The LeadingAge Annual Meeting took place in Atlanta, GA from October 24th-27th. This year, staffing and marketing automation were something that Creating Results was asked about the most while manning our booth, as well as noticed session speakers nod to.
There was a focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) across the conference – keynote speakers, as well as many sessions, aligned on this topic, driving home the importance of recognizing biases like ageism and equality in the senior living industry.
Staffing and Automation
Throughout the week at LeadingAge, we were told by communities about many challenges around staffing, which applied to their corporate teams as well as throughout their care levels (admin, nurses, etc.). This got us thinking about ways we can serve our client base and assist with recruiting.
Our booth in the exhibit hall was right next to an up-and-coming technology company called KARE. They describe themselves as the Uber of staffing. Their current base service is more clinical, and focused on caregivers, nurses, and hospitality staff who want or need to pick up shifts working around the area in which they live. This is the future of staffing – where senior living communities have the flexibility to hire a pre-screened individual to suit their needs, whenever and whatever those may be.
On the flipside, marketing automation only briefly needs someone monitoring it before the technology runs itself. The sessions we attended only strengthened our stance on the impact automation is having on the communities that integrate it into their overall marketing strategy.
Covenant Living Communities had an entire presentation focused on the ease and success of marketing automation, and how to make it work for your-sized community, while touting how good automation can drive a positive ROI, reduce costs, and increase the effectiveness of other marketing tactics and sales.
Like Covenant, Creating Results has done extensive research and numerous executions of marketing automation. We like to say that automated messaging doesn’t take the place of personal touches from sales teams. However, it can work in tandem and in the background with existing touchpoints, nurturing leads that may not have de-anonymized yet, with the end goal of establishing trust with the user. Examples of marketing automation are drip email campaigns, behavior-based emails, and chatbots.
Promoting Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
In mature (55+) communities, promoting equality starts at the corporate level and is followed closely by the diversity of residents. Someone looking to move into a community naturally wants to see others who look like them. A session co-presented by Senior Options, Broadmead, a Quaker-based life plan community in Maryland, and Aldersgate, a life plan community in Charlotte, North Carolina, dove deeper into how they recognized that a larger shift in diversity was needed, what they did to plan for it, and the result to date.
- When looking for a job, it’s natural to look for others who look like you. First, this ties back to overall staffing. It’s important to have a diverse mix of people on your roster so like-minded, talented folks will want to come work with them. The diversity mix typically stems from the leadership level. Leadership commitment must be made before implementing a diversity plan. Second, this also applies to residents. If you’re a POC and only see Caucasian residents at a community, perhaps you won’t want to live in that particular community.
- If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not doing the work. Get out of your comfort zone, talk about current issues, and develop a plan to diversify your community.
An administrator from McGregor Hospice that is quoted in one of the handouts from this session stating:
“Diversity is important because you have to be able to understand all cultures. We can’t let our bias determine how we are going to care of or treat an individual. Leadership in our organizations must commit to diversity and inclusion and display this in their leadership.”
Another session led by Glenn Harris, CEO of Race Forward, described what racial equity can look like in practice. Race Forward partners with organizations like LeadingAge to build strategies for racial justice from the inside out. Glenn also spoke as a keynote speaker, detailing his experience with race while growing up during the Civil Rights Movement.
Glenn had the audience converse among themselves on somewhat uncomfortable racial topics that surrounded our own personal experiences with race at different phases of our lives. He then used that detail, when volunteered, to tie back to how race affects everyone differently. It was fascinating to hear experiences from folks of different ages, colors, and backgrounds and how race may or may not have affected them at a certain point in their lives.
This exercise again drove home the importance of talking, no matter if you are strangers or how uncomfortable it might be. Talking is the first step towards change.
Creating Results feels strongly about promoting DEI not only in the workplace and in senior living communities, but also globally. This charge guided us to sponsor Inclusion Night at LeadingAge Annual, where a diverse group of change-makers and thought-leaders attended an evening full of socializing and dancing.
Prevalence of Ageism
The word bias was used constantly during entire LeadingAge meeting. Similarly, to how bias runs deeply from a racial or gender perspective, the same can be said for bias around age.
An estimated 25 million won’t have enough money to get through retirement age. With us serving mature consumers (those 55+), this issue hits home. We were lucky enough to experience a private screening for a film called Duty Free that is a sad, yet beautiful representation of the ageism issue that seniors face all over the globe.
This film follows around a young man named Sian-Pierre who is helping his mother, Rebecca, live out her bucket list after suddenly (and without cause) being fired from her job at 75. A job that she held for over 40 years. The film is poignant through sharing real footage and raw emotion in conversations that Rebecca had with Sian-Pierre – anger over being fired for being an older adult, sadness around feeling her purpose taken away and not being able to find a new job because of her age, happiness to experience life as she hadn’t before, and more.
This is just one story about ageism. Stories like this occur every day to seniors on varying levels.
Join the Creating Results team and other ageism activists next year at the End Ageism Walk at the next LeadingAge Annual Conference in 2022