Editor's Desk: Amenities are just part of what your facility can offer
James M. Berklan, Editor
The greatest college basketball coach of all time, John Wooden, said it best: Don't let what you cannot do stop you from doing what you can do.Nursing homes fretting about how to keep census high and maintain a good image should take heed.
Worried about how to compete with the new place down the street with fancy chandeliers and gourmet dining? Don't be. Just do what you can (make sure this includes providing solid healthcare) and things can turn out well. That's true even if you're “just” a nursing home while others are assisted living facilities or fancier settings.A recent study involving a group of Connecticut seniors living in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and care homes revealed that the setting wasn't as important as personal characteristics when it came to their happiness, satisfaction and overall health. In other words, what they brought to the table—mentally, emotionally and physically—had as big or bigger an effect on their sense of well-being and health than whether the facility's player piano was pitch-perfect.
Those in assisted living facilities initially scored higher on social interaction and had less prevalence of depression. But when researchers from the University of Connecticut Health Center factored in variables such as age, marital status and level of optimism, the assisted living edge disappeared, they said. Study results appeared recently in The Journal of Applied Gerontology.That doesn't let marketing departments and facility staff members off the hook, however. Far from it.
Other accounts, both anecdotal and academic, continue to point out that how welcome and involved in the selection process a resident feels are major predictors of satisfaction levels.So meet your potential residents at the front door and don't spare the personal attention. Remember that the resident herself also needs to feel active about choosing her future home. Work hard to create social networks within your buildings.
To reiterate, when the researchers inquired about quality of life and emotional well-being, residents' answers did not hinge on housing types, as researchers thought they would.That means it gets back to one word: service. You are ultimately in a service-oriented profession. “Bells and whistles” don't mean much if the people you expect to use them aren't happy.