The group home continues to be a player on the long-term care scene. Many would like to see these facilities take on an even larger role as we work to keep more people out of what can be the less dignified nursing home setting.
At the same time, we have tons of these facilities with empty beds. Why? In far too many cases marketing is non-existent or not consistent. Let’s talk about it…
- It starts with attitude: Think of a group home owner in Livonia, Michigan. He is under contract with the Area Agency on Aging 1-C/The Senior Alliance. He begins to reject their referrals citing the amount of documentation that is required for these Medicaid cases.
Problem: This sends a signal to direct care staff that work is not to be expected of them. Further, considering he had to know the level of documentation required before he was approved as one of their providers, he sends a signal of a lack of both commitment and integrity. All of this directly impacts marketing. How so? The amount of pride in direct care staff is largely based upon the example of their bosses. When they see such a flawed approach to maintaining business relationships they will not be good representatives of the business.
- Lack of a Consistent Approach: Everyone answering the phone should know 3 to 4 lines about the home’s advantages. Example:
Caller: “Hi I saw your home on Facebook and my husband and I are looking for a place in your area for my mom.”
Direct Care Staff: “I am glad to hear that. Let me tell you a couple of things about us:
“Our assessment process is second to none. We really make an effort to get to know the prospective resident so we can create a life for them here that they really find comfortable.
Secondly we are really good at outside care coordination. This means we try to make sure other resources in the community are available to maximize how well we can serve the person.
Third: We are a family here. We know everyone has good days and bad days so we adjust our routines to accommodate moods and preferences.”
In far too many instances a group home staff does not even answer the telephone with a professional greeting, let alone have the ability or desire to explain the home’s services. Most prefer to say, “the boss will be here Tuesday.” If a group home really wants to be seen as an important player in the long-term care spectrum this is an area that cannot be ignored.
Further prospects should be documented and follow-up should be assigned to a specific individual. After all, where is marketing without follow-up.
- It Ends with Attitude: The most mature among us can slip into the thinking that other group homes are not practicing these things so why should I? This is a dangerous line of reasoning. We have to establish a set of standards that sets us apart and it may even be necessary to avoid contact with other providers who do not get that.
Marketing is truly about attitude, best practices, follow-up, consistency and style, at least internally. In the issue that follows this one we deal with the external outreach items that matter just as much.
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