What Do Reviewers Want From Senior Living?
At SeniorAdvisor.com, we read hundreds of reviews every day. Reviews are an excellent resource to see what residents, family and friends, and visitors and prospects think about your community. Claiming your community on SeniorAdvisor.com allows you to see this free feedback instantly, and learn answers to questions such as…
What do people love about your community?
What do people hate about it?
What suggestions do they have for you?
Today we will focus on the third question. Reviewers provide myriad unique and thoughtful suggestions for improvement for communities they’ve toured, visited, and lived in. Here are the top three recurring suggestions we see:
The orientation period is a great opportunity to continue the good impression you made on a family when they toured. Take this chance to show them how thoughtful you are. Many reviewers comment how impressed they were when the community gave their loved one a welcome gift upon move-in, or hosted a Welcome Party for all the new residents in a given month. Positive reviews often comment on the outstanding Resident Ambassador program at their community – families appreciate that their loved one will have a tour guide and a new friend to help them settle in to the community.
Many reviewers remark how much easier the transition would have been for their loved one and other family members if they had received an information packet upon move-in. Suggested items to include:
- Checklist of items that will be provided by community and items that the family will need to provide themselves
- Important contact numbers
- Transportation schedule
- Upcoming activity calendar
- Nearby hospital, senior center, pharmacy and other department stores
- Community procedures – medication management, housekeeping matters, billing questions, reporting maintenance issues, setting up utilities
Building on this idea, why not have a handful of orientation meetings for new residents to review the information in the packet? This will allow yet another opportunity for new residents to get to know each other. For shyer residents, you could always offer a one-on-one orientation meeting with an outgoing Resident Ambassador to help draw them out of their shell.
Activities are a popular topic in reviews. Besides the obvious deal breakers of care type and cost, activities rank high. Your community’s activity program has the power sway a potential resident to move in (or not), so you should definitely invest some time and effort into making your program a stand out! Reviewers offer these suggestions:
- Offer more activities for differing levels of care and ability.
- Build out your activity calendar and stick to it! Reviewers complain about communities that cancel activities at the last minute, due to a staff member’s unexpected absence or low participation. Try your best to have someone else fill in, and honor those who did come by still hosting the activity. This will instill trust and interest in your activity program for the future, as it shows residents that you care about delivering what they want.
- Encourage your residents to participate! Many family members mention that when their loved one doesn’t participate, it’s certainly not due to lack of interest. Many people simply are unaware of the activity, or forgot the time, so go get them! Having a full activity schedule helps develop more vibrant residents, and prevents you from showing visitors and prospective residents the dismal image of a bunch of people sitting around in chairs asleep or watching TV.
In an ideal world, there would be an unending calendar of activities for every particular interest possible. But of course, residents and their families understand that that’s simply not practical. So in lieu of quantity, reviewers want quality, and quality consists of the previous bullets: more inclusive types of activities, a consistent and reliable activity calendar, and encouraged participation.
Reviewers want to be able to call at any time and get an answer about their loved one. This is not always possible, but the best way to achieve something close to that is by improving your communication processes. Try to minimize language barriers by hiring more fluent staff. Be upfront about costs and the potentiality for added costs and make sure the family truly understands by going over each item with them during your initial meetings. At a minimum, provide a guaranteed contact for billing questions that families can call. Lessen the divide between management and staff, so everyone is on the same page. Finally, consider providing a monthly newsletter inviting families to upcoming events – this helps keep your community top of mind and allows opportunities for families to bring potential prospects along with them!
As National Assisted Living Week 2013 comes to a close, we hope these tips provide you with some ideas on how to improve your community for the better in 2014! Do you have a success story of how you listened to a family or resident suggestion? Please share it with us in the comments!
For reviews of assisted living communities near you, please visit SeniorAdvisor.com.