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BTG COVID-19 Ep. 16: The Importance of Feedback Data During a Pandemic with NRC Health

BTG COVID-19 Ep. 16: The Importance of Feedback Data During a Pandemic with NRC Health; Jalene Carpenter

This series is designed to provide resources, share the love stories and encourage those who are overseeing the care of aging adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe in you!

Lucas: Welcome to Bridge the Gap podcast, the senior living podcast with Josh and Lucas on our covert 19 series where we continue to bring on great guests to help bring you information that you need to know today in our new normal. And today we’ve got on a great guest. We’ve got Jalene Carpenter from NRC. Welcome to the program.


Jalene: Thank you. I’m happy to be here.


Lucas: We’re so happy to see you. We’ve spent a lot of time with you and your group at conferences, at your own conference and you guys are really, really awesome on so many levels and so relevant today when the experience inside senior living communities has changed for, for all of them globally and especially nationwide. And so we want to talk to you today about what you’re seeing, what you’re hearing for some updates. And then we’re going to talk through a discussion of what people should be looking at right now and also for the future of hospitality inside these communities.


Jalene: Yeah. Awesome. I’m excited to be here and to chat with you about that today. I think also before we start, like everybody at NRC Health just wants a big shout out and a big thank you to everybody in senior living. Like they are in the front lines right now and I think us as a partner, we just want to say thank you and you’re doing a great job and I think everybody should be finding ways to reach out and to give them kudos and to be some cheerleaders on the sidelines.


Lucas: Yeah, no, we’ve loved seeing the photos that you guys have been posting where you’ve gone out and held up signs and welcome the people coming into work and just so encouraging. What’s the feedback been on that?


Jalene: Yeah, I think it’s been you get a few funny looks from people, but overwhelmingly it’s been a positive experience. You know, every week we take a local community and we’re signing up people for every shift to go out there and at least hold some signs and just say thank you. It gets really hard. I don’t want to underplay the fact what’s going on right now is a really hard thing for them. So anything that we can do big or small is, is important.


Josh: Absolutely. So Jalene, tell us a little bit about your perspective. You guys get to interact with a lot of communities not only before this COVID-19, but now that things have kind of radically changed community operations from an outward facing standpoint, what are some of the things observations that you guys have that has really changed as it relates to how the communities are interacting you know, internally and then externally to the outward facing consumer?


Jalene: Yeah, so it’s been an interesting shift. I will say, I think it’s highlighted the fact of how innovative senior living is and can be. And I also say from an internal perspective, we’ve seen our partners pivot and shift and make radical changes in what would have taken six months, they’re now doing in like two days. Right? And so I think that from that perspective, like we’re seeing a big shift in just showing the public of how innovative we are and how we can pivot quickly. I think you see that on social media. You know, we hear that when we’re talking to our partners every day we see it in the feedback that we’re getting from residents and families. You know, you’re seeing them compliment them on communication and keeping them informed. Whereas we historically would have seen communication typically be where most organizations struggle.


Josh: Yeah, I think I’ve noticed that as well. A lot of the posts specifically as you mentioned on social sites, on social media have gone from the kind of template infrequent post maybe even a stock photo image to much more relevant communication. And it seems that teams are using social media as an actual communication tool to the families and those that are interested in what’s happening at the community. Is that what you’re observing as well?


Jalene: It is. You know, I think for all of us who’ve been in senior living a long time, we have been very slow to adapt social media in a really meaningful way. And now we’re seeing daily updates from communities. You know, we’re just, and we’re seeing the information flow two ways. One, we’re getting good informative information. You know, here’s exactly what I’m doing for your loved ones, to keep them safe. Here’s what you need to be doing, here’s how to communicate with me. But then we’re also showing them that they’re loved ones are happy, right? They’re being well cared for. You know, my favorite one is, you know, the resident holding up a sign and saying, hey, I’m doing okay. I have toilet paper, but I need wine. Right? Like, so we’re doing such a good job of finding more ways to communicate beyond our very traditional model around, you know, there was a change in your loved ones, so we’re going to give you a call or you stopped into the facility. So, hey, we’re going to give you an update that, you know, mom hasn’t been doing as well lately or not going to activities. And so I just think it’s so impressive of how quickly we adapted and are now doing a better job of sharing those stories.


Josh: So you guys study, I’m kind of, I think you even referred to it as human understanding helping teams and communities organizations understand how the consumer feels, thinks about their products. What’s that perception? What kind of opportunity do you think we have kind of as an industry, as communities, as leaders during a time of crisis to help to improve maybe the public perception?


Jalene: Yeah, so, you know, traditionally when we looked at customer, consumer experience in senior living we’ve always kind of had it as a marker that we do once a year and we say, how are we doing right? Like, are you satisfied with the services we’re providing you? And I would say most people have probably a lot of reservations to even engage with their customers right now. Like, I don’t want to send a family member, you know, outreach because they’re not able to come to the buildings. And I would push back and say, this is our opportunity to know how we’re doing. We know that there’s limitations and so I want to know, am I communicating with you enough right now, right? My job is to make sure, you know, that I’m taking care of your loved one and that they are safe. And so like, if I’m not doing a good job, I need to know that. 


And then two-fold: so the craziest is going to go on, right? This is not going to end tomorrow and we’re going to see a big shift in what the customer’s experience is with us. And so what better way to make sure we’re making that shift correctly then to have data around it.


Josh: You know, one thing I’m curious of, I don’t want to throw too much of a curve ball here at you, but you know, I think what you just said kind of spurred a thought that I’ve been having and that’s that. You know, I think this is going to go on for a while. Even if we all get back to work we’re still going to be dealing with this, right. And, and then other things potentially in the future. So this has brought some change that is going to be permanent change in the way we look at things, the way we prepare, the way we conduct business globally, but specifically in our industry. And I’m wondering if one of the things that might come from this specifically around a consumer’s ability to be able to understand and be educated on what, what a community offers and be able to make a transparent educated decision on products and services, even an apartment choice and selection to being a lot more, I guess virtually driven.


You know, I look at other industries that are maybe more retail or sales related that there is a transaction of some form. Now we’re very much in the relational business, but there is a transaction, there’s some business that takes place, there’s some selection. Oftentimes there is comparison between communities to determine where’s the best place for mom or dad or for myself. And even from an employment standpoint, what does the community offer? What’s culture like? Am I going to be a good fit for this mission? And I think about other industries that have done a really good job in the retail, even in the car industry. I can think probably when I first picked up my first car, it was, I felt like I had to go touch, feel, look, smell, drive that vehicle. And now so many people select their car and it arrives at their home without ever even test driving it. And I’m wondering if you, what you think about how senior living might can learn some things from that to where I’m not so much has to be done with the physical tour before entry.


Jalene: Yeah. And we are seeing that a lot with our partners, right? So a lot of our partners that actually measure their tour experience and they, and they really, they made it very relational to your point where they’ve had to pivot, right? Like, we still need to be marketing and selling what we are, what we do. And so a lot of them have gone to the virtual tours and I would say also that we’re at an opportunity to become more transparent. Price transparency we know is something that consumers demand and want. And it’s also something that we are really bad at as an industry. We are like so scared to put anything anywhere about how much we charge for what we do. So I do think to your point, like there is an opportunity and I think those that are at the forefront of it are going to be way ahead of the curve compared to people who continue to hold some of that close to their vest.


I also do think that people are going to go back and look at, you know, yourreviews, your websites, your Facebook pages, your social media to see how you handled the crisis, right? Like I’m going to go back and say, how did you do during this? Because if I’m putting my loved one in now I want to know, right. And if it was radio silent, if there was no information or you were very guarded, I’m going to struggle with that. So I do think that transparency is such a key feature moving forward. Because again, we know, we know our stigma as this industry and if we don’t do a better job sharing the great things that we’re doing out there right now, that’s our own fault. Like we have the opportunity right now to harness what is doing what we are doing really well and to share that message.


Josh: I totally agree. And we’ve talked about having such a committed group of team members. We’ve talked with some other guests that it’s amazing that, you know, while many people might think from the outside looking in, Oh gosh, now it’d be a time when I bet a senior living is super short staffed or nobody’s wanting to go to work. Just the opposite happening. And we talked with a guest a week or so ago and they’re like, no, actually call outs are at an all time low. And it shows that the team members really rise to the occasion and the great commitment level that we have in our industry.


Jalene: Yeah. It’s fun to see you when we’ve, when we’ve either encourage people to go, you know, and cheer them on as they, as they go to their shift or even just talking to our partners. It is amazing to personal investment. Everybody has a, I recently talked to a regional director, one of our partners and she said, you know, I had a team member test positive and I spent two hours on the phone and they just cried cause they were just, they just felt such ownership and such like, I want to keep my people safe. And again, those are the stories that we need to be doing a better job sharing out there because we all know that those aren’t the ones that are making the news.


Josh: Yeah, exactly. Lucas and I have talked about that a lot. That and that was part of the reason for us creating Bridge the Gap, right. Because those of us that are in the industry, those that have their loved ones in the industry know the awesome stories that are produced. But a lot of times those that are outside of our industry, all they hear is sometimes those negative stories that aren’t that frequent, but they seem to dominate the headlines.


Jalene: Absolutely.


Lucas: Jalene, do you have resources on y’alls website that-  I’m thinking of the operators right now that might be listening to saying like, I need some, some ways to help me navigate some of these things. It’s an art. It’s our opportunity to do this better now. What, what resources could we link to or just some ideas that you may have to help them at this time?


Jalene: Yeah, absolutely. So I would say definitely our website has a lot of good information. I’m always available to reach out. So I will say I was a skilled operator for 15 years. So like if anybody wants to reach out on what we can do to help, please don’t hesitate to do that. I would honestly encourage you to do two things. Like, even if it’s not us, find a way to be engaging with your residents and families and team members right now. It’s okay to say, how are we doing, right? Like we know that like we’re getting a lot of pressure from a lot of areas, but I don’t want people to look back in six months when they’re going back and we’re doing a root cause analysis and saying, how did I handle this and really have no metric to know? Did I do that well? So I would just say whether it’s us or somebody, just find a way to be reaching out to them so that we do know we’re doing a good job keeping them informed and engaged.


Lucas: That’s very, very good and a really helpful information today as people are trying to go through their daily life, their commutes are disrupted, their lives are disrupted, and they need a little bit of encouragement and some practical tips on how to get from point A to point B today. And you’ve really helped us do that. Thank you so much.


Jalene: Yeah, no, I appreciate it. And I would just again, please share your stories. We’re doing great things. Now is our chance to leverage that. Share it with, share it on social media. I will always have a push for advocacy. Now is your chance to tell your local representatives when a great job you’re doing cause they’re the, they’re the ones that makes the decision. So please, please, if anything today, just I know how much we appreciate what doing and to share those stories. 


Lucas: Awesome. So good. Thank you for your encouragement and to our listeners and to all the people, the healthcare heroes out there. Just know that we’re thinking of you, we’re praying for you and we believe in you and thanks everybody for listening to Bridge the Gap.

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BTG COVID-19 Ep. 16: The Importance of Feedback Data During a Pandemic with NRC Health