By Steve Moran

The week of April 18, 2022, I attended the Synergy SDA Conference in Orlando. I love hanging out with culinary leaders because they are the most creative, forward-thinking, passionate group of leaders that exist in senior living.

All the while, I loved everything about the conference. The one thing I found disconcerting was that even though there were hours of discussion devoted to creating great resident dining experiences, life enrichment was not even on the radar as a part of the dining experience ecosystem, save for a single time when I asked the question.

The Senior Living Experience

More and more, I am realizing the only thing senior living offers that is truly unique is the ability to create community. Everything else can be achieved at home. (I get it, 24/7 home care is massively expensive, so for many who would prefer home, senior living is a more cost-effective way of reaching a resident’s and family’s goals.)

Creating those experiences is primarily up to culinary and life enrichment, and yet they are separate departments — one tiny and one huge. One touches nearly every resident every day, and the other does a great job of touching some residents on a regular basis and struggles with touching the others.

Who Should Work for Who

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this, and on one hand, it seems logical that since dining is a larger department, with a larger budget and more people, they should also be running life enrichment. On the other hand, the life enrichment director has a more holistic view (theoretically) of the resident experience.

Either could work.

One Final Consideration

Just to muck it up a bit more, sales should also be involved in the resident experience, because it becomes the one thing they can really sell — stories about residents who are regularly having great experiences.

What do you think?

If you are already doing this, I would love to hear your story.