memory care

Delivering the best customer experience

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Regardless of the industry you represent your goal must always be to deliver the best customer experience.

Bar Harbor Cruise ShipI have read and viewed many advertisements in which a company assures a future customer that their goal is to deliver the best customer service to each and every customer they serve.  This is a very commendable goal in my eyes – a goal that must be reached by every provider of products and/or services.  Whether I am a passenger on a multi-level cruise ship or a seaport’s rickety party boat;

Photo credit: www.definefishstudio.com
Photo credit: Rob Owen-Wahl

whether I dine at a casual eatery or a popular Michelin 3-star restaurant; whether I am a guest at a Residence Inn or a resident at a senior citizen housing community, you must provide me with the best customer experience you can muster.

A couple months ago, I commented on a LinkedIn article that discussed one particular goal that should be considered by long-term care (LTC) providers, e.g., senior housing, assisted living, and memory care owners and operators.  The particular goal stated in that article was to fill the buildings, attain high census, or as some industry leaders describe as putting “heads in the beds.”

My comment to this article centered on my work as a long-term care ombudsman (advocate for residents living in long-term care facilities).  I explained that when a new General Manager was hired for any of the facilities to which I was assigned, I made a point of meeting her or him to explain my role as a resident advocate and to get to know a bit about this new person who was now in charge of 50 to 100 or more residents.

I asked one particular newbie what he felt was the greatest challenge as the new General Manager for this particular independent/assisted living community.  “Fill up the apartments.”  I suggested that a more appropriate goal might be to retain the residents he already has.  I explained that retaining residents most likely means that he and his staff are doing the right thing in delivering the best care and customer service experience to each of his residents.

  • Retaining the residents he already has equates to fewer additional apartments to fill;
  • Retaining the residents he already has means satisfied residents who say great things about the building thereby attracting additional friends/acquaintances as future residents;
  • Family members of happy residents in LTC means happy adult children who will also spread the good news to others;
  • It stands to reason, therefore, that satisfied current residents are the best tool a manager can maintain in his marketing tool chest.
Dining room at my dad's memory care facility.
Dining room at my dad’s memory care facility.

I have retired from working in long-term care housing and from my advocacy work as a certified LTC ombudsman.  I know first hand the pressure that employees experience each and every month to report the right numbers to the corporate office.  The suits want the bottom line, baby, and if you can’t deliver the numbers they want and need, you’re outta there!  (Just like all the losing pitchers the Seattle Mariners have gone through in the past ten years or so.)

I’m not saying that the Suits are only concerned about profit, but I will say that perhaps their focus needs to center more on the delivery of exceptional care for those who are entrusting the Suits with the lives of mom, dad, spouse/significant other, or sibling.  Those family members want to be able to sleep at night knowing that their loved one is receiving the best care possible, the most nutritious meals known to man, and that their loved one is living in a safe environment staffed by employees who care.

All you have to to is deliver the best customer experience. Do that and the bottom line will take care of itself.

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The Journey of Grief: A Personal Snapshot

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The Journey of Grief: A Personal Snapshot.

Grief
Grief (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Grief – when one experiences a loss, there is no way around this emotion.  It has no clearly defined end.  It manifests itself differently for every individual.  The writer of the above article shares the personal side of how this emotion presented itself in his own life in this continuation of his series of articles on grief.

This “personal snapshot” is a follow up to his first article in the series that addressed an event in ones life for which everyone’s grieving experience takes on a slightly different character.  I  hope you’ll read the article attached above, and his previous article – also available on his website.

When the Mind Says Goodbye – Alzheimer’s Reading Room.

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When the Mind Says Goodbye is a thoroughly touching mini-video (less than 5 minutes long with beautiful music accompaniment) chronicling a married couple’s journey as best friends in early childhood, all the way through their marriage –  currently a more than 87 year-long relationship.

This couple, George and Adriana Cuevas, show us how a lack of words does not have to limit ones ability to relate to, and comfort, a loved one.  I hope you will take the time to observe this loving couple as they walk through the hallways of Adriana’s memory care unit, and as they sit side-by-side with only touch and eye contact as a communicator.

It seems to work for them.  How lovely that their marriage commitment lives on, even when the mind has already said goodbye.

The Sunday Family Visit at an Assisted Living Facility.

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Another Sunday Family Visit at the Assisted Living Facility.

This article, written by a fellow blogger, is beautifully descriptive and paints a clear picture – not just of the visual scene – but also of the emotions that exist in those who step into the world of their loved one with Alzheimer’s and other dementia.

The two poignant themes that resonate with me are: the development of resident boyfriend/girlfriend relationships within a memory care community; and the wonderful interaction between a great-grandson and his great-grandpa with cognitive difficulties.

I honor this blog author and her family for choosing to integrate a youngster into what could be a scary or challenging environment for a child.  One of my articles, “Alzheimer’s Heartache: young family members adjusting to a grandparent or parent with dementia,” addresses the difficulties that families oftentimes experience in long-term care (LTC) settings.  I can see that this family already figured out how to soften the hard edges to make the visiting experience beneficial to all.