By Sara Kyle
This is part one of a two-part article written by Sara Kyle, Director of Resident Experience at Holiday Retirement. It speaks to one of the biggest, most frustrating challenges senior living operators struggle with and that almost never gets talked about.
As I start my 18th month leading the Resident Experience world at Holiday Retirement, I have been courted by many suitors in the resident engagement software world. I have spent hours on demos, written and shared business cases, and compared feature after feature and then some more features!
To Be Honest
To be totally honest, I am tired . . . and a bit frustrated.
I kindly want to say, you guys are all quite similar and copycats of each other, with just enough differentiation not to encroach on copyright and patent law. I am dying for someone to offer me something totally different. Disrupt the space of engagement and find a way to really measure what people are doing for someone who firmly believes that using metrics unequivocally adds to the quality of life and maintains functional independence, both physically and cognitively.
My First Question
My first questions to ask each of you programming and selling solutions are ones you may find this mildly insulting:
Do you as an individual in your real day-to-day life personally track your own daily engagement based on the 7 dimensions of wellness?
Does your employer log on to some platform each day to see if you are working and how hard you are working to determine whether or not you met the basic minimums of each occupational component and, therefore, are considered “well” and “balanced?”
I so badly want there to be someone, some organization, willing to go beyond or even figure out something better than “dimensions of well being”. Something that will allow senior living leaders to better judge the quality of life and functional well-being for each resident.
Lots of Meaningless Data
What happens is that it just turns into a lot of data on individual events and activities that have zero value with respect to changing and improving the monthly landscape of the current activity schedule.
It is Not Easy
It is hard to argue the activity/engagement model has changed that much over the last 20 years. As someone who set out to create a software solution to measure and quantify well-being and functional age, I know firsthand it is a lot harder than it looks . . . and downright expensive. It is not an overnight job. But seeing both sides, first as an independent creator, and now as a team member at a large organization that has to scale and actually implement these programs has been enlightening.
There are some big asks that I would like to throw out there that would make me jump at the opportunity to give your software a go!
Move away from the main selling feature of measuring one community against the other in a portfolio to see who is doing what compared to their counterparts. This is necessary, but it should be the 3rd, 4th, or 5th reason someone chooses a software and the ability to report.
The 20-30% of engaged residents that account for 90% of all the tracking and data in your system are not the ones that need to be encouraged to engage or attracted to the offerings. The 70-80% that are still socially isolated and have not adopted the use of SaaS are the ones that we need the most information on. The methods we are using now still do not tell us who those people are or what to do differently to engage them daily.
Tell me what is not working, which communities have low adoption, and where there is low-hanging fruit for improvement. I want to know how to make it better. This is way more important than metrics on what is already working.
What is out there today is like creating another program for high performing students. Nice but will never really make a difference for anyone or the world.
There is so much room in your solutions and software for more features and things no one in our industry has thought of. Engagement software is not new nor unearthed. What can we learn from universities, multi-family, and hospitality and resort platforms and solutions?