Changing economic incentives in senior living and long-term care are forcing executives to re-examine their business models. If your community isn’t meeting occupancy goals, maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at your dining and nutritional services program. Here are two ways dining programs can support occupancy strategies, feeding your residents as well as your pipeline.
Demonstrate Your Commitment to an Exceptional Dining Experience
If you have a great dining program, it is likely that a meal is included in your tours for prospective residents and their families, but why stop there? One of our clients, a national not-for-profit system with more than 38 communities, conducted a return-on-investment analysis of their sales and marketing efforts and found their most successful events involved food. They even discovered that featuring pictures of food in ads and marketing collateral, and highlighting the dining program in these pieces drove more people to their events.
But don’t stop with the food; highlight your chefs at the events as well. Place your chef strategically out front at a display cooking station, smartly dressed in his or her chef whites, to interact with prospective residents and their families. What this demonstrates is that you take dining seriously, and that you are committed to delivering an exceptional dining experience.
Leverage Dining & Nutrition to Improve Clinical Outcomes
Another key element of occupancy strategy in many senior living communities is referrals from acute care. In the past, these referral networks were often informal. A hospital or health system may have used hundreds of post-acute providers and there was often little or no accountability to the referrer once the hand-off occurred. Today, everything has changed. Those same hospitals or health systems maintain only a handful of reliable post-acute providers in their referral networks or ACOs. These post-acute care providers are held accountable as partners in a continuum of care to minimize hospital readmissions and avoid Medicare reimbursement penalties, keep costs low and deliver quality care. Dining and nutrition services are critical and effective tools which should be integrated into your care model and occupancy strategy.
Reductions in hospital readmissions require an integrated approach, and dining and nutrition are an important part of a complex program. Success in reduction of unintended weight loss and reduction of UTIs can contribute to a significant reduction in hospital readmissions. When interventions are called for, the dining and nutrition team should work with nursing to determine appropriate interventions. The team may also educate the resident and family about the risks of weight loss and dehydration so they understand the implications, how to minimize risk and how to provide support. An integrated care model will make a difference as you position your organization to participate in ACOs, MCOs or Bundled Payment networks.
More Tips and Real-life Examples
Those are just two of the ways that dining in senior living and long-term care supports occupancy strategies. For more tips and real-life examples of how communities are taking a fresh look at dining and nutrition, download our Lead With Dining eBook.