Last week we discussed how perceptions of senior living are improving among today’s generations, as well as those we will serve tomorrow. Recent research reveals that younger audiences are more apt to select a senior housing option for themselves or a loved one. So what’s going on, and why is perception improving? The reasons are many — not the least of which is hospitality. The provider’s effort to improve the product and delivery of service is not just for hotels and resorts. And it’s gaining ground as a key component of senior living.
There is an ongoing improvement among communities to move from a more custodial, or service-recipient approach, to the hospitality model. However, a community that has been in operation for a number of years may need to adjust at many levels in order to implement this transition.
What’s Standing in Our Way?
Often, a community discovers three distinct obstacles in the way of transitioning to the hospitality model:
- Physical Plant
Today we will take a look at the physical plant, and address the other two obstacles in our upcoming blogs.
The Physical Environment
To improve existing conditions, we must identify what is holding back the potential to deliver a hospitality-oriented model. When taking inventory, consider the following issues:
- More level of care residences than independent living residences
- Insufficient social space to encourage vibrant social engagement
- Dining areas that resemble school cafeterias
- Insufficient areas for robust interactions such as wellness centers, spas, game rooms
- Double-loaded hallways that reflect an institutional rather than residential feel
- Level of care residences that resemble hospital corridors rather than represent newer neighborhood or pod concepts
- Delayed or poor facility maintenance that results in deteriorated appearances
- Outdated finishes (like brass) on hardware
- Old cabinetry made of laminate or other low-end finishes
- Countertops damaged from age or are noncompetitive within the local real estate market
- Handrails that look like poles rather than part of a chair rail
- Dated bathroom finishes and fixtures such as Roman tubs, rolled vinyl flooring, and laminate countertops
- Overuse of wallpaper and borders
- Outdated colors that place the building in a certain era
- Dated furniture or donated furniture that has not been updated with current fabrics and color schemes
- Mix-matched décor
- Use of unacceptable donated artwork rather than investment in tasteful art
All of these physical elements begin to reflect an image of old and tired — an industry from yesteryear. Renovating the physical plant will not only lend itself to new programming and use of space, the newer look signals the paradigm shift to a new approach. The attention to physical plant is necessary for both functional use and re-imaging the brand.
Stay tuned to our blog as we continue to explore this topic and more in our hospitality series.
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About the Author
Patty Scotten is a consultant with Retirement DYNAMICS® and serves as their marketing manager. Patty has over twenty five years’ experience in the senior living industry and has led several communities in preselling expansions or increasing occupancy levels. She graduated from Elon University and holds a Masters Degree from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Patty is licensed as both an assisted living and nursing home administrator.