Today, more older adults are considering assisted living. And the competition is increasing among facilities.
Attracting new residents can be costly. So your top priority should be retaining your current residents. Here’s how to set your organization apart from the competition.
Why Retaining Residents Matters
More than one million licensed beds are available in approximately 28,900 assisted living communities, according to the American Health Care Association (AHCA). Yet, ALFs continue to experience a high annual resident turnover.
As a result, many communities have increased their marketing efforts to attract new residents. Executives have also focused on successful move-ins. Yet, the turnover remains high. In some ALFs, nearly 50% of residents leave every year.
Acquiring new residents is a credible way to address the problem, but it is expensive. The U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimate that the cost of acquiring new customers is five to seven times higher than retaining residents. Few ALFs can afford these additional costs in a challenging economy.
Instead, a better solution is reducing costs by retaining residents without compromising the quality of care. Also, a high retention rate can show potential residents that they can trust your facility and inspire loyalty in your current residents.
5 Steps to Retain Residents in your Assisted Living Community
Here are five strategies you can start to implement today.
Step 1: Create a Homelike Environment
Seniors find it challenging to move into an assisted living facility. The transition marks the beginning of the last stage of life. It can negatively affect their emotional and mental well-being.
However, creating a homelike environment can be a game-changer for a successful transition and long-term resident retention.
Design a welcoming ambiance and ensure that the environment is clean and comfortable. Research shows that residents prefer spaces with plenty of natural light. They also value layouts that accommodate physical limitations easily.
You can also allow residents to personalize their spaces. Being surrounded by treasured mementos and personal possessions can dramatically improve this transition.
Step 2: Bond with Others and Your Team
As people get older and potentially less mobile, their social contacts decrease. Only some residents have a large family that can visit regularly. Fellow residents and your team members may start to fill these gaps. And over time, genuine relationships may develop that go beyond primary care.
Train your team members to practice an approach that buys into bonding with residents.
As a rule of thumb, hire (and retain) staff who take pride in their profession. Assisted living managers must also ensure staff members are satisfied with their jobs on an ongoing basis. Happy and satisfied employees are more likely to better care for residents.
Offer opportunities and events that allow residents to meet their peers and socialize. Also, to stand out from competitors, provide multiple indoor and outdoor areas to make connections.
Step 3: Provide Qualified Professional Staff
Your professional team should offer medical and healthcare services that are accessible and available.
Your assisted living community can provide access to services like pharmacies, therapy solutions, nutrition advice, nursing, social work, and counseling.
Access to qualified professionals builds trust among residents and increases the credibility of your entire facility. Your skilled team members should have the flexibility to address unique requirements.
Some residents were not coming out of their rooms and didn’t want to engage with anyone… this has changed since offering this program — they are more apt to talk now and be around other people — they are really starting to come out of their shells and are happy with the service.Renee Najarro, Director of Resident Care. The Ivy of McKinney
Step 4: Offer Opportunities to Stay Active
Physical activity allows people to stay healthy longer. Offer various opportunities for seniors to exercise.
Strength training can prevent falls and other common injuries in older people. Other gentle activities like stretching or yoga for seniors improve flexibility and mobility. Additionally, exercise can benefit those with chronic conditions like diabetes.
As an added benefit, some physical activities offer excellent opportunities for socializing. If your community has plenty of green, open spaces, many residents will enjoy catching up during a 30-minute walk.
When choosing the appropriate activities for your clients, ask them what they would enjoy. Giving seniors a say in the facility’s activities keeps them more engaged and encourages participation.
Step 5: Maintain Good Behavioral Health
Behavioral health and mental health are closely related to overall health. You can help residents develop or maintain good behavioral health and, as a result, form habits with long-term benefits. These habits include exercising, eating a balanced diet, and socializing.
As we are nearing the end of the pandemic’s second year, assisted living residents’ overall health has never been more critical. Many residents suffered from a lack of social contact during the first few months of the pandemic, which may have led to a change in behavioral habits.
ALFs can now set themselves apart from their competition by prioritizing this area. Adding behavioral health care to your facility’s offerings is possible at no cost to your organization or residents through Medicare-approved programs. Behavioral health care includes a thorough assessment of your residents followed by individual options to help increase their quality of life and your quality of care.
As the baby boomer generation starts to retire, ALF communities will grow over the next few decades. Managers and owners must focus on resident retention to build a true community.
Some of the critical steps toward resident retention include:
- Creating a homelike atmosphere
- Facilitating bonding between residents and your team
- Providing qualified staff
- Offering a wide range of activities
- Supporting behavioral health care
Your team does not have to do all of these steps by themselves. Consider partnering with an experienced provider with a proven track record.