Hospitality Stars in Major NYC Provider’s Newest Initiative

A New York City-based senior care nonprofit is embarking on a company-wide bid to improve client satisfaction.

The New Jewish Home is a nonprofit provider serving about 13,000 people in New York City and nearby counties each year through a full spectrum of senior care, including home health, skilled nursing facilities and assisted living. The organization announced last month that it’s rolling out a new initiative called “Hospitality and Empathy” across all its care settings.

“It is nothing less than the complete transformation of the way we care for elders and the role our staff plays in providing that care,” a press release about the new initiative reads. “That approach can be summed up in something Maya Angelou once said, namely, that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

The main goal of the initiative is to make seniors and their families feel like they’re truly heard, and therefore, boost their satisfaction. The program also aims to make people as important as the medical care they receive, according to New Jewish Home’s chief experience officer, Tammy Marshall.

“The assumption is that we’re already meeting your basic needs,” Marshall said. ”This is way beyond meeting your basic needs.”

It’s the little things

At its senior care communities, The New Jewish Home is letting residents choose many of the details about their care, from the temperature of their room and how it’s decorated to seemingly minute details such as whether breakfast includes orange juice or which direction the toilet paper hangs on the roll.

That person-directed model of care—which emphasizes dignity, respect and the overall patient experience—applies to its home health care services, too.

Though these small details might not seem like a big deal you or me, they may mean the world to a senior who depends on others for their wellbeing, Marshall says.

For instance, in the past, if a resident wanted chocolate ice cream but that food wasn’t in their care plan, they might not get it.

“Now, we have a conversation about why the chocolate ice cream is important,” Marshall says. “Ultimately, if they want the ice cream, they get the ice cream.”

As part of the effort, all of the nonprofit’s roughly 2,300 employees are receiving training on how to speak and interact with residents. The training includes roleplaying sessions and other exercises where staffers will learn about active listening, word choice, tone of voice, and body language. The new learning process is on track to be fully implemented by December.

Additionally, employees will have greater responsibility for day-to-day decisions like planning meals and programming resident activities.

New Jewish Home also is forming a 10-person team of “ambassadors” to implement the changes. One of its ambassadors, Director of Admissions Melanie Van Dorn, recently helped lead training for more than 400 employees at New Jewish Home’s Sarah Neuman campus in Westchester, New York.

“It’s more empathetic,” Van Dorn says of the initiative. “You feel known. You feel like you are at a place where someone is really caring for you.”

Written by Tim Regan

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Tim Regan
Tim is a lover of bad jokes and good beer. When he's not hunched over his work computer, Tim can usually be found hunched over his personal computer.