Human connection has emerged as the common theme of this year’s Argentum Best of the Best award winners. By offering empathy to adult children, fostering bonds between residents and their peers, including young people in community activities, and inviting residents to plan their own programming, these four providers are bringing people together in new ways.
A book written by two members of the Heritage Communities leadership team uses a relatable main character to help adult children cope with the emotions of moving their parents into senior living.
Navigating the journey toward placing a parent in senior living can be an emotionally challenging experience for adult children. When Heritage Communities decided to create a book to guide adult children through the decision-making process, the leadership team took a unique approach. Instead of writing an advice manual, they chose to craft a novel that follows a relatable character as she realizes that her mother would be safer and happier living in a senior living community.
“In a Good Place” is a fictional story based on the experiences of real-life families served by Heritage Communities. The story follows a middle-aged woman as she struggles to care for her aging mother while managing her own growing children, marriage, and career. As the book progresses, the main character realizes that it’s time to find a senior living community for her mother. The heroine is purposely left nameless so readers can imagine themselves in her place.
Heritage Communities president Nate Underwood and corporate director of sales and marketing Lacy Jungman spent 18 months creating the book. They consulted with sales leaders at each community for input. The book debuted during National Assisted Living Week in 2018.
“Nate has always said that our business is a combination of mission and margin,” Jungman said. “‘In a Good Place’ fell into the mission portion of our organization. Writing this book was a way for us to reach out to families who are on this journey and let them know they’re not alone.”
The book is meant to support the adult child’s emotional journey through the decision-making process. Readers learn that there is hope in this challenging time and that other people are facing the same issues. The storyline emphasizes the positive outcomes of moving a parent into senior living and acknowledges that the decision to do so can be difficult.
Adult children and family members who express an interest in Heritage Communities receive copies of the book from the organization’s sales counselors. The counselors highlight or bookmark sections that will be of particular help to an individual they are advising. Counselors can then offer a next step to help the prospect along their journey. Presenting the book in this way positions the counselor as a knowledgeable advisor and helps deepen the relationship between the potential customer and the community.
Distributing the book one-on-one with each adult child or in physician’s offices builds trust and credibility for Heritage Communities and its representatives. The book also positions the provider as a thought leader in the industry. Each of the company’s communities throughout Iowa, Nebraska, and Arizona received a supply of books to offer free to the general public.
The success of “In a Good Place” has fostered a sense of pride within the Heritage Communities organization. The book received positive feedback since it was distributed in the communities in October 2018. Associates at all levels have asked for copies of the book to read, share, or keep for themselves. Sales teams reported that prospects were often deeply moved by the story and could relate to the character’s emotions in their own lives. The book was also endorsed by the Nebraska Health Care Association and Nebraska Assisted Living Association.
Plans are underway to host book signings in the communities and at offsite referral locations. These events are expected to generate new leads and nurture existing prospects. The events will also help maintain good relationships with the families of current residents, who can relate to the messages in the book. The success of “In a Good Place” has prompted plans to create additional books in a series about senior living.