Those of us working in the senior housing industry regularly hear about the 'features' to attract residents, families and friends to the community. From new menus, re-arrangement of eating and dining areas to the benefits of a range of value add type activities, these 'features' are designed to make for enhanced living, better quality of life and of course meet occupancy targets. However, getting back to family values is still, in my opinion, the best 'feature' to include in retirement communities while improving all values both intrinsic and financial.
Sarah and I developed the first intergeneration curatorial initiative back in 2000 at Burnaby Hospital, BC Canada by bringing elementary and high school students together with professional artists into long term care. The multi-generational experience meant that students and seniors interacted on an intimate level and the result was of tremendous environmental, emotional, social, and spiritual benefit to all. Not to mention a first senior art exhibit that toured BC and is still on display at the hospital.
Fast forward to 2015 and the 'feature' is intergenerational programming. Yes, most of us have heard about the benefits but operators and GM's still appear somewhat reluctant to embrace the value of "putting kids at the core" (as quoted by COO Lori Alford Avanti Senior Living). And somehow there is a reluctance to create sustainable intergenerational programs and communities. It's really not a difficult task - just ask us!! And the benefits are numerous!!
Senior Housing News recently interviewed Lori Alford, COO Avanti Senior Living and her vision is certainly an inspiration to all of us 'in the know' relative to the benefits of intergenerational community. The Woodlands, a Texas-based Avanti Senior Living has developed a new family-oriented program that will begin when the Assisted Living and Memory care provider opens it first community this summer. In fact Avanti Senior Living will roll out the program at all of its six communities.
How the program works is that children will be able to check out iPads and enjoy kid-friendly food and drinks, and enjoy indoor and outdoor spaces that have been included in the project design and construction. Can you see all the possibilities?
Let's see - Grandparents Day in September moves over to not just 1 celebrated day in the year but is included during every week of the year, education curriculum is enhanced and classroom work moves into the communities, playtime is expansive and the sense of well-being and motivation for the seniors is well, priceless. Talk about resident satisfaction!!!!
Sarah and I have been bringing intergenerational programming to retirement communities since 2000 and it's exciting to see that more developers are catching on (or dare I say catching up). Our upcoming e-newsletter will feature a provider who is doing something similar on the West Coast - stay tuned as we describe what it takes to ramp up resident satisfaction and ultimately achieve lasting and sustainable value - residents, children, families and staff happy and fulfilled in their work and living environs.