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Posted by Positive Aging Community on 06/15/2022

Building Stronger Communities

Building Stronger Communities

Life plan community residents seek transparency and engagement

Life plan community residents want to be informed and involved in their communities. While this can make decision making more complicated for community administrators and boards, involving residents often leads to a better experience for both residents and staff. In fact, increased resident engagement is associated with improved relationships with management and greater overall satisfaction, according to a national survey from Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging. 

The survey concluded that to increase resident engagement and satisfaction communities should focus on greater transparency and increased application of resident input. 

Providing Greater Transparency

Life plan community residents crave information. They have made a major investment, and they want to be involved in how their communities are managed. Life plan communities can increase transparency by focusing on building trust with residents and expanding efforts to share information. 

One key approach that has proven successful is to diversify communication efforts, using both written and oral mediums to reach the maximum amount of residents. The survey found that regular “town hall” meetings are a good way to ensure that residents are informed. Open to all residents, these meetings typically include presentations by community executives on operational information. They also feature time for residents to interact directly with management and ask questions, encouraging open lines of communication.

The survey also showed the importance of resident groups to increasing transparency. Resident groups can be involved in management decisions, serving on committees and advisory boards. 

There are many advantages of greater transparency, according to survey respondents. They include a greater sense of trust in management (91%), an enhanced relationship between management and residents (88%), and increased resident satisfaction (83%).

While there are many benefits to enhanced transparency, life plan community management also reported some disadvantages that need to be addressed. These included requests for information that cannot be fulfilled and increased levels of complaints. 

Incorporating Resident Input

In addition to providing more information, the other key to increasing and maintaining resident satisfaction is incorporating resident input. Residents want to be informed, and they also want to be listened to. 

Survey respondents suggested many different methods for successfully incorporating resident input including developing a sense of trust with residents, utilizing resident councils and committees, and providing structured processes for resident engagement. 

Survey respondents also recommended different approaches to addressing the disadvantages of involving residents in operational decisions. To address potential conflicts of interest, the respondents recommended establishing “guardrails,” or clear boundaries on the extent of resident input allowed. They also suggested presenting a small number of solutions for resident discussion. Despite potential drawbacks, more than 70 percent of respondents reported that resident representation on the board positively affects operations.

By keeping residents informed and using their input, life plan communities can keep residents engaged—and make their communities even more engaging. 

For complete survey results, visit matherlifewaysinstituteonaging.com.

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