Harbor Retirement Associates (HRA) is training its executive directors in the art of hospitality amid a push to build more luxury-focused senior living communities.
The Vero Beach, Florida-based operator recently hosted etiquette experts Jacqueline Whitmore and Susan Bigsby during a two-day training session with 15 of its executive directors. There, the duo taught HRA’s employees how to make small talk, shake hands, toast people, arrange cutlery, hold glassware and dress professionally.
The training—which cost about $17,000 in total—was aimed at giving the executive directors the tools they need to cater to residents seeking a more high-end lifestyle, according to HRA’s COO, Kim Lewis.
“Caregiving and loving seniors comes naturally [to our executive directors], but some need additional support in etiquette and refinement to lead communities with an affluent culture,” Lewis told Senior Housing News. “We also know our operators have exceptional skills and they are great people on the inside. We want to help them learn how to look and feel great on the outside.”
HRA currently operates about 30 senior housing communities nationwide, and earlier this year laid out plans for a $450 million expansion initiative. Many of the planned communities, such as HarborChase of The Park Cities in Dallas, are geared toward the high-end senior living market.
HRA will check back in with its executive directors every 30 days for a period of time to make sure they haven’t forgotten their training, according to Gottfried Ernst, the company’s vice president of hospitality. The community leaders must also maintain a diary to log what they’ve learned and how they’ve used it since their crash course on etiquette.
The operator plans to train its remaining 15 executive directors in June, and possibly implement the training going forward on a quarterly basis. HRA may also roll out the training to its sales directors sometime in the future.
“Hospitality and outstanding etiquette training will remain a regiment for Harbor Retirement Associates,” Lewis said. “We are finding the partnership with Jacqueline Whitmore and Susan Bigsby to be a great fit, and they are happy to help us train our own trainers.”
Hospitality- and amenity-focused senior living has become a popular trend in the industry in recent years, with some communities sporting spacious dwellings geared toward younger seniors, fine-dining programs and even resident-led craft brewing courses.
Written by Tim Regan