There are a lot of commonalities among senior living community mission statements including high quality of care, exceptional service, and peace of mind. Also making the list are pledges to promote enhanced quality of life, independence, wellbeing, and dignity. These are lofty aims and organizational mission statements are not to be taken lightly. But as resident wellness comes under an increasingly brighter spotlight, I wonder how many communities are examining their wellness-related services under a mission-focused microscope.
I do a lot of consulting for communities across the country and what I see time and time again is that wellness is still sitting in a second place seat under an Activities banner that represents an old way of doing business. Wellness is not an activity; it is a way of life.
And while executive directors often recognize that more should be done for their residents to help them live well and to truly engage with life, they don’t know how to progress to a true community wellness strategy. Add to that confusion an organizational ambivalence about “consultants” and in the blink of an eye, the inertia of status quo starts to look very, very appealing.
But doing what you’ve always done because it’s too hard to make a change may not truly be aligning your wellness strategy with your mission.
This is where a consultant can help. Before you recoil at the word “consultant”, consider these five very-real benefits you can gain from opening up your senior living community to wellness consulting.
#5: The Fresh Perspective
You know it’s true. Sometimes activity directors are so buried with the task of filling a calendar each month that it’s difficult for them to see the forest for the trees. And when you have director-level staff who have been with your organization for several years, “what we’ve always” done is a tough cycle to break, even with the best of intentions.
When we come in to consult, we bring the benefit of unbiased observation. We don’t know you and we’re starting with a clean slate to figure out what you’re doing really well, and where the opportunities for improvement might be. We think there is profound value in not knowing your organization because we can use that position of ignorance to build a non-threatening relationship with your staff. We can ask the hard “why” questions, because we simply don’t know the answers. We can see areas of opportunity that wouldn’t be readily visible to you because you’re in the environment every day.
#4: The Change Agent
Let’s go back to the idea that you recognize there should be more substance and strategy to how your community is facilitating a healthy resident lifestyle. It’s tough to get there, or to even start the conversation as an insider. Staff can get suspicious, they may feel threatened by potential change (“Is what I’m doing not good enough?”), and before you know it, your efforts to live into the community’s mission are thwarted.
Bringing in a consultant, as an outside observer, allows you to position the consultant as the change agent. Then, you can effectively leverage the consultant’s experience in wellness strategy design to start initiating change in your lifestyle offerings.
#3: The Resources
If you work with NIFS for wellness consulting, you get the benefit of our years in the field and all of the work we’ve done with other communities. We don’t just consult; we put our staff on ground in communities across the US. So we’ve tested our own recommendations and we’re continually innovating with real-world programs for actual residents.
In short, we walk the talk.
The same should be true for any other consulting organization you choose. If they bring a cookie cutter approach to evaluating your situation, be suspicious. You’re unique, and the consultant’s approach should be also.
#2: The Report
When we consult, we provide a report that covers areas of need/attention specific to the client. It’s common for our recommendations to cover everything from branding your wellness strategy for effective marketing, to updates on physical spaces in the community. We don’t shy away from tough topics like assessing staff credentials and effectiveness, evaluating liability and making risk reducing recommendations, or establishing better structure to your initiatives so that you can evaluate effectiveness.
We’re not just pointing out areas for improvement. Our report offers practical and tested solutions that you can put into action.
#1: The Value
Consulting isn’t free; you will get billed for time and travel. But you can get a project estimate up front that should outline both anticipated costs as well as expected outcomes from the consulting work. Before you engage in a consulting relationship, get all of your questions answered.
- Find out how the agency works with your staff.
- Determine if they will be willing to talk to your residents.
- Learn about their specific areas of expertise in wellness strategy.
- Ask what the final report will look like.
- Find out whether there is opportunity for ongoing support if needed.
- Ask if they can provide you with references from previous work.
- Determine if their recommendations will narrowly connect you with their product/service or if they will connect you with resources where you can decide which are best for your organization?
It’s time to look at aligning your wellness programming with your mission. And the great news is, you don’t have to tackle this alone. Consulting doesn’t have to be daunting, unfulfilling, and lacking in value. If you’re ready to cultivate a wellness focus for your community that works with your current strengths and that compliments your existing brand, then contact me to get answers to those value questions I outlined above.