Oh so goes the mantra of many smaller assisted living program owners. Some seem to scowl at the thought of not having residents at the level they desire or at least the cash flow a certain number of residents would create. Some of this rather demanding disposition comes through louder from the mouths of providers who have grown accustomed to running contract homes. What is a contract home? This is a home that has received a free flow of referrals from Medicaid waiver agents helping to transition people from nursing homes or community mental health agencies who arrange and pay for residential care for those with mental illness or developmental disability.
More often than you might think this source of referrals dries up for many providers. Why? Because they have ignored so many key operational elements associated with operating a quality residential program. Many complied with contract requirements of the purchasing agency at the time the contact was signed but barring notification of a performance audit, they likely ignored every word of it.
Sooner than later the day comes that this provider can no longer count on one, (1) source for multiple resident referrals as a result of destroying contract relationships. Now when its time to impress individual families and prospective residents, they discover many essential elements are missing. What are these?
Sanitation Plan: Every assisted living provider should be able to hand to a family a specific plan that details how the home is cleansed on a regular basis, what chemicals are used for sanitizing purposes and how staff are monitored to ensure the routine is carried out. If in response to what chemicals are used the owner offers anything but Non-Acid Bathroom Cleaner or its equivalent this family should probably move on. Someone does not take the potential spread of pathogens seriously. If the home cannot hand you a printed copy of their sanitation plan that too is a red flag.
Staff Training: Staff must be trained in avoiding the appearance of sexual impropriety when rendering care, safe transfer and ambulation techniques, rendering personal care safely and with dignity, sanitary kitchen management that prevents disease and medication administration.
Program Development and Management: If the home claims to be equipped to serve dementia sufferers there needs to be a program designed to engage this population. From dementia specific, meaningful activities to special personal care assistance to wander alerts on the doors, there should be clear evidence that the home was established to cater to the needs of this population.
In the absence of these and other essential program elements, the provider of residential care has no product or serve to offer. So the mantra, “Get me some residents” should be ignored until the home can demonstrate a real commitment to give people it serves a high-quality experience. Commitment is commitment and without it, you are selling a box with 4 walls. Nothing else.
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