We all know that human connection is important; that’s nothing new. However, Elegance Living is taking that knowledge a step further.
The company developed a connection-based campaign that started in January and will last for all of 2023; it’s aptly named the “All Together Now” initiative. The program was created to encourage residents, families, staff members and broader communities to make connections with family, friends and the community—as well as within themselves.
This initiative ties in well with the Baltimore, MD-based company’s five core values: people first; we keep our promises; honest communication; have fun, be delightful; and continuous improvement. Senior Living News talked to Lisa Gaudioso, Elegance’s former COO and recently-appointed CEO (as of January 2023) to learn about the development behind All Together Now, how it works and what the goals are for the program.
Senior Living News: Who developed the 2023 All Together Now initiative and why? Can you talk about how the initiative works?
Lisa Gaudioso: 2023 All Together Now was a group effort among the leaders of all functional departments. It helps our communities more tangibly demonstrate what we all know to be true. Through our operational delivery of programs, we’ve created a structure and context that makes it easier for everyone to get involved—every department, residents, families, referral partners and the community at large.
We all have the opportunity to bring the world together one connection at a time. Operational goals of the campaign are enhancing resident/family engagement, culinary delivery, employee recognition and giving future customers and families confidence and enthusiasm about choosing senior living. It’s also a no-excuses framework on coming out of the pandemic and delivering excellence.
Our company motto is Where Together Is Better. You could say togetherness is our superpower, and we’re using it to help more people experience the power of human connection. We can accomplish great things when we come together… 2023 All Together Now is a year-long, company-wide effort to promote greater connections to self, family, friends and the greater community.
Elegance communities will strive to collectively achieve a goal of 5,000 deeper, more meaningful connections in 2023. We know together is better. Human connection—the deep, meaningful kind—creates greater well-being and a less divided world.
SLN: So Elegance has set a goal of 5,000 connections in 2023. Can you explain the reasoning behind that goal? Additionally, can you talk about the importance of human connection?
LG: 5,000 deeper, more meaningful connections is a collective goal among our 26 communities. We thought about how many connections of each type each community could realistically achieve each month and did the math. We are measuring new connections by tracking social media engagements using the tag #alltogethernow, new Facebook page likes, new referrals, event participation and online reviews. We update our progress toward our goal [on] Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and our company website.
We’ve served thousands of older people over the years, and we know that human connection is a primary indicator of overall well-being. With 2023 All Together Now, we’re fostering those connections in an intentional way.
SLN: I read that Elegance is hosting special programs and events designed to foster connections—like culinary workshops, happy hours, journaling clubs and memory care support groups. Can you talk about those, as well as any other programming efforts that Elegance has made to help build connections?
LG: 2023 All Together Now includes proprietary engagement programs and featured events designed to foster different types of connection throughout the year. Events include monthly Gastronauts culinary workshops, where residents experience a variety of new flavors and old favorites in new ways; weekly Cocktails & Connections happy hours with an active, participatory twist; InnerWise journaling clubs that strengthen self-connection; memory care support groups and more.
Our Gastronauts workshops are based on the fact that sharing food and learning new things together are two of the most natural ways we can connect with one another. Our monthly educational, explorational and gastronomical experiences include themes like high-energy foods, dark chocolate and olive oil.
Our Cocktails & Connections happy hours are participatory, active and bring people together in positive ways. We say [that] if you’re going to get together for drinks, make it count. They have themes like “Ice Breakers on the Rocks” and “Open Mic and Mocktails.”
Our InnerWise journaling club is about putting our feelings, struggles, successes and thoughts on the page, to open powerful pathways to connection with ourselves. Residents can join their neighbors in a supportive space to pursue personal growth.
With our All Together Now campaign, we are also aiming to support our local markets with an enhanced framework for memory care support groups for families facing the challenges of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Connecting with others who are experiencing similar challenges can be a source of comfort [and] a safe space where they can find emotional support and help others in their journey. The director of memory support will be on hand to help answer questions.
SLN: I also read about the 90-Day ME + WE challenge. Can you talk about that and how it relates to the initiative? Can you also explain the custom calendar?
LG: On January 1st, our communities launched the 90-Day ME + WE challenge, a personal growth plan with simple, daily connection goals. Residents, team members, families and friends of the community are all invited to participate and track their progress on a custom-designed calendar.
We designed the oversized calendar to make it easy for residents to hang on their door and place a sticker on each day when they’ve accomplished the challenge, so everyone can encourage and support each other to reach their goals.
SLN: Can you discuss the donations aspect of the initiative? Why did Elegance Living choose the Blessings in a Backpack organization?
LG: For every connection made as part of the initiative, Elegance Living is donating $1 to Blessings in a Backpack, a non-profit providing hunger-free weekends to kids facing food insecurity.
Blessing in a Backpack is such an amazing program that is making a nationwide impact at over 1,000 locations, by addressing real issues that influence kids and families’ quality of life.
Intergenerational programming is such an important part of our resident engagement, and the residents just love it—of course. Knowing that they are helping kids eat nutritious food is a huge motivator in participating in All Together Now.