RIchARd P. gRIMES, AlFA president/ceO
dEBRA J. StRAttON
ANgELA hIcKMAN BRAd Y
AdAM StONE, WhItNEY REddINg, BRYAN OchALLA
AlFA MediA sAles teAM
senior sales Manager
StRAttON PuBLIShINg & MARKEtINg INc.
5285 shawnee road, suite 510, Alexandria, vA 22312
703.914.9200; fax 703.914.6777
For circulation information, call 703.894.1805.
Insights and critical review provided by the
ALFA OPERAtIONAL ExcELLENcE AdvISORY PANEL
thOMAS cROAL, cFO, silverado senior living, CFO Roundtable
JENNIFER WEISt, director of clinical services, carlton senior living,
Clinical Quality Roundtable
ALAN FAIRBANKS, evp, bickford senior living, COO Roundtable
Judd hARPER, cOO, the Arbor company, COO Roundtable
gu Y hEMONd, director dining service, benchmark senior living,
Dining Service Roundtable
ANNA dE LA cERdA, director of licensing and public policy, emeritus
senior living, Government Relations Roundtable
ANdREA tEIchMAN, svp and general counsel, benchmark senior
living, Government Relations Roundtable
gLENN MAuL, svp human resources, brookdale senior living,
Human Resources Roundtable
ScOtt RANSON, chief information Officer, brookdale senior living,
Information Technology Roundtable
MIchELLE hAMILtON, svp of Operations, country Meadows
retirement, Regional Executives Roundtable
AARON d’cOStA, chief business development Officer, pathway senior
living, llc, Sales and Marketing Roundtable
thOMAS BAKER, svp sales and Marketing, country Meadows
retirement, Sales and Marketing Roundtable
StEvEN hEANEY, vp of development, brandywine senior living,
Regional Executives Roundtable
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do you know people in a business where they describe the size of their company by the beds in their facilities occupied by patients who have been admitted and, when
they leave, are discharged If you do, they are probably providing much needed services
and care in hospitals or nursing homes where those descriptors are apt.
But they are probably not in the senior living business—or if they are, and their
sales team is promoting their properties where they house seniors, they probably aren’t
doing as well as the senior living community down the street that has fully embraced a
resident-centered philosophy of care and service—a philosophy that distinguishes senior
living from institutional care.
No one aspires to live in a hospital or nursing home, even if 24/7 care is the best or
only option. What seniors want most is to live at home where they know they can enjoy
their independence and sustain (they hope) a good quality of life. Unfortunately, despite
the tremendous growth of independent living and assisted living as great options, most
people still believe the only alternative to living at home is one that requires the loss of
their independence, dignity, and quality of life.
In a recent LinkedIn post, ALFA’s Jamison Gosselin expressed his frustration with
the institutional terms too often used by senior living professionals: “Can someone
please elaborate on why, no matter how much we try to change the terminology, some
people still want to call a senior living community a ‘facility’? What other terminology in
senior living drives you crazy when you hear it?”
His post generated a ton of responses. It seems that many other senior living
professionals are equally frustrated that, after 20+ years of offering great alternatives to
institutional care, so many of their colleagues continue to use the same vernacular that
reinforces an image of institutional care in the minds of the public.
Here’s my effort to compile and narrate the many responses (so far) to that LinkedIn
post: We are in the senior living business, not the senior living “industry.” We have residents,
not “patients,” who live in apartments, not in “units” or “beds.” They don’t live in “facilities”
but rather in communities of seniors. They aren’t “admitted” but move in, and they aren’t
“discharged” but move out. They don’t tour a “property.” They visit a community to see if they
can call it home. They aren’t “put into” our communities by their families or against their will.
They choose to live in a senior living community. They live as independently as they are able,
are treated with dignity and respect, and enjoy a quality of life that is superior to living alone at
home or in an institution.
In the short term, the use of institutional language by your competition can only
benefit your company. Seniors would much rather live in your community than in their
facility. In the long term, however, it’s probably not good for the senior living business
in general. The erroneous belief that senior living and institutional care are the same
creates an unnecessary obstacle for frail seniors who might otherwise be better served
by a senior living community than by living at home.
Richard P. Grimes, firstname.lastname@example.org, is president/CEO of
the Assisted Living Federation of America, www.alfa.org,
representing professionally managed senior living communities
and the residents and families they serve.