“What do you think by now?” is the greeting friends frequently give us these days.

They are inquiring about our move three months ago to our new retirement residence in a life care community.  They are studying our reaction to see if they can read a bit of disappointment or disenchantment.

For my husband, Ray, and me, it’s a challenge to keep from grinning and gloating. We are thrilled. It exceeds our expectations. It continues to reinforce a rational decision that has turned into an emotional pleasure.

As we smile and express satisfaction, we are acutely aware and grateful for the transition assistance our organization provided as we moved into our new home. If there is a textbook for retirement residence management, they must have written it or at least studied and adopted it with high flying colors.

How did the team in our new community earn such high marks?

  • Communication of every sort at every juncture. It included frequent updates as the new facility neared completion; a smooth orientation weeks in advance to collect required forms and distribute information, including a link to the website app; a very capable point person on staff who could provide consistent information and was available to answer pre-move questions; access a week before the move to get organized and obtain keys to the mailbox, garage, storage and apartment; and two staff members to assist, if needed, on move-in day.
  • Personal attention in the moving process was never taken for granted, but the CEO and COO made personal calls; a healthy fruit and cheese basket was delivered; meal delivery was offered; special maintenance visits were made regarding grab and towel bars and emergency call systems; and housekeeping removed the truckload of moving boxes from outside the door. A resident representative called to greet us and assist us if needed.
  • Follow up after the sale is important in retail and very important in retirement living. The “message to everyone” function of the phone system has been used to keep everyone informed of programs and presentations as well as mechanical changes. A hotel touchtone phone system provides direct links to the front desk, dietary, housekeeping, maintenance, apartment nurse and health center. All personnel receive special hospitality training and work to learn the names and apartments of residents. The resident art committee works with the staff to display art collections in the hallways and throughout the building. Impromptu meetings have been quickly scheduled to address problems/complaints—fire alarm level, meals and menus, fitness offerings.

Nothing is perfect, and nothing is textbook. The swimming pool water is too warm, and the kitchen sink water pressure is too low. The bike rack is pretty much out in the open. One of our electrical outlets is in the wrong place. But overall, the care and planning that was executed by a dedicated team has eased our settling in and left us with grins that are hard to conceal.

Linda Muston was a 25-year public relations professional and hospital administrator following 15 years as a stay-at-home mother of three. She has served on numerous charitable, chamber of commerce, Rotary and civic boards and previously served six years on the board of the retirement residence where she and her husband, Ray, moved this past summer. She maintains an active exercise and volunteer schedule and totally enjoys retirement with her husband and, whenever possible, their adult children and eight grandchildren, who range in age from 10 to 21.