How do you sound when you describe your retirement community to prospective residents, their children and the media? How do you talk about what you do with those people you are already serving?
Could the words you are using cast a less-than-positive image in a person’s mind, even though those words might be accurate?
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. What do you see in your mind’s eye when you hear these words: “Facility,” “Elderly” or “Admissions”?
Do these words connect in a positive way to the active, vibrant, older adult who is considering moving to your community? What about the people who are already there?
Each of us conjures a unique mental picture upon hearing a spoken word. Unfortunately, the senior living industry is filled with “dirty” words and acronyms that conjure up unpleasant images or even confuse, alienate and offend people. Even the word “senior” itself may cause people to eliminate themselves from your prospect pool.
These words serve to keep negative images about the aging process alive and can create emotional and communication barriers between our customers and ourselves. Perhaps it is time to eliminate those terms from our vocabulary and adopt an inclusive, universal language. Universal language isn’t about being politically correct; it is language that connects and appeals to the widest possible audience – without sacrificing accuracy or honesty.
Here are some examples of “dirty” words and universal words you can use in their place.
“Dirty” Words —> Universal Words
Facility —> Community, campus, neighborhood, establishment
Aged/elderly/senior —> People, individuals, those aged 62 or better
Semi-private —> Shared accommodation
Arts and crafts room —> Creative arts room, art studio, artists’ workshop
Beauty shop —> Hair salon
Tray service —> Take-out, home delivery service
Bed —> Apartment home, accommodations, suite, residence
Bus —> Transportation services, coach, shuttle, chauffeur service
Care —> Service, amenity, attention, personal services
Dining room —> Restaurant, café, bistro, or call it by name
Discharge —> Move-out, change residences, leave, go home, depart
Alzheimer’s unit —> Memory support area
Environment —> Atmosphere, ambience
Appointment —> Presentation, tour, meeting, visit
Fitness center —> Health club, gym
Admission —> Move-in
Gift shop —> Market, store, boutique, emporium
Nursing home —> Health care center, skilled nursing center
Activities —> Recreation, cultural arts, events, hobbies, arts, education
Patient —> Person, individual, member, resident
Unit —> Home, residence, apartment home
“Dirty” words pop up all over the place – in presentations, writing, marketing materials and casual conversation. By replacing those alienating words with welcoming, universal language, you’ll ultimately help your facility (sorry for the “F” word, I meant community) grow and thrive.