The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic still reverberate throughout our state, and its effect is felt in residential care facilities for the elderly as well. Whether you received your California assisted living administrator certification years before anyone heard of this virus, or you are just now pursuing your credentials, you undoubtedly understand many RCFEs still struggle to fill their rooms.
This article examines ways the pandemic has negatively impacted assisted living facilities and discusses some creative techniques to find more leads and increase the number of residents you serve in this new normal.
You may also want to consider the approaches discussed in the article 7 Ideas for Getting More Clients Into Your RCFE.
RCFE Census Numbers Impact Your Business
Although some California businesses have recovered from the economic devastation of the pandemic, many assisted living facilities in the state have watched their RCFE census levels take a dive.
Since the RCFE census, or the number of beds occupied on a certain day and time each week, is tied to the amount of money coming in, your census directly affects the bottom line. You must still meet loan payments, utilities, salaries, and other expenses whether your RCFE census is at 60% or 85% of available beds.
If you own or manage one of approximately 83% of California’s RCFEs that cares for 15 or fewer residents, you probably have a pretty good handle on how your home’s census is doing.
Pandemics Change Priorities
Even before COVID-19, safety and wellness were important considerations for prospective residents and their families as they sifted through options.
Concerns often focused on quality of care, including measures to prevent accidents, assure good nutrition, and provide exercise opportunities. At the same time, physical surroundings and special amenities often ranked very high when considering a facility.
Once the pandemic hit, beautiful surroundings, gourmet meals, and unique activities suddenly didn’t matter. Media reports highlighted care facility deaths, staff shortages, and visitor restrictions resulting in elderly residents being denied the comfort of family.
Many of these stories still linger with people, causing distrust in all healthcare facilities. If the Centers for Disease Control issue warnings such as the recent one about Candida auris infections at healthcare locations, some people may panic.
When planning marketing and promotional strategies for your RCFE, it’s important to realize overcoming negative perceptions is a top concern.
A New Normal Necessitates Best Practices and Fresh Strategies
If you are thinking about opening an assisted living facility, improving your current one, or launching an additional location, be sure to review 10 Steps to Open an RCFE in California.
Even with experience, the importance of selecting the right director with assisted living administrator certification, for example, is important to go over again.
As you strive to build trust and confidence in your RCFE as a safe haven offering assistance with daily living while helping residents maintain independence, it is vital to remember these points:
- Adult children are more involved than ever in finding the right RCFE for parents.
- Improving the image of your assisted living home is necessary.
- A positive attitude sets the tone for everyone involved.
While you want to put the best possible light on your RCFE, its staff, and the great care it offers, it is vital to remain honest and transparent. Work hard on every area of your RCFE and use the following ideas to highlight what you offer and deliver:
1. Revisit Your RCFE Mission Statement
Your RCFE mission statement makes a great tool to address negative perceptions of healthcare facilities and emphasize the safe, home-like environment you offer in a concise, positive way.
The mission statement should reflect your facility’s unique strengths, values, and respect for residents and their families. Think about how it can address post-pandemic concerns by including positive attributes:
- Safety plans in place
- Emphasis on resident independence
- Open communication
- Warm, caring, and respectful involvement of staff and residents
Once you develop your mission statement and adjust it based on input from stakeholders, share it in a prominent place in your facility, post it on social media, and include it in promotional materials.
2. Design Structured Tours for Prospects and Families
You only have one chance to make a good first impression so avoid off-the-cuff tours whenever possible. Your website and social media accounts can welcome prospects, families, and interested individuals on tours while still encouraging an online appointment system.
You should also have a system for handling unexpected drop-ins in a welcoming but organized manner.
RCFE tour plans should include these important elements:
- Printed map of the facility, brochures, and other handouts
- List of tour stops
- Points to address
- Staff members to introduce
- Training completed by employees
You may also hold helpful presentations to bring community members and adult children concerned about aging parents into your facility. Topics such as Tips To Help Seniors Adjust to an RCFE provide valuable information.
3. Assign a Staff Member To Communicate With Each Resident’s Family
One of the chief pandemic-induced concerns for families of prospects involves keeping in close touch once the loved one becomes a resident.
Offering an optional program where care staff shares a weekly brief email or phone text with a family member can help overcome this fear. For example, a nursing assistant might share a photo of the resident participating in an activity.
While this program involves some organizational and training time, it builds trust with families and improves bonds between staff and residents.
4. Prioritize Staff Evaluations and Expand Training
While many certifications and assisted living courses are mandated by the California Department of Social Services, carrying out regular staff evaluations, selecting the best-required training available, and implementing additional in-house training to improve employee skills all help raise your staff’s performance to the next level.
Promote your employees’ continuing education RCFE schedule on your website and honor staff who complete assisted living courses on social media and during tours.
5. Build Relationships With People and Organizations Who Refer Prospects
As you look for ways to grow your RCFE, it’s important to realize referrals can come from many different sources:
- Hospital discharge planners
- Medical clinics and physical therapists
- Current and former residents and their families
- Current and former employees
- Frequent visitors
It’s important to cultivate relationships with these resources, express gratitude when they send prospects to you, and reciprocate when they need help.
Take Creative Steps Now To Improve Your RCFE Census
Finding new leads and increasing the resident population requires time, work, and the commitment to try out new ideas in a world that is not the same as it was just a few years ago. At Assisted Living Education, we stand ready to provide the highest-quality training, licensing assistance, and growth strategies available.
Who is Assisted Living Education?
If you’re looking to start an assisted living facility or provide RCFE staff training for your employees, Assisted Living Education can help. We are a certified vendor in California offering a variety of state-approved learning opportunities and guidance to help you meet your California assisted living administrator certification objectives. Contact us today to see how they can support you in achieving your goals.