For the first time ever, LeadingAge hosted their Annual Meeting as a virtual experience on November 10-12 and 17-19, 2020. While we all missed gathering in person, the fact that we could attend in our pajamas next to a bowl of popcorn while watching Penn and Teller entertain us from our own living room was pretty cool!

And, while the conference didn’t have the same atmosphere as past years, it still managed to deliver exactly what we needed: an opportunity to bring the entire industry together to address the current realities we’re facing. Here are 6 takeaways that you can use as you look to adapt your services and spaces so residents and associates can thrive:

Market convenience store in a community

1. Leadership and Crisis Intervention

We have to find the resolve and inner strength to move forward—and help others move forward. LeadingAge board chair Carol Silver Elliott quoted our friend and valued Morrison Living partner John Cochrane, President and CEO of HumanGood, saying ‘Leadership is about being present’. And that means building trust with our teams, remaining transparent, but also being in the thick of it by running toward a solution versus away from the problem.

But we’re not only needing to lead the change internally—our industry has to intervene externally and change the narrative and perception of our field by creating awareness and an understanding about our purpose-driven work. You can read how Morrison Living flipped the script with our No Better Place To Be publication showcasing heroic stories from our industry and their response to COVID-19.

housekeeping cleaning a resident room

2. Focus on a Different Future

Today, things are different and will never go back to the way they were—people’s needs and perceptions of safety, connection and hospitality have changed significantly. Examine your strategies and identify practical solutions by refocusing and moving forward with visioning and planning exercises among your teams. Contact Morrison Living to see how we can help you reimagine the hospitality experience for your guests.

resident with a smile cookie

3. Safe Interaction, Not Social Isolation

During a session on keeping residents engaged, Benjamin Surmi, Director of Education and Culture at Koelsch Communities, shared a great point:

Ask ‘how can we do this?’ Not, ‘is this permitted?’

Social isolation is just as dangerous, if not more, than the virus itself. Recognize the importance of engagement and figure out a way to make opportunities happen. Some examples of activities you could incorporate for residents include scavenger hunts, happy hour on wheels, mobile themed carts, and blind wine tastings to name a few. Be sure to make it fun and exciting!

One way Morrison Living is connecting with residents is through our Send A Smile initiative! We’re collecting letters, drawings, cards or encouraging notes to send to the over 70,000 residents we serve across the country! That’s a lot of folks deserving of a smile and we can only do this with your help. Consider sending our residents a letter by visiting morrisonliving.com/smiles.

to-go orders picked-up

4. Financial Impact and Strategies

In response to the pandemic, we’ve all seen an increase in expenses. Understand how you can facilitate growth and find the right structure and resources for your organization as you look to the future. Consider finding new solutions and innovations that can generate revenue like telehealth, amenities such as grab n’ go solutions or market displays, or even by enhancing your selling efforts through virtual tours for potential residents.

associate in the workforce

5. Workforce Management and Support

Associates are the heart and soul of our organizations—they play a critical role in this ongoing crisis. While they’re focused on protecting and caring for residents, they’re also worried about their own safety as well as their family and their community. On top of increased communications and leadership, associates need additional training opportunities, sufficient PPE, incentive and recognition programs and attention to their personal needs like childcare, transportation assistance, etc. Examine your key strategies and solutions to support and engage your workforce.

In addition, as we focus on the recruitment and retention of associates, diversity and inclusion should be intentional in our efforts. Inclusion strategist Vernā Myers recommends moving diversity forward on the following levels: personal, interpersonal, organizational and cultural. We have to look at:

  • the way we feel and think
  • our behaviors and relationships based on personal feelings
  • the way we eradicate barriers based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and other differences on an organizational level
  • the way we look at the world through our cultural lens
wellness in senior living

6. Wellness of Residents and Associates

Keynote speaker Brené Brown shared valuable insight on how we can all walk through vulnerability, uncertainty, and fear to get to the courage and empathy needed for the work ahead. As everyone is experiencing an emotional impact from COVID-19, organizations must learn to cultivate courage and hope by dedicating time, resources and attention to the well-being of teams and residents.

We have to actively choose empathy and connection because our default is to go on the defense during increased isolation. If we pretend people’s lives aren’t happening because we don’t want to have a conversation, then that’s not courageous leadership. Promote wellness to build a sense of community and start with simple tips like get moving, eat well, and rest!