In this challenging market with a growing number of senior living providers, how are you differentiating yourself, being a leading provider, and securing your customers’ trust and your organization’s reputation?
Many senior living providers have succeeded due to new buildings, limited market competition, or being the alternative choice to skilled nursing facilities. But the market is getting much tougher. Providers caught up in the challenges of operating are missing opportunities to meet and exceed customers’ expectations. Most do not realize that to survive in this fast-paced and changing market, they must do things differently. Read on for some key ways to ensure your organization’s success.
Taking a page from home- and community-based providers, nurses should focus on teaching and education for your customers. Providers are undoubtedly the experts; therefore, sharing that knowledge is necessary—whether conveying a diagnosis, disease process, risks, side effects, or solutions. By doing so, you demonstrate you are a trusted partner with your seniors.
Customers have misconceptions about senior living services, likely due to the vast variety of products in the market. However, providers can help bring clarity for their customers by sharing the details of the daily staff structure, expectations for staff, and the staff credentials and training. Offering and providing services for higher acuity residents with adequate staff, training, and systems will give you a strong position compared to others.
Also essential are openness about the provider’s leadership, nurse coverage during each day, and a medical director contract. With a 24/7 operation, having a manager on duty at all times is a must-have. Transparency around services provided, as well as those not available, is critical in the housing inquiry process. Preparing your customer for the future is a noble step.
Finding ways to make the family caregiver’s role easier is a foundational practice. Consider programs like ordering incontinence supplies so they don’t have to, offering transportation to medical appointments, or bringing other services and providers to your community. Offering in-house concierge services, such as ordering supplies for the residents from an Amazon account, is an added value.
Be sure to let customers know how important they are to your business by thanking them “early and often” in both orchestrated and random ways. Leadership should regularly be visible and be open to feedback from customers, as their observations should drive your organization’s changes.
Lastly, providers who remember the fragility of the precious souls they are caring for, as well as their loved ones’ anxiety at this life stage, and provide a person-centered culture with that in mind, will be most successful. Leaders who are clear about their commitment to safe, high-quality care, are “present”, and have authentic relationships with customers set the stage to weather any storm. When an unfortunate event occurs, adding the personal empathetic touch of a phone call or personal conversation can be the lemonade that comes from lemons.
These may seem like common-sense ideas; however, many assisted living providers aren’t employing these practices. Doing so will position you for a stronger foothold in the market.
Pam Klingfus has more than 20 years of consulting and operations experience in the senior living and long-term care industries. She presented 60 Ways to Improve Your Organization’s Reputation, Gain Client Trust, and Increase Satisfaction at the Assisted Living and Home Care Conference sponsored by LeadingAge Minnesota and Minnesota HomeCare Association, and at the LeadingAge Minnesota Senior Living NOW! Conference. For more information on how Pam and the HDG team can assist you with responding to changes in the senior living market, visit our website or contact us at 763.537.5700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pamela Klingfus, NHA, HSE
Manager, Consulting Services