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Decision-making around senior housing

Posted: March 20, 2013

Interestingly, almost every week we deal with two very different ends of the decision-making spectrum relative to senior housing.  On the one hand, people call us who are either not on our waiting list or very recently joined, to beg, plead and try to cajole a unit from us.  They need a unit now (sometimes they give us a week or two) and they want it quite badly.  On the other hand, the folks that get the call that they’ve finally made it to the top of the list, more often than not, say they are not ready and to put their name back at the bottom.  We often have to call several names to find one who accepts the unit (of course, many of the urgent requests come from people who just a few months ago asked to be restored to the list’s bottom).

Fairness and government rules prevent us from granting the unit to the former group, but force us to systematically plow through the latter bunch until we find a ready-resident.  This is right—it should be on a first-come, first-serve basis and these rules ensure no favoritism and that’s good.  But it feels bad—just as we are denying someone a unit, someone else is simultaneously denying our offer—but we can’t flip them.

The long-term goal is to help people who are on the list to understand what an incredible opportunity is in front of them so that fewer end up in the group that’s begging later.  But it’s beyond that—almost never do we have someone move in and say (after the initial adjustment period), “Gee, I wish I hadn’t come—I’m moving out” whereas almost every time we hear “Gee, I wish I had done this earlier”.  The facts all support a move to senior housing such as ours, with a deep sense of community and an array of programs and services to remove barriers to achieving one’s goals for the senior years.  But people rarely make decisions based on facts.  We, and our colleagues throughout the industry, need to work to help match people’s feelings with those facts.

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