Category: Member News

Taste & Tell: A Signature Experience

By Ellen Belk, CDP, National Director of Community Lifestyle & Memory Support at Milestone Retirement Communities

For those who practice Mindfulness, living in the moment is about appreciating the here and now. It takes patience and a bit of training to be able to fully welcome the stillness of mind and body required to be completely ‘present’ in the moment.

At Milestone Retirement Communities, In The Moment® is a branded Memory Support program for residents living with Dementia (note the purposeful use of the word support in Memory Support).

Just over two years ago Milestone Retirement Communities made the shift away from the historically clinical descriptive words like Dementia Care and Alzheimer’s Unit with the goal of being an industry leader in recognizing that descriptive words matter. The In The Moment program is based on a 6 Principles of Well-Being design. These Principles guide how activities are structured, care is delivered and meals are prepared.

Additionally, the vision includes infusing more holistic wellness practices into daily operations, with a variety of Signature standards and initiatives that feature non-pharma first interventions.

One of the premier initiatives for the residents in Memory Support is Taste & Tell®. This propriety Signature program for Milestone Retirement Communities is a culinary collaboration between the Memory Support Director, the Culinary Services Director and the residents.

The goal of this program is to capture as many of the 6 Principles of Well-Being as possible in one unique resident experience. Spiritual Support, Physical Engagement, Continuing Education, Lifestyle & Leisure, Artistic Expression and Community Connections can all be achieved within a well-planned Taste & Tell session.

Memory Support Directors are asked to take the lead and schedule regular meetings with the Chef or another member of the Culinary team to strategize about upcoming Taste & Tell gatherings. Might they feature a specific food item? Might they share an updated kitchen tool or gadget that triggers reminiscent conversation? Once the culinary ‘topic’ is determined, each Director has a role in ensuring a successful Taste & Tell outcome.

Imagine a small group of residents working side by side with the Chef, as they cut veggies and mix the meat for the Salisbury steak that will ultimately be their dinner. The Chef pulls out the 4ft industrial mixer from the ‘back-of-house’ to the amazement of his resident-helpers. This sparks a robust conversation about how the 4ft version compares to the hand-held mixers of yesteryear. Smiles are seen, laughter is heard and a small group of other residents and employees gather to observe this lively culinary crew.

Imagine a female resident complete with her crisp white Chef hat and jacket, working alongside the Chef nearly elbow deep in the Italian sausage that will eventually be rolled into meatballs.

Picture the Chef outside on a sunny afternoon in Florida picking veggies and herbs from the raised flower beds with a male resident from Memory Support. The two are gathering the fresh ingredients that will be used in the Taste & Tell program later that day.

The program outline for Taste & Tell was just one page but the directives were clear: Create a robust participatory hands-on experience where residents with Dementia can engage in kitchen-style cooking while learning, reminiscing and tasting their creations!

The images and stories being shared have been heartwarming. Seeing residents engaged in ways not typically shown in Dementia settings, is a great sense of pride for our organization. The participating Chefs are expressing a renewed sense of satisfaction as they step out of their kitchen cocoon and interact in new ways with the residents while showcasing their talents.

For those living In The Moment with Dementia; Taste & Tell has been an overwhelming success. Food, fun and fellowship: the perfect mix of ingredients.

Need for Speed When Hiring

Submitted by Julie Rupenski, President & CEO, MedBest

With unemployment at a 30-year low and a job market that is candidate-driven, your Senior Living organization is facing tough competition when hiring new employees. Gone are the days of interviewing and hiring at a snail’s pace. Speed in hiring is now the “magic bullet” for landing the best talent.

Clutch, a B2B analyst and marketing firm, recently conducted a survey of 507 people who began a new job in the last year.  Close to 60% of new hires got their job within two months of searching. About 43% of recent hires were offered a position less than two weeks after starting their job search.

What does it all mean?  Hiring faster improves your chances of acquiring top talent before they accept a competing offer.  It also strengthens your position as an employer of choice, and saves money by not keeping positions vacant for a long period of time.

Here are 8 tips on how to increase your speed in hiring:

  • Create a Continuous Talent Pipeline. Devote time to continuous recruiting in order to identify talent for key jobs even before they become open. This proactive approach enables you to create a talent pipeline to call an immediate possible replacement(s) should someone leave your organization.
  • Involve Your Employees. Notify your employees of an urgent job opening that must be filled immediately.  Post opening on your Intranet, website career page, or bulletin board. Offer a reward for any employee referrals that get hired.
  • Reduce the Number of Interviews. When a top candidate shows interest in working at your organization, act quickly. Find a way to immediately interview them and decrease the number of managers involved. Cut out any unnecessary steps. Any delays during the interviewing process can cause candidate frustration and a loss of interest.
  • Consider Off-Hour Interviews. Consider same-day interviews and off-hour interview slots such as evenings and weekends. Make it convenient for employed candidates or passive candidates to interview. The more convenient, the more likely they will be impressed and show up.
  • Implement an Automated or Live Interviewing Tool. An automated video tool helps organizations to screen more candidates in an expedient manner using video interviews in order to shortlist them. If you’ve already shortlisted candidates, a live interview tool will allow you to connect in real-time for a face-to-face interaction.  You will be able to record your live session and as a result, share it with your management team for their input.
  • Involve Your Influencer. Who on your team is the best at selling the job and your organization? Involve that person in every first interview. They have the power to affect the decision of your candidate through their position, knowledge, testimonial, and natural ability to engage others.
  • Check References Sooner. Often, references aren’t checked until an offer is about to be made. But there’s no reason to wait that long. Ask for references from your top candidates much sooner, so you can start calling sooner.
  • Hire a Reputable Search Firm. Professional Senior Living Search Firms have access to a network of high quality industry talent.  They already have an existing pool of talent, understand the skill sets needed, acumen to evaluate CV’s and resumes, and identify the right fit.  They work in an expedient manner and in the strictest of confidence.

In today’s job market where competition for talent is stiff, if you don’t reduce your hiring speed to less than 10 days, you will lose top talent. It’s time for your Senior Living organization to recognize the need for speed in your hiring process in order to gain a powerful competitive advantage.

Contact us if you’re in need of rock star candidates ready to make a change: 727-526-1294 /

Harbor Retirement Associates Wins National Customer Experience Awards

Eight HRA communities recognized by Pinnacle Quality Insight

VERO BEACH, Fla., – March 28, 2019 – Harbor Retirement Associates (HRA), a regional senior living development and operating company based in Vero Beach, announces that eight of their communities have received Pinnacle Quality Insight’s 2019 Customer Experience Award™ in several categories. This national award recognizes outstanding senior living communities who have consistently received high ratings from residents and their families. HRA earned the recognition by demonstrating a continued dedication to providing Best in Class senior healthcare services in its communities nationwide.

“We are excited, proud and deeply honored to receive these prestigious awards from Pinnacle Quality Insight,” said Sarabeth Hanson, President and CEO of Harbor Retirement Associates. “This national recognition is a testament to the tireless perseverance and hard work of our associates. Their steadfast adherence to our core values and vision is truly inspiring. Every day, they bring to life our values of respect, attentiveness, integrity, stewardship and excellence. Their energy and commitment will allow us to continue building our fine legacy of senior living and care.”

Eight HRA communities were singled out for awards. Seven of HRA’s Florida communities were recognized in a variety of categories: HarborChase of Gainesville won for “Variety of Food/Menu Choices” and “Transportation Needs”; HarborChase of Tamarac for “Quality of Food and Dining Service” and “Dignity and Respect”; HarborChase of Palm Harbor for “Variety of Food/Menu Choices,” “Activities,” and “Overall Customer Experience”; HarborChase of Jacksonville for “Recommend to Others” and “Move-In Process”; HarborChase of Sarasota for “Cleanliness”; Regency Park for “Personal Care”; and HarborChase of Tallahassee for “Variety of Food/Menu Choices” and “Dignity and Respect.” In Illinois, HarborChase of Naperville won for “Move-In Process.”

Throughout its history of serving seniors, HRA has placed a strong emphasis on ensuring that the individual needs of every resident are met. Over the course of 2018, a sampling of HRA’s residents and their families have participated in monthly telephone interviews that include open-ended questions, as well the opportunity to rate HRA in specific categories. Every month, HRA has gathered its real-time survey results in order to gain a better understanding of the residents’ needs and make improvements when necessary.

By qualifying for the Pinnacle Customer Experience Award™ , these eight HRA communities have satisfied the rigorous demand of scoring in the top 15% of the nation across a 12-month average. Clients have the opportunity to achieve this Best in Class distinction on a monthly basis in many categories designed to accurately reflect each resident’s experience.

For more information on HRA, visit

About Harbor Retirement Associates
Harbor Retirement Associates (“HRA”) is a regional senior living development and management company, focused primarily on Assisted Living and Memory Care communities, but also engaged in the development and operations of Independent Living and Skilled Nursing communities. HRA operates 35 communities in 9 states and is partnering on the construction of 8 more communities in 5 additional states. HRA manages over $150 million in revenue and approximately $1 billion in assets while employing 2,500 associates. For more information, visit

About Pinnacle Quality Insight
A customer satisfaction measurement firm with 23 years of experience in post-acute healthcare, Pinnacle conducts over 150,000 phone surveys each year and works with more than 2,500 care providers in all 50 US states, Canada and Puerto Rico.