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Did YOU want to work in senior living when you grew up?

Earlier in the year, Creating Results’ Executive Vice President Kimberly Hulett and I attended a LeadingAge DC event, “C-Suite Round Table Discussion: The Future of Aging Services” at George Washington University.

Organizations like Asbury, Kendal’s Collington, Goodwin House, Vinson Hall and Stoddard Baptist Homes were represented on the panel.

As we expected, these leaders in non-profit senior living shared great insights into the future of aging services.

What we didn’t expect to hear was what sounded like “convincing” directed at the George Washington long-term care management students who also were in attendance. The convincing was that working at a retirement community is a rewarding and interesting career path – tell your friends!

Senior Living Recruiting Challenges

As marketing consultants for senior living organizations, the Creating Results team sees how vital great employees are to the long-term marketability and brand consistency of a community.

Yet, there are real recruitment challenges in senior living/care. As more Boomers retire, that challenge is going to increase at every level.

During the panel discussion, Marvell Adams of Collington said, somewhat in jest, that we should start “recruiting” for senior living employees in middle schools.

I think he is spot-on.

What if getting young people to aspire to work in senior living is EXACTLY what we should be doing? So many young people are simply unaware of the great career possibilities that exist in senior living. They’re also unaware of the personal satisfaction that can be gained while working with older adults.

 

west-des-moines-ipadA Possible Solution?

Here is a relatively simple solution: shift your intentions around something most senior communities are doing already – intergenerational activities!

Long-term strategy:

  • Your on-campus day care or school for employees’ children … Why aren’t your Chief Executive Officer, Executive Directors, Chefs, Certified Nursing Assistants and/or Rehab specialists speaking at career day in the elementary or middle schools?

Mid-term pay-off:

  • High school students who are servers … Offer a shadowing program outside of the dinning room.
  • Tap the “digital natives” who work in your community to contribute to an awesome social media stream. Encourage the students to take photos that showcase life at your community and to share them with your communications team. You may just cultivate your future Marketing Director!

intergenerational activities at senior communities

More immediate ROI:

  • If your campus is near a college where residents take classes … Why not see if you can host some of those classes at your community? The same students who sit side-by-side with your residents at the college would gain new, first-hand knowledge of your organization.
  • Could your team guest lecture at a nearby college? Think beyond just the healthcare related courses – those business school students may just become a future hire for your leadership team.

For example, North Hill, one of our continuing care retirement community clients near Boston, has a partnership with Olin College that took on a whole new, future-employee-inspiring twist when residents began a fund for innovative technology projects.

North Hill Continuing Care Community and Olin College Innovation Fund

The students and professors now interact with the older adults as they develop and test their ideas. Everyone involved begins to lose negative preconceptions of aging and aging services.

Intentional Intergenerational Interactions

How are you going to be more intentional about injecting recruiting goals into your intergenerational activities?

More recently, at LeadingAge Maryland’s annual meeting we learned of a great resource that can help inspire your team develop ideas for making intergenerational connections that benefit everyone involved.

Generations United (www.gu.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated to being a “catalyst for policies and practices stimulating cooperation and collaboration among generations, evoking the vibrancy, energy and sheer productivity that result when people of all ages come together.” We hope you check them out!

If you can start evoking that vibrancy today, soon enough – kids across America will be saying “when I grow up I want to be a CEO of a senior community!”

About The Author

Beth Spohn

Beth launched her career as a marketing teacher and discovered one of her greatest joys - sharing marketing insights. At Creating Results, she shares her marketing knowledge with prospective clients to help tailor marketing solutions that will achieve their desired results. She continues to educate as a lecturer at DC area universities — including Georgetown and George Mason—as a speaker at LeadingAge conferences nationwide, and has contributed to ICAA’s Journal of Active Aging.

  • Larry Guengerich

    We certainly are finding the importance in this at Landis Communities. We use interns from local colleges, work with tech schools and community colleges to provide training for their students and do whatever we can to show our workplace to those students.

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