Age at Home vs. Senior Housing – Part 3

This week I will talk about presenting the benefits of senior housing to families.

Family members often (wrongly) feel massive guilt about encouraging parents or grandparents to to leave the family home and move into a senior housing community.  It becomes hugely important to demonstrate to the family members that their loved one will be loved and cared for.  There are a number of things you can do to accomplish this:

1.  Help the family make a proper assessment of the value of senior housing, including the negatives

This may seem counter intuitive, but it will give your credibility and make your job much easier.  It is really important for you to find out about the resident, the family and the reasons behind the move.  You can only do this by asking lots of questions.  Here are just a few:

–  Why are you thinking of making the move?
–  What problems is she having at home?
–  In your mind, what would the perfect senior housing community be like?
–  What kind of medical issues is he facing?
–  How do you feel about this move?
–  What is the biggest reason to not make this move?
–  How does mom spend her days now?
–  What are her favorite foods?
–  Have you looked at other communities and, if yes, what did you like and not like?

Here is what you want to figure out:  Is the timing is really right for the move? Is your community is the right one? Is the level of care you are offering compatible with the needs of the resident?

It is awful to lose a prospective resident to another senior housing community and it may even seem terrible to have a prospective resident make the decision to stay at home.  But it is much worse is to convince a resident and their family to make the move when it is not a fit.  If that happens, more often than not, the resident will be miserable and it can poison the whole community culture.  It can result in people saying bad things about your community and making the next sale even harder.

On the other hand . . . if you help the family decide it is not the right place or not the right time, then you will have made a friend and, with regular, friendly, follow-up, when the time comes your community will be the one of choice.

2.  Tell True Stories

DO NOT MAKE UP A HYPOTHETICAL RESIDENT!  (Though it is OK to change a name to protect a resident’s privacy.)  If you know your residents you will be able to tell a real life story or stories about residents and their families who had a great deal of reluctance to make the move and found that they thrived.  How they found that they got healthier because their medications were managed better; because they were better nourished, because they had someone checking on their health condition every day.   Tell stories about new friendships being formed; about the joy of participating in activities.

3.  Tell The Truth

While I do believe that many seniors who avoid senior housing because of long held misconceptions about senior housing, I also appreciate that it is not for everyone.  In particular, you want to set proper expectations.  A resident who has spent their whole life keeping to themselves will not suddenly become a social butterfly in a senior housing community.   Someone who has been negative their whole life will not suddenly gain a positive outlook.  Even if the community is able to meet every conceivable need and want of that resident, they will still find something to complain about.

Tell the truth about how carefully you can monitor the safety and security of the resident.  You will not typically have someone with them 24/7.  Making sure the family understands what you are able to do and what what you are not able to do will substantially increase your chances of having a happy lawsuit-free relationship.

I would love to hear from you about what questions you use when talking to family
members and how you do the very best job of telling your community’s story.

Next week I will talk about how to present the benefits to prospective residents.

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