I was on the phone yesterday with the amazing Christian Lanham, Vice President of Product Management and Sales-SNF at Brookdale Senior Living Inc. and really had an ‘ah-ha’ moment. We were discussing the fast changing landscape within the senior care industry and specifically length of stay. Pre-recession the average length of stay was three years. Post-recession it dropped to 12-18 months and today we are seeing turnover rates at unprecedented levels. I’ve not seen statistics, but I am on the phones with our clients nationally who are all stunned at the pace of which apartments are turning over and it’s much shorter than 12-18 months.
In doing research with thought leaders in both the acute and post-acute environment, I am certain that this trend, as difficult as it, is will continue and the length of stay we value so much will only get shorter. Currently, we have residents who are coming into our communities older and more frail. Sadly, that equates to a shorter length of stay either due to higher level of care needs or death. In the future, we are going to see this trend in combination with pre and post-surgical recovery stays- as hospitals begin to see senior care as part of the post-acute network of care – a spoke on the wheel of recovery.
So how do you prepare?
With so much going on it can be overwhelming to know where to start. We are working strategically with our clients, who are ready – to help them prioritize and implement action plans that ensure they mind the business of today, while preparing for the business of tomorrow.
Here are few top strategies to consider right now:
- Turn Apartments Faster: Length of stay will only get shorter. Begin preparing now by implementing new systems that allow you to turn rooms in 24 hours, process paperwork more timely and ensure that you don’t lose revenue due to lack of preparation and the inability to get rooms turned around fast enough for new residents to move in. Gone are the days of getting an apartment turned around in a week. Prepare now, get the payoff tomorrow.
- Train Staff on Medical Terminology: While we have been busy turning marketing directors into sales professionals who understand how to find wants and needs, build value and emotionally connect with people, it seems time to turn our attention to equipping them with basic medical terminology that ensures they can communicate with families, residents and referral sources regarding care needs. I’ve got a great plan so hang tight and look for this in the next 90 days! In the meantime, consider having your Director of Nursing develop a cheat sheet of basic medical terms, lingo and common conditions affecting incoming residents (and train on it).
- Rethink Care Capabilities: Depending on where you live and the regulations of your state, now is the time to begin evaluating levels of care and opportunities to better serve your hospital system and its goals. Whether it’s partnering with a home health, rehab or physician and offering them space in your community or adding an eight to 24 hour nurse…there is no better time than now to rethink business as usual. Think in terms of the healthcare continuum as that is where the future of care is going. How can you plug in and be part of the pre and post-care solution, promote prevention and wellness to a population of health? Begin moving toward this model and you will be prepared to step right into the network of care that will surely be created in your markets.
While there is much to do, these three steps are a good start. This is a time of total transformation for our industry and it’s so exciting to ponder how important our role is to the future of care. If you are interested in learning about how you can build a solid sales team, please contact us → and we can get the conversation started!