With 2021 right around the corner, many hold hope for a more connected, stable year ahead. While that may be true to varying degrees, multiple industries continue to adapt and implement new methods of operating, driven by requirements and consumer sentiments as a result of this unprecedented pandemic. Some industries have remained resilient throughout this global crisis where others previously touted “bulletproof” have struggled to maintain traction.
The senior living industry has been revealed as the next robust hospitality opportunity despite being met with COVID-19 complications each step of the way. Through continued adaptation, senior living’s deeply ingrained hospitality philosophies demonstrate a commitment to innovation, advancement and change — placing senior living on the forefront of hospitality excellence. Currently the senior living population (ages 65 +) represents an estimated 16.5% of the U.S. population. That percentage is expected to increase to nearly 25% by 2050 calling on the next generation of hospitality professionals to step up and step forward into this uncovered industry.
Denny Headley, System General Manager on the West Coast, joins Unidine from the sports and entertainment industry. His transition was set in motion by the mass closure of arenas across the country, a mostly permanent decision until COVID-19 vaccinations can mitigate risk in congregate settings. Like Denny hundreds of talented food service and hospitality professions we’re unsure of the course ahead, looking elsewhere for more secure service models to seek their livelihood. Within senior living — talent needs remain vigorous, only requiring a passion for hospitality, the desire to positively impact others and a commitment to going above-and-beyond to deliver memorable dining experiences.
Denny explains his transition “When I moved into senior living I was surprised by the amount of flexibility and opportunity I was given. Unidine really gave me the chance to dive in headfirst, discover what I was interested in and where I wanted to go inter-organizationally”. Often what prospects are surprised to discover is how multifaceted amenity programs are within senior living communities. There is opportunity for advancement but also the possibility for transitional employment as the industry encompasses so many different facets of care.
Transferable skills make the segue into senior living second nature. Denny explains “Whether it’s a stadium, arena or senior living community, what’s most important is creating an experience that’s worthwhile for the end consumer. Even with the environment change from entertainment to senior living the skill set remains the same: passion, empathy, attention to detail, communication, teamwork and commitment.” Denny goes on to share the ease in migrating his established skill set, detailing the only real transformation was the opportunity to connect with the community he serves on a deeper level introducing something new to his work-life experience – rewarding engagement. Denny explains “The encounters we have with our guests and with the client is very unique. I wasn’t expecting the level of connectivity and closeness we’re fortunate enough to have.”
With such close engagement with the communities they serve, senior living operators take their responsibilities very personally. Client and resident requests, needs and desires are met with both immediacy and attention. Denny explains this unique relationship as “The clients and guests are very forthright in their needs. They keep us on our toes in the best way as their desires are constantly evolving to reflect the external environment. The role changes on a day-to-day basis, but when we get it right we are rewarded in the best way — with smiles, laughter, memorable moments, praise and gratitude from the communities that deserve it most.”
Looking to the future of this growing industry Denny explains “My senior living portfolio become more of a lifestyle than simply a campus. Senior living is exemplified in the atmosphere of Friday nights, it’s the fresh cookies on Tuesday and it’s the convenience of exceptional dining within reach. I think lifestyle drives occupancy more than anything else. I’m excited about Unidine’s role in the resident experience and the opportunity dining has to bolster, enhance and brighten the lives of the clientele we serve.”
Unidine aims to deliver on just that — life-enhancing personalized service, quality culinary execution and nutrition-based wellness solutions wrapped into an exceptional hospitality experience. Interested in joining an industry with rapid expansion, opportunity for advancement and professional enrichment? Don’t have experience in senior living; don’t worry we’re always looking for the next generation of hospitality professionals to join our team and enliven our culture of service excellence. See our open roles here: www.unidine.com/join-us/
About Unidine: Unidine operates in over 400 facilities and is the leading provider of food and dining management services for discerning clients throughout the United States. Since its founding in 2001 by President and CEO Richard B. Schenkel, Unidine’s success derives from consistent execution in four key areas – and exclusive focus on food and dining management services, a commitment to seasonal, fresh-from-scratch cooking, exceptional customer service and a corporate culture enlivened by each team member’s passion for culinary and service excellence. Unidine’s network of dietitians and culinarians leverage the latest research to support cultural enrichment and wellness strategies for senior living communities, and also exceptional service for hospitals, behavioral health facilities and corporations.
For more information visit: https://www.unidine.com/