Even ALL STARS Make Outs 60% of the Time

Baseball can teach lessons to our Senior Living Marketing & Sales Teams- as well as Management and Ownership.  As this picture depicts, the Greatest Hitters in the history of baseball made outs more often than they got hits.MLB All Star Hitters 2

They became All-Stars because they kept trying, learned from every “at bat” and then used that knowledge to get better the next time.

 

Top 10 Lessons We Can Apply to Senior Living

 

  1. Realistic Expectations. Management & Owners should NOT expect every person who walks through the door to become an immediate move-in.  “Move-ins are a Process, not an Event”[i] and, generally, the sales & marketing staff must build a relationship with the prospective resident and/or their family before the move-in will occur.

 

  1. Positive Attitude. Just as the Batter must go to the plate anticipating that they will hit the ball, the sales staff must be prepared to “close” every encounter with a prospect and capitalize on every opportunity to connect with them.  A batter will surely go into a slump if they lose faith in their ability to hit the ball!  The same is true for the salesperson who loses confidence in their product or their ability to relate to the customer.

 

  1. Everyone is Not Equal. Managers set the line-up to give their best hitters the best opportunity to make meaningful hits that give the TEAM the best chance to win the game.  Successful Senior Living Management understands the difference between anyone[ii] being able to show someone around the community and a professional tour conducted by a Super-Star.  They make sure that all “tour guides” are properly trained and have the personality and tools to effectively “close” a move-in.

 

  1. Multiple Chances to get a hit During the Game. A tour should be viewed as parallel to the 9-inning baseball game in which the starting players get at least 3 chances to hit.  The sales staff should develop multiple opportunities to “close” during a tour, and not simply wait until the 9th inning (i.e. the end of the tour) to try and score.

 

  1. Take What They Give You! Great hitters can’t always wait for the perfect pitch and the perfect pitch count[iii] before they swing at the ball.  They are opportunistic and prepared to swing when they get a pitch “right down the middle of the plate”.  The sales staff should do the same when conducting a tour and learn to STOP the tour and sales spiel; sit down and move to closing when the prospect provides them the right cues that they are ready.

 

  1. Numbers Game. No one is going to get a hit every time they go to bat or successfully close every time they interact with a prospect. Success does depend on NUMBERS → the more “at-bats” for the baseball player and the number of leads / prospects and interactions with them by the Sales Team.

 

  1. Sometimes a Walk is as Good as a Hit! In baseball, the key is to get runners on base, so even if the All Star walked instead of getting a hit, he has contributed to the Team’s ability to win. AND, the batter frequently had to work just as hard to get the walk.  In senior living, the comparable might be a person asking for a tour who states up front that “I’m just looking” – possibly for another family member.  The sales person should put just as much effort into providing a first-class tour because it may lead to the next “at bat” when the prospect returns and/or makes a referral to others.

 

  1. Short Memory. Ballplayers state that you must have a short memory to be successful.  Whether they hit a home run or struck out in their previous at-bat, they must forget it the next time they come to the plate.  Worrying about the last time (or even what they did in the field) doesn’t allow them to “keep their mind in the game” and focus on the current situation.  The same rule applies to senior living sales, where the sales staff will generally have multiple contacts (in person [e.g. tours], phone calls, social media, etc.) with different prospects during the day.  They must focus on each of those interactions as they occur, regardless of what happened with the previous contact, if they wish to have the greatest chance of success with each prospect.

 

  1. Practice and Preparation. All Stars have natural talent but success over their career is predicated on hours of preparation and practice.  They study the opposing team and individual pitcher’s preferences and tendencies to increase their chance of being prepared for the pitches that are thrown to them in different situations.  Then they practice their stance, swing, etc. until the repetition allows it to become “second-nature”.  The sales staff should follow the same concepts:
  • Prepare for every scheduled encounter with a prospect or family.
  • Review notes from prior interactions and determine “hot buttons”.
  • Know which apartments you plan to show during a tour[iv], plan the route to those units and preview the route / apartment to insure no surprises during the tour.
  • Learn something about the prospect from every visit and record it to assist in future meetings.
  • Critique your “performance” and make notes for future improvements.[v]
  • Practice to get better.[vi]
  1. Takes a Team. No one baseball player willTEAM win a championship. No matter how good a hitter they are, they are only 1/9th of the Team at any point in time.  Without contributions from other team members, the All Star would have minimal chance of success.[vii]  Activities, housekeeping, food services, care services, maintenance, etc. all play a role in the presentation of the senior living community.  A move-in should generate a Celebration for this entire TEAM!

 

[i] See https://progressiveretirement.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/move-ins/ for a further discussion on this topic.

[ii] I once had an E.D. who insisted that every one of her care assistants could conduct a tour and that she didn’t need to spend the money for a designated “marketer” – even though the building was in declining occupancy with about a 50% census.

[iii] i.e. balls & strikes

[iv] These should be based upon the type of accommodation(s) that the prospect will likely prefer.

[v] This may seem like a contradiction with #3, but it is not really.  The critique should be done, noted and then move on to the next encounter – not dwelling on the past.  There is always room for improvement.

[vi]You may also want to refer to “15 Networking Techniques for Senior Living”: https://progressiveretirement.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/15-networking-techniques/

[vii] If nothing else, the opposition could simply walk them every time they came up and they would never even get a chance to hit!

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C’mon Man … Where’s Waldo?

“Where’s Waldo” children’s books[i] ask kids to locate the red-and-white-striped Where's Waldo 2shirt character in a series of camouflaged illustrations.

You won’t find Waldo or any residents in these pictures sampled from senior living websites around the country[ii]. Each depicts a “place” (e.g. main lobby) in a community, and many are very elegant…

BUT, “C’mon man … we’ve been talking about selling LIFESTYLES and not just real estate for over a decade! These pictures – and many more like them on the internet – SCREAM REAL ESTATE SALE!

Who are we trying to impress with these photos?   OURSELVES? (i.e. Look what I built?)

C’mon man … this swimming pool is NO different from the pool at the local multi-family apartment complex. This dining room could be at a nearby campus dormitory and the other shots could be in a hotel lobby. WHERE’S WALDO?

I know, I know: the experts say that you shouldn’t show elderly people in your ads; that the prospects won’t relate to the images of the showcased older residents or the advertised community.   They’ll say, “I’m not like them; that’s not the level of service I need!” If the depicted residents appear to need assistance with their daily activities, the concern is that “higher-functioning” prospects will say “I’m not READY YET!” Other views of active adults may be criticized as “unrealistic”.

Thus, we default to sterile pictures of the real estate features and leave it up to the prospects to use their own imagination to picture themselves in that setting. That approach may work for family housing when buyers customize their “new home” to fit their individual tastes.

WE ARE DIFFERENT in Senior Living! We provide “communal living” and should SHOWCASE what we offer. Do we really expect people to want to live in a museum-like environment where you can “look but don’t touch”?   Isn’t that the message that pictures without human beings conveys?

The Progressive Retirement Lifestyles (“PRL”) program is built upon an interactive lifestyle for all of our residents and advocates the marketing of a robust lifestyle to attract newer generations of prospective residents. We believe that senior living communities should depict scenes with a feeling of warmth and positive aging through social interaction and activity that provide benefit on an on-going basis:

  • Residents actively participating in a water aerobics class (if you are lucky enough to have an on-site swimming pool) is much more meaningful for a potential resident and their family than the passive picture shown above.
  • Residents sharing a meal with their new acquaintances in the dining room would be more appealing than the picture of the empty dining hall.
  • Residents using the common area spaces by participating in an activity there – or at least sharing a moment in conversation with other residents – shows that the building is ALIVE!

I’m ART CARR and understand that this is a controversial topic, but am convinced that my Progressive Retirement Lifestyles concepts create Superior Senior Lifestyles that promote increased occupancy. I welcome your contact at 615-414-5217 or via email at art@progressiveretirement.com to learn more about the potential of the exciting Progressive Retirement Lifestyles program.

PLEASE SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH OTHERS IN THE INDUSTRY AND POST YOUR COMMENTS.

THANKS!

[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Where’s_Wally%3F

[ii] These are just a sampling of the vast number of similar pictures posted on community sites and are offered as a representative group for the industry as a whole. For that reason, specific communities and/or companies are not identified.

C’mon Man … Show Some Respect!

Over the past decade, I’ve had success in building occupancy[i] with a focus on activities to demonstrate a superior senior lifestyle. It is encouraging to see more operators utilizing activities to convey LIFESTYLE CHOICE in their ads, but “C’mon Man”, we need to show more respect for our customers than is displayed in this direct mail piece:

“… we offer a lifestyle that allows you to focus on the fun things in life. You never have to worry about what to do today because there’s always something going on to keep you engaged. Join us today for one of our activities and stay for lunch. It’s on the house!

 

5 Things “NOT to Like” with this Marketing Technique

 

  1. This independent living ad targets prospective residents, and/or their families, who are ready to turn lifestyle management over to the facility. This “needs-based” approach has contributed to higher average-aged residents, older residents at move-in and shorter lengths of stay.   It has also led some experts to question whether the recent building boom in senior housing will create a supply that outpaces demand[ii], even with the influx of baby boomers into the “senior” classification.
    • We must promote independence with dignity and respect to meet the positive aging demands of newer, higher-functioning generations and attract adequate numbers of potential residents.

 

  1. This ad is synonymous with the “cruise ship on land” marketing concept that assumes “old folks” will be happy toCruise Ship on Land just sail off into the sunset and be happy as long as they get plenty of food and have something to entertain them between meals. Unfortunately, this is good intentions masking a form of benign ageism as identified by the MacArthur Foundation Study.[iii]
    • The dated “rest home” mentality was based on this principle that older adults no longer contribute to society and must be “cared for” in sheltered facilities at their end of life.

 

  1. Current and prospective residents have been responsible adults for most of their lives and don’t want to just have “fun” all day.   They lived an active and productive lifestyle BEFORE deciding to move into a senior living community and most desire to retain as much normalcy in their lives as possible.
  • Progressive Retirement Lifestyles (“PRL”) draws its scientific basis from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.   In order to continue satisfying the higher level needs – e.g. EGO – of older people, our senior living 3b Activitiescommunities must provide mental and physical challenges for their residents with a diverse array of activities. The “3 B’s”[iv] – Birthday, Bible and Bingo – simply won’t cut it anymore!
  • Our programs respect and foster the desires of many residents to continue “contributing” in some way – by helping others within the community, by volunteering and/or by providing service to others “less fortunate”.

 

  1. “Worry” is a natural part of living and most mature adults don’t want to be treated as though they can’t “act” or “think” for themselves. They don’t expect to just “sit back” and be treated like children with every minute of their day planned for them.
    • The PRL concept has proven successful by offering multiple daily lifestyle options, while allowing the residents to make their own independent choices.

 

  1. The only specific “activity” highlighted in the flyer was a “Chef Showcase: Waffle Bar”, which is more “demonstration cooking” than a true resident activity.
    • At best, this is a passive event with residents and other spectators being entertained by the Chef.   Although entertainment is an important ingredient, PRL emphasizes interactive lifestyles with active participation by the residents in activity programs.
    • Unless the “waffle bar” is available every week, there is a risk that current residents will complain that the activity is just a marketing ploy and NOT a lifestyle feature.
    • PRL is a combined operations and marketing approach that enhances operations first and THEN invites prospects to participate in on-going programs.

The PRL program was developed to adapt to the evolving market and promote additional demand by respecting the prior life achievements and recognizing the on-going capabilities of newer generations of seniors. PRL creates positive differentiation from the competition by providing and marketing a more robust lifestyle with a greater quality, quantity and variety of stimulating age-appropriate activities than was frequently the case in the past.

I am Art Carr, the creator of the unique Progressive Retirement Lifestyles program and welcome your comments. PLEASE POST YOUR OPINION about whether you agree or disagree with these observations and share this article with those who might appreciate it.

Please contact me at 615-414-5217 or via email at art@progressiveretirement.com to learn more about the exciting Progressive Retirement Lifestyles program and its potential to enhance operations and serve as the foundation for improved occupancy.

THANKS!

[i] This approach enabled me to build a regional census 6 points higher than the national average and lead the fill-up of several new buildings, as well as stimulating turnarounds of other under-performing communities.

[ii] http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-senior-housing-raises-concerns-supply-will-outpace-demand-from-baby-boomers-1439285401

[iii] See “Successful Aging” by John Rowe, M.D. and Robert Kahn, Ph.D, published by Masterpiece Alliance Foundation, Inc., 1998

[iv] With a thank you to Sara Elizabeth Hamm who first “coined” this phrase.

Rewards for “Participation”

Trophy - Participation DownsizedNFL and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison recently sparked a lot of controversy when he publicly returned participation “trophies” that had been given to his two young sons. Mr. Harrison stated on Instagram that trophies should be earned, and not awarded for simply showing up.

I admit to having a number of conflicting thoughts regarding this issue and Mr. Harrison’s actions, including:

  • IGNORE IT – this is just about kids and has nothing to do with management and/or providing care/services for aging adults.
  • It’s easy for a “jock” to take that attitude. He was probably always a “star” at every level from Pee Wee Football through college and into the pros. HE was one of the guys who always got the glory → trophies, awards and recognition. He has never had to “walk a mile” in the shoes of a bench-warmer who maybe tried just as hard (or harder) but wasn’t blessed with the God given talents of the trophy winners.
  • On the other hand, as one of those with lesser physical skills, I can’t recall ever resenting the fact that some of my teammates received prestigious awards. In fact, I was proud when they received scholarships to major colleges.
  • I do agree with Mr. Harrison that our society is gravitating towards too much “entitlement” instead of earning “it” the old-fashioned way by working hard. To that extent, I applaud his parental stance.
  • I have always been more driven by TEAM awards than individual accomplishments. With this focus, there is a place for recognition of the players who show up for every practice and make silent contributions to the TEAM’s success. If you doubt this, watch the movie “Rudy”.

This carries over into my CORPORATE LEADERSHIP philosophies in which I place the greatest emphasis on TEAM (i.e. Corporate, Region …) achievements.

  • Maybe the focus should be on the method – or in this case the use of a TROPHY – instead of the concept of rewarding participation. Maybe trophies should be reserved for accomplishments whletterman jacket War Jrile other means are used to recognize participation?
  • Haven’t we always had some form of participation rewards? Wasn’t the letterman’s sweater or jacket always a recognition of some level of participation?
  • Just having the chance to put on the team uniform – wear the colors – always gave me a sense of pride AND recognition amongst school classmates and the community. Are we just over-doing it?
  • That said, I believe there is still room for individual awards that recognize – when appropriate – unusual contributions such as “Best Teammate”, “Hardest Worker” and maybe even “100% Attendance”. It’s easy when you are the STAR to show up for practice every day and get most of the attention. It takes a special person (again I refer you to the movies “Rudy” or “Invincible”) to show up every day just because you love the game and want to participate. Any coach who doesn’t recognize the value of these participants, isn’t a very good Coach.

Then, I decided to take this a step further and question whether these same issues should be concerns in my professional life and senior living leadership approach. After all, one Company President anointed me as the “Master of Employee Recognition”.

I earned this title by being a little “wild & crazy” when the President attended our 100% occupancy celebration after we set the company record with a 71-day fill-up for a new building. Consistent with my TEAM philosophy, my entire region attended and then participated in a regional meeting the following day. To start the meeting, I arranged for the President to stand at the front of the room and then had my “starting team” march in as I announced them individually and bragged about their highlights and positive accomplishments while they shook the President’s hand. This process gave each manager recognition amongst their peers as well as an unparalleled introduction to upper management of the Company.

Manager Team w Pres croppedSome might dismiss this as “hokey” and I would probably agree if it was attempted out-of-character to the normal management style. It worked for me – and provided a lot of EGO satisfaction for my managers – because I had spent several years in building a regional TEAM and implementing my unique coaching management style.

One of my responsibilities as a COACH was to promote the capabilities of my TEAM members. By doing this – and letting the TEAM know that I’m doing it – I minimized the frequent disruptive competitiveness that occurs when the individuals feel the need to fight for the attention of senior management. Because some people are naturally more aggressive in self-promotion than others, a natural friction develops. Conversely, my TEAM emphasis and public recognition of each person’s traits made the “pre-game introductions” seem like a natural process.

I should also point out that every one of the managers in the region – plus regional support staff – was introduced so this was an example of an informal participation award – BUT without a trophy!

On the other hand, I did recognize the superior performance of the crew that set the fill-up record.  The Company gave a substantial financial reward, but I chose Slugger Bob“wacky” awards instead of trophies. For our lead salesman, I presented a customized Louisville Slugger baseball bat inscribed with “Slugger Bob” to recognize his ability to hit home runs with his closing rates. [This was also something he could take to his next new community assignment.] The local managers chose a “Gone with the Wind” theme for the 100% celebration in suburban Atlanta. To recognize the achievement of our female managers and sales team, I ordered Vermont Teddy Bears custom-dressed as Scarlett O’Hara.

LG Presentation

Probably the closest we get to the Harrison situation in Senior Living is periodic Occupancy Contests where targets are set and recognition and rewards granted as incentive for achievement. Frequently, this includes financial rewards but tends to cause dissension for those who improve but don’t make their goal and/or fall behind early in the process and then lose all motivation. So, do we reward participation or only superior achievement?

I faced this situation with a not-for-profit whose culture didn’t support performance bonuses (except for limited commissions paid to the sales staff). I took over a number of occupancy-challenged buildings with census as low as 50% for the past five years.

Obviously, setting targets at acceptable levels (even 85% or higher) wasn’t going to work. In fact, the staff was so beat-down by not meeting company expectations, it was questionable if any target could be motivational.

I recognized that I would first have to build some self-confidence and get the local management and sales staff to think outside of the narrow box they had built for themselves. I also decided that I had to “reward participation” because ANY MOVE-IN was a positive step forward.

Plus 1 PinIn this situation, I devised the “+1” Occupancy Challenge and constructed a high-energy training program to kick-off the program. I stimulated teamwork within each community by including the Chef and Activities Coordinator with the Executive Director and Sales & Marketing Staff. I challenged each community to add just one net move-in (i.e. +1 move-in over any move-outs) each week and asked the other departments to add 1 additional feature (e.g. new activity program or special dessert) to improve the resident experience and marketability of the community.

I also introduced the concept of “Participation Participation BucksBucks” where trainees were awarded for their participation in the training session. At the end of the session, they had the opportunity to convert their “Bucks” into prizes for their facility.

The communities then earned “funny money” over the next quarter for each “+1” weekly goal attained with bonus “Bucks” for exceeding the target. There were additional awards for achieving cumulative goals. Even if a building missed their goal for one week, they would still earn an award whenever they increased the census by 1 over the prior week.

Big Board ChartI had “Big Boards” printed for each community with their “+1” weekly targets. These charts were updated weekly with the actual performance and then prominently displayed in the Executive Director’s office and during their daily department head meetings.

I also maintained a chart for the group as a whole and shared the results with the region during a weekly conference call I initiated. We applauded and celebrated every community’s “+1” success on these calls while treating challenges the others faced as learning opportunities.

This was a highly successful program that generated turnarounds in a short period of time. The most outstanding performance was at a 154 unit independent living property that had hovered around the 50% mark for over 5 years. As shown by this chart, the “+1” Challenge Courtenay IL Census Growth Worksheetconcept drove a 33% improvement in 6 months of concentrated “brick-by-brick” progress. The key was in getting the first positive step and then building on it.

At the next regional meeting, I obtained a number of items that would not normally be purchased by the communities, but would be beneficial in the on-going operations and marketing of the communities. This also gave me an easy way to introduce certain new concepts, activity programs, etc. to the communities. Each building was allowed to bid in an auction based upon their accumulated “Bucks” with the strongest performers having the best chance of securing their desired prize(s). BUT, everyone was allowed to “win” something!

Montage

I believe these were far more meaningful awards with long-lasting benefits than trophies. They did reward participation but also recognized superior performance.

DO THESE IDEAS INTRIGUE YOU?   WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEARN HOW we utilize a “PAY FOR PARTICIPATION” concept as a key tenet of the Progressive Retirement Lifestyles program for residents?

PLEASE LEAVE YOUR COMMENT IF YOU WOULD LIKE FOR ME TO WRITE MORE ABOUT RECOGNITION AND REWARDS and/or CALL ME at 615-414-5217 for an in-person conversation about how these concepts might be applied to your organization. You may also schedule a time for a discussion via email: art@progressiveretirement.com.

And now … The Rest of the Story

2014 Women's Final Four

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament

TRIVIA Question:  Who is the winningest Division 1 basketball coach of all time?  Clue → it is NOT in a men’s basketball program and it is NOT a man.

Answer:  Pat Summit, Head Coach Emeritus with the University of Tennessee “Lady Vols” basketball team.  “She kept her elite program in the winner’s circle for almost four decades, producing a mind-boggling record of 1,098-208 (.840) that included the most victories in NCAA basketball history. During her tenure, the Lady Vols won eight NCAA titles as well as a combined 32 Southeastern Conference tournament and regular season championships. Tennessee made an unprecedented 31 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament and produced 12 Olympians, 34 WNBA players, 21 WBCA/Kodak/State Farm All-Americans earning 36 honors, and 39 All-SEC players earning 82 recognitions. Along with the success on the court, Summitt’s student-athletes had tremendous productivity in the classroom. Coach Summitt held a 100 percent graduation rate for all Lady Vols who completed their eligibility at Tennessee.”[i]

The Lady Vols along with UConn (Connecticut), South Carolina and Notre Dame are again a number one seed in the 2014 NCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball Tournament with 1st round games beginning this weekend.  Although Pat won’t be on the sideline for Tennessee (Holly Warlick now coaches the Lady Vols), other familiar coaching icons will be at tLadies Basketball Coach Iconshe tournament including Geno Auriemma from UConn, Tara VanDerveer with the Stanford Cardinal, and Kim Mulkey, coach of the Baylor Lady Bears.  These 4 coaches have produced over 3260 victories,  winning 20 national championships in a combined 115 years of coaching, and each has become an institution at their university.

In total, teams from 30 states will be participating in the women’s tournament with New York having the most teams (6), followed by California and Tennessee with 5 each.  Seven other states (Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia) have 2 schools in the tournament.  This should give you plenty of opportunity to generate competition for your residents – especially in those situations where you have both large (i.e. major conference) and smaller schools competing (e.g. Stanford vs Cal State – Northridge;  LSU vs Northwestern LA, or Texas vs Prairie View).

Women's Tournament by State

  • A special mention should be made for the “Black Knights” women’s basketball team of the U.S. Military Academy.  Although located (and counted as a NY school) at West Point, NY, this team is really a “national” team and should receive support from across the country.
  • Kudos to Connecticut and Notre Dame who are each undefeated in regular season and conference tournament play going into the NCAA tournament.
  • There are 5 additional states (Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, South Dakota and West Virginia) that were not included in the Men’s NCAA tournament.  {See “Forget the Activity Calendar. . . ACT NOW!” for suggestions about utilizing the NCAA tournament as the basis for an enriching resident activity program and marketing event}
  • Five schools — Akron, North Dakota, South Dakota, Winthrop and Wright State – are all making their first NCAA tournament appearance
  • 25 of the teams join their male counterparts at the Big Dance.  The Women’s Tournament adds post-season play for 39 additional teams and gives you 5 more states to build resident support around.

    How about a competition between the Men’s and Women’s teams for the 25 colleges with both teams in the SHOW?  Who will go farther in their tournament? 

The NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament offers some challenges, but many more opportunities for meaningful dialogue and interactive programs with the predominantly female population in today’s senior living communities.   One of the challenges is that the NCAA tournament has only been organized for women since 1982 so it’s unlikely any of your residents ever played in the tournament.

TRIVIA:  Kim Mulkey played on the first championship team from Louisiana Tech in 1982 and is the first person, man or woman, to win a basketball national championship as a player, assistant coach and head coach.[ii]

TRIVIA:  Tennessee and Connecticut have won almost 50% of the National Women’s Championships with 8 titles a piece.

On the other hand, most of the 1st and 2nd round games are played “on campus” with attendance a lot less than at the men’s games.  Therefore, if your community is near one of the 16 tournament sites you might have the chance to actually take a group of residents to see one or more of the games.

Los Angeles, CA Toledo, OH
Seattle, WA West Lafayette, IN
Ames, IA Knoxville, TN
Iowa City, IA Chapel Hill, NC
Waco, TX Durham, NC
College Station, TX College Park, MD
Baton Rouge, LA University Park, PA
Lexington, KY Storrs, CT

The Sweet 16 games will be played in Lincoln, NE; Stanford, CA;  Notre Dame (South Bend), IN and Louisville, KY with the Final Four in Nashville, TN.

One of the biggest opportunities is to create an inter-generational sharing experience for your residents, their adult daughters (bobby-soxers and baby boomers), grand-daughters and great grand-daughters.  The residents and their adult daughters lived through a cultural revolution started by the United States Congress’ passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.  This legislation changed the face of women’s athletics across all levels and 10 years later led to the first NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament.

  • In 1971, the year before Title IX became law, fewer than 300,000 girls participated in high school sports, about one in 27. In 2002, the number approached 3 million, or approximately one in 2½.[iii]
  • In 1972, fewer than 32,000 women competed in intercollegiate athletics.  Women received only 2 % of schools’ athletics budgets, and athletic scholarships for women were nonexistent.  In 2008-09, a record number of 182,503 women participated in competitive college athletics, accounting for 43% of college athletes nationwide.[iv]

Along with the increased participation, the game of “girls” basketball itself has also seen significant change.  Before Title IX (i.e. when all of the residents as well as the Bobby-soxers and many of the Baby Boomers were growing up), girls basketball was more a part of the Physical Education curriculum than a competitive sport.  Today’s young girls would hardly Ollie-Hoosiersrecognize the half-court game, uniforms of Bermuda shorts and white blouses, and all foul shots thrown under-hand like Ollie in the movie Hoosiers!  Fast breaks, rebounding “above the rim”, even dunks were foreign to the pre-1972 women’s game.   SO, set up an inter-generational discussion group and encourage your residents (and prospects) and their older adult children to share their remembrances of girls basketball in the “days of yore”.  Invite a local college or high school team to participate in the discussion and help them understand the legacy that they have inherited. Humphrey Bogart said, “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship in the movie Casablanca and you can build that same type of on-going relationship with a local school team throughout the coming year.

Finally, the Girl Scouts of America developed Girl Scout badgea new patch that members can earn with activities focused on the history, importance and media portrayal of women in sports.  It was developed in conjunction with the 2014 NCAA Final Four in Nashville, TN and offers a tremendous opportunity for your residents to interact with the young scouts.

You have all the ingredients for a dynamite activity program and customized marketing event that demonstrates appropriate respect for the life accomplishments of the residents.  The potential of getting multiple generations from the same family together in your building focused on a common interest – including participation in March Madness games as discussed in a prior article – is priceless.

 


“THAT’S GREAT … but my TEAM isn’t going to the SHOW!”

Dejected Basketball TeamLess than twenty per cent of the 351 Division I colleges and universities get invited to the NCAA tournament each year.  But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t proceed with the March Madness activities and events suggested in “Forget the Activity Calendar. . . ACT NOW!” [http://wp.me/pCemc-j8] if your favorite team wasn’t selected.  This article includes five additional methods to tie into the excitement created by college hoops at this time of year.

 

NIT Logo♥  If you live in West Virginia, you might want to switch your focus to the National Invitation Tournament (“NIT”), which includes 32 additional teams and concludes with the final games played at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Mississippi and Vermont join West Virginia as additional states represented in the NIT that were excluded from the original 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament.

 

Cinderella     There are 32 Conferences included in the NCAA Tournament.  Determine what conference that your local school belongs to and then your residents can cheer for (or against → in some cases fans will root for “my school or whoever plays ABC University!”) the Conference Champion who is at the Big Dance.  Frequently these teams from the smaller conference – who only get an automatic bid by winning their conference tournament – become the Cinderella team of the tournament.   Will their trip end after one game or will they go “deep into the tournament”?

Even if this doesn’t apply to your local team, let your residents pick a Cinderella team from one of the non-major conferences and support them in the tournament.

  There are 14 different sites where the tournament games will be played over the next 3 weeks, including Dayton, OH for the four “play-in” games on March 18 & 19.  Even though there are no Indiana schools in the tournament, Indianapolis will be the location of the Midwest Regional Finals on March 28 – 30.  If you are near one of these locations, there should be a lot of local press in newspapers, TV, etc. that you can tie into.  You don’t have to do a full “Bracketology”, but have fun by picking the winners in the local games.  Set up pools for a) largest margin of victory, b) total margin of victory (all games), c) number of overtime games, etc.  Vote for favorite coach and/or player.  If you’re into social media, sponsor that person online.

  If your local team’s season is over, contact the Athletic Department and request a visit from someone on the coaching staff and/or the Cheer Squad.  Explain what you are doing to involve your aging adult residents and ask them to participate in your “life-long-learning” series by presenting a 15 – 20 presentation on how the tournaments work, etc.   Tell them that you know how hard they work and that your residents want to recognize their achievements in this season as you wish them more success in the future.  Build the foundation for an on-going, inter-generational relationship with the school.  Consider the residents’ excitement to have the Cheer Squad do a couple of routines for them in your building and maybe have the mascot speak.

Cheer Squads

Star Difference If you really want to “think outside of the box”, work with the Athletic Department to create several special awards that could be presented in a ceremony at your community (e.g.  Above and Beyond, All-Around Excellence, Rising Star, Leadership/Citizenship, etc.→ contact me directly for more ideas and help in implementation).   This is another great way to generate “free press” and present your community in a very positive fashion.

♥  Finally, there are another 64 teams in the Women’s UT - UConn Ladies BasketballNCAA Basketball Tournament.  Because of the preponderance of females in our resident populations, this may offer a particularly attractive alternative for celebrating March Madness, which will be addressed in a subsequent article.

The important thing is to DO SOMETHING!  Don’t be a slave to your published activity calendar and miss this opportunity to improve the interactive lifestyle of your residents.

NCAA Basketballs

Forget the Activity Calendar . . . ACT NOW!

NCAA BasketballOne of the most publicized CURRENT EVENTS that involves millions of people in the workplace every year IS HAPPENING NOW→  the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  What are you doing to involve your residents in the excitement that permeates our entire society – aka “March Madness”?

  • There are 68 schools in the Tournament.
  • The schools represent 32 stat2014 March Madnesses plus the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.) {65% of states}.
  • Two-thirds of these States have more than one school in the tournament.
  • One-third have 3 or more schools participating.
  • 4 states:  California, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas have 4 schools included.

Can you identify a participating school from your state and generate interest and support from your resident population for that school(s)?  For multi-school states, you’ve got a perfect opportunity to create some friendly competition within your community to produce an additional level of excitement.

  • Set up your own March Madness Tournament as indicated in my prior blog articles: https://progressiveretirement.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/march-madness/
  • Contact me directly to discuss ways in which you might turn this into a Marketing Event.
  • Have a fundraiser by letting residents, employees and visitors deposit coins (pennies, dimes or quarters – depending upon your resident population) into different jars based upon the team that they expect to go the farthest in the tournament.  Donate the proceeds to a designated charity!

An interesting feature is that the tournament often features a school from a “smaller” conference, so that a State such as Georgia is represented by Mercer University from Macon, GA this year while the more well-known University of Georgia (SEC) and Georgia Tech (ACC) squads were not selected.2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament

  • Here is an opportunity for a “life-long learning” session to educate your residents about the history, culture and achievements of one of these smaller schools in your state.  Contact a local alumni association and/or the college or university Alumni office to find a potential speaker.
  • Stimulate conversation about why different schools in your area were selected over other more recognized schools.  For example:
    • TEXAS:  Stephen F. Austin and Texas Southern selected;  SMU, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, TCU not selected.
    • LOUISIANA:  Louisiana-Lafayette “in”; LSU “out”.
    • MARYLAND:  Mount St. Mary’s in the tournament; Maryland is not.
    • SOUTH CAROLINA:  Wofford and Coastal Carolina “in”; Clemson & South Carolina “out”.
    • Ohio should have great competition with Dayton playing Ohio State in a first round game and both Cincinnati and Xavier in “the Big Dance”.

Survey your residents (and prospects) to determine connections to the tournament participants:

  • Score a “hit” if you have anyone who graduated, attended or was married to someone from any of the schools in the tournament.
  • Make it a “home run” if they played basketball in college.
  • Call it a “grand slam” if you happen to be lucky enough to have someone who actually played in the NCAA tournament.
    • TRIVIA:  The tournament was organized in 1939 with the Oregon Ducks beating Ohio State to win the first championship.
    • UCLA leads all schools with 11 National Championships!

One of the nice things about this tournament is the number of games that are played and broadcast during the middle of the day.

  • Decorate your “TV rooms” with the big screen TVs with the local school colors.
  • Have a special meal appropriate to your region and school or that might be found at a tournament site (e.g. hot dogs & fries).  Serve popcorn during the game.
  • Show your Colors:  give prizes for best dressed in team colors, mascot look-a-likes, etc.
  • Show the movie “Hoosiers” (one of the Top Ten Sports movies of all-time) to stimulate excitement.  SORRY, INDIANA, NOTRE DAME and other Indiana colleges and universities – no one made “the show” this year!

Set up your own “bracketology” and let the residents project the winners.  I recommend that residents be given a gift/prize for participation and then for each correct projection.  PLEASE CONSULT WITH ME TO LEARN INNOVATIVE WAYS TO RECOGNIZE AND REWARD RESIDENTS.  NCAA-Tournament-Printable-Bracket-2014

  • Instead of predicting the entire “bracket”, it probably makes more sense for your residents to handle each round as a program unto itself.  There are 36 games this coming week and that is more than enough challenge for the residents.  Your objective should be to have as many continuing participants as possible over the next few weeks.   Therefore, you want as many “winners” as possible and no eliminations from the early rounds to keep them motivated to continue their participation.
  • As an alternative, you might get a panel of residents to predict a particular bracket and then challenge a panel from the staff to see who would get the most victories.   Potentially, this could involve a number of participants with 4 teams from both the residents and staff.
  • Another option is to get a Staff Prognosticator who will post their bracket (or bracket for each round) and then allow the residents to bet for or against the Prognosticator’s projection for each game.  In most cases, these would be penny or nickel bets.  Any “net” winnings by the prognosticator would be donated to charity (and/or activity supplies/equipment for the residents).

REMEMBER:  You are only limited by your imagination!

NCAA March Madness

“STOP – You’re not supposed to . . . !”

A staff member is walking across the lobby and sees Mr. Smith trying to open the front door and exit wman with walker at doorith the aid of his walker.   The following scenarios illustrate 3 different approaches to this situation[i].  In each case, the resident receives a message that may be very clear or more subtle, but conveys information about the community’s culture and  resident management philosophy. This can impact both the resident’s well-being and the perceptions of visitors who observe the encounter.

1)   You Can’t:

The staff member yells “STOP” as she runs to the door.  In a loud voice, she then asks Mr. Smith “What are you doing?” telling him that he is not allowed to go “out there” alone.

Maybe the resident simply wanted a breath of fresh air or to enjoy the sunshine for a few minutes[ii].  Regardless, this approach generally leads to either a confrontation or total submission by the resident.  The first is reminiscent of the “Mother, Please…” scenario with the resident even becoming combative because he is being told what he CAN’T DO!  The other response can be just as devastating because a flicker of independent thought and action has just been snuffed out!

2)   You Shouldn’t:

In the second scenario, the staff member walks expeditiously (but doesn’t run) to the door and greets Mr. Smith there.  She opens the door for him while counseling that he should never try to open the door by himself.  She warns him that he might get hurt and should always ask a staff person for assistance.  She was cheerful, upbeat and walked away thinking: “I’m glad I walked by when I did because I got a chance to do something nice for Mr. Smith.  I’m a good person and good employee!”

Unfortunately, her good intentions were off the mark and Mr. Smith received a very different message.  He just had his frailties emphasized and made to feel disabled with the reminder that he is no longer capable of “even opening a door for himself”.  All he heard was that he shouldn’t try to do it himself and probably never even heard or internalized that the staff would be happy to help him when he wanted it.  These may even contribute to feelings of being “trapped” and isolated in the senior living community.

3)   It’s OKAY:

As an alternative, the staff member could greet Mr. Smith and begin to engage him in conversation while walking toward the door.  (e.g. “Hey, Mr. Smith.  How are you doing this morning?  Boy, it sure looks cool {rainy, hot, etc.} out there today.”) The employee then has two options:

  1. Ask him: “Can I give you a hand with that door?”  This enables the resident to preserve dignity by being offered a choice that can be graciously accepted.  For ladies, I generally add something like “my Dad always taught me to be a gentleman and it’s my pleasure to open the door for you.”  The act of opening the door becomes a courtesy instead of a necessity.
  2. Continue the conversation through the door.  This is the most subtle approach as the staff person is able to effortlessly hold the door open for the resident without making an issue of it.  This has taken a couple of minutes of the employee’s time but been a great investment in resident relations.

The employee’s response to this situation[iii] is a combination of the community’s culture and the individual’s own concepts and beliefs.  Both evolve over time and are influenced by training (e.g. “soft skills”), policies & procedures, stated management philosophies, and the personality of the people involved.  Creating a culture that PROMOTES ON-GOING INDEPENDENCE[iv] for the residents will have a direct impact on the type(s) of people who choose to move into the senior living community.

In the next segment, we’ll explore how the design decisions of the Architect and Management support or conflict with the desired cultural perception.  PLEASE SUBSCRIBE {by clicking on the “Sign me up!” button at the bottom of the right hand column} to make sure you don’t miss any exciting installments.


[i] In each example, it’s assumed that this isn’t an outside entrance to a secured memory care unit or skilled nursing facility and that Mr. Smith is mentally competent and not at risk for elopement.

[ii] Recent studies have shown some potential of benefits from daily exposure to natural light in delaying the onset and/or effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

[iii] Note:  each of these scenarios is considered positive because the employee recognized the resident and intervened instead of simply continuing to walk past.

[iv] This is a basic tenet of the Progressive Retirement Lifestyles program.  You may contact Art Carr at 615-414-5217 or art@progressiveretirement.com to learn how these concepts may be applied to your organization.

The “GRADUATE” turns 75!

It’s the late 1960’s.  The war in Vietnam is escalating and college campuses are erupting in violence across the country.  Then comes the quintessential coming-of-age film with a young, drifting college graduate fulfilling an adolescent fantasy by being seduced by an older woman.  This film was the springboard for stardom for Dustin Hoffman and “Mrs. Robinson” became a chart-topper and Grammy Award winner for Simon & Garfunkel.

On August 8, Dustin Hoffman will reach 75 years of age and enter into the target demographic for senior living facilities.  He is part of the “Bobby-sox Generation”[1] that will drive occupancy for the next decade.  Other notable bobby-soxers turning 75 this year include:

Bill Cosby                                               

                                                                            Warren Beatty

General Colin Powell (ret)

Former Sec. of State

George Takei                        Billy Dee Williams

Mister Sulu”                           “Lando Calrissian

Jack Nicholson 

Roberta Flack

Betty

Elinor Donahue

Burt Reynolds      

Morgan Freeman

Richard Petty  “The King

At the time “The Graduate” was filmed, a U.S. male could expect to live to an average age of 67 years (74 years for a woman)[2].  That meant that the average man – who, in 1967, would have generally been expected to become the principal family breadwinner – would retire at age 65 and have a few years of retirement before dying.  His widow would then live another 7 to 10 years and likely need some form of health care support in her waning years.

These are the demographics and statistics that have driven the development of the senior living industry for the past 40 years and led to the adoption of the “rest home” mentality throughout much of the industry.  A quiet, secluded location was considered appropriate for the aged to live out their remaining years.  As providers, our focus was on giving high quality medical care and supportive services to make the resident comfortable in their final years.

DO THESE INDIVIDUALS LOOK LIKE THEY ARE READY FOR A REST HOME?

The reality is that the world has changed radically as a result of medical advances since 1967.  Our sampling of bobby-soxers have already beaten the odds by exceeding their projected life expectancy.  They are still vibrant and active with life expectancy now increased for white men to over 76 years and 81 years for women.[3]  Beyond the extended life projections, the Christian Science Monitor and other articles[4] note several significant changes in the make-up of the aging population.  The gap between male and female mortality has narrowed to just 4 years[5]        as women are now smoking more with higher incidences of obesity and uncontrolled high blood pressure.  In addition, the life expectancy for blacks (African-Americans) has made great strides towards the white statistics.

These analyses suggest that the successful senior living facility of the future must appeal to a much broader demographic than just the traditional 80+, widowed, white female.   Fundamental changes in everything from location and building design to lifestyles management will be necessary to offer a product and services that will appeal to the Bobby-sox generation.


[1] Born 1935 – 1945.  See http://wp.me/pCemc-bn for a further discussion of the Bobby-sox Generation

[2] See:  http://demog.berkeley.edu/~andrew/1918/figure2.html

[3] Christian Science Monitor, June 19, 2012:   http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2012/0619/Racial-gap-in-life-expectancy-reaches-new-low-in-US

[4] e.g. ABC World News, June 16, 2011:  http://abcnews.go.com/Health/life-expectancy-men-outpacing-women-study/story?id=13850055#.UCGh26DN6So

[5] USA Today, 4/20/12:  http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/health/story/2012-04-19/Life-expectancy-improves-slower-for-women/54419298/1