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More on Rebuilding Census

After reviewing census as a KPI in last week’s blog, it is reasonable to revisit the ways that SNF’s can start rebuilding census. According to an article in the N.Y. Times we quoted last month, more than 181,000 residents of SNFs, assisted living and other long-term care facilities died from Covid-19. Other families fearing for their loved ones in these facilities sought other arrangements, most of the time moving them into a family member’s home.

Those were devastating numbers for SNFs. According to a release by the National Investment Center for Senior Housing & Care (NIC), SNF census ended 2020 with a 13.3 percent drop, down to 71.7 percent. SNFs report little success in recovering.

Everyone in your operation has a vested interest in rebuilding and maintaining census.

It’s Up to SNFs to Rebuild Census

We all know this, but implementing it is difficult. CareWork can help you get started by showing you data on admissions and referral sources. Chances are that there are sources common to all SNFs, but really drilling into specifics and getting the best results comes to those who know how to build census correctly.

Working with Home Health Providers

Mike Wetula, post-acute partnership strategist for Therapy Management Corporation (TMC), pointed out in a recent webinar (as reported by Skilled Nursing News), that home health providers quickly saw the opportunities during the pandemic. Those families who brought their loved ones home soon found that caring for them was overwhelming and that they were not always equipped for it.

“Home health providers simply listened to the problems and responded with solutions,” Watula said. “They increased their clinical capability to provide care for higher acuity patients, and then promoted their SNF-at-home marketing strategy. They invested in new systems like mobile dialysis, and they also maximized the use of digital technology, embraced telehealth and expanded their ability to participate in these electronic referral platforms.”

But home health care providers are going to encounter patients that are beyond their capabilities. As the pandemic eases, they are more likely to refer the most acute patients to back SNFs. Families are more likely to see this as a reasonable option for them, and the best thing for their loved ones.

The marketing people for SNFs can seek out these home health care providers and establish relationships. Let them know how your SNF has guarded against Covid, and the success you have had. Also, find out if there is anything they need. You might be able to take their most demanding patients, those that they know would fare better in an SNF, whether they are post-acute patients or in need of a more long-term care solution.

You are also in the position to reciprocate with referrals, too. If a family comes to your facility to seek options and you feel that the potential resident is not at a point where they need the services of an SNF, make a referral, and ensure that they know from where it came. Also, post-acute patients may leave your facility, but still need help at home. There is another referral you can make, and another relationship you can solidify.

Hospitals Become Another Source

We’ve discussed this before, but it bears repeating: establishing alliances with the discharge officers at the acute-care hospitals in your region is always a good tactic. As with home health care providers, let them know what you have done to safeguard against Covid and other infections.

If your facility is serious about pursuing the post-acute care patient, also let them know what you are doing for those needs. If you have set up rehab facilities and dialysis centers, make them aware. If you have a hospital or physicians in your service area that specialize in bariatric surgery, then you can also consider how your facility can better cater to that resident in a post-acute setting. Check out this article in Aging Care about what patients and family members need to look for in post-acute care for bariatric patients.

When you talk to these discharge officers, find out what kinds of materials they need from you in order to be more seriously considered. Some will ask for brochures and marketing materials. Others might want to set up a profile on your SNF in their system. As Wetula pointed out in his webinar, they might even have an electronic referral system. Make sure they get the information they need.

The reality is that hospitals, like every other business, are continuously undergoing changes in the way they handle all facets of patient care, including discharges and referrals. If a hospital has a system conversion, you want to make sure your facilities are included in the new systems. Maintaining that ongoing relationship helps.

Many post-acute patients are also involved in making decisions about where they might go after their stay in the hospital. Wetula recommends things like a virtual tour on your website, and information about ensuring cleanliness and strong infection control procedures. Stress that you can help them recover from their situation in a safe environment with the best care.

Let’s Not Forget the Sales Part

As Dr. Jim Collins, a speaker, author, and educator in healthcare recently said in an article entitled Building and Maintaining a Strong Census in Skilled Nursing Care, “Marketing brings potential business, but selling adds to your census.”

Collins is referring to the need to not only get potential residents and their decision-makers into your facility for a visit, but what happens when those people come for the visit. CareWork allows you to monitor the number of admissions denied and the reasons. It might have been a decision on your part that your SNF was not truly equipped for that patient, but if it was a decision on the side of the patient or loved ones, what was the reason?

There are things you can do in helping potential residents and their loved ones in making the decision. This includes things such as:

A family-focused approach. Especially in the case of long-term care, families are concerned that their loved ones are happy and safe where they are. You are selling them as much if not more than the resident.

Appearances and atmosphere. A few months ago we reported on an SNF admissions person who discovered by looking at her data, that the presence of a specific contract recreational therapist, a lively lady who involved all the residents, delighted people who were taking a tour. She told me that therapist was the best sales tool she had.

Ensuring All Employees are Census Aware. Every employee at your facility must know that census is everything. Emphasize the need to smile and greet everyone, especially those new faces who might be on a tour. Also, remember that people tend to remember the last thing you do for them. Reassuring them that their relative will be safe in their care goes a long way.

CareWork Can Help

CareWork is an operational platform that brings together all of the information housed in the other systems you use. Instead of looking at your data categorically, one system at a time, and manually comparing it to company targets, CareWork gives you a single login to view holistic data in a 360-degree view. Whether you are a skilled nursing facility, assisted living, or CCRC, we give you an easy-to-use single source of truth for the health of your operations.

Ready to make care work easier? Contact us today.

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