Keep In Mind Blog

Losing the Sale in Senior Living

A Cautionary Tale of how NOT to Give a Tour

A Cautionary Tale of how NOT to Give a Tour

Part TWO of a Three Part Series

 In part one of this three part tale: I described the uncomfortable scene my Mom and I endured, when we showed up unannounced at an Assisted Living Community seeking a tour.

It was lunchtime on a Friday and we’d gotten off to a rocky start. Our tour guide wore no name badge. And never asked our names either.

The story continues…….


Our tour guide led us to the dining room. Well, actually she led us to the wall across the hall from the dining room. Although residents were just finishing lunch and curiously strolling past us, our guide made no effort to engage or introduce. Not even when the Chef sauntered proudly past us in his smart Chef attire; did she stop reciting the mealtime schedule to introduce him to Mom and I. Thus, we stared blankly at the paper menu on the wall while she re-counted the food rotation.

Next, as our guide walked a few paces ahead of us while we dutifully followed behind; she called back over her shoulder and asked if we’d prefer to take the elevator or the stairs to the second floor. My 86 year old mother, looking sensational in her soft pink sweat suit, proudly proclaimed; “the stairs are fine.”

The tour guide, who I was now calling ‘no name’ in my head; was already on the third step leading upwards as mom and I crossed through the lobby. We passed a lovely lady, sitting in her wheelchair who smiled pleasantly at both of us. Then, she looked towards the stairs and called out to ‘no name’ who abruptly stopped and proclaimed, “Not now Mary, I’m on a tour.”

“I just have a quick question.” Mary chirped sweetly

And, the response from the stairway was something dismissive.

At this moment, the Professional Dementia Care Solutions Expert within me, bubbled quickly to the surface as my body grew warm with a smoldering anger.

Throughout my 14 year career I coach and remind staff that,We work in their Home, they do not live at our Job!” It’s my never-ending reminder to all personnel that we must show respect and kindness towards the residents we serve, while in their home. Always.

Instinctively both Mom & I stopped walking as Mary looked deflated. But, the nameless tour guide, who’d barely broke stride, had already reached the first landing as she continued up the stairs.

Later as Mom and I discussed this nightmarish tour, we agreed that this moment was the turning point of no return for both of us. All I could think about was; what if that was my Dad, calling out to ‘no name’? Would she be dismissive of him too? Of course she would and that broke my heart.

Witnessing that exchange between ‘no name’ and Mary gave my Mom the same type of pause. 61 years of marriage was not going to end like this, for her husband.

Teachable Moment: Resident’s should always come first!

I’ve stopped and chatted with them countless times over the years while giving a tour. It’s a fabulous way to introduce a perspective new resident to someone who already lives there. It’s an opportunity for the folks on the tour to see a warm exchange between a caring staff member and a current resident. The positives are limitless. While this dismissal of dear Mary, was an Epic Fail.

But, wait……we still had to go upstairs. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse; ‘no name’ finds a way to prove me wrong.

Stay Tuned for the Part Three Finale.


Dementia Solutions Expert & President of Keep In Mind, Inc. specializing in holistic Dementia care solutions. An engaging Keynote presenter, audiences applaud Belks passion for advocacy and common sense care solutions. She's the author of the 360 Dementia Care Operational manual for professional providers. And she's developed the workplace wellness initiative; Caregiving 411, for those who balance care & career. Recognized for implementing large-scale programs for those with Dementia; She's developed Fitness with Friends, Memory Magz & Memory Mealz.

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