5 STAR Senior Living
We hear so much about “branding” these days—how to build a brand, what constitutes a brand, and what strengthens or weakens it. But what do we mean by a brand and how is a brand conveyed in day-to-day life? Let’s look at Beacon Hill’s brand.
Authentic brands start with a mission and here is Beacon Hill’s: “Motivated by the love of Christ, to provide a full range of services for seniors to live their best life in supportive community.” That’s augmented by a philosophy that guides everyone who works or volunteers or provides services for Beacon Hill—a philosophy that includes values like compassion, service, collaboration, generosity and integrity.
Beacon Hill’s model for a senior living community—and its trademark—is hospitality with a focus on its culinary capabilities, a unique component of Beacon Hill that is unmatched in any other retirement community in West Michigan. Built into that is progressive care that is innovative and groundbreaking.
Beacon Hill provides continuing care for its residents, starting with independent living and, when the need arises, assisted living, rehabilitation, memory and skilled nursing care. Over 100 registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and certified nurse and medical assistants provide the full scope of clinical services for Beacon Hill’s assisted living, rehab, memory care, and skilled nursing residents. In so many ways, the clinical staff is the heart and soul of Beacon Hill as they care for those most in need.
Training Five STAR hospitality
Integral to Beacon Hill’s brand is a palpable esprit de corps, an all for one and one for all mindset present in the entire staff. As Amanda Daggett, Director of Nursing, said: “You treat everyone you come in contact with, with kindness and respect. It starts with Jeff (Jeff Huegli, Beacon Hill’s President and CEO). He expects five-star performance—every day.” Must be the reason Amanda came up with the Five STAR hospitality training program designed specifically for the nursing staff—they who care for the most frail and vulnerable of Beacon Hill residents.
What exactly is Five STAR hospitality, and how do you go about training a staff of 100+ and building it into the brand? As every parent and teacher knows, the best way to teach desired behavior is to model it. So, Beacon Hill’s entire clinical staff was invited to experience, first-hand, Five STAR hospitality in a mandatory 1 ½ hour training, during which they enjoyed incredible service and amenities, delicious food and top-notch hospitality. If the staff was to up their performance to a five-star level, they needed to see it first-hand and encounter it up close and personal.
The Five STAR hospitality training began in March with breakfast, lunch and dinner sessions, so that no matter what their shift, all of the clinical staff would be able to have the complete training, beginning with Beacon Hill’s celebrated, exceptional food.
No need for the special guests to park their cars, as valet service was available. They were warmly greeted at the front door with a coat check, then escorted into the dining room which was set up like a five-star restaurant, complete with a coffee (and hot chocolate) service, appetizers, entrée, salad, side dishes and a flaming dessert—served individually by the Beacon Hill Chef, giving the meal a very personal touch. On board was the entire leadership team, who parked, greeted, escorted, or served guests at the sessions.
Fortified by a grand meal, Amanda Daggett and Christopher Rigsby, Human Resources Director, led the staff through detailed instruction on the specific components of Five STAR care, including a reminder that “we are working with residents in THEIR homes. They should be treated with courtesy and kindness at all times.”
The instructors also answered the question: Why do we need to provide Five STAR service? “We do it because excellent customer service reinforces the mission, vision and values of Beacon Hill; it sets the atmosphere for a more harmonious work environment, and it builds faith and trust among coworkers, residents, and the family members of our residents.” It also supports the brand.
Staff were urged to be confident in their skills and abilities. “You have the skills, training and experience to provide great customer service every single day. Take hold and own the experience of giving excellent customer service.” They were encouraged to anticipate needs and prepare for the “what-ifs” so that when mistakes happen, they fix them straight away and recover with excellent customer service. They were reminded that “anyone can do the basics; we all need to strive to go above and beyond.”
The basis for Beacon Hill’s resident service model is providing person-centered care that meets the individual needs of the residents they serve. While always working to complete tasks in a timely fashion, staff was prompted not to be so routine in their approach that they can’t change the pace to benefit the recipient of the service. That means they may need to “try alternate approaches, or change their tone of voice, or attempt to re-approach if needed.”
Staff were also encouraged to live the Five STAR experience. “Creating this level of experience for our residents and coworkers every day is the standard and not the goal.” They were told they have the opportunity to provide Five STAR service at every encounter. “The tools that you have to help create this experience are low staffing ratios that support meaningful engagement, a beautiful work environment, and the collective strengths and experiences of your service teams.”
The session ended with specifics on applying the Five STAR experience. Staff were asked to “remember your experience today. It was more than just providing you with a nice meal!” It’s the attention to the details, from beginning to end, that include a warm, welcoming reception, Five STAR accommodations, preparation and anticipation of needs, elements of astonishment and joy and, finally, the “extra touch that makes the encounter meaningful and unforgettable.”
One may ask, “What is the result of training the clinical staff to provide Five STAR hospitality and care—every day?” A family member of a resident in skilled nursing commented specifically on a great customer service experience she had, stating: “He performed care with such dignity. He was wonderful, attentive, hard-working and compassionate. He stopped long enough to talk with me during my struggle with the end of my loved one’s life.”
This is just one example of a true mission moment that reinforces the Five STAR experience in action. We’re grateful to see that the training is working.