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Holiday Inn Vs. Assisted Living -- The Dialogue Has . . . Missed the Point

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By Steve Moran

This is not exactly new, but in the last couple of weeks someone posted a link to a Facebook post that starts out . . . “No nursing home for us. We'll be checking into a Holiday Inn!” It then goes on to describe how one can live in the Holiday Inn for buckets less money than in senior living. According to the folks at Holiday Inn, this post first appeared 15 years or so ago.

What Surprised Me . . . Though Probably Should Not Have

I was surprised by the visceral negative reaction from people in the senior living industry. Here is a sample:

  • They neglect to point out: emergency pull call light system, medication reminder/administration, care, activities, transportation and 3 solid meals plus snacks daily.

  • One thing that nursing homes have that the Holiday Inn doesn't: NURSES.

  • You'll have to pay private duty for nursing care, 1:1, add $720 per day for 24 hour care.

  • He's missing out on the community aspect of seniors housing! It is not just about the housekeeping and the free breakfast, but it is about building those relationships with people around you. I've stayed in enough hotels on business trips that I can confidently say I would never want to live in one.

  • Your math doesn’t factor in a whole LOT of things.

  • Housing doesn’t equal care.

Everyone of the points above is spot on except that I worry that we are missing the bigger message and in missing that bigger message we end up losing a massive opportunity to tell our story better.

The Lessons

This thing has gone semi viral, so what that means is that it is resonating with people and it is resonating for three reasons:

  1. It is hard to admit this, but it is just plain cleaver and mildly humorous.

  2. In reality, senior living is super expensive and there are more seniors today who can’t afford it than can. And this gap is widening.

  3. It broadly speaks to the public perception that aging is bad and that one of the worst aspects of living in a senior living community is the very worst part of aging.

I worry a bit that we look at something like this and say . . . "they're idiots” and move on. While it might even be true that they are idiots, approaching it this way will not make it better. In fact, if we say that out loud to the public who love this story, rather than make our case, it will confirm what they believe.

Our Opportunity

I am convinced that we have a huge senior living education gap and right or wrong the only people who can close this gap are people in the industry who love it and evangelize it. Here is what we can do:

  1. We need to think small. What I mean by that is that we must have conversation after conversation with individuals and small groups about what makes what we do so great. The big media stories are great when we get them, but they are hard to get and even harder to control. Everyone says they want more happy stories, but the reality is they don’t much get read or watched.

    It is still true that if it bleeds it leads.

  1. We need to be story collectors. When the opportunity to talk about what we do presents itself, we need to tell stories. Saying we are great is nearly worthless. Telling stories about how we change lives . . . something we do every day, changes hearts and minds . . . changes perceptions.

  1. We need to be listening to our customers (residents and family members) in order to get better and better. Not just listening but actually taking the good ideas and making them happen. Besides improving what we do, it will send a powerful message about how much we care about people.

We should not hate this we should be grateful to have a light shined on this opportunity.



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