Spring brings the promise of rebirth, both figuratively and literally. New bulbs push their way through the soil, making beautiful metaphor of the way it feels to emerge from the doldrums of a long, hard winter.
Last spring, however, we were just awakening to a new and horrifying reality that a tiny virus was wreaking global havoc, affecting every facet of our daily lives. Senior living was hit particularly hard, with news of outbreaks, illness and death in some communities, casting a formidable shadow of doubt on all senior communities. The media’s feast on such news made it exponentially worse.
Fast forward a year later: with nearly three million residents and staff in senior living fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and 33 percent of all Americans (187 million) having received at least one dose, spring 2021 dawns with unparalleled hope and revitalized spirits.
Dr. David Gifford, chief medical officer for the American Health Care Association (representing thousands of American long-term care communities), was quoted in The New York Times as saying that the decline in cases of COVID in senior living is “amazing and exciting.” He added that he was “almost at a loss for words.”
The picture in senior living has brightened so much, in fact, it is worth sharing some comparative statistics between 2020 and 2021. Created by IVY Marketing Group, this infographic cites information from public health sources dating between February and April of 2021.
So, what does this mean?
Can residents, staff and stakeholders in senior living breathe a sigh of relief, celebrate the wonders of epidemiology, and go back to life as usual? Celebrate, yes. We’ve certainly earned it. Life as usual? Not so fast.
From a health standpoint, it will most likely be months before places outside the home will do away with the safety protocols with which we’ve become so familiar. Hand washing, social distancing and mask wearing have become second nature, a habit we would be wise not to completely kick.
Long before the pandemic, senior communities were adhering to strict hygienic practices, and while visitation and some outing restrictions have been lifted, several of the pandemic-induced safety measures are still enforced in senior living and will likely be for quite some time.
According to the founder and CEO of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), Colin Miller, “I don’t think there’s going to be a new normal, at least not anytime soon. It’s just going to be the next normal and the next normal.” He said this eight months ago, before COVID vaccine manufacturers were showing over 90 percent efficacy in clinical trials of over 80,000 people across all age groups.
Still, Miller has a point. While his prognostication of a continuous “next normal” sounds ominous, it’s good news from a business culture point of view. There are countless stories of how senior communities have sprung into novel action on a dime, proving that evolution doesn’t have to happen at a snail’s pace. Gone are the days when it took months and years for one change to be adopted.
In a comprehensive ICAA task force comprised of over 150 thought leaders recommending 900 ideas, strategies and tactics (whittled down to 35), a rosy view of the future of senior living was brought into focus. Six key strategies were identified:
Improve interiors and exteriors of buildings
Develop caring, passionate, purpose-driven staff
Use technology to optimize health and socialization
Establish a culture of positive aging
Be prepared for crisis
Share good news and positive stories to update perceptions of senior communities
In the year since the pandemic hit senior living full throttle, lightning speed adjustments have been made, new and valuable strategies have been implemented, nearly all seniors and staff in community living have been vaccinated, and, man, those comparative statistics between 2020 and 2021 are compelling!
A year ago, professionals in senior living were racking their brains trying to market to fearful prospects. Today, they can forge ahead with confidence and pride, not only in the literal health of their communities, but in the knowledge that when the unthinkable happened, their teams came together like the champions they are.
With 30 years of experience telling your stories and certified training in crisis communications, our IVY team of experts is uniquely qualified – and utterly thrilled – to help you show the world why your community is the first place people would want to be.
For most of 2020, the coronavirus rendered senior communities some of the most dangerous places to be. The statistics are simply heartbreaking. Yet, with residents in senior living second only to frontline healthcare employees in line for the vaccine against COVID-19 (with some already having received it), senior communities will soon be among the most low-risk environments. According to Senior Living Foresight publisher Steve Moran, “By the end of January, senior living will likely be the safest place to live on the planet.” What’s more, the CDC and FDA will provide continuous vaccine safety monitoring and education for residents and their families.
Groundbreaking Science The science behind the COVID-19 vaccine is not only groundbreaking, it came with breathtaking speed. Even before the pandemic reached global proportions, drug manufacturers achieved unprecedentedlarge-scale successin clinical trials. The Medical Futurist posits, “Who would have thought that the genome of a virus could be sequenced within 24 hours? Not a single person would have bet on it before 2020.” Such effective, rapid epidemiologic response promises to continue in the future.
Hindsight and Foresight What we’ve experienced in 2020 has informed – and transformed – us forever, particularly professionals in care settings. They’ve risen above anyone’s wildest imaginings in creativity, adaptability and, yes, genuine heroism. 20/20 hindsight affords crystal clear foresight into what needs to be done in 2021:
The positive stories coming out of senior living need to be shared.
Staff in senior living need to feel valued and appreciated with formal incentives and recognition tactics.
Lingering negative impressions of senior living, reluctance to move in, and drop in census need to be mitigated with trained crisis communications.
Fresh Starts For most of us, 2020 couldn’t get off the calendar fast enough. Even for those disinclined to anticipate changes, expectations for 2021 are uniquely high. For older adults, a new year brings the potential for an enriching new life in senior living, especially as residents in senior communities are among the first to receive the COVID vaccine. Now is the time to “seize the day” and let prospects know all senior living has to offer, including renewed safety and security.
Warmer Weather and Longer Days Even before the short days and cold temperatures set in, people were dreading the onset of winter during a pandemic. But, as December 21 marked the longest night of the year, we are (albeit slowly) on the way to increased sunshine and balmier climes. Daylight savings time begins on March 14, when we will move the clock forward. Just a few days after that, spring will arrive, followed by sprouting bulbs, chirping birds and uplifted spirits.
Prioritized Healthcare Accompanying the nearly superhuman efforts of frontline workers during the pandemic were advances in healthcare that might otherwise have taken years to arrive. Telehealth technology has allowed patients to safely consult with medical professionals and receive necessary medications. Complex systems such as A.I. and network science have greatly increased applications in the healthcare realm. Governments have prioritized healthcare, and thousands upon thousands of important health studies have emerged. These encouraging trends stand to continue in 2021 and beyond.
Hope is as essential to human life as the air we breathe. Said Dr. Judith Rich, “Hope is a match in a dark tunnel, a moment of light, just enough to reveal the path ahead and ultimately the way out.” Given what we’ve been through in 2020, there are likely very few of us with little or no hope for 2021. It’s what keeps us going, what allows us to dream of the “agains” – the good kind, like gathering with friends again, hugging our grandchildren again, dining in our favorite restaurants again.
Faith Hope’s counterpart is faith. If ever there was a year to build faith in humanity, it was 2020. In spite of all the political vitriol and social injustice, random acts of kindness sprang up in every corner of the earth – among family, friends, neighbors, and total strangers. The indescribable grit, compassion, courage, heart, and dedication demonstrated by the countless people inclined to care for others is truly awe-inspiring. As fellow human beings, we are capable of magic – even in the worst of times. And that is perhaps the best thing of all going into 2021.
It’s addicting!The fast-paced, ever changing world of public relations and marketing captures your interest and keeps you charged up to learn more everyday.I love to find the best ways to tell our client’s stories and man, they have awesome stories!
It’s my job to discover our client’s goals and then match the best processes to achieve them, within their budgets, of course.I get to explore traditional, digital and every manner of communication to determine which tactics, whether it is direct mail or TV advertising, a new website or PPC (to name just a few) will efficiently and effectively capture the attention of prospects.
I also get to work with great people at IVY – they’re creative, fun, caring and super smart.We’ve all been around the industry a while so there is not a novice among us.Our clients are very cool too and totally passionate about the services they offer.We’ve been working with most of them for years so we know they truly care about being innovative and responsible to the markets they service.I have great admiration for all of them and look forward to every day.
It’s true what “they” say, if you love what you do, you won’t work a day of your life!
IVY was established in 1990 with a basic premise to offer professional, ethical and highly creative marketing, advertising and public relations services. We have successfully maintained our core values and have been part of many amazing projects, client growth and changes in the world of marketing that continue to happen at lightening speed. Most of our clients serve older adults in some capacity so we keep abreast of the opportunities and challenges they face. Each day, we keep it real and fun and consistently deliver positive results to our clients and their markets.
As a hybrid graphic and digital designer/web developer with over 17 years of experience, I am always on the lookout for innovative digital and print visual communications. IVY Marketing Group’s broad range of projects keeps my job challenging and rewarding, as each campaign is a new and exciting opportunity to effectively communicate our clients’ messages and help them achieve their goals. It’s my passion!
My body of work encompasses a diverse design style and wide base of clients, ranging from national associations, small businesses and big name brands like Hyatt and LiftMaster. I firmly believe that form follows function and highly value the communicative power of simplicity.
Areas of professional expertise include Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Word Press, Responsive Design, CSS3, and HTML5. The industries I’ve served include senior living, health care, hospitality and finance.
All my life, I have loved writing. As a child, I could often be found in my room “writing a book.” While “novelist” is not (yet) on my resume, I am a storyteller. I believe that everyone and everything has a great story, and it is my joy to find that story and share it with the world.
After earning my bachelor’s degree in journalism and completing my master’s studies in the same field, I joined a small advertising agency with powerhouse clients in the hospitality industry, such as Hyatt, Hilton International and Carnival Cruise Lines. I began as a proofreader and achieved the position of senior copy writer within a year.
After my first son was born, followed by two more, I started a freelance writing business that included (among several others) such clients as Advocate Health Care and Coldwell-Banker Realty. Clients in the education arena included DeVry University’s Becker CPA and Stalla CFA Reviews, DePaul University, and Naperville School District 203, for which I won two state public relations awards.
For nine years, I was employed as Communications Director for a large faith community, where I managed all aspects of internal and external communications. I was writer, editor, designer, web master, and content manager.
As such, I am experienced and comfortable writing multimedia for a broad variety of industries, products and services.
I joined IVY Marketing Group in 2013, when I began writing client press releases on a freelance basis. I loved the work—and my teammates—so much, I was thrilled when I was invited to come on board in a greater capacity.
I have immensely enjoyed getting to know our valued clients in the senior housing industry, the people they serve, and telling the many wonderful stories that come out of content marketing done right—with the love and care our IVY teams puts into everything we do.
It all starts with one idea. Working with the Ivy creative team for over two decades has always meant taking one great idea and bringing it to life to help our clients meet their goals. We enjoy the challenges offered with every creative opportunity and try to make the design process itself enjoyable for our clients.
Making certain that the projects IVY produces are word- and picture-perfect is my specialty. But I also love implementing marketing campaigns and programs that bring our clients success. Details are my thing, so it is a pleasure to have worked with IVY twice now, first after college four years ago and, recently, for the past two years.
The IVY Group is a terrific team of creative, positive and talented professionals that I love working with and, judging from the length of stay of our clients, I think they love our team, too!
Rock-climbing, training for an 80-floor stair climb event, running a 5K…This is just a tiny peek into what people 20 and even 30 years older than I am, are doing on a fairly regular basis at some of the retirement communities that IVY represents.
I’m of the generation that still has reoccurring nightmares about what the next step looked like when my grandmother could no longer live by herself. The very best option at that time was living at a “facility” and included eating rubbery chicken and playing an occasional game of BINGO. Period. That’s why my parent’s generation begged us not to ever putthem into “one of those places.”
I am so proud that IVY’s clients are at the very forefront of an industry that creates opportunities, challenges, and most of all freedom for seniors, allowing them to explore hobbies, interests, passions…the next chapter of their very full lives.
I feel reassured for my own future. Even more, I feel honored to be able to share the impactful stories about this paradigm shift in the world of senior housing. What we hear and see at our clients’ communities is fascinating and inspiring!
Keeping up to date on new public relations strategies, online engagement tactics, and promotional tools is my passion.
With my hospitality background in marketing top Chicago restaurants and hotels, I was eager to bring fresh concepts and communication strategies to our clients and have really enjoyed learning various industries.
Our clients have such exciting and unique events and programs, which really makes it motivating for me to make the most of their content. Results like increased sales leads, website visits and social media connections make everyday rewarding and interesting.
I oversee, plan and implement projects and processes at IVY. Often, I am the conduit between our writers and designers, with printers, and other vendors to fulfill the marketing needs for our clients. I also manage media buys and coordinate production of advertisements.
Working for a flexible and fluid company that is constantly growing, changing and evolving is fun and rewarding. There is always something new to learn.
My bio has a big blank in the beginning—Mom and Dad rescued me in Wisconsin, and no one really knows my origins. They were probably ruff. What matters though is where I am now, running IVY Marketing Group. There are humans here who think they’re in charge. In truth, they do actually have amazing experience in content marketing and public relations, but I’m super important and the center of attention. I mean, look at this face. Right? And I know I’m the top dog because honestly, I’m the only one allowed to sleep through staff meetings and eat things that people drop on the floor.
The fact is though that I truly love staying awake at staff meetings. Everyone talks and laughs and they’re always excited. That surprises me a little because it’s not like anyone has thrown a ball to play fetch or anything. But I guess what gets my pack of peoples’ tails wagging is their work and their clients. I don’t know what a website or a blog is, but I do know that my pack must be good at them because they’ve earned all sorts of awards for these and other things. My bed had to be moved because the framed certificates were taking up so much room. Despite the inconvenience, I’m proud of these awards!
I serve several important purposes at IVY. I always let Mom (and the world) know when the mailman is here. When people come into the office, just one (usually) quick non-invasive (usually) sniff, allows me to determine important characteristics…like if they had anything good for breakfast, own any pets (pet owners are the best!) or if they stepped in anything on the way in. (It’s sort of like me conducting a first job interview.) I generously share my tummy because I know people like to give it a good scratch. I always give kisses, whether one is feeling lonely or not. And I’m always happy to share someone’s meal, especially if they’re trying to lose weight. My pack describes me as being engaging, amusing, and entertaining. (When I hear a siren, I “sing” along and it makes them laugh.) NPR talks about the benefits of having a pet at the workplace. Studies show pets lower stress hormones and improve morale and productivity. I wholeheartedly agree that a dog in the workplace is the best thing since rawhide bones.
As for my pack of people at IVY…they are amazing and always make my tail wag!
I could not be more thrilled to work alongside the IVY team.
For over 25 years, I have been employed in top executive positions across the Chicago area and have consistently built profitable businesses, generated sales, and developed and launched new product lines.
Strategically positioning companies and commodities for growth is a strong suit I’m eager to bring to ResponderHub™, IVY’s new crisis communications solution. I’m also excited to help expand IVY’s reach in the senior marketing industry.
I believe people are more open than ever to thinking outside the box and looking at new ways to reach their customer base, while at the same time reducing their cost of sale. The senior industry is exploding, and IVY is perfectly positioned to respond to the need for innovative, quality content marketing services and effective crisis communications.
I love being able to use my skills to help improve other people’s lives, and with a growing elderly population, it’s important to create meaningful and user-friendly digital solutions to aid the senior living industry.I have a wide range of technology and design skills with a deep interest in Human-Computer Interaction– helping IVY provide outstanding web design and print design services. IVY has a long-proven track record of excellence, and I’m proud to be able to help carry on that tradition.