Not too long ago, assisted living communities often resembled hospitals with strict bathing, eating and sleeping schedules. Today, however, most senior living communities have adopted a philosophy that focuses on offering luxuries previously reserved only for hotels and resorts.
According to an article published by Marketplace, senior living developers say “the industry is starting to view assisted living more as hospitality… offering restaurant-style dining and a décor that resembles more of a boutique hotel.”
A Shift Towards Hospitality
The incoming generation of baby boomers are responsible for the shift towards hotel-style hospitality in assisted living. Baby boomers “bring different expectations to the table when it comes to what they look for in a community,” reports McKnight Senior Living. The article suggests that baby boomers pride themselves on being capable and current, and “have experienced more culture, prosperity and travel” than any group of people who have come before them.
Thus, assisted living is no longer regarded as place for aging seniors to go, where they are hidden away from society; rather it offers baby boomers a place to thrive in their retirement and enjoy the lifestyle that they are used to.
The advancement of technology offers another reason for the shift towards assisted living hospitality. There are several ways a community can integrate technology to offer an ambient, seamless experience for residents, including:
- Digital bulletin boards and messaging systems
- Digital documentation and medical record systems
- Digital photos and videos
- Digital service request systems
- Family and resident online portals
- Integrated music
- Resident monitoring technology, e.g., bed and fall alarms
The Benefits of Assisted Living Hospitality
The assisted living hospitality approach often includes everything from the building’s design, to the amenities and activities offered, to the philosophy of care and staff training.
Below are areas to consider when assessing the level of hospitality offered in an assisted living community:
Baby boomers are interested in activities and amenities that can enhance their retirement experience. Carroll Adams describes the “boutique amenities” that are now being integrated into assisted living communities, including:
- College and special interest courses
- Common areas for multigenerational activities
- Hosting cultural and social events
- Larger multipurpose spaces
- Multiple dining spaces
- Personal trainers
- Pools and spas
- Wellness coaches
Consistency and continuity are key elements to providing a fantastic customer experience. After all, residents are customers – and most assisted living communities with a “hospitality philosophy” come with a hefty price tag – therefore residents expect excellence. Interestingly, consistency is one of the most difficult elements for assisted living communities to maintain and Senior Living.net suggests this is where many communities fail.
Culture is crucial to creating a hospitable and inviting community. The employees of an assisted living community set the tone for the entire community and must be well trained and have “a heart and passion for serving seniors.” Forbes refers to the customer service offered at assisted living communities as “required hospitality: the customer isn’t coming to you out of desire — as they would be when staying at a seaside resort or exchanging a pair of strappy shoes – but out of need.” Therefore, the staff become an integral part of the residents daily life and their “interactions are longer-term; the relationships go deeper; the needs and wishes are more multi-faceted.” Proper employee selection, onboarding and training, and ongoing support are key elements for a community to excel in hospitality.
No one wants to live in an assisted living community from an era past. Baby boomers of today want an assisted living residence with a distinctive design: “whether a senior community plays on the design styles of the region, with Mediterranean architecture and palm trees in Florida, or just goes for a unique look, your new senior community will most likely not look like an institution or hospital,” Senior Living.net advises.
The old adage ‘location, location, location’ is an important one when it comes to real estate. According to Senior Living.net, “the most coveted senior living communities are in high traffic areas,” close to entertainment, healthcare, restaurants and shopping centers.
Are you interested in a hospitality-focused assisted living community? Tell us your thoughts about assisted living hospitality in the comments below.