This is Part II in a 2016 series on group home marketing. Part III will provide an interview with a recently retired community mental health executive from SE Michigan that speaks to this same subject in a much broader way. His experienced based observations are of tremendous value. Please stay tuned for its release on March 30, 2016.
While the group home continues to be a player on the long-term care scene, its credibility as a business model is waning. Perhaps that can change and marketing can be a part of the process.
- Clinical Competence Matters: Many among the care coordinating and service arranging agencies are making it known, “we are not accepting new providers”. Call Gateway Community Health right now in Detroit, Michigan and you will be told this. Why is that?
Perhaps the numbers of persons for whom they have to arrange care is significantly less than the number of homes already in the pool can accommodate. Let’s face it, a large part of this is a numbers game.
At the same time these agencies must give attention to the extent they are providing services in the most competent environments. (Be sure and read Section II of the interview in Part III for more on this area coming March 30, 2016.)
Why are some being allowed to work with this agency and other community mental health agencies while some are being shut out? Could it be that too many are pursuing these contract relationships with a sense of entitlement (“my neighbor has a contract and my home is better than hers.”) but none are focusing on being able to articulate why they are clinically superior? Could it be that none are delivering that clinical, programmatic narrative that is outcome based and demonstrates a true pattern of following best practices that provides the best care, supervision, teaching, coaching and protection for the vulnerable adults they say they are qualified to serve?
Marketing in care has everything to do with outcomes. Not being able to clearly communicate what your program brings and can bring for decades into the future is a definite negative.
Think of it this way: Let’s say a hospital is in pursuit of a research grant. It wants to schedule clinical trials to evaluate a new cancer vaccine. Imagine their sending off a proposal to the National Institute of Health without specifying:
- Who is the ideal trial candidate?
- What the effect of the drug proposes to be on those with a certain cancer
- How they will treat reactions to the drug during the trial
- How they will document outcomes for public consumption
They would be laughed out of the park. Now imagine a group home concluding that its marketing can be limited to showing how attractive its bathroom is or how well the lawn is kept.
When you read Part III of this series, please note this one aspect of the interview from the aforementioned retired community mental health executive which will be made public March 30, 2016: “We need to begin to attract providers who bring that clinical edge and it simply – for the most part – is not there. These homes are not owned or managed by clinical professionals or even clinically oriented people such as CNAs so we do not have that and for too many years, no one has cared. From licensing to their associations, no one has cared. We do not even have a preparedness mechanism to help providers rise to where they need to be. We need an academy that takes the time to prepare an adult foster care provider to bring the required competence to the long-term care spectrum, especially in light of certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Right now many in adult foster care, as a result of this lack of preparedness, shy away from meaningful interactions with other players in the long-term care arena due to their insecurities tied to their lack of real preparedness. You cannot just sell personality, you have to sell competence and treatment strategy. As a result, a perfect storm has occurred of limiting reimbursement and in the long-run cheating the consumer of mental health services. It’s a sad reality at least in SE Michigan.”
2. Focus on Message Content: Everyone in business wants to be taken seriously. We have established that if you want to be a part of the new revolution in group home marketing, certain things have to change.
Your message can no longer be a focus on hallway width, width of shower and years you have managed to survive. This does not mean that these items are unimportant, especially when serving those with physical limitations. You just need a broader message.
Your professionally designed and printed information package you will prepare for referral sources who manage care for the mentally ill and those with developmental limitations must include a message about:
- How you maintain a regimen of person-centeredness
- How your watchful care helps a resident transition between medication therapies
- The tools you use to help determine behavioral compatibility between residents
- What training you expose your staff to in order to prepare them to utilize gentle teaching to diffuse confrontation
- How you use peer review and peer intervention to help staff use team interactions to polish skills and sharpen focus on resident needs in a clinically competent way
A significant number of case managers are starting and managing their own private duty home care companies. A number of community mental health agencies are starting to operate and manage their own residential programs.
Until competency levels change among privately held providers, this can be expected to continue.
How will you set yourself apart? How will your approach to marketing and real program development change?
Penny for your thoughts.
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