It’s a common scenario: You or a loved one has a serious health issue or illness. An assortment of medical specialists throws a barrage of information at you all at once, discussing needed tests and various treatment options. Not only is it confusing, but it can also be intimidating.

Your head spins as you try to take in all of the details, figure out next steps, and determine the best solution for the circumstances. After you leave the appointment and have a chance to process a bit, you end up with a list of questions you wish you’d thought to ask the doctor.  

Many of us have been in this type of overwhelming situation in a medical setting. It is the very reason why some hospitals provide nurse navigators for patients with complex health needs. Such navigators serve as a support person who can help guide you through the process. But just as important, they are an invaluable resource who can answer many of your questions and empower the patient and their family with tools and materials to educate them on their choices.

There are many situations in life in which it can be instrumental to have an advocate in your corner — someone who is there to educate you and help you determine the best solution for your personal wants or needs. As a child, it might have been a parent or another loved one. As you grow older, perhaps it was a school guidance counselor. And then as an adult, maybe it is a mentor or some other respected elder.

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Offering the guidance senior living prospects need and deserve

As prospective residents set out to decide which senior living solution is the right fit for them, it can feel quite daunting. Just as all of those doctors are throwing information, new terminology, and a bevy of treatment options at the patient and their family, it is easy for prospects to become overwhelmed with senior living decisions. Simply understanding the differences between one type of retirement community and another can be confusing enough, not to mention the dozens of other decision factors including residency contracts, floor plans, pricing, quality of care, financial management, and more.

Add to this that, across all industries, people in sales and marketing consistently rank toward the bottom of Gallup’s annual poll on professions that are seen as honest and ethical. Nurses, on the other hand, rank at the top year after year. Such sentiments can create quite a predicament for senior living prospects as well as senior living sales teams.

It is thus vital that those in senior living sales and marketing — often referred to as residency counselors — recognize that education sits at the core of an efficient and successful senior living decision process. Providing the necessary information and tools for prospective residents to feel empowered and confident is critical to success, for the individual and the community.

Want to empower your prospective residents to make more informed and confident senior living decisions? Learn about myLifeSite’s consumer education content and financial decision tools.

This means residency counselors must be students of the industry, understanding not only the important details about their community but also of other communities and senior living models. This positions them to help prospective residents better understand the differences and tradeoffs between the options, thus building more trust and credibility. 

Equally as important is the quality of communication and the process. A residency counselor can have all the knowledge in the world, but if they are not proficient at communicating the details in a way that is clear and concise — without a lot of industry jargon — then it will only cause more confusion. 

At the end of the day, an educated consumer is a retirement community’s best prospect. Yet,  there may sometimes be a disconnect between what prospects feel they need in order to make an empowered decision and what they feel they are getting from the residency counselor. 

Instead of being compensated primarily on close rates, what if — through some type of survey and feedback mechanism — the sales compensation model also incorporated the quality of their interactions with prospects, the caliber of the education and information they provide, and their helpfulness in shepherding prospects through the process? What if communities’ sales teams adopted a mindset that it is a priority of their role to help be an advocate for prospects?

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Educated prospects yield educated senior living decisions

Whether in a healthcare setting or when making major decisions in life, such as senior living decisions, no one wants to feel lost, overwhelmed, frustrated, or confused. These feelings can make decisions much more difficult than they need to be or even result in “analysis paralysis” — a reluctance to make a final decision because a person doesn’t feel that they have adequate information to inform their choice.

And the unusual thing about senior living is that it’s not just a singular choice. It’s an all-encompassing decision that will impact the prospect’s long-term lifestyle, healthcare, housing, happiness, finances, comfort, and so much more. Retirement communities should respect this fact and have compassion for the enormity of this. And from the prospect’s perspective, if you feel that a community is trying to rush you into a decision, then it might not be the right place for you.

Ideally, retirement communities should have an effective, prospect-centric process in place for helping people understand the many aspects of their senior living decisions. After all, if a prospect begins to feel overwhelmed with information or feels frustrated that they’re not getting the type of education and guidance they need, it can lengthen their decision process — or they may even give up on making a choice altogether. 

When there are so many nuanced retirement community choices and so much potential for confusion, patience from the sales staff can be key to nurturing a prospect and eventually converting them into a new resident. Furthermore, having a sales counselor who is a valued resource, an expert on the industry, a good communicator who can explain complex things in a digestible way, and who truly cares about the prospect’s wellbeing and happiness, makes a tremendous difference. It’s true in healthcare as well as for those making a senior living decision.

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