Big or Small? The Advantages of A Locally-Owned Senior Community
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Look before you leap. Measure twice, cut once. What do all these instructional adages have in common? They illustrate the importance of RESEARCH.
When it comes time to evaluate a senior living option for yourself or a loved one, there are a lot of different benefits to weigh and various amenities to compare. It can be difficult to even know where to start! A factor that might not immediately come to mind (but one that’s critically important to consider) is OWNERSHIP.
When thinking about the ownership of a facility, it might be helpful to categorize your choices into two buckets: “big guys” and “little guys.” Now, before you start making assumptions, realize that there are going to be risk and benefits associated with any choice, so it’s your job to educate yourself and make the most informed decision you can.
Big guys (aka, corporate chains) often have lots of money to put toward marketing, advertising, and other shiny, eye-catching details to grab attention. Make sure to probe beyond these surface details and ask some hard-hitting questions. On the flip side, little guys might not be as loud, but that doesn’t mean neighborhood communities are any less put-together than their corporate competitors.
With a big chain, new rules and policies can come down from “on high,” often from corporate employees who are very far removed from day-to-day community life. Although they might not have the large budgets of their competitors, leadership teams at smaller communities are likely to have much closer access to the COO or president of their company, allowing staff and resident voices to be heard.
For example, here at Melrose Meadows, we watched other communities in the area as they were forced to follow national policies re: visitor restrictions and quarantine during the global pandemic. Being part of a local management company allowed us an extremely high level of autonomy. We were able to come together with our residents to create policies everyone was comfortable with and could benefit from.
Another factor to consider is staffing and turnover. Now, let’s be real – staffing can be a challenge anywhere. But if you do a little digging and discover that several staff members have been at a community for a number of years, that’s a really good sign. From our experience, we know that big chains can sometimes manage their staff like a herd, shuffling them across multiple communities based on occupancy and turnover. This can be very hard on residents who have come to know and rely on specific employees. This can also be very hard on employees and lead to burnout and dissatisfaction. Unhappy workers cause lose-lose situations all around and ultimately lead to new people coming in, more resources spent on training new employees (who may make mistakes while learning).
That’s not to say that smaller communities are immune to staffing challenges or that you’ll never find changes to the leadership team. But it’s not unusual to find staff with longer tenure at locally-managed communities. Smaller communities can also make for more meaningful connections between caregivers and residents, and more frequent win-win scenarios. Here’s a good tip: when evaluating a community, ask about the longevity of their employees and management team. Whether or not employees want to stay there is something you want to know, because it can tell you volumes!
Lastly, let’s consider pricing. Now, anyone who would tell you that smaller organizations don’t care about profits would be misleading you. The bottom line is important to every business, but it’s important to understand whether the bottom line ALWAYS comes first.
It’s important to keep in mind that there are going to be corporate monoliths that are run exceptionally well, and smaller, independent facilities that are a HOT, HORRIBLE MESS. Choosing a community that’s right for you and your loved one is no small feat, so take your time, ask lots of questions and RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH. After all, it was Albert Einstein who once said, “I have no particular talent. I am merely inquisitive.”
For more information about Melrose Meadows, contact Meghan Adam, Marketing Coordinator at 319-383-0853 or firstname.lastname@example.org