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Welcoming New Residents

Making a move into a retirement community is a major life change. It is a date that many long time residents will remember, much like the date the graduated, got married, left military service, or when their spouse passed away.

Part of my job as the Activities Director is to welcome the new residents into the community and help make their adjustment easier. At my community, the process involves the residents and the staff. Below is our process in a nutshell.
  • A staff member, who has helped them customize their new home, continues to work with them the day that they move-in. She oversees that the physical move goes smoothly. She offers to arrange for the new resident's first dinner to be brought to the apartment, instead of having them go into the dining room or casual dining area. This is usually well received because they are so tired from the move. We serve the family or other support people who are there also.
  • This staff person also has sent a memo to all of our department heads, and to the welcome committee chairman, that has the new resident's contact information and move-in date on it.
  • I make a welcome basket that consists of sparkling cider, cereal, snacks, and fruit. The basket is taken to the new move-in by a representative of the welcome committee on the first night of their stay. The committee member delivers the basket and at that time, sets up a time to review a handbook that will give the resident answers to the most common questions. The committee member also arranges for the new resident to have dinner for the first 5-7 days.
  • A department head visits with the new resident within the first few days of their move in and reviews the welcome packet with them. They also go over emergency procedures and gives them contact information for all the department heads.
  • After a month or so, depending on when there are more new residents than staff members, I organize a lunch for the new residents. There the residents get to know the other new residents who have moved in around the same time as they have. I have them play mixer games so that they can learn something about each other. The staff has an opportunity to introduce themselves and share, again, where their office is and how they can assist the resident.
  • I take pictures of the new residents and post them in the Lobby for the first few weeks after they moved in. (Sometimes this is easier said than done.) Then the pictures go into a photo album that is arranged by the building they live in. This is a great referral spot for residents and staff.
  • We have a monthly newsletter, and as the editor of it, I make sure that all new residents have an opportunity to have an article written about them appear shortly after they move-in. I am lucky enough to have a resident volunteer who enjoys interviewing the new residents and writing this for the newsletter.
So that is it, in a "nutshell."  If there are any ideas that you'd like to share on welcoming new residents into a independent living retirement community, please feel free to post it below so that we can all see it and learn from one another. Also, share this blog site with other associates that you know in the field. The more input that we get, the better we will be at our jobs as Activities Directors.... and the easier it will be for all of us.  Thanks!

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