Coordinating a move into senior housing and all that goes with it—the downsizing, the movers, the emotions, the realtors—is a burden that typically falls on a prospective resident’s oldest adult daughter. But what if the burden were removed from her shoulders?
One senior housing provider clued Senior Housing News into how it is, in a sense, providing a stand-in oldest adult daughter for its new residents, and why doing so may give it a competitive edge.
A Stress-Free Transition
Mather LifeWays, which operates an independent living community in Wilmette, Illinois, and life plan communities (formerly known as CCRCs) in Evanston, Illinois, and Tucson, Arizona, employs a move-in coordinator at each of its locations who essentially fills the role of future residents’ “oldest adult daughter.”
“Oldest adult daughters typically love the service,” Gale Morgan, Mather LifeWays’ vice president of sales, told Senior Housing News. Mather LifeWays has reasons to love it as well.
Often, the actual move from a long-time home into a senior living community is what keeps prospective residents from making the choice to go forward, according to Morgan. The idea of where to begin can be overwhelming for the senior and the loved one who has been charged with arranging the transition.
That’s where the Mather’s move-in coordinators come in. As soon as a future resident makes a deposit, the coordinator begins making the moving process “as manageable and stress-free for the depositor as possible,” Morgan said.
Morgan explained that the top challenge when it comes to moving revolves around what exactly the residents can bring with them to their new homes. Consequently, Mather’s move-in coordinators visit each depositor’s home to get a sense of his or her belongings and help make downsizing decisions, if necessary. Perhaps a certain sofa will not fit in the new apartment, or they have to choose one of three coffee tables to bring along.
The move-in coordinator also consults a space planner and an interior designer to guarantee that the items future residents want to bring with them will fit. Then, they plan the new space, all the way down to what artwork goes where.
Marisela Panzarella, the move-in coordinator at Mather Lifeways’ Splendido at Rancho Vistoso life plan community in Tucson, doubles as an interior designer.
Move-in coordinators also work to ensure that a space plan is hung in the entryway of residents’ new homes so the moving company knows where every single piece of furniture should be placed.
Some other services the move-in coordinator takes care of? They can set depositors up with recommended realtors and moving companies, and home staging services are provided free of charge to depositors to help sell their homes quickly and efficiently.
Right at Home
On move-in day, it’s the move-in coordinator’s job to meet new residents at the door of the community while Mather’s building services works with the movers.
A new residents is then shown to his or her new apartment, which is outfitted with a huge red bow on the door and a red carpet laid out in the hallway preceding it.
“We make it positive because they just left their home, which maybe was their home of 30 years,” Morgan told SHN. “There’s a lot of emotions that go with that.”
Prior to this moment, the move-in coordinator will have gathered some personal details about the new resident, such as favorite snacks and types of flowers. That way, when new residents arrive at the new apartment, their favorite foods will be waiting for them in the fridge and their favorite song will be playing.
“We make sure that home is ready for them,” Morgan explained. “Home is your favorite things.”
On top of that, the move-in coordinator has made sure the new apartment has “all of the necessities” that can be overlooked during a busy time—paper towels, toilet tissue, a pad of paper and a pen. There is also a temporary phone service available and some folding chairs ready to use while the furniture is being moved in.
A Value Proposition
According to Morgan, the decision to offer these services to Mather LifeWays depositors is, in part, a value proposition.
“We have a relatively high-end customer,” Morgan explained.
The process the move-in coordinator goes through also leads to depositors’ homes selling more quickly, and residents moving into Mather LifeWays properties faster, she said.
“We simply have learned that it benefits everyone to make this process as easy as possible,” Morgan said. “The residents arrive happier, they settle in faster, they settle into the community and their resident satisfaction is higher.”
Written by Mary Kate Nelson