Senior Living Management Best Practices to Make Your Community Shine


The top senior living communities all share some things in common: they are committed to providing the best possible resident experience, they demand team excellence, and they use technology effectively to support and enhance their operations. Based on ALFA’s 2015 Best of the Best Awards,’s Best of 2015 Awards, our experience, and the experience of many of our customers, here are six senior living management best practices to make your community shine.

1. Give your residents an excellent experience

Your current residents are your greatest champions -- at least they can be. Every bit of time, money, and energy you invest in your current residents will pay you back immeasurably.

Here are two major ways keeping your residents happy benefits your community:

  • Referrals. Referrals account for more than 40% of appointments and more than 30% of tours.

  • Online ratings and reviews. More and more people are taking to the Internet to find information about senior living communities. This means that what your current residents have to say about you can greatly affect the number of people who inquire about your community.

2. Focus on family engagement

One way to give your residents an excellent experience is to engage their families, not just when something goes wrong, but all of the time. You can use technology, such as Caremerge’s award-winning family engagement app, to support these efforts. Using the app, families can communicate directly with community staff, access the community calendar, and get real-time updates on their loved one’s activities. The app has proven particularly valuable for helping residents and their families during their initial transition to senior living.

3. Manage your community’s reputation

Your brand’s reputation can make or break your community, so it’s important that you take an active role in managing it.

  • Discover what your reputation is. If you don’t know how people view your brand, it’s time to find out. Look yourself up online, send out customer satisfaction surveys, and monitor social media conversations.

  • Ask your residents and their families to provide testimonials and online reviews. Several studies have shown that people are more likely to share bad experiences than good ones. This can potentially bias your online reviews. Protect yourself against the effects of negative reviews by asking your happy residents to review your community as well.

  • Respond to your reviews, especially the negative ones. Ignoring negative reviews won’t make them go away -- it will just make it look like you don’t care. On the other hand, responding to your reviews shows people you are listening and that you will respond to their concerns.

4. Take your marketing inbound

The way people make decisions about what to purchase is changing. Now, rather than calling companies to learn more, they are searching online and gathering information for themselves (this is why those reviews are so important!).

To succeed in this new environment, you need to take your marketing inbound, which involves attracting customers to your community via search engine optimization (SEO), blogging, social media, and paid search engine marketing. If you don’t have these things in place, you are likely losing out to communities that do.

5. Optimize your sales process

As marketing has changed, so has sales. Today, successful selling involves choosing the right sales channels, capitalizing on all of your leads, improving your close ratio through effective customer relationship management (CRM), and using data to make the right decisions for your community.

For more information on how to improve your sales and marketing efforts, watch our Senior Living Sales and Marketing Best Practices webinar.

Watch Our Senior Living Sales and Marketing  Best Practices Webinar

6. Protect your residents’ data

For hackers, healthcare data is a goldmine -- using this information, they can obtain medical services, steal identities, and more. That fact, combined with stringent HIPAA requirements, means that senior living communities need to be extremely vigilant about protecting their residents’ personal information.

An article last year in ALFA’s Senior Living Executive magazine outlined five basic steps communities can take to protect their data, based on advice from former Brookdale CIO Scott Ranson:

  1. Determine whether your company is a HIPAA-covered entity. In almost all cases, the answer is yes.

  2. Get a HIPAA gap and risk analysis done. This assessment identifies the gaps between your company’s procedures and the HIPAA regulations.

  3. Update your policies and procedures to reflect HIPAA status and more. The “and more” is crucial. This is not the time to do just the minimum -- not only because you need to protect your residents, but because the consequences of not doing so can be severe.

  4. Invest in training and awareness. Data protection is everyone’s responsibility, so provide your staff with the training and resources they need to do it right.

  5. Consider a few more tips. Go even further by implementing two-factor authentication and requiring strong passwords. You will never be sorry you did too much in terms of cybersecurity.

Competition in the senior living industry is high, and the right management can make all of the difference. As you make daily decisions for your community, keep these higher-level best practices in mind. Any decision that helps you improve the resident experience, optimize your sales process, and so on, is probably on the right track.

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