What can you start or stop doing that preserves the dignity of your residents?

By Kent Mulkey

Imagine this: You head out to shop for a new car, finally settling on a large, 9-passenger SUV. After all, you have a bevy of kids to haul around. But before you take delivery on the car you have a few extra things done, like having the vehicle wrapped with photos of you and your kids, having your address and phone number painted on the side and of course, a silly tagline that goes something like this: “My family is temperamental. Half temper. Half mental.”

Have you ever known anyone doing this? Of course not. We would say the person has lost his marbles or is perhaps hoping people will write down the address and phone number and come by his house for “lunch and a tour.”

But if you work in senior living, this is an everyday occurrence across the country. We buy a bus, wrap it with pictures of “cute” old people, paint our address and phone number on the side, including a message that we do assisted living and memory care, and a goofy tagline kind of like this: “A great place to work. A great place to receive care.” Huh?

So, would you like to ride to the grocery store in a bus like this? How about to church where you might see your friends who don’t live in a senior community? I can’t help but think how much we degrade the dignity of seniors for the sake of our marketing strategies.  I can’t tell you how often I have a misguided staff person say “our bus is a traveling billboard for our community.”

Here’s my point – your residents are not members of The Partridge Family, riding around in a hideously painted bus with their name painted on the side so they can be shown off to the world in hopes of filling the building.

What can you start or stop doing that preserves the dignity of your residents?