What a difference a few years can make.
Back in 2006, the concept of promoting brain wellness was but a twinkle in
a forward-thinking provider’s eye. An early attempt to create do-it-all integrated
operational software was unique enough to gain special notice. And ideas for
measuring customer engagement rather than satisfaction were just starting to take
hold. Yet these and other initiatives honored with Best of the Best Awards are now
increasingly common in senior living communities.
Here is a checklist of similar benchmarks of success that have successfully made
the transition from unusual to all but expected. How many of these approaches is
your organization taking?
Reduce the risk of resident falls and improve moods through a concerted
focus on reducing medications, fitness, and so on.
Think outside the activity calendar to offer a more individualized, holistic
approach to resident health and wellness.
Celebrate the whole resident, not just their social side, by fostering a culture
that honors even their inconvenient individual preferences.
Elevate dementia care by giving residents more choices and control in areas
that previously were overlooked, such as fitness or dining.
Help bridge gaps in the health-care system through better systems of
coordination and communication with outside providers on behalf of
Reduce insurance claim costs through wellness and prevention programs
Offer training programs at employees’ convenience, through distance
learning, online courses, and automated training.
Offer skip-level meetings, town meetings, and anonymous hotlines as well
as other means for being a responsive “employer of choice.”
Partner with high-performing employees to screen, hire, and train the best
Develop paperless invoicing, extensive recycling, and other eco-friendly
Automate care monitoring, beginning at the point of delivery.
Integrate software systems for better tracking and trending; create an
Consider niche segmentation for your local market, such as specializing in
Integrate social media in marketing and communications. Tailor social-media portals to build a sense of community with residents and families.
Integrate computers into the daily lives of seniors.
Take a “whole home” approach to sales.
Understand that the best way to build census is to focus on existing
residents’ and prospects’ individual needs—rather than on building census.
Winner: Horizon Bay
Like many providers, most of Horizon
Bay Retirement Living’s properties
are at least 20 years old and weren’t
built to be eco-friendly by today’s stan-
dards. So as john sattelmayer, SVP of
facilities management, likes to put it:
“To become green, Horizon Bay has to
Horizon Bay’s Eco Friends program
is a winner for taking a comprehensive,
holistic approach to implementing sus-
tainable practices in existing buildings
and for actively engaging all the various
stakeholders, from facility managers and
vendors to the residents and employees.
It offers a great example of how a provid-
er can implement a low-cost, executable
strategy for adopting a greener culture,
while showcasing the important role of
the building maintenance and house-
keeping staff. “Where we really nailed it
on the head in this project is that there’s
something for each one of our audiences
to say, ‘Hey, this applies to me,’” says
• Vendor partnering to offer sustain-
able packaging, paperless invoicing, and
extensive recycling. Paperless invoicing
has saved more than 1. 1 million sheets
of paper since 2008.
• New initiatives and staff training on a different conservation-related
topic each month, such as managing
the building’s impact on water and the
• Strategic energy projects in more
than 20 communities and monthly
monitoring of utilities.
• Developing and meeting new
benchmarks in anticipation of Energy
Star’s new standards for senior housing.
The key to the program’s success
has been fostering a culture of ownership and personal responsibility through
branding and consistent communication. “It has become more of an ingrained thing,” says Sattelmayer.
That goes for residents, as well, who
took tours of the mechanical room and
learned about the importance of indoor