I’ve fallen off the wagon when it comes to doing site visits and writing about them. Two reasons:
- I just plain had more stuff to do than time to get it all done. Twelve to 14-hour days became routine between my work for Vigil Health Solutions and the things I need to do for Senior Housing Forum.
- I was just plain discouraged! While I would occasionally have spectacular visits, mostly they ran from really terrible, to not very good, to not terrible, but nothing worth writing about.
Over the last few weeks as I have been attending a bunch of conferences and interacting with lots of readers, the one thing readers talked to me about over and over again was the tour articles . . . so they’re back.
Eskaton Monroe Lodge
I had to travel to downtown Sacramento for a routine check of my bald head by my dermatologists and had some time to do a visit in a part of town I don’t normally visit. I typed assisted living into my Google maps program and found Eskaton Monroe Lodge (which, as it turns out, is all independent living and not assisted).
I pulled into the parking lot of this older, but well-kept, multi-story community and found easy parking. I walked through the door and was immediately greeted by the receptionist. I explained that I wanted to find out some information about her building and she told me she would get someone right away.
She handed me a clipboard with a very simple form and asked me to fill it out. I tried to hand it back to her, saying that I wasn’t actually a prospect but, rather, that I just wrote about senior living, but she gently insistent, saying they just asked everyone to fill out the form because it helped them understand how people found their community.
I took it, filled it out, handed it back (just like the doctor’s office) and figured she would take one look, confirm I was not a prospect and there would be no one to help me. But less than two minutes later, Tristin Benjamin, the executive director, came out and invited me into her office. I gave her my usual description of why I was there and what I wanted.
What followed was a great discussion and tour.
- They are strictly independent living with a base package of just under $2,000 per month, which includes one meal per day. While residents can choose up to 3 meals per day, most opt for two.
- The age range of the residents they serve is 62-102 with an average a bit under 85.
- They have one resident who has been in the community for 17 years and another who is 102 years old who has lived there for 8 years.
- About half of their residents still drive.
- They have a lot of interaction with nearby Sacramento State University’s’ gerontology program.
- A number of residents utilize some home care services (much of which is provided by Eskaton’s captive care company).
The Big Takeaway
I cannot prove this empirically, but I believe that, consistently, the facilities where I have been welcomed as if I were a “hot” prospect, ready to write a check and sign a contract, have been full or close to full. The converse has also been true: when I have had a less than terrific experience, I could tell that there have been significant vacancies. It becomes for me a real head scratcher that communities that work to be so efficient in pre-screening prospects at the front door are the ones that are most occupancy challenged.