Learning the Hard Skills and Soft Skills Needed in a Pandemic


“It is not the strongest or most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” – Charles Darwin


Many of us have found the need to “thread the needle” of accomplishing two competing objectives simultaneously in projects we work on in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Safety and quality-of-life are two competing objectives that we work to flow in harmony. How to keep residents upbeat and engaged at a time of limited social engagement, while also maintaining social distancing and the wearing of masks? How to invite new residents to move-in while keeping the community safe and observing visitor restrictions? How to find a balance between giving residents ample time and privacy in visits with their loved ones, while also preventing visitors from inadvertently spreading the virus? These are just a few of the dilemmas that we navigate every day in assisted living in 2020. The enormous challenges also take a toll on the workforce – so while we lean in to solving them, we know we must not lose sight of maintaining an appropriate culture of work-life-balance and communication that enhances productivity without heightening levels of stress.


These dynamics led Mass-ALA to ask members, and reflect on how we could thread the needle of providing in-demand education on the “hard skills” of infection control and policy development with the “soft skills” of managing and communicating effectively in times of crisis. We learned that on one hand we had to provide information to assisted living professionals on the latest expert guidance in policies and practices for resident care, marketing, infection control, and resident engagement, while also facilitating opportunities for members to step back and hone their “soft skills” and re-energize, communicate effectively in stressful times, and be happy.


If you read the presentation overviews of our Annual Conference here, I think you will find we are striking that balance in Navigating Assisted Living in an Uncertain Time, which will be offered virtually September 30 and October 1. I hope you will join us for this much-needed opportunity to learn and share ideas at a time when collaboration and improving our hard and soft skills are critical to the future of assisted living.






Brian Doherty, CAE

President & CEO



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