Three site visits and some great lessons and observations.

I spent last week in the Denver area and planned on doing an unscheduled visit to a random senior living community, but ran out of time.  In spite of that, I spent considerable time in three different communities and learned some good stuff in all three.

Anonymous CCRC, Denver Area

This is an established, very successful but, publicity shy, CCRC that had a failing call system tied to a failing phone system.  Over the last few months Vigil Health Solutions has been working with the community to implement a complete replacement of the failing call system.  The debrief on what was overall a successful installation process, uncovered some gems:

  • Resident and staff communication is key in any major physical plant project.  Because there was a failing system it required some “spur of the moment” changes in the installation schedule in order to resolve the most pressing failure areas.  These changes were not communicated to all the stakeholders as well as they could have been which caused unnecessary frustration for everyone.
  • Residents are willing to forgo “homelike” in favor of personal safety, at least some situations.  We have a variety of call system devices and call system color combinations we can use to create the most homelike environment.  For this particular installation, in the independent living bathrooms, we used pull devices that had a white-on-white color scheme which, for many, is seen as less intrusive.  It turns out that these residents would prefer red on white in order to make sure the call device was easy to find.

Highline Place, Littleton Colorado

Highline Place is a new memory care community that is much more than just a building with locked doors. It is so special that it was completely full in less than 90 days. Our goal there was to meet with the team to discuss the system and their experiences, do some additional staff training and fine-tune some system settings. I was with Troy Griffiths, the Vigil CEO, who is an expert on the nuts and bolts of the system. While he was working one-on-one with staff,  I set up my computer in one of the common areas and I spent a couple of hours just observing “day in the life” activity. After a while I realized that, while I have been thousands of senior communities, it had been a long long time since I had actually just sat and watched life unfold in a senior community, and I am not sure I have ever done this in a memory care community. It was a bittersweet, uplifting and heartwarming experience.

  • There was the woman with insanely beautiful empty blue eyes who kept staring at me as she was waiting for lunch.  I went over and attempted to talk to her  and when I took her hands in mine it was a powerful moment of connection.
  • I stopped to chat with a table full of ladies where one flirted shamelessly with me and her more conservative table mate scolded her for it.
  • I watched care givers treat each and every resident will love, respect and, most importantly, playful affection.

Clermont Park

Clermont Park is an amazing CCRC that has skilled nursing suites that I believe were nicer than the hotel room I stayed in.   They are an Eden Registry community and that is reflected throughout the community.  I will do a separate story on how they have seamlessly blended Section 8 seniors  with high end CCRC  residents, but the one thing that Jill Vitale-Aussem, the Executive Director, said that really spoke to me was that each day they are asking their residents:

“Who are you becoming?”

In many communities the focus is more about who you were or who you are which can turn into a “let us entertain you to death” mentality.  This question becomes a powerful statement about the possibilities that exist in each of our residents, no matter how old or how frail. The easiest way to see earlier posts in this series is to access them on the Senior Housing Forum Pinterest Page Steve Moran

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