Interview: Where You Live Matters

May 17, 2016

Enlivant CEO Jack Callison sat down with American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) President David Schless, to learn more about ASHA’s new consumer resource, WhereYouLiveMatters.com.
 
Read their interview to see the many ways Where You Live Matters is bringing value to seniors, families and the senior living industry as a whole. 

Jack: For some background, can you help us understand ASHA’s mission and your goals?
David: ASHA started back in 1991 with an original purpose to provide a voice on legislative and regulatory matters. Then it quickly gravitated into research because there was virtually nothing data wise in the industry. The third area was our meetings for industry leadership. Those three areas had been our major focus for 20+ years, but now we have expanded into both consumer education and mentoring rising leaders. 

Jack: Let’s dive into Where You Live Matters. What led to the decision to develop this campaign? Why now?
David: We had the opportunity about two years ago to step back and look at the industry and what we were doing. At the top of the list was the desire to begin a consumer education initiative. After intensive member-driven discussions and surveys, we saw a strong feeling from the industry that this is the time to begin educating the consumer.

Jack: How would you describe the value the site brings to the industry and specifically to seniors and their families?
David: One of the biggest opportunities the site has is to to start to dispel some of the misconceptions of senior living, whether it is from seniors or their family members. The decision to move into a senior living community can be a very challenging process. This site helps seniors and adult children better understand what their options are, what the senior living experience is all about, and really empower consumers so when they are looking at their options they are in a better place. They aren’t in a crisis. They aren’t confused. If we can do that, it will be an enormous service to a lot of folks. We can help people make decisions from a position of empowerment instead of from crisis. The core of the Where You Live Matters campaign is to increase the number of people who consider, visit, and ultimately move in and benefit from senior living.

Jack: That consumer awareness you are talking about is so critical. If you were to fast forward 5 years, what does success look like?
David: The website will have the opportunity to dispel the misperceptions. We tried to build a site that reflects the reality of different types of living options. I hope that visitors can see the perspective from residents, family members and associates that perhaps they weren’t expecting to see. Ultimately, success will be more people visiting the communities and more seniors moving in and benefiting from senior living communities. 

Jack: Can you talk about the differences of this site from other resources that exist today in the senior housing industry?
David: We studied any website that we could find on the topic, a surprising number, and what we found is that most of what is out there is very flat, very static. You can print out a PDF. What we set out to do was build a website that was above everything that we had looked at. We made a decision to invest resources in very high-quality video in order to show residents and show what living in senior community really looks like. We wanted the whole website to be very simple, very understandable. And we wanted it to work for a senior looking for independent living options, as well as for adult children looking for options such as memory care or assisted living. The key for us was making an investment in the quality of the website that reflects the vibrancy and amazing quality of these communities.

Jack: Tell us a bit about the process of developing Where You Live Matters? How were member partners involved and how might that evolve moving forward?
David: It was crucial to us to involve ASHA membership. We assembled a committee of 10 individuals who were intimately involved in every aspect of the project. These folks have a lot of expertise in many areas, from communications, PR, marketing, and advertising, to development, operations, policy, and consumer research. I was so thrilled to see how well this group worked together. They were willing to roll up their sleeves and put a lot of thought, time and energy into the entire process. They will remain very involved as we build awareness, measure how folks are using the site, and as we continuously re-shape the site based on feedback and metrics. 

Jack: You can tell so much thought has been put into the site. What kind of early feedback are you getting, either qualitative or quantitative?
David: The feedback has been very positive. We launched the site late January, and every week since I have gotten a phone call or an email from someone who has provided positive feedback. Metrics will be coming in the next few weeks, but we put a lot of time and thought into metrics before deploying the site. On an annual basis, we will be looking into investing in new content and promoting the content. We’ve also given visitors to the site the opportunity to provide feedback, asking them was there something you didn’t see. 

Jack: Any final messages in terms of how we can get behind ASHA and support and embrace this initiative?
David: Make sure your teams are aware of this resource, engaged with us on social media, and both use and provide us with content. The industry right now is only capturing about 10 percent of the 75+ market, and I believe we’ve barely scratched the surface of what the potential is. We have an enormous opportunity to enrich the lives of people who might be afraid of senior living based on some pre-conceived notions. 

Jack: On behalf of owners/operators across the entire industry, we truly appreciate your leadership to help debunk pre-conceived ideas, increase consumer awareness, and ultimately help enrich lives. We look forward to getting updates from you and your team.

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