Resource Centre for Retirement Communities

Optimize your message during the COVID-19 quarantine

It’s a challenging time for retirement home marketing. We want to take this opportunity to share some resources, best practices, and examples of good marketing. We’re here to help you effectively manage marketing, communications and admissions during the quarantine. If you have a resource or example you’d like to share, email [email protected]




Featured resources:

WEBINAR May 19 [Our Kids Media]

How to keep staff safe and happy

With the introduction of stricter safety protocols and less flexible working conditions, your staff needs more support than ever. Heather Maxwell, expert human resource specialist, has advice.
You'll learn:
- How to support and communicate with your staff during COVID 19
- How to encourage and motivate your staff
- How to manage your staff turnover

For those who missed it, watch the recording here.

PREVIOUS WEBINARS [Our Kids Media]

COVID-19 response webinar series

Patrick Boult's webinar on communicating throughout the quarantine presented clear ideas on how to maintain communication with prospects despite quarantine measures and the current uncertainty. Some of his ideas are included below, or watch Patrick's webinar now.

In the second webinar, James Shi of Our Kids Media, presented "How to handle the COVID-19 marketing squeeze." Watch it on Vimeo

ARTICLE [Comfort Life]

Senior living in the era of social isolation

Many communities have shared positive messages during the outbreak. We share these updates on how they are keeping residents’ spirits up, how families are coping creatively with social distancing, and more. Contribute your story to [email protected] and we’ll add it to our page. We also accept links to blogs, social media and anything else posted online.

Communicating and marketing throughout the crisis

People are going to be watching how retirement communities manage the safety of seniors in their care. They're still researching online during social isolation. Those who were in the middle of deciding will still need senior care when the quarantine eases. But what happens now?

Families are turning to online sources, such as your website, as well as ComfortLife.ca, for information. Here are seven marketing and communications tips to help you win.


Seven Tips for Successful Messaging

Tip 1 - Keep contact with families and be transparent:

Delmanor’s communications have been open and forthright with families, posting regular updates to their website. In this communication, Sheldon Gould, Delmanor’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), highlights how their communities are taking a proactive approach to directives.


homepage message

Other communities have set up a special COVID-19 communications channel. For example, MTCO has created a special email address specifically for families with COVID-19 questions.

homepage message

Tip 2 - Be up front and specific

Be sure to have an easy-to-find message on your homepage letting families know how you’re dealing with COVID-19 in your community. Highlight pertinent information first, namely your status concerning visits and move-ins, and how to contact you.

In this example, Greenwood has done a great job of immediately presenting the most important things people need to know, while also sending a visual message saying, “so far so good.”

Greenwood homepage message

In addition, Greenwood presents a clear, forthright message concerning measures they’ve taken to safeguard seniors in their care. Be specific about measures you take.

Include:

  • How you maintain social distancing measures
  • How you maintain sanitation
  • PPE’s available to staff
  • Screening processes in place
  • Any other diligence

Present that information clearly and at families’ level of understanding.

In this crisis, consumers are becoming very quickly knowledgeable about medical and health care considerations. Open, honest communication with families will go a long way to maintaining your brand, especially if you’re lucky enough to avoid the virus.

Tip 3 - Video and virtual interactions are more important than ever

Video’s immediacy and dynamism is more relevant than ever. You should be using video to effectively communicate short messages via social media, as seen in examples above. That said, social media is fleeting exposure, of course, and ultimately you want to offer your most pertinent messaging in more abiding places like your ComfortLife.ca profile, Youtube and Vimeo channels, and your own blog.

ComfortLife.ca offers the advantages of a third-party platform where people are actively researching. We have over 15 years' experience creating compelling marketing and sotry-telling video. We are currently offering a free manager’s message until May 15th for clients who renew early for 2020-2021.

You can now promote virtual offerings on Comfort Life.
We now offer a list of communities with virtual tours available, as well as virtual open houses available on our events page.

Tip 4 - Creatively turn deficits into assets

As the old maxim goes: don’t see problems, see opportunities.

PARC Retirement Living has offered one of the best COVID-related innovations in Canada so far, creating Family Meetup Centres at locations across Greater Vancouver. These offer a safe way for residents to connect with senior loved ones. As Westerleigh PARC's GM says, "there is no replacement for a face-to-face conversation with your loved one." One family member loves the way it allowed them to "just focus on visiting [instead of using] the technology." As a bonus, this innovative approach was featured in several local news outlets, as well as CTV News and CBC.

The video below shows both family members' and seniors' delight in this innovative service.

 

Another example: if you are having trouble filling suites, now is a good time to turn your extra suites into short stay opportunities. As restrictions are lifted, people will go back to having surgeries. They will start to research care options again. Many seniors living alone will have grown increasingly frustrated by their solitude during the time of quarantine, and they may have been considering independent living in the past. Offer them the opportunity to experience the vibrancy of life in your community, and this gives you an opportunity to sway them in your favour. People recovering from surgery will need a friendly place in which to recover, with care available.

Tip 5 - Control your message through social media

Use social media to share any good news stories you have. If everything is fine in your community, spread that news as effectively as you can. A number of communities and corporations are doing a great job using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to keep families up-to-date and share positive messages.

Excellent use of social media, example #1
A Facebook video from PARC Retirement Communities stands out. The video shows an exterior of the community in which residents both inside and outside the community "make some noise" while traffic passes. There's a concise twofold message: a) seniors are doing well in the midst of social isolation and b) this seniors' community is outbreak-free (contrary to news stories about retirement homes).

Excellent use of social media, example #2
The entire layout of this post from V!VA Mississauga tells a complete, delightful story.


homepage message

Tip 6 - Use technology to create community

Make use of available free technology to optimize communication with families and among community members. Encourage families to communicate virtually with loved ones. You can set up a "socially distanced" seminar to introduce seniors to free communications tools like Skype, Zoom, WebEx, Google Hangouts or Gruveo. We'll suggest that among some groups of friends in your community, they use these to communicate with each other (as well as family). It might be another way to boost morale.

You may want to check out GetSetup, a new site offering seniors free live courses in basic tech-based life skills. While it’s US-based, many courses are taught by retired educators, so it’s peer-instruction for your residents. CyberSeniors has just served notice that they have converted all programming to online and remote formats.

Tip 7 - Gather testimonials

Now more than ever, the authentic perspectives of your current community will play a key role in future move-ins. Add testimonials to your Comfort Life retirement community profile which ranks #1 in Google for reviews of retirement homes, or create a testimonial wall with Padlet, a free tool which allows you to crowdsource content easily without much work from your team.

As a trusted third party platform, people turn to us for assurance. Update your profile to stand out. Look for us at the forefront of messaging for retirement communities in the wake of the epidemic.

During this uncertain and financially difficult time, families will be looking for reliable information outside of just your own website, and ComfortLife.ca consistently returns as a #1 source of information in Google searches.


Continuing Communication with Leads and Prospects

Tips above will help you reach prospects, but you also want to be mindful of ways to let existing and newer prospects know what you are doing.

Prospective families are turning to online sources, such as your website and others like ComfortLife.ca, to determine what they should do next. For prospective families, your approach to how you handle this crisis can have a significant impact on how a family perceives your community.

Four things to keep in mind

1. Focus on how you can help them now

Stay in touch with current prospects. Ask if they need anything from you. Bring their attention to services that can help them in the meantime. For example, Social Planning Toronto lists mental health resources, potentially pertinent for family caregivers, as well as support for seniors during the quarantine. Come up with a list of helpful resources in your area and have those handy, to help people navigate the crisis as well as they can. Help people now, and they'll remember it later.

Patrick Boult of Greenhouse Marketing says, "Now is a good time to hone your listening skills. You really want to cover the prospect's needs." Amidst all the uncertainty that people feel right now, "you want to be their trusted advisor. Sometimes that’s all we can do, but this is also part of relationship building with them. Ask yourself, is there anything you can do to assist them." Reduce your relationship to the simplest level of one person to another, he advises. Ask them how they are, and get them to talk about their day.

In his webinar held through Our Kids Media, he lists 12 things you should know about your prospects. Keep these in your CRM or your personal notes, and you will be ready, when things get back to the "new normal." Watch Patrick's webinar now.

Seniors and families on your leads list will still benefit from close communication. Send them weekly updates as to how you are dealing with seniors in your care. Let them know how you’re adjusting to updates, and how you’re going above and beyond government directives, to ensure the safety of residents.

2. Collect good stories

Keep your ear open for story opportunities in your marketing. At the moment, you may be busy with more pressing internal matters, but take notes on comments and activity from within your community. Turn those into positive stories, later. How people in your community respond to the crisis will be just as important as any other messages coming out of the crisis. Remember that people who are alone now may be more lonely than ever. Sharing funny incidents or positive anecdotes in the midst of the crisis is the best message for prospective families and seniors.

3. Share a positive message with the broader public

The web makes it very easy to communicate and share. Some marketers may choose to comment on stories about the virus, to share an honest message about their success at avoiding an outbreak.

This might also be a time for communities to break down competitive barriers and work together (as we aspire to do on Comfort Life). We love this positive, honest story about retirement homes in Maryland implicitly recognizing they are all in the same battle .

We also love the "adopt a grandparent" idea from CHD Living in the UK. The story breaks the monotony of bad news. Media outlets are starving for good news stories like that right now.

Regardless of the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic, families will need senior care in the future. Figure out as many ways as possible to publish the message that you are always the best place for seniors and senior loved ones.

4. Remember that it’s okay to be quiet

If your website says all you can currently say about the outbreak, it’s okay to stop there. We’ve all been inundated the last few weeks with information about coronavirus. Saying nothing is better than push marketing that's just out of touch.

Resources

Provincial Associations

Alberta

AHS's portal on COVID-19 and novel coronovirus
By: Alberta Health Services
Updated often, with the latest statistics on the virus, and much more infomation for people across the province.

AHS's tips on safeguarding mental health
By: Alberta Health Services
Tips on managing stress and anxiety during social isolation and the uncertainty of the current circumstances.

Essential resources for Calgary seniors
By: The Kerby Center
Resources listed include the seniors' hotline number (403-265-0661) as well as links to self-assessment, and more general information.

Information on COVID-19 for Edmonton Seniors
By: The Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council
Lists resources for Edmonton seniors.

British Columbia

BCSLA statement on COVID-19
By: The British Columbia Seniors Living Association
Statement, with links to more information.

Complete information on protecting yourself from COVID-19
By: The British Columbia Center for Disease Control
The provincial CDC offers a complete look at all sanitary and other precautions to take.

Resources related to psychology and mental health care
By: The British Columbia Psychological Association
Links and information on mental health, self-care, how to talk to children, and more.

Pandemic preparedness
By: The Government of British Columbia
Hub of updated on information on pandemic preparedness, from the provincial government.

Ontario

COVID-19 Response Guide
By: The Ontario Retirement Communities Association Updated May 30, 2020
Comprehensive guide for retirement homes pulls together the most updated information.

COVID-19 resources
By: The Ontario Retirement Communities Association
ORCA's updated list of resources, with a hub of links to hundreds of the latest updates.

Health care resources
By: Public Health Ontario
Complete list of resources to support health care professionals with the outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)


Relief for small businesses

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
By: Government of Canada
A summary of measures announced by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario directed at supporting employees and employers in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

COVID-19 Small Business Help Centre
By: The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)
Answers to frequently asked questions about everything to keep you, your employees and your business safe.


Technology & Tools

Best Video Conferencing Software
By: G2.com
Review and ratings of the best free and paid video conferencing solutions for a multitude of use cases. Some of the products listed are great for 1-1 conversations, some for teams or lessons, and others for live broadcasts.

The 12 Best Team Chat Apps
By: Zapier.com
Team chat is similar to email, but its main benefit is that it keeps all your company’s communications in one place, making it easier for everyone to talk together with group or private chats. Here’s a the pros and cons of 12 popular apps.