Return to Home Page...Return to Consulting Page

“How To Deliver What We Promise”

By Wendy Simons


   Assisted living facilities are continuing to grow and expand in our community as they meet the ever increasing demand for senior care. This begs additional attention to truly deliver what their brochures and marketing teams promise to the senior and their family members.   The key to cultivating satisfied consumers is very simple, a formula for family and resident relationship building. 


   Communication and relationship building consists of four parts: Continual advisement, free-flowing exchange of information and input, marketing the existing families and residents, and a transition team or plan.


Continual Advisement:


   When a resident moves in to a facility, it is important that the family receives a daily progress report on how resident is adjusting to the new surroundings during the first week.  A mistake that is often made is the failure to brief the family on  the “adjustment period” when a person is admitted to the facility.


   It is imperative that a designated management member inform the families of all changes of condition of the resident as soon as they occur.  So frequently I hear the complaint that the facility did not notify the family of a fall, illness or other condition outside of the norm for a resident, for several days. Facilities seem to do a good job about documenting changes in condition, they just fail to notify the family of those observations.


   When a facility arranges for a medical appointment and attends the resident to the appointment, the family member must be advised of the results of that appointment.  Medication orders or changes, diagnostic tests ordered by the physician and other such items must be included in that notification process.  This would also include the occasions where physicians conduct a visit to the resident at the facility. 


Free-flowing Information Exchange:


   The most important contribution to adjusting in the facility is learning the background of the person. A summary of the life history is a vital bit of information the family or resident can provide.  All direct service staff must know the story of the persons’ life.


   Too often we care for the person we see and forget that individual had a remarkable life, full of experiences that will affect how he/she is aging.

Allow for staff to communicate with family members and family members to communicate with staff as well as management.  Team building extends beyond the business, and family is a critical component to the team.


Develop a “Transition Team”:


   Moving in or moving out of a facility are the most stressful of times for a resident and the family.. Both require a significant adjustment period and a tremendous amount of preparation.


   The move-in team needs to assure there is an orientation period and that all staff are working toward a successful adjustment.  Baseline health care information is needed, lifestyle preferences are acknowledged,  priority family contact names and numbers are prepared, and a peer group welcome committee are in place to support the new resident.


   When there is a need for a resident to move out, it is imperative that there are no abrupt discharges.  Staff and management must guide the family and the resident through each step of the process and “hand hold” through each step.  Facilities have the responsibility of never alienating the family who needs to relocate and in fact, should help the family find the best place for the resident to transition to.


Market Existing Family Members and Residents:


   Too often facilities drop the ball in customer satisfaction, once the resident has moved in to a facility. It is so very important to continue to “market” throughout the stay of the resident.  If the family becomes disappointed with service, quality of food, or consideration of concerns, the effect will be a negative experience of assisted living and could result in complete disappointment.


   A facility needs to consider offering educational programs for family members on topics of aging and a newsletter to keep family and residents up to date.  It is important to cultivate continuing good will between staff, residents, family members and the community. An additional item might be to invite family members or residents to share their talent with the other members of the facility.


   While many facilities conduct satisfaction surveys, I feel it  is even more important to sit down  and have a conversation with each and every family member at some time or another.  This is an emotional period for all involved, and the “gift of time” goes a long way.


   I’ve watched the assisted living industry evolve over the past 17 years., There are many building types and service packages.  The most critical need at this time is to truly “deliver what we promise”, and never disappoint those place their trust in this model of care. 


   I welcome your feedback and opinions.  You may e-mail me at:




Go to page top