This month the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies released a report “Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life.” The findings outlined the need for better end-of-life care on:

  • A societal level (more public support for quality institutions)
  • The community/family level (raise awareness and expectations for levels of care)
  • The individual level (more care planning and meaningful conversations with family members and caregivers)

Here’s what the Institute said in their conclusion:

“The IOM committee believes a person-centered, family-oriented approach that honors individual preferences and promotes quality of life through the end of life should be a national priority.”

Shortly after the release of the IOM’s report, The New York Times published an article on a similar topic. The story detailed the difficult experience a daughter had caring for her aging father who wanted to die at home but instead struggled with inadequate care in an assisted living facility. The father didn’t have his choice of staying at home, and sadly few of his wishes were granted once he moved. The article described the fears many have about a prevalent stereotype of nursing homes fraught with neglect. It’s not wonder that aging people with failing health are choosing to avoid moving despite the great costs of staying at home.

As the NYT article chronicled the life of the aging subject, it gave a vivid picture of who the person was and what led up to the point in their life. As a reader I became emotionally invested in this person beyond their list of medical conditions. I wish I could have helped him however I could. There wouldn’t be much I could do for the high costs of living expenses or medical care, but I could explore his legacy and try to understand what he was going through. How could I make the best of this terrible situation?

I believe this is one reason why it’s so important for sales counselors to know about and invest in their prospects. Once the counselor becomes truly interested in their future residents, they can set a precedent that will hopefully lead to better, more personalized service for both the resident and their family. It begins with Discovery and relationships made by the sales counselors, and it ends with happier residents who are seen as individuals with their own choices to make. A little respect can go a long way.

As we’ve mentioned before, the power of choice, on any scale, can make a big the difference in the way senior living is experienced and perceived. Truly knowing a prospect can help your community better serve them. If this becomes the norm, which it is unfortunately not yet, our society can change the way we get old for the better.

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