatever the term-O-the day, you’ll hear it at trade shows, in discussions with industry leaders and managers.  It will be the new and improved way to do business, and you’ll want to have it.  Unfortunately, all too often the language is adopted by companies for the moment, but the concept isn’t given the time or resource to take root, much less to produce fruit.  Our staff is hungry for these concepts that nurture and satisfy.  Regardless of how we package them, unless the concepts and approaches are embraced by leadership, and given the time, resource and attention to fully develop, they will remain as satisfying as a bag of pop rocks served as dinner.    

After a few years of paying attention to this cycle, I found it fun to try and predict the next term du-jour.  I was in the front seat on “Employee Engagement” and “Culture.”   The more I heard and read the terms being used by other industry professionals, the more I would here myself yelling (in my head), “All aboard!”   See, these fashionable terms are not what’s important here, nor the acknowledgment or awareness of the concepts they represent; your company’s willingness to adopt and implement them is. What’s today’s Phrase that Pays?  Say it aloud with me…It’s “Emotional Intelligence.”   A familiar concept with new packaging.  I began training on how to react to emotions in the work place a few years ago.  The ability to recognize and control the reactions driven of grief, anger, joy, in both ourselves and in others is a valuable skill.  When it’s taught and practiced by an entire team of community employees, it’s simply, powerful. 

So now you’re armed with a bit more awareness.  What do you do?  How can you be sure you’re your company isn’t serving pop rocks for dinner?  That answer lies with you.  

What will tomorrow’s “hot phrase” be?  I’m not certain.  But I am sure that what are industry needs very soon is good old-fashioned “Disruptive Innovation.”  Yeah, that’s the ticket!   What are today’s hot phrase? What are you doing that is disruptive?