GUEST COLUMN: The Three C's of Culture

By Jake Rightmyer
Executive Director, Life Care Services

 

How can you tell if a senior living community has a positive culture?

What comes to mind when you think of business culture? Is it a consistent customer experience that makes a business immediately recognizable? Apple, with its sleek minimalist approach to technology; Google, with its corporate offices that look like an adult playhouse, and Disney, well, it’s known as the happiest place on earth. But those cultures didn’t just happen overnight.

If you’re in the market for a senior living community for an elderly loved one, culture is more than just the feeling one gets when walking through the front door. It’s an experience that has to bleed from every pore of the establishment. From the smile of the housekeeper to the cleanliness of the kitchen, culture is manifested from it all.

So, what’s the secret? How do you determine whether a facility has a positive culture? A good guide I’ve found is to follow the three C’s of Culture.

#1: Compassion

Have you ever watched someone work who had so much compassion for what they do that it becomes contagious? These are the people companies want to hire even if their skills aren’t perfect at the beginning. Skills are teachable. Compassion is not, but the value of a compassionate and engaged employee is monumental. It can spread like wildfire and bring life to a senior community where there once may have been complacency.

#2: Cultivation

Everyone wants to feel valuable. Everyone yearns for a sense of purpose. Nothing fills that void more than when a person is given the autonomy to move themselves forward in their career or the power to learn a new skill. When employees at senior communities are given the tools and the power they need to succeed, they create a culture that makes residents and their families feel welcome and comfortable.

#3: Change

No, not change! No one likes it, but inevitably, change is what the best senior communities leverage to create a successful culture. In the senior housing world, change often inspires fear. Even a change in the menu can cause tremendous stress for residents. But change can be a good thing, especially for senior living communities that want to exceed the expectations of current residents and family members, as well as prospective residents. For example, it took me years, but I finally got all of my team members to stop saying the “F” word: facility!  When I hear the word “facility,” I think of hospitals, nursing homes, government buildings, and the like. The reality is that we are in the hospitality business now, so we use words like “Community,” “Campus,” and “Property.” It sounds much nicer, right? That little change made a world of difference in how we perceived our own workspace, and it gradually brought more pride to our team. Our residents and their families noticed it, too.

Jake Rightmyer, an Executive Director for Life Care Services, An LCS® Company, has been a member of the Life Care Services team since 2013. He provides operational management for Clarendale at Indian Lake in Hendersonville, Tennessee  Prior to joining Life Care Services, Jake worked for senior living properties in Oklahoma, Georgia, and North Carolina. For more information, contact Jake at (615) 826-9223 or rightmyerjake@lscnet.com.

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