Lois Bowers headshot

A funny thing happened while HumanGood was helping administer the resident surveys necessary to be rated by U.S. News & World Report for its Best Senior Living program (read about the inaugural results here): residents took ownership of the process, and the organization was reminded of the value of the surveys beyond the results they would deliver.

It wasn’t unexpected that residents would share their opinions, but residents really felt empowered as they answered questions for survey administrator Activated Insights about community and activity, food and dining, caregiving, and management and staff, HumanGood Customer Feedback Manager Krysten Smith told me.

“They really enjoyed knowing that they could assist other prospective residents and family members that have gone through the same process that they went through. …I think that that was kind of like a comfort to them, knowing that they’re actually helping others with this survey,” she said.

Best Senior Living ratings were published May 10. Resident comments about communities now appear on the U.S. News website for everyone to see, and the opinions helped lead to HumanGood accounting for three of the seven continuing care retirement communities recognized as “best.” CCRCs also were evaluated on their individual levels of care and service, and HumanGood had 17 recognitions in independent living, 15 in assisted living and four in memory care.

The survey process gave HumanGood another opportunity to work with residents, Smith said.

“It wasn’t just the corporate office saying, ‘Hey, take this survey,’” she said. “Our residents really partnered with us, and they became champions of this survey process and helped other residents get access to the survey, showing them how to do it on their phone.”

Now, HumanGood President and CEO John Cochrane told me, it will be important for the organization to respond “meaningfully and measurably over time,” because residents will hold the company accountable.

“I think what we’re starting to see, in our company and across the field, is a much closer working relationship between administration, if you will, and residents working hand in glove to deliver on that brand promise,” he said, later adding, “The survey is one more tool to knit our two sides of the organization, residents and team members, together in a common goal.”

The experience comes at a time when “the sophistication of the consumer is increasing,” Cochrane said.

“They’re becoming increasingly aware, sophisticated in their judgments and clear about what they’re looking for,” he said. “We as providers have survived, I think, for years on somewhat generic offerings. And I think we’re starting to see that narrow and focus for different consumer groups. And we’re going to have to respond to that, and to respond to it, we need real information.”

Surveys such as the ones conducted for the U.S. News ratings as well as others, he said, are a way to obtain that information.

Going forward, Cochrane said he will look for broad themes in the survey results, related to both what seems to be working and what does not. Surveys will be examined at the community level, too.

“It becomes just part of the ongoing conversation about how we inspire your best life. What did this tool tell us, and what do we need to do to respond?” he said. “And then as we do with everything, we apply KPIs [key performance indicators] to that. What are the objectives? What’s a timeline? Who’s responsible? How are we going to know if we were successful?”

And Smith said that she and Vice President of Operations Lisa Holland plan to “really look at how we approach involving our residents in the survey process in the future and how we can continue to partner with them on future surveys and to keep them as accountability partners as well.”

Sounds like a win-win.

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