highlight an often underemphasized depart- ment in our communities: housekeeping.” Housekeeping staff is charged with clean- ing and sanitizing, which is a critical piece of keeping residents healthy. But the staff’s importance can go unrecognized. “We have started implementing videos and updated photos of our team members engaged in cleaning, washing hands, and wearing masks,” Jungman says. “A lot of safety protocols have changed over this past year, as we learned more about the virus.” “One consistent piece we’ve all learned

is that senior living operators can no longer solely sell a lifestyle of restaurant-style meals and socialization. We must now also include safety protocols into our regular marketing strategies moving forward.”

so that you can move forward with what was happening before the pandemic” in terms of decisions on move-ins, Tweten says.

Recruits get the message When asked about the top personal chal- lenge facing employees, 65 percent of industry professionals named “fear and safety concerns,” according to OnShift’s Workforce 360 report. “Employee safety will always be a top

concern for employers,” writes Jess Modic, vice president, customer success at OnShift. “We are now starting to see that COVID-19 safety is less of a concern than it was. One senior living organization shared that they are successfully recruiting employees from hospitality, which was not the case during

“One of our core values is ‘transparency builds trust,’ and we were really transparent,” says Cassie Tweten, Arrow vice president of sales. “Prospects could follow that journey with us on our Facebook pages and on our websites.”

In their shoes As with Heritage, Arrow Senior Living took an empathy-forward approach, putting itself in a prospect’s shoes and addressing what they want to know. At the beginning of the pandemic, sales

reached out to prospects offering help in using Zoom so they could join in on virtual activities at a community—and offering help with grocery delivery. “We were encouraging prospects who

were at home alone to engage with us virtually through our events,” says Cassie Tweten, Arrow vice president of sales. “Our number one focus was to try to help those prospects feel safe at home while they worked through the decision about making a move.” Prospective residents and their families

are facing life-changing decisions—some- times with time restrictions—and pandemic safety concerns layered on top of this can ramp up the stress. “We are really trying to meet people in the

exact moment they're in, and help. We're go- ing to try to cover what you're stressed about,


the height of the pandemic. This is likely due to added awareness, prevention, and other COVID-19 safety controls.” “For example, some employers have cre-

ated infection prevention roles to promote safer work environments. Others are running educational campaigns to inform potential employees about their safety protocols.” Modic recommends highlighting commu-

nities’ extra health and safety protocols in job postings, as well as in pictures and video on social media, so potential employees can actually see employees wearing protective gear and taking other safety measures. Shah would like to see more practices

borrowed from other industries. For in- stance, in manufacturing, he points out, if there’s an accident or a near-miss, the company will call a “stand-down meeting,” where employee teams huddle to examine what happened and brainstorm and share solutions. As well as indicating that safety is taken seriously enough to stop everything, it gives a chance for interactive generation of ideas from the people who know the environment best.

When, where, and how What’s the optimum point in the customer journey—or in recruiting—to bring up safety? Every point is the right point, say those in the field. GlynnDevins recommends using every

channel of communication: “‘About sec- tions on websites, email, paid media, social media, resident testimonials, signage in common areas and, perhaps most impor- tantly, regular communication/updates from leadership that live on these owned channels,” Egan writes. He also recommends touching on safety

points in every step of the customer journey. “But it’s vital during that initial engage- ment,” Egan says. “It’s quite possible if you wait to deliver this information, you may not have another opportunity.” Later, he says, as prospects re-engage,

they’ll seek more details and clarification of health and safety issues. Arrow followed that course, as well—they

established pen-pal relationships, used texting, email, websites, and especially their Facebook page, sharing information not only about the community but CDC information on protecting against the virus. “Some communities got quiet during the

pandemic,” Tweten says. “We got loud. One of our core values is ‘transparency builds trust,’ and we were really transpar- ent. Prospects could follow that journey with us on our Facebook pages and on our websites.” This also helped counter the discouraging images and stories. “We tried to say, not all communal living is like what you’re reading in the news. And here are the ways we’re trying to keep our residents and staff safe during this time.” Shah of CareSafely compares it to the

path taken by the automotive industry: “Think about all the safety improvements that have been made by the car makers, because consumers pushed back and kept demanding it. They were saying, ‘I don't care about how many cup holders you have. If you don’t have an airbag, I'm not going to buy your car.’”

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