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May 10, 2017

Customizing the Senior Living Experience: An Interview with Curt Barringer, President of Senior Living

Before joining HHS in 2009, Curt Barringer spent nearly 20 years in the senior living industry, overseeing operations for more than 400 accounts. After spending eight years in acute care operations with HHS, Barringer was named President of Senior Living Operations in late 2016. We sat down with Barringer to get his take on some of the differences between the senior living and acute care industries.

The biggest difference between providing support services for acute care and senior living, he says, comes down to who the guest is.

“In a hospital, a patient is only there for three days on average, and they are the guest in the facility for that time. But in senior living, we’re coming into someone’s home, so we’re the guest in their community," says Barringer. “In acute care there is a huge focus on patient satisfaction, but at the end of the day, the primary objective is the ensure that the patient is healing. In senior living communities, the services that we provide become part of the residents’ lifestyle. Resident satisfaction is the number one priority, so we have to make sure that we are meeting and exceeding their expectations every day. Everyone has their own personal preferences, so it is important that we get to know our residents and customize our services to meet their unique needs.”

Barringer’s favorite part of serving the senior living industry is having an opportunity to give people the kind of life they have worked their whole lives to earn.

“I want to make sure people reap the rewards they’ve worked so hard for; they deserve a high quality of life in their golden years.” 

As Keith O’Neil, President of Business Development for Senior Living, discussed previously, one of the ways that HHS accomplishes this is by meeting with the resident advisory board at each account we serve to learn about the residents’ interests directly from them. Barringer expands on this idea by discussing some of the ways HHS follows local, regional, and even community-specific preferences.

“We don’t serve institutionalized food like what you might expect to see in a senior living community. We pride ourselves on customizing and personalizing our menus and our services to the regions we serve,” explains Barringer. “We have a great community we partner with in the Dallas area, and last weekend we did a big Sunday night pig roast. The pig was cooking outside all weekend and the residents were so excited for the big party on Sunday night. But for a community  in Florida, we might do a party with filet mignon and lobster instead. You have to listen to the local preferences and tastes in order to best serve your communities.”

While HHS does offer fine dining options for residents, Barringer recognizes that that’s not always what people want.

“When this is your home, you might not want to go out to a 5-star dinner every night. Sometimes you might just want to eat a soup and a sandwich and watch TV on the couch, so we offer quick and simple options in our bistros to meet those needs as well.”

The high quality standards that HHS brings to senior living communities doesn’t just apply to dining services, says Barringer. “No matter your background, your education, where you live or even what language you speak, everyone has an opinion on what’s clean and what’s dirty. When we’re cleaning people’s homes, we need to hold ourselves to an incredibly high standard of cleanliness. With over 40 years of housekeeping experience in healthcare, that’s something that I have a strong confidence in our ability to achieve.”

So what’s next for the senior living sector? Barringer is looking to the future and how we can better serve residents.

“As baby boomers are nearing retirement, there’s been an expansion in the number of senior living communities out there, and they are looking for more customized service options. There used to be only high end resort-style communities or skilled nursing facilities- nothing in between. But now there are more specialized locations available that meet a wider variety of needs, interests, and budgets,” explains Barringer. “The industry is becoming more personalized, and we must continue expanding our services and options to meet those needs."

Tag(s): Senior Living

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