In the United States today, there are over 1.4 million residents in long-term care facilities. In addition to these residents, there are millions of family members and friends who visit these facilities regularly to ensure their loved ones are getting the care and attention they need.
While deciding to put a loved one in a long-term care or residential facility can be difficult and emotional, your facility can stand out among the rest by understanding what families look for when planning long-term care. In this post, we'll assess what potential residents and their loved ones look for in a skilled nursing facility and how your organization can improve your existing processes to exceed their expectations.
How Potential Residents Plan for Long-Term Care
For many patients and their families, the top concerns regarding long-term care strategic planning for a loved one are their health concerns and whether they will be able to afford to live in a long-term care facility. As with most searches nowadays, many loved ones of potential residents will begin their searches online.
Depending on the health conditions of their loved ones, they may even search for facilities that have a history of taking care of those with the same illness or diagnosis. For example, there are long-term care facilities for those with memory conditions, such as Alzheimer's and dementia.
This can lead families and loved ones to search for things like “memory care facility near me” or “long-term care for Alzheimer's patients.” If a family member has other health concerns, such as diabetes, heart disease, or other medical condition that requires intensive care and medication, they may also need to search for a long-term care or assisted living facility with around-the-clock care.
However, a simple search is just the start. Families will want to know more about the facility, how it's run, what a resident's day-to-day life is like, and how much it costs. Some families will also want to know about the:
- Living environment
- Staff and caregivers
- Safety features
- Five-star rating
As children and families of potential residents dive deeper into their search for the perfect long-term care facility, they will likely want a tour of their top picks so they can see where their loved ones will be and ask questions.
When potential residents and their families come to visit or tour your facility, they will probably ask most of the following questions when it comes to direct patient/resident care:
- What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
- How often are residents bathed?
- Can the kitchen accommodate a special diet?
- Is special assistance given to residents with feeding problems?
- Are individual care plans maintained for each resident?
- How does a resident get medical attention?
- Is there a doctor available who keeps hours in the facility?
- Who makes arrangements for outside medical appointments?
- What other staff is available to residents?
- What kind of activities are scheduled throughout the week?
- Is there transportation to take residents to activities?
- Are there specific visiting hours for families and visitors?
- What is the facility's response when a resident has a hard time adjusting?
- Are there emergency exits wide enough for mobility devices?
- Is each room equipped with handrails and grab bars?
- How often do nurses check on each resident per day?
Here are some specific questions families and loved ones may have regarding administrative matters:
- What are the basic costs?
- What is covered and not covered?
- Are there additional charges for care?
- Is there any reason a resident would be discharged?
- Is the facility license prominently displayed?
- Where are the resident’s rights posted, and what are they?
- How are medications obtained?
To ensure that your facility can answer these questions, and others, with satisfactory answers, it's essential to take a look at the Medicare Nursing Facility Checklist, which many families use when deciding on a long-term care or assisted living facility for their loved ones.
What Potential Residents and Their Families Look for in a Long-Term Care Facility
In addition to the questions listed above, your facility needs to know what families and potential residents look for in a long-term care facility. Here are some of the most essential elements your facility will need to focus on if you want to attract and retain residents that are touring multiple competing facilities.
Quality of Care
The quality of care in skilled nursing facilities has been a major concern for years. The U.S. has passed a set of reforms through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to improve the safety and quality of care in nursing facilities around the nation. This legislation aims to ensure that:
- Every nursing facility maintains sufficient staff who are properly trained to provide high-quality care.
- Poorly performing nursing facilities are held accountable for unsafe or improper care and improve their services.
- The public has access to more information about residential facility conditions so they can find the most suitable option.
When it comes to quality of care, potential residents and their families will likely check for quality problems to ensure there are no:
- Missed or rushed tasks
- Widespread infections
- Low satisfaction rates among residents or staff
- Crowded resident rooms
- Lack of safeguards against unnecessary medication or treatment
Though every family will have different expectations and vary in how they measure the quality of care, it's important to keep in mind that the care and treatment their loved ones will receive in your facility is of the utmost importance.
If a family member has doubts about whether they would want their loved one to live in a certain facility, it likely means that the facility is not doing enough to make patients, residents, and nursing staff a top priority. Other quality of care concerns that families may have include structural and electronic resources, efficiency and dedication of nurse aides, and interventions for improving nursing facility care.
Five-Star Predictor Score
The next important item on the list of things potential residents and families will look for is the quality rating of your facility. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) maintains a five-star quality rating system that lets loved ones know if a nursing facility is below average, average, or above average in many different aspects of care. With this system, each nursing facility receives an overall rating and separate ratings for staffing, health inspections, and other quality measures.
The CMS's technical rating scores also reflect facility compliance, nurse staffing ratios, staff turnover, and complaints.
This is why it's critical for your facility to shine in every aspect of care. Ensuring your technology and staff are the best of the best can help you gain a five-star rating and persuade families to choose you over a competitor.
Because staffing is a challenging and critical aspect of a five-star rating, implementing a solution that can help you reach the best score possible will let potential residents and loved ones know that your facility is a top choice. With Five-Star Predictor software, you and your care team can view how other facilities meet federal regulations and what you need to do to achieve and maintain a five-star rating.
Simply put, if your nursing facility has outdated software, broken machines, or simply not enough equipment to keep up with patient care needs, families will hesitate to let their loved ones into your care. Nursing facility equipment is one of the most critical elements of care. From employee scheduling software to workforce analytics solutions, having up-to-date equipment on both the clinical and administrative sides of resident care can make your facility stand out.
Potential residents and families will want to know that your nursing staff has access to the most efficient solutions and platforms that make patient care easy. By reducing the time nurses spend on administrative tasks with long-term care strategies, they can spend more time with patients and provide quality care.
Spending too much time on documentation has been a significant problem in many healthcare facilities. In fact, research shows that healthcare staff members spend an average of 16 hours a week on documentation, including:
- Paperwork for medication authorizations
- Insurance payments
- Other quality metrics
This study also identified a strong need for healthcare facilities to automate data reporting to reduce burnout rates among the nursing staff and promote a work-life balance. Another study found that healthcare workers spend more time on documentation activities than on patient care activities, which suggests a direct relation to technology challenges.
While resident care and treatment come first, many families will want to know what your facility has to offer in terms of keeping residents engaged with fun activities and amenities. Because the transition to living in a long-term care or assisted living facility can be difficult for some residents, it's important that your nursing facility offers ways for them to meet other people, engage in social events, and build a life in the community you offer.
When developing a marketing plan for your assisted living facility to attract those seeking a residential situation, be sure to highlight your amenities to potential residents and their families, such as social outings, exercise classes, entertainment events, group activities, and transportation services. The more you can provide residents to make them feel independent and socially connected, the more likely their transition to your facility will be easier.
How Your Nursing Facility Can Address Gaps in Care
As a long-term care service provider, there is always room for you to improve your nursing facility and analyze where you're not quite meeting expectations for residents, families, and your nursing staff. Whether you need to enhance the amenities you offer, hire more nursing staff, or get rid of slow, outdated equipment, addressing these key workforce challenges with the right solution can improve satisfaction ratings and attract more residents.
With the following value points below, you can implement a solution that helps create a smooth-functioning, attractive, and caring facility that people will seek out in their search for a strategic nursing home plan.
Enhance Nursing Staff Management and Stability
One of the biggest problems in healthcare today is implementing strategic planning in nursing to reduce high turnover rates. Since the pandemic, healthcare organizations have failed to meet their goal of reducing nurse turnover, with the rate still sitting at a high of 19.5% in late 2021. Nursing turnover is causing hospitals, nursing facilities, and clinics to pay high costs for recruiting, training, and staff retention.
To strengthen your bottom line, it's critical to manage vacancy rates and control labor expenses with a solution that can address foundational operations and sore points for nurses. For example, one study found that the top reasons for nurses leaving their positions are high-stress work environments, caregiver burnout, and insufficient wages and benefits. With the right solution to improve your facility from the ground up, you can create a trickle-down effect from your staff to residents and enhance the overall quality of care.
Improve Regulatory Compliance
Families of potential residents will want to know that your facility has no outstanding violations, fines, or staff with expired licenses. As an owner, CEO, or nurse manager, you must be able to show all potential residents and their loved ones that your long-term care or assisted living facility meets all guidelines and maintains legal compliance in all aspects.
With a healthcare workforce management solution, you can enhance workforce compliance, minimize risk, and avoid penalties. This type of solution can help you keep track of your employee certifications, mandatory training, attendance, and organizational reporting so you can stay on top of compliance and maintain your auditable records more efficiently.
Update Manual Processes With Technology
Manual processes are not only time-consuming, but they can actually cost your organization more money in supplies and labor. The healthcare industry has saved $122 billion in costs by streamlining certain procedures, but facilities can save an additional $16.3 billion by fully automating other manual processes.
Healthcare workforce management solutions can help you keep track of your budget, automatically form the ideal schedule, and improve visibility with real-time data that helps you make better-informed decisions. Automating your daily processes can give you the functionality you need to keep costs at a minimum and reduce the administrative burden on your nursing staff without compromising quality or compliance. Likewise, these solutions can also enhance the overall living experience for your residents.
Improve Operational Efficiency
Running a nursing facility takes a lot of work. You and your administrative and managerial staff have to juggle many responsibilities to ensure your operation runs smoothly. However, if you're struggling with several systems that just can't keep up or integrate with newer, more advanced technology, you could be wasting valuable time and money. By streamlining your daily operations with scheduling, attendance, payroll, and HR solution, you keep your facility in top shape and remain ready to show potential residents and families just how efficiently your team runs.
Innovative staff communication tools within this solution allow you to keep all important information in one location, so you can notify your nursing staff of open shifts and make it easy for them to accept through their mobile devices.
Increase Nurse-to-Resident Ratio
Without an adequate amount of staff on hand, it can be impossible to ensure all residents are receiving the proper care they need. From daily hygiene assistance to feedings to medication distribution, residents require the help of a nurse for many of their daily activities. With a higher nurse-to-resident ratio, your nursing staff won't feel as overwhelmed, stressed, or burnt out by having to rush between patients and potentially make a mistake or forget an important task.
With more staff on hand, nurses can spend more time with residents and provide them with attentive, genuine care. By using a staffing marketplace solution that can connect you with healthcare agencies, your nursing facility can hire qualified, trained nurses, fill shifts faster, and control your agency spend.
Smartlinx Can Help Your Facility Attract More Residents and Support Nurses
In a long-term care or skilled nursing facility, it's critical that you and your staff maintain high productivity, quality of care, and satisfaction to help attract and retain potential residents. At Smartlinx, it's our goal to help healthcare facilities support nursing staff and make resident care a priority.
If you're currently running on outdated software and manual processes, your facility will likely experience nurse burnout and turnover down the line. With our workforce management suite, your facility gains access to several products and solutions that allow you to reduce the stressful workload on nurses and ensure families that residents receive the most dedicated, well-organized care, including employee scheduling, management, and reporting platforms.
With one solution, you can improve several aspects of your skilled nursing facility, including scheduling, communication, and efficiency. Request a demo today or contact us online to learn more about optimizing your workday with Smartlinx.