By Steve Moran

It has been mildly puzzling and mildly frustrating to watch corporate life enrichment team members get pink slips in an effort to cut costs. While I get the urgent need to cut costs, I continue to believe that the magic of senior living is to provide amazing experiences for residents while at the same time providing just the right amount of care they need.

John Knox Village Florida is one community that has figured it out. Here is the story.

A few months ago I interviewed Jamisyn Becker, the Life Enrichment Manager at John Knox Village about how they are servicing residents in the midst of the pandemic, because, unlike many communities, they were creating opportunities for residents to connect. In taking a look at Jamisyn’s LinkedIn profile and the other places she had worked, it was clear that she had either taken a serious pay cut or that John Knox Village was doing something very different than most communities.

A Very Different Philosophy 

I asked about her compensation, not about exact amounts, but about whether she had taken a big pay cut when she took the job. “Nope.”

Then, “So do you make a real college graduate with experience salary? “Yep.”

That led to this interview with Monica McAfee, the Chief Marketing and Innovations Officer at John Knox Village, where they are making a serious ongoing investment in life enrichment for their residents. It is a story that will blow you away. It is a lesson for every senior living operator about what can be.

The Highlights

You can watch the entire interview at the end of the article but here are the highlights:

  • Their CEO Jerry Stryker, and the board, have a huge passion and commitment to fitness and wellbeing. 
  • Their tagline “Where Possibility Plays” is not just a marketing slogan, but something that drives everything they do in all aspects of a resident’s life.
  • They do so many really big things, such as a month-long arts celebration that includes world-renowned international performers.
  • They have, are you ready for this, a 10-person life enrichment team for about 1,000 residents. Six for independent living and 4 for senior living.
  • Their whole operating/programming philosophy is based on the idea of creating a community . . . a village.
  • They are very deliberate about making sure they are engaging every resident.

If We Want Success

It is easy to look at this and say, “Sure, high-end ‘Life Plan Community’ with lots of money, but that is not my situation.” Maybe that is true. But I believe that if this kind of effort were put into smaller for-profit communities, they would have two things happen that would make the economics really work: 1) They would have higher occupancy (and, likely, longer lengths of stay); and 2) They would be able to charge premium rates for their units.

It would not take a huge increase in income to justify spending significantly more on creating a world-class life enrichment program in your community.

Here is the video: