Back to simple basics, hugs and smiles

As a professional that specializes in the Senior Living Industry and the day to day risks that surround that industry, I see the explosion of aging Americans and the increased need that this presents to our Senior Facilities. In that same vane of thought, comes the competition to attract residents and how to best offer services as well as amenities that will draw the public to the facility and thereby bring in residents.

Every day I comb through several news sites with my morning coffee, and I don’t mind telling you that Google is a wealth of information on this subject and you could spend the time drinking two pots reading and researching in the morning. In my morning research I have found facilities offering everything from a gourmet menu and dining experience to private more “Homey” rooms. For the jet set and healthier sector, trying to attract residents earlier while still in a position of a “younger lifestyle”, we see golf courses and resort type of living as a draw. This locks in their residents from an earlier stage in the ageing process to transition into more assisted care and finally nursing home as a full continuum of care model grows more prevalent.

With all of the creative ways to attract residents, one facility in New York has gone back to basics and taken a step in the direction of NO COST amenities and initiated an “Embraceable You” program. A great deal of research and data accumulation went into this program because we all know that some just plain don’t like to be touched and other may view it as a form of harassment from the resident side. As for the caregivers, they too may feel that this behavior is not appropriate and would rather not participate. There is the OPERATIVE word…..PARTICIPATE.

After a great deal of study and collection of data, participation of this program was done at a resident level, they were issued buttons that indicated that they were open for this experience, and they were also issued a token for each hug received and used after the initial five day study was completed for a drawing. The staff received training in acceptable behavior, types of contact that would be allowed, and they volunteered for this program as well. The idea of the entire program was to see if the residents felt better and if the extra contact from another caring human would have positive results.

The results were in and the study proved a success. While not a clinical trial by any means and done without the benefit of a professional psychologist to document the results, the participating residents reported new energy, enthusiasm and it was determined that this simple process of human contact was in fact leading to a “greater sense of well-being”. Imagine that, a simple connection between resident and staff that cost them nothing more than participation in a compassionate action from one human being to another.

I found this simple “back to basics” approach to making this facility attractive and successful a breath of fresh air. While I am confident that some could put a gray cloud over it and say that this facility could face certain issues surrounding the behavior, I am confident that they will find the success of their program to increase the value of residing at their home. And the best part is the effort really cost very little, paper for the surveys, time to review and analyze the information, and implementation as well as follow up. I know it’s only my opinion, but genius comes to mind, human ingenuity, and simple kindness follows on the heels of those thoughts.

We all over think things in some cases, but in this case I wanted to offer a huge hug of congratulations to the facility and the people that are managing the facility. Remembering the basics of human touch and compassion has obviously made a difference there and lends itself as an example to all. The article is below if you want to read the entire text, it is worth the time.