While at NIC I had a conversation with Aaron Koelsch and Dennis Christianson from Koelsch Senior Communities. Koelsch Senior Communities has over 20 communities that are located in seven states -- California, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, and Washington, with a heavy concentration in Washington, which is also the site of their home office, located in Olympia.
Old-School Senior Living
Every new app, every new business, every shiny new improvement is designed to be the next best thing. But whatever happened to good old-fashioned human interaction? That’s something that is near and dear to Aaron Koelsch and Koelsch Communities.
The big reoccurring theme of our conversation was that he and his organizations place a high value on relationships and people. He believes that the #1 thing customers are looking for in senior housing is a place that feels like home and staff that know what it means to have a real relationship.
“If I'm leaving a loved one with you -- a mother, an aunt, uncle, father -- I want to know that we have a relationship. And I want them to feel loved, like the famous song from a television series, everybody wants to go where everybody knows your name,” Aaron clarified.
Creating a Culture
Aaron believes that creating a culture of personal relationships is paramount to a successful healthy environment, for both residents and staff.
“We try to do the same thing with the folks that work with us. Do we know people’s birthdays? Do we know when their daughter is graduating from high school?
"Because I don't deliver the care to our residents anymore, I can’t say yes to those questions, but, I did certainly when I was young. We have to take care of those who are caring for our seniors and that's part of our culture,” Aaron explained.
The Personal Touch
Koelsch Senior Communities clearly offers a personal touch approach. When I say personal touch, I mean it . . . to the point that Aaron literally writes a personal note to every person he meets. I actually had a bit of trouble buying it at first, but Aaron is steadfast in his belief in the power of a personal note.
“I do that because I believe in it. I also do it because I'm trying to set an example for everybody who works with me, show that that's what I expect of them.”
This is a very cool, very personal thing in this world of instant text messages and no-effort emails. The mere idea of a handwritten note, sent via snail-mail, is archaic, but brilliant.