I’m sure there are many assisted living providers who feel like they live in their facilities. After all, you may already spend most of your waking hours there. But there are some providers who actually live in their facility, or at least in the same property.
When our company opened its first little 8 bed assisted living facility in 1988, it was designed to have living quarters for a live-in manager. This was fairly common at that time. But the drawbacks of staff living on-site quickly became apparent. There was one problem: burn out.
Our manager had a normal schedule and time away. But she lived at the facility, which meant that it was difficult for her to turn off the demands of being an assisted living staff person and manager. It was too easy for staff to ask a “quick question”, or too easy for staff to ask for her to cover a shift. This didn’t last long and soon we had a 9th resident unit and no live-in manager.
But living in your facility can work. We’ve seen it work. And we now have two facilities available for sale where the managers live on site. There are several reasons why it works for them:
1. The Manager is the Owner. In our facility, we hired a live-in manager. While she was dedicated, she didn’t have the same commitment to the facility as an owner. When it’s your home, your facility, and your reputation on the line, you rise to the occasion and make it work.
2. Clear Boundaries. Live-in owner-managers set clear boundaries with staff and residents. When they are off, they’re off. This is no different than it should be for off-site living managers and must be managed the same way. It may require firm reminders at first, but the benefit will be worth the early challenges.
3. Long Term View. Every facility has ups and downs. Living at your facility may increase how frequently you experience those swings. You just can’t help but be more involved. Live-in owner-managers keep a long-term view of the benefits of their facility for them personally, and the benefits that they’re providing to their staff and residents. That long-term view helps make it through the inevitable ups and downs.
4. Embracing the Advantages. Sure there are disadvantages but there are some incredible advantages. First, there is an opportunity to truly touch people’s lives. Through personal relationships, you can make a difference in ways others may never experience. Second, for those who embrace this lifestyle, there are business and financial advantages that can help secure a comfortable retirement when it’s time to sell.
When your facility is also your home, it’s not just a business but a way of life. For those who choose that path, it can be a great life.