By Kelly Stranburg

Do you ever try to get a fitted trash bag to properly fit a rectangular trash can? I swear I take on this battle at least twice a week. Why sell a trash bag that is supposed to fit your trash can and then you can barely make it work? Better yet, why can’t the trash bag have a little give around the edge? Best yet, why are they even designed in a way that causes rectangular trash can owners to curse each time they replace it?

Why am I yapping about trash bags when this is a senior living platform?

One Size Does Not Fit All

Do you ever feel like the approach and services in senior living just do not “fit” right? Do you wonder why residents are not engaged in more of the services, programs, and events you offer? Are prospective residents and families not getting excited for what your community has to offer beyond care and safety?

Is it because we continue to offer the same things over and over without pausing to say, “Why isn’t this a better fit for more people?”

For years, senior living has possessed a stereotype of being a passive setting where residents sit around, play bingo, do arts and crafts, and watch entertainers once a week. Stereotypes exist for a reason. Of course, not all senior living settings are like this, but there are enough that continue to exacerbate this stereotype.

Are offerings like bingo and arts and crafts wrong? No, but do you know for a fact your residents are demanding these types of programs? In fact, how do your residents want to spend their days? This piece of the industry must radically change to be a better fit for today and tomorrow’s consumers.

Finding a Better Fit

Now is the time to dig in and learn more about your current and future residents’ interests and wants way beyond what hobbies they have and what careers they once held. The following are examples of questions you can ask for deeper insights:

  • What do you look forward to each day?
  • What makes you smile?
  • What new things or items would you like to learn or accomplish?
  • What do you enjoy doing when you are by yourself?
  • What brings you joy?
  • Would you like to share with fellow residents your skills, hobbies, or passions?

Resident insights are the foundation for shaping the programs and services within the walls of a community. If we keep guessing, assuming, or pulling ideas from the competition, we are just forcing that fitted bag onto that rectangular trash can. This is the time to learn from our most important asset — the residents — and find the right fit for them.

By the way, if this really has you interested, you should consider attending our EVOLVE 2023 virtual conference.