I don’t get mad very easily but I was treated with so much indifference it made me mad.

I have suggested to readers… if you are up to the challenge . . . . that if I am in your neck of the woods I would be glad to tour your building or a building operated by your company.  A fair number of you have emailed invitations.  This past week, for the first time, I was able to pull the trigger on one of those invitations. 

Honestly it was not a good experience and it makes it harder because I now have to write about buildings that the invitee thought would be good enough to shine.   And, more importantly, I was invited to review this property by someone I have become friendly with.

Building 1

I visited two buildings that are part of a Pacific Northwest regional senior living chain.  The first building I visited was a large independent living / assisted living community that is geared to a lower or middle market.  The parking lot in particular is showing some age with the various parking designation signs in serious need of fresh paint or replacement. The interior (what I saw of it) seemed nice enough, though the front desk was around the corner from the front door, not immediately identifiable, which caused me momentary confusion.

I visited both buildings between 3 and 4 in the afternoon. The receptionist was friendly, cheery, nice . . . something like that, as she proceeded to list the people, by position who could give me a tour or tell me about the building but were out of the building. She followed that up by telling me that “if I were a prospect” she thought the nurse or care supervisor (I am not quite sure which) would come and show me around.

Okay . . . She then did actually take the next step of call that person and proceeded to tell her I was there and clearly convey that even though she had called that I was not really important enough to bother with.

Building 2

Of all the visits I have done, this one almost mad me mad enough to say something to the local staff member who blew me off because . . . . well you will see. The apparent/obvious street front entrance was to the memory care portion of a multi-level care community. 

I walked in and there was a nurse manning the front desk (I believe this was while the front desk person was taking care of something).  He was very friendly and I thought “this is going to be much better”. 

He went and got a woman who came out to talk with me. I explained who I was and why I had dropped by. She said she had one thing she needed to do and would then come back and show me around.  I was still feeling pretty good about this.

It was false hope. A few minutes later she came back, handed me the card of the marketing director for the building and told me that she was not going to give me a tour and that I would have to talk to the marketing director tomorrow. 

I explained I was from out of town.  It made no difference to her and  the promise of a tour was rescinded, just like that.

The reason I was mad was that I went to the trouble of being interested in her community and she said she would be glad to show me and tell me.  Then after waiting (a reasonable request) she came back and said I wasn’t worth it.

Some Observations

This is where writing this story gets hard. I am puzzled that I was asked to come visit, given how terrible the response was. 

I guess . . . the corporate team really didn’t have a good feel for what it is like . . . or they know they have a problem and needed someone to help bring the point home (a great case for hiring a mystery shopping company like ServiceTrac) to their staff. I hope this helps them make it better.

In every single building where I was not treated helpfully I left at least one business card.  It is particularly puzzling, disturbing and curious that, of the now half a dozen or so communities where this is true, not a single person has later called me to see what I was about or what I wanted.

I find this all so disturbing and frustrating.  We think that many seniors would be better off in a senior living community than in the isolation of living alone or with just one other person at home and we wonder why we can’t seem to move off the 10% market penetration mark. Perhaps this is the tip of the iceberg as to why.

Steve Moran

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