Horizon House Blog

Sara’s Snippets: November 2018

Each month our CEO Sara McVey shares what’s been going on in her life, at Horizon House and outside Horizon House.


‘Great’ Aunt Sara

I took a quick trip to Wisconsin on October 5th to visit family. My brother Joel (pictured) is now a grandpa which makes me a great aunt to Adelia, who is 6 months old. While I was there, we celebrated my stepdad’s 87th birthday—it was good to see him thriving.

Satisfaction Surveys

The Staff and Resident satisfaction survey results were returned during October. Opportunities to perform with purpose and make the basics brilliant are abundant in the more than 800 comments received between these two surveys. Overall, the scores are moving in the right direction, specifically with staff who have weathered changes in what we do and how we do it in the last several years.

Staff Survey Results – 71% Response from Staff (+ 4%)

  • 17 of 23 Categories Stayed the Same or Increased
  • 364 Written Comments
  • 91% Staff-to-Staff Respect (+10%)
  • 84% Feel a Sense of Accomplishment at Work (+ 5%)
  • 76% Care/Concern of Supervisors (+10%)
  • 70% Overall Satisfaction (+5%)

Areas of opportunity from the Staff survey include assistance with work stress, clear expectations and attentiveness of managers/management, comparison of pay, and fairness of evaluations.

Stress is a tricky one as this varies greatly person-to-person. Offering 24/7 access to the fitness facility, free visits to the Vera clinic across the street, open door policies, access to an employee assistance hotline and a plethora of training and education assistance are among the tools we have.

Clarity and attentiveness of managers and management will have a plan put around it for 2019. At our last Fit for Growth meeting (attendees include managers and informal leaders) we discussed actions we will take to improve in this area.

Comparison of pay and performance evaluations are an ongoing opportunity. HR reviews our pay grades on an annual basis and we are in line with the market. The survey question asks how we ‘compare’, and most staff members have not worked at other senior living providers.


Resident Survey Results – 69% Response from Residents 

  • 29 of 38 Categories Stayed the Same or Increased
  • 512 Written Comments
  • 99% Residents Feel Employees are Respectful
  • 98% Willingness to Recommend
  • 96% Responsiveness of Staff (+2%)
  • 88% Responsiveness of Management (+6%)

Dining Services, work order process, and reliable Wi-Fi were among the most frequent comments received and we are focusing on improving service and experiences in these areas.

Dining concerns include key areas such as our reservation system, waitstaff turnover and food preferences and quality. Morrison (our food service partner) is aware and working closely with us to address. We are also exploring an Open Table app to improve the reservation system.

Work Orders for housekeeping and maintenance requests are an ongoing opportunity for improvement. We are evaluating this process as we prepare to end our contract with Crothall, the contract management firm we had been working with for facilities. We expect to have a new system and approach during 2019.

Wi-Fi was installed five years ago and at that time, was considered a high-quality system deployed in office spaces, stadiums, college campuses, and multi-dwelling environments like Horizon House.

Since that time, we have worked with Ruckus Networks, as well as the company that did the installation to tune the system to our environment. Providing Wi-Fi in dense, urban environments is challenging due to the amount of interference present with people living so close together with numerous devices. We invested in a professional Wi-Fi scanning tool to evaluate the signal in apartments enabling us to adjust the transmitters and locate where the signal is strongest.

Everything from building materials to neighbors’ microwave or cordless telephone impacts the signal each device receives. The manufacturer recommends using the 5 GHz network because it does not have the interference problems of the older 2.4 GHz network. The trade-off is the 5 GHz network signal does not travel as far and older computers and printers are not able to receive the signal. Devices connected to the 2.4 GHz network will experience interference, slowness, and drop offs.

Since our initial installation, a lot of progress has been made with technology. We are working with a Wi-Fi Architect and Radio Frequency (RF) Engineer to do an evaluation, so we can begin the process looking at the next generation of technology and how it can be used to improve the Horizon House’s complimentary Wi-Fi service.


Master Plan Update

Several residents shared that they have seen Horizon House through three different periods of Master Planning – this will be their fourth. Horizon House has a history of proactive and continuous improvements. This ‘pay it forward’ approach is an ethos of the Horizon House culture. Resident input impacts what happens today while being stewards of our future sustainability.

As determined at our September Board meeting, we will take a phased approach. Phase One will focus on areas of greatest need which is Supported Living (SL) and Memory Support. Improvements are planned for the living room, activity and dining room spaces, as well as staff offices and break rooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Additionally, to address the over-capacity in SL, several units will convert to Independent Living (IL) apartments.

Drawings for Phase One will be reviewed with the Board on November 14th and with staff, residents, and family members beginning in December and January with opportunities for input before finalizing. Input sessions have begun with staff and will continue into November with SL Residents and family members.

Ongoing capital improvements will occur throughout, including the current Central Tower roof replacement (scheduled for 2019) and improvements that continue to ensure stewardship of our buildings and that are in support of the mission and culture.

Anderson Hall

We had a well-attended and lively discussion with Residents on October 17th where PLA Designs summarized their assessment of Anderson Hall—what we can achieve in our current location and in a new location.

Trustees agree this assessment is one element to be considered in conjunction with design options and pricing which is not currently available as we paused work during July at the thoughtful urging of Residents to consider more options and alternatives. Given our phased approach and the primary emphasis being Supported Living and the addition of IL apartments, further discussions about future phases, including first-floor dining and Anderson Hall will resume during 2019.


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