Achieving operational excellence is crucial to the success of any Senior Living community. As part of our ongoing Research and Development initiative to be more knowledgeable about key trends in residential design, KEPHART led a tour of 10 Senior Living communities in the Denver metro area. Based on the invaluable feedback we received from the community managers, we have developed nine actionable ideas to improve your senior living community and prepare you for the upcoming wave of Baby Boomers.
- Empowerment – The more you can involve the residents in the operation of their activities, the greater their sense of ownership, purpose, and belonging will be. Ideas include having residents organize “field trips,” decorate the common areas around the holidays, and giving them the flexibility to program common spaces.
- Neighborhood Amenities – Take advantage of the nearby neighborhood – shopping, dining, entertainment, health clubs, banking, etc. This can reduce the number of on-site amenities that need to be offered and managed as well as help residents to feel more tied to the neighborhood.
- Get Outside – Promote a healthy lifestyle by getting your residents outside, even in cool weather. Develop outdoor activity spaces that can be used year-round.
- Food as An Experience – Keep meals exciting by offering a variety of dining experiences. Have weekly cuisine themes (Southern, Italian, Mexican, etc.), offer grab-and-go options, and plan demonstration dinners with the chefs preparing the meal in front of the residents. Meals can be a form of entertainment.
- Mix It Up – Invite the neighbors into the senior community in order to create a more intergenerational lifestyle. Activities could include:
- Connection – Involve residents’ families and staff in community activities to create a stronger connection.
- Invite the adult ‘children’ to give lectures on areas of expertise or travelogues
- Join on ‘field trips’
- Provide weekly, themed family meals
- A Wagging Good Time – Bring therapy animals, like small dogs, into the Skilled Nursing, Memory Care and Assisted Living residential areas. They can promote social interaction, lower stress, ease symptoms of anxiety, reduce boredom and improve overall physical health. If having real animals around is too difficult, consider using robotic pets. There is promising research showing that they offer the same health benefits as real pets for dementia patients.
- Happy Staff Means Happy Residents – Provide a variety of supportive services for employees to improve morale and retention.
- Free food, including take home options so employees can stay longer at work and minimize having to make a grocery run on the way home
- Job training, career counseling and ESL classes
- Ergonomic work stations, therapeutic massage and fitness training
- Legal, accounting and/or tax services
- Child care assistance
- Free uniforms, shoe repair
- Bus/Eco pass
- Assistance with citizenship process
- Entrepreneurship – Encourage “cottage” businesses that the residents can contribute to, to give them more
of a sense of purpose, such as:
- Sewing and knitting of clothes, kitchen hot pads, etc.
- Professional coaching for businesses (proforma, book-keeping, tutoring)
- Pet Care – walking, grooming
- Writing – short stories, blogs, book reviews, film reviews, restaurant review, etc.
- Baking – cookies, breads, pies and cakes
- Photography – portraits
- Selling on Ebay or Etsy
- Crafts – pottery, jewelry, leatherwork, wood-working
The operational ideas shared above offer a handful of ways for you to differentiate your community and to keep pace with the needs and desires of Baby Boomers as they enter their elder years.
KEPHART is committed to continued research and development to create better living environments for aging. The images shown above are not from KEPHART projects and were selected because they best illustrate our thinking. We look forward to talking with you about how we can assist you with your Senior Living community.