Skip to content

Senior Living News Wire

Streaming News Covering Skilled Nursing, Memory Care, Assisted and Independent Living

Archive

Archive for August, 2012

Legal experts say the Affordable Care Act’s maintenance-of-effort (MOE) requirement — which prohibits states from tightening Medicaid eligibility — remains vulnerable to legal challenges.

Share

In observation of the Labor Day holiday, McKnight’s Daily Update will not be publishing on Monday Sept. 3.

Share

Poor dental hygiene habits are tied to an increased risk for developing dementia in older age, a new study found.

Share

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, will pay $181 million to settle charges that it marketed antipsychotic medications for medically unapproved purposes.

Share

In recognition of Labor Day, Senior Housing News will be departing slightly from its normal posting schedule. The daily email will resume on Tuesday, Sept. 2.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, this national holiday is a “creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

NewImage

Here’s to a safe, fun, and hopefully labor-less day!

-The Senior Housing News Staff

Share

It’s been one hot summer for temperatures across the country. The mercury on the senior housing and senior living market keeps rising as can be seen in this installment of Movers & Shakers and the latest news from SHN. Got scorching hot talent joining your team? Send us those staffing announcements at movers-shakers@seniorhousingnews.com.

If you don’t have the talent you’re looking for, our senior housing jobs board maybe the answer to your needs.  For less than $1 per day, you can advertise your job opportunity to those keeping up with the latest news and trends in the senior housing industry.  Click here to visit the SHN job board. 

Gensler Named Vice President of Business Development

Scott Gensler, Erickson Living’s Vice President of Financial Planning, Analysis and Reporting, has been selected as the company’s new Vice President of Business Development. In this new leadership position, Gensler will work within the company’s Corporate Affairs Division to identify and evaluate new business opportunities. Gensler has been with Erickson for more than 15 years and has an impressive knowledge of key aspects of the business, says the company, including Finance, Sales and Marketing, and Operations. 

OnShift Announces Vice President of Customer Success

OnShift recently announced Paul Chilensky as the company’s Vice President of Customer Success. Chilensky has more than 25 years of experience building and managing global service and support organizations for software companies, and has successfully grown service revenue and customer satisfaction to record levels with each organization. His healthcare background includes the long-term care industry, having led and implemented services strategies for sustainable customer satisfaction in a leading pharmaceutical systems company. Chilensky will lead OnShift’s customer implementation, services and support organization, ensuring that clients maximize their financial, operational and clinical outcomes with the use of OnShift. 

Ventas Names John Hart Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Ventas, Inc. (NYSE:VTR) has appointed John K. Hart to the newly created position of Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer reporting to the Company’s Chief Financial Officer.

Hart joined Ventas from CME Group Inc. where he worked for 16 years, most recently as Managing Director of Technology. At the CME, where he supervised a team of 200 IT professionals, Hart was responsible for managing the exchange’s enterprise architecture, business systems, security, telecommunications, networking, help desk and operations. Earlier in his career he was an assistant vice president at First Options in Chicago, and prior to that he was a senior network architect with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Hart received his Bachelor of Industrial Management from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and his MBA from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.

AHEPA Management Company Names Solberg as Assistant Director of Compliance

AHEPA Management Company, a property management firm providing onsite management for affordable senior housing communities nationwide, has announced the promotion of Amy Solberg to the position of Assistant Director of Compliance. In her new role, Solberg ensures that AHEPA senior affordable apartment properties are in compliance with various state and federal funding programs. She also provides compliance oversight for HUD and other regulatory policies as they pertain to programs, AMC property manager training, Yardi software support, and Fair Housing compliance.

Solberg has nine years of experience in property management and subsidized housing. She joined AHEPA Management Company in 2006 as Property Manager for AHEPA 113 Apartments in Beavercreek, Ohio. Previously, she was Property Manager for subsidized housing management firm Gorsuch Management in Lancaster, Ohio.

Clara Parker Named Executive Director of Charlestown

Erickson Living has named Clara Parker as the Executive Director of Charlestown, the continuing care retirement community in Catonsville, Md. Parker has more than 25 years of not-for-profit experience. In 2005, she began her career with Baltimore-based Erickson Living as the Director of Finance at Oak Crest. Most recently, Parker served as the Vice President-Regional Finance Director for Erickson Living communities throughout the country. As Executive Director, Parker will be responsible for the daily operations and major capital projects of the 110-acre campus that is home to more than 2,000 residents served by 1,100 employees. 

Prior to joining Erickson Living, Parker served as the Senior Director of Finance for the American Red Cross at its national headquarters in Washington D.C. A resident of Severna Park, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Economics from Towson University and attended the Executive MBA Program at Loyola University in Maryland.

Beech Street Capital Hires Sherman as EVP of Seniors Housing

Beech Street Capital, LLC has hired James Sherman as Executive Vice President of Seniors Housing to continue building the company’s seniors housing practice. Sherman comes to Beech Street from RED Capital Group, where he was a senior managing director leading the senior housing and long-term care group.  He is a recognized leader in the industry, having served on the boards of many professional organizations, including a term as president of the National Association of Seniors Living Industries. Sherman was also president and CEO of Churchill Estates, an assisted living provider.  

SeniorHomes.com Announces Expansion of Executive Management Team

SeniorHomes.com recently added three new executives to its management team. Rob Frerichs was hired as Vice President of Business Development and Deborah King as Director of Care Advising. In addition, the company promoted Ron White, Vice President of Sales, to direct the Account Management team. The new management team was put into place to oversee SeniorHomes.com’s rapid business expansion and growing staff.

The site’s Vice President of Sales, Ron White, took over leadership of the Account Management team in April 2012. White will oversee the maintenance and expansion of SeniorHomes.com current business relationships. For more than 10 years, White has been a leader in the internet marketing and advertising industry. Rob Frerichs was brought on as the Vice President of Business Development in May 2012. Prior to joining SeniorHomes.com, Frerichs was directly responsible for creating winning sales strategies that have built recurring revenue streams for Market Leader and numerous startups. Deb King was promoted to Director of Care Advising in June 2012. 

Walker & Dunlop Hires SVP of FHA Finance Division

Walker & Dunlop, Inc. (NYSE:WD) announced that Michael B. Vaughn has joined the Company as senior vice president & head of the Company’s FHA Finance Healthcare department. Mr. Vaughn will manage origination, underwriting, and quality control of all Healthcare loans.

Prior to joining Walker & Dunlop, Vaughn held several positions at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Most recently he was Director of the Office of Residential Care Facilities, part of the Office of Healthcare Programs. While there, Vaughn was directly responsible for origination and asset management activities related to the $17.5 billion portfolio of Section 232 Insured Mortgages on Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living Facilities. Under his leadership, the LEAN (Section 232) program reached a level of production of over 800 loans a year, $6 billion in commitments and issued approvals on the largest nursing home portfolio ever processed by HUD. Earlier at HUD, Vaughn was personally responsible for a large number of Mark-to-Market, Mixed-Finance public housing and tax credit transactions.

Previously, in the private sector, Vaughn was a senior vice president of the Bank of New York’s Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Multifamily lender, ARCS Mortgage. He received his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and his MBA from Yale University’s School of Public and Private Management.

Integral Senior Living Announces a New Regional Director of Operations

Integral Senior Living has appointed Roxanne Gooding as a Regional Director of Operations. In this newly created position, Gooding will oversee operations for a number of ISL communities. Gooding brings over 18 years of senior living executive management and healthcare experience to the position. In her new role, she will be responsible for providing operational guidance and support to many of ISL’s communities.
 


Most recently, Gooding was a RCFE consultant. Prior to consulting, she was with Westmont Living in a variety of positions including Regional Director of Operations, Executive Director and Resident Services Director. Before her time at Westmont, she was with Seniorcare Communities, Atria Senior Living, Addus Healthcare and Koerick Sterling Communities. Gooding is a licensed Vocational Nurse, and has a RCFE Administrator Certificate and an A.A. in Business Management.

Remedi SeniorCare Names Michael Freedman Regional Sales Manager

Remedi SeniorCare has named seasoned industry executive Michael Freedman as its new Regional Sales Manager. Freedman is responsible for Remedi’s long-term care customers throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Northern Delaware and will drive growth via Remedi’s innovative offerings, including the Paxit 24-hour unit-dose medication administration system, Connexit electronic data interchange, the My Remedi customer portal and Remedi’s RapidResponse(SM) service delivery model. Among his initial focus is to support and deepen Remedi’s preferred provider relationship with Kairos Health Systems, a leading Group Purchasing Organization to the non-profit senior housing industry.

Most recently, Freedman was an account executive with AmerisourceBergen Technology Group, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical services companies. There he was responsible for the sales of automated pharmacy packaging devices to the long-term care and retail pharmacy market. Freedman holds a Bachelors of Science degree from Penn State University in Health Planning Administration.

Flores Named Executive Director at Carlton Plaza Elk Grove

Mrs. Lindsey Flores has been promoted to executive director of Carlton Plaza Elk Grove in Elk Grove, Calif. Flores has gained extensive experience overseeing community operations since joining the company in 2005 at Carlton Plaza of Sacramento where she headed the resident activities program for several years and most recently was director of resident care first for Carlton Plaza Sacramento and then for Carlton Crown Plaza Sacramento, which specializes in enhanced assisted living.

Flores was participating in Carlton’s Senior Executive Training program when she was selected to open Carlton Plaza Elk Grove as executive director. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from California State University of Sacramento and is certified by the State of California as an administrator of Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs).

National Housing Conference Announces Hire of N.C. Housing Coalition’s Chris Estes

The National Housing Conference (NHC), the nonprofit affordable housing advocacy group known as the United Voice for Housing, today announced that Chris Estes will join the 81-year-old housing organization as its new president and CEO. Estes is currently the executive director of the N.C. Housing Coalition, a post he has held since 2003. In his new position, Estes will lead NHC’s policy and advocacy work both in Washington and throughout the country. He will also work closely with NHC’s research affiliate, the Center for Housing Policy, to make the case for affordable housing and develop effective housing policy solutions. In making the announcement, NHC Chair John L. Kelly cited Estes’ record of successful leadership and organization-building expertise.

Estes already had extensive experience in economic development, smart growth advocacy, welfare reform, workforce development, affordable housing development and asset-building research before joining the N.C. coalition as its executive director in September 2003. He holds masters degrees in Social Work and in City and Regional Planning, both from UNC-Chapel Hill. 

RED CAPITAL GROUP, LLC Hires Kathryn Burton Gray

RED CAPITAL GROUP, LLC is expanding its health care and seniors housing platforms with the hiring of Kathryn Burton Gray to lead the effort nationwide. Burton Gray will play a key role in RED’s continued expansion in the industry. With over 25 years of experience, Burton Gray brings a proven history of strategic business development, lending expertise, and market share growth. She previously served as a managing director with CIT’s health care unit.

Highland Springs Hires Cecilia Saucedo as Director of Continuing Care

Highland Springs announced the hiring of Cecilia Saucedo as its first Director of Continuing Care. Saucedo has more than 22 years of professional experience in the senior living industry, mainly with skilled nursing facilities. In 2003, she earned her licensure as a Nursing Facility Administrator. Saucedo received her Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas Wesleyan University. The Texas native is a member of the Texas Health Care Association. 

United Methodist Retirement Communities Hires New Health Services Administrator at Chelsea Retirement Community

United Methodist Retirement Communities, Inc. (UMRC) has hired Lee Karson as the new Health Services Administrator at Chelsea Retirement Community. In his new position, Karson will be responsible for the day-to-day functions of Kresge Rehabilitation Center on the Chelsea Retirement Community campus. Karson’s previous experience involves more than 35 years of administration in the healthcare sector. Most recently, Karson was the Grand Blanc Rehabilitation & Nursing Center Administrator in Grand Blanc, Mich. where he worked in all aspects of clinical and operational outcomes and assisted in the development of annual budgets. 

Presbyterian Retirement Communities NW Welcomes New Corporate Director of Human Resources

Presbyterian Retirement Communities Northwest (PRCN) has announced that Larry Dart has joined the organization as Corporate Director of Human Resources. Dart brings years of experience in the areas of finance, human resources and operations. He will oversee the Human Resource department of PRCN and its three senior living communities: Exeter House, Park Shore and Skyline at First Hill.

Most recently, Dart worked for the Youth Hostel Association of New Zealand, where he managed the day-to-day operations in the largest business for the #1 budget accommodation provider in New Zealand. He led a team of 25 people across two properties with 330 beds and $2 million in sales. Previously, Dart was a Human Resources consultant where he provided strategic and operational direction to clients in the food service industry. Dart has a Bachelor of Science from Millikin University from Decatur, Ill. 

AHEPA Names Cavanaugh as Regional Manager

AHEPA Management Company has announced the promotion of Judy Cavanaugh to the position of Regional Manager for Region 7. In her new role, Ms. Cavanaugh oversees the property managers and operations for 10 affordable senior apartment properties managed by AHEPA Management Company, including financials, daily operations, maintenance upkeep, yearly budgets, inspections and property visits. Region 7 properties include AHEPA 35 Apartments in Nashua, NH; Penelope 35 and 35-II Apartments in Bloomington, MN; AHEPA 39 Apartments in Haverhill, MA; AHEPA 53, 53-II, and 53-III Apartments in St. Louis, MO; Penelope 120 Apartments in Peabody, MA, and AHEPA 343 Apartments in LaVergne, TN.  She joined AHEPA Management Company in 1998 and holds the Certified Occupancy Specialist (COS) designation, the Certified Manager of Maintenance (CMM) designation and the Assisted Manager of Housing (AMH) through Quadel designation from NCHM, the National Center for Housing Management.

Jeffrey R. Leeds Appointed Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Brookdale

Brookdale Senior Living Inc. (NYSE:BKD) recently announced that Brookdale’s Board of Directors has appointed Jeffrey R. Leeds to serve as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board.  Leeds has served as a member of the Board of Directors and as Chairman of the Company’s Audit Committee since November 2005. He retired as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of GreenPoint Financial Corporation and GreenPoint Bank in October 2004, in which capacities he served since January 1999. Prior to that, Leeds was Executive Vice President, Finance and Senior Vice President and Treasurer of GreenPoint.

HouseWorks Announces New Executive Director in Greater Washington

HouseWorks has announced the hire of its new Executive Director of GreaterWashington, Joan Hyman. Hyman spent four years as Senior Vice President of Development and MemberServices at the Beacon Institute—Lifespan’s education arm—focusing on the establishment ofcutting-edge programs and enhancing value-based services for health care providers. Prior toLifeSpan, Hyman worked in a variety of settings including the Charlestown Continuing Care Retirement Community in Catonsville, Md., HCR Manorcare in Silver Spring, Md., and the Gladys Spellman Specialty Hospital and Nursing Center in Cheverly, Md.

Capitol Lakes Promotes Feldbruegge to Sales Director and Hires Czekalski as Marketing Coordinator

Capitol Lakes has promoted Debra (Deb) Feldbruegge to the position of Sales Director. She has been with Capitol Lakes since 2008, previously serving as Marketing Representative.In addition to her four years’ experience at Capitol Lakes, Feldbruegge contributes 10 years’ experience in real estate sales and extensive experience in accounting and retail management. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Marketing, has an active state of Wisconsin real estate license, and maintains an avid interest in current market conditions and real estate trends in Dane County.

Morgan Czekalski has been hired to become the new Marketing Coordinator at Capitol Lakes, working closely with Feldbruegge. In 2009, Czekalski earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Marketing from Chippewa Valley Technical College, and she graduated from the University of Wisconsin at River Falls in May 2012 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing Communications. 

Share

Louisiana National Guard troops evacuated 112 nursing home residents Wednesday when storm water from Tropical Storm Isaacs threatened to break a levee near the facility.

Share

President Obama’s 2013 Federal Budget, released in February, included plans to raise the mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) on many of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) loan programs, including those for healthcare facility lending, and the increased rates will soon be going into effect, the department recently reminded program users in an email. 

The reminder noted that existing firm commitment applications—both “Initial Submittal of Firm” or “Direct to Firm” applications—that were in the queue prior to June 1 of this year will be grandfathered under the previous MIP rates. 

HUD’s email listed the following information:

  • MIP Collected by Lenders—All Projects
    ORCF does not regulate the amount of mortgage insurance premiums collected by lenders from borrowers in refinance or construction transactions. Lenders may have their own policies as they deem appropriate.
  • MIP Collected by ORCF at Initial Closing—223(f) and 223(a)(7) Transactions
    The current practice remains in place. The first year MIP for a Section 232/223(f) health care facility remains at 100 basis points (one percent). The first year MIP for a Section 223(a)(7) refinancing loan remains at 50 basis points.
  • MIP Collected by ORCF at Initial Closing—New Construction, Rehabilitation, 241a, Blended Rate Transactions
    Effective October 1, 2012 the lender must provide a check for one year of MIP at initial closing.
  • MIP Underwritten Amount—New Construction, Rehabilitation, 241a, Blended Rate Transactions
    For underwriting purposes, the MIP should be calculated on a per diem basis as required for cost certification.
  • MIP Year 2 Source of Funds—New Construction, Rehabilitation, 241a, Blended Rate Transactions
    Lenders may request release of funds from the Working Capital account to make this payment if the project has not yet reached final endorsement. This request should be made in writing to the ORCF Closing Coordinator.
  • MIP Cost Certification Amount—New Construction, Rehabilitation, 241a, Blended Rate Transactions
    For cost certification purposes the MIP should be calculated on a per diem basis. This was included in instructions in the email blast of January 6, 2012 in the Lender Narrative Cost Certification Supplement attachment.

Click here to view the new rate information. 

Written by Alyssa Gerace

Share

In the wake of Sunrise Senior Living (NYSE:SRZ) agreeing to be bought by Health Care REIT (NYSE:HCN), senior living investors are riding a wave of interest in the industry as boosted stock prices reflect favorable occupancy trends and payment rates along with other factors, according to the Tenneseean.com

The senior living industry—including independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities—is primarily private-pay and not subject to fluctuating federal reimbursement rates, offering investors more stability.

Among the beneficiaries has been Brentwood-based Brookdale Senior Living, whose stock is up about 32 percent this month through Tuesday. That’s despite the senior living chain saying three weeks ago that Chief Executive Bill Sheriff had decided to retire after 28 years.

Earlier this month, the positive sentiments were driven by a report that showed occupancy of assisted- and independent-living centers reached a four-year high of nearly 89 percent for the second quarter with annual rent growth still around 2 percent.

Those numbers helped dispel the notion that the senior living market is linked solely to the economy, or broader housing trends, which had stalled, said Robert Mains, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus.

“There was a perception from some investors that senior housing is like apartments for old people, so if the economy or housing market is weak, seniors aren’t going to move into assisted- and independent-living facilities,” he said. “Senior housing operators always said, ‘Ours is needs-based business. You move mom in because she can’t live independently anymore, not because you can sell her house.’”

After a building boom in the late ’90s through early 2000s that caused an over-supply of beds, there’s been limited new construction of assisted- and independent-living centers. That former excess supply has been absorbed, and too few facilities have been added to meet projected demand over the next several years.

REITs are taking advantage of the low interest rate environment and continue to drive most of the mergers and acquisitions in senior housing, the article continues, citing Justin Hutchens, the CEO of health care REIT National Health Investors. 

Read the full piece at the Tennessean.com.

Written by Alyssa Gerace 

Share

Griffin-American Healthcare REIT II, Inc., announced on Wednesday the acquisition of a 13-property portfolio of senior care communities along with seven medical office buildings (MOBs) located in Illinois, Texas, Tennessee, and Georgia for a total of approximately $103 million. 

“We seek to acquire properties that provide multiple levels of diversification to Griffin-American Healthcare REIT II,” said Danny Prosky, a principal of American Healthcare Investors and president and chief operating officer of the REIT.  “These latest acquisitions are a good example of this – they add geographic, asset and payor mix diversification to an already substantial nationwide portfolio of healthcare-related properties.”

The senior care properties, collectively called the Pacific Northwest Senior Care Portfolio, consists of eight skilled nursing facilities and five assisted living communities totally approximately 369,000 square feet and 838 licensed beds located throughout Washington and Oregon. The portfolio is master-leased through 2025 by Regency Pacific Management. 

Griffin-American Healthcare REIT acquired the portfolio from Regency Pacific-affiliated entities, all of which are unaffiliated with the REIT. Don Ambrose and Chris Urban of Ambrose Capital Group, Inc. represented Regency Pacific. 

The REIT financed the acquisition using $45 million in borrowings under its unsecured line of credit with Bank of America, N.A., and the remaining using cash on hand. 

The seven MOBs total nearly 200,000 square feet and are located in Illinois, Texas, Tennessee, and Georgia. 

Griffin-American Healthcare REIT II has grown by about 111% since the beginning of the year, based on purchase price, while maintaining leverage of 31.2% as of June 30, 2012—among the lowest in the non-traded REIT industry, according to independent research conducted by Blue Vault Partners LLC. 

Written by Alyssa Gerace 

Share

The developers of the online Nursing Home Inspect updated its database this week to allow consumers to comb through 134,602 nursing home inspection deficiencies.

Share

The American Health Care Association announced Thursday that it will employ a new, proprietary methodology for calculating case-mix adjusted hospitalization metrics for its members in its national Quality Initiative.

Share

As part of the Grand Faces Grand Voices campaign by Generations United to celebrate Grandparents Day, we are sharing this touching story about the unlikely friendships that developed between a group of seniors at United Church Homes and a local third-grade class last year.

Share

This is the last in a three-part series on mystery shopping for senior living communities. 

Mystery shopping can reveal a variety of issues that may be present in senior living communities’ marketing departments, including a need to return to basic Marketing 101 and a tendency to practice ‘iPod Marketing,’ but communities can learn from their mistakes and use findings to reallocate marketing dollars and better focus their resources and strategies.

This can be done in a couple different ways, including learning which aspect of a specific community to highlight in marketing brochures and tours; training staff to assess the cost of each lead; and what perhaps seems the most basic: providing an appealing tour experience to prospective residents and their families.

One older community requested a comparison mystery shop of itself and several other communities, feeling it was at an “extreme” disadvantage to nearby competitors that had been built more recently and had more modern amenities.

After comparing results, it turned out that the older community was actually tied for the top marks, thanks to a warm and helpful staff that engaged with the prospect along every step of the tour. 

“You might think your number one asset is your building, but you might find out it’s actually your staff,” says Elisabeth Borden, founder and principal at The Highland Group, which offers mystery shopping services to clients. “[Getting shopped] helps people shift their marketing messages; you could find out there are very different impressions than what you thought.” 

It’s also a good idea to try to ascertain an approximate cost per lead by asking how the caller heard of the community: through the company’s website, an advertisement, or some other referral source, says Andrew Carle, the executive-in-residence and founder of George Mason University’s Senior Housing Administration program. Nearly half the time, at 47%, senior living marketers never ask.

“This is basic, professional marketing,” he says. “This is a failure not only to help families but to help your own organization figure out how to spend your advertising dollars.”

Getting mystery shopped can be useful for senior living administrators to reallocate external marketing resources.

Mystery shopping is an “outstanding” training tool, says Jon Obel, vice president of operations for Terra Management Group LLC, which manages several Colorado affordable senior living communities for Hendricks Communities LLC. 

“Perception is such a big thing,” he says. “Everyone perceives things differently, and mystery shopping gives really good objective input.”

The Highland Group conducts mystery shopping on assorted Hendricks communities each quarter, says Obel, who says that for the most part, staff does “really well”—but that some different issues are identified. 

After getting the results of the mystery shop, the management group sits down with its staff to go over things that are being done well along with areas that didn’t receive such high remarks.

“Everyone pretty much took it as an opportunity to improve their overall [sales] skills,” says Obel. “It helped us to identify where those disconnects are happening so we can continue cross-training and additional training in those areas.” 

Another way to help enhance the tour experience is by filming the mystery shop using a hidden camera. That’s what sales performance evaluation service LeBlanc & Associates does. Based in Carlsbad, Calif., the company’s sales agents conduct video- and audio-recorded tours that allow management to get a more comprehensive look at both their personnel and facility from the prospect’s point of view.

“It adds a different dimension,” says Mary LeBlanc, the company’s president.

From the physical plant perspective, a video tour can help management see where marketing dollars are being spent.

“How does the dining area come across? The open areas? The model units? Are they clean? In order? Are there stains on the carpet?” LeBlanc says, listing off key first-impression influencers. “[Management is] able to see things on a day-to-day basis without a pre-announced visit. They can see where they need to reinforce rules, and so forth.”

Video captures facial expressions and body language, too, she says. “People are bringing their loved ones here,” she points out. “All the other things are important, but if your front line people do not instill confidence, trust, and caring that a loved one is going to be taken care of– I don’t care if you have a brand new facility: someone’s not going to leave Mom or Grandma at a place they don’t feel comfortable.” 

Ultimately, the community tour process needs to be buyer-centric.

“Agents must always determine what level of information that prospect needs: their fears, concerns, what they need in terms of explanation to make them feel informed and comfortable, as opposed to information download,” LeBlanc says, hearkening back to so-called iPod marketing.

Each community needs to create a uniqueness about themselves versus their competition, she says. “Know who your competition is, and how to be different or counter [what they offer].” 

At some businesses, seeing sales staff for the first time on video prompted management to change aspects of the physical environment of the sales office to make it more buyer-friendly. For senior living, it’s not just a stand-alone sales office—it’s essentially the entire community. When communities get mystery shopped, LeBlanc concludes, it can help management and agents identify how they need to structure their presentation to best appeal to prospective residents.

Written by Alyssa Gerace 

Share

With the number of technology-savvy older adults rising rapidly, the senior living communities who don’t use the Internet and various social media outlets to communicate with this demographic do so “at their own peril,” according to a recent white paper on the potentials and pitfalls of social media released earlier this year by Life Care Services.

The top five online destinations visited by the 65+ demographic in 2009 are led by first-ranked Google search, followed by Windows Media Player, Facebook, YouTube, and Amazon, according to Nielsen Media Company.

More and more seniors are using the Internet for various purposes, according to a Pew Research Center study showing that for the first time, more than half of 65+ seniors (53%) are online—and once on, they become regular users. Boomers are already becoming increasingly accustomed to having a social media presence, too, as one in three online seniors are using networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.

“Certainly, as the Baby Boom generation begins to consider their senior housing options in the future, social media will play an ever-increasing role in their decision-making process,” writes LCS. 

This has major implications on how senior living providers need to respond to this trend, and the white paper recommends that by 2015, senior living communities should be spending about eight to ten percent of their marketing budgets on online marketing and social media initiatives. 

However, there are also cautions to take into consideration when it comes to social media and senior living, and it’s important to have a policy in place before launching social media platforms, says LCS. 

Senior living communities should have dedicated in-house personnel responsible for maintaining their social presence, the white paper recommends.

Access Senior Living Communities and Social Media: Fostering Potential and Avoiding Pitfalls here

Written by Alyssa Gerace

Share