How Behavioral Health Services Can Increase Occupancy for Your ALF

Managing assisted living facilities (ALF) means balancing the needs of residents and staff with economic demands. ALFs could offer the best care, but it cannot survive if residency is low and income remains unpredictable.

Over the past two years, care facilities across the United States have had to cope with some of the lowest occupancy levels. Many have struggled to keep nursing homes and assisted living facilities open and operational.

As the coronavirus pandemic appears to decline, facilities need to build a strategy that helps them survive and thrive. Offering a behavioral health care program can help attract new residents and make it easier to predict Occupancy.

Occupancy and Retention in Assisted Living Facilities

The coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc across the entire U.S. economy. Health care facilities were among some of the hardest affected. Existing residents faced limited social contact to prevent the spread of the virus among more vulnerable populations. Occupancy levels dropped well below pre-pandemic levels as seniors continued living independently, and families decided to care for their elderly at home. However, Occupancy has been a challenge for the health care sector since long before the pandemic.

Put, occupancy rates refer to the percentage of occupied beds compared to the total amount available. If too many beds remain empty, staff and other resources are underused, and any facility will struggle to make a profit. The longer the situation persists, the harder it will be for an assisted living facility or a nursing care home to be viable. In the end, organizations may need to close their doors if they cannot attract enough residents.

What is a Good Occupancy Rate?

Within the health care sector, 80% occupancy is considered a critical point. If Occupancy falls much below this number, resources go to waste. 80 to 90% occupancy is generally seen as an ideal by health care managers. Compared to other industries, like hospitality, health care operators need to aim higher. Where hotels are concerned, 75% occupancy generally equals peak profitability.

Occupancy is an essential factor because it influences every other aspect of its operations. Safe staffing levels and shift patterns require a minimum level of qualified staff to care for residents. The required staff numbers do not change much if Occupancy drops. However, with lower Occupancy, a facility’s income is significantly reduced.

The Impact of Behavioral Health Problems on Assisted Living

Managers and staff of assisted living facilities and nursing homes understand that caring for elderly residents goes beyond looking after their physical health. Mental and behavioral health are equally important and can significantly affect a resident’s overall well-being.

The need for behavioral health care services for the elderly has never been greater. Those who spent the pandemic years may have suffered from a persistent lack of social contact, leading to other mental health concerns. Right now is the time to address these concerns – both for residents’ well-being and the bottom line of individual facilities.

Addressing the Need for Mental Health Services in Senior Living Communities

Every year, residents of the assisted living facilities experience increasing rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. A quality behavioral health programs can help. Watch webinar

Aging and Mental Health

Getting older does not automatically lead to mental health problems, although aging can trigger some. As people age, they may become more susceptible to physical health problems. Those can start conditions like depression and anxiety, but so can the medication seniors take to address their physical symptoms.

For most people, aging means losing friends or life partners. Coping with severe losses like these is challenging at any age, but seniors tend to experience more losses in a shorter amount of time. Combined with declining health, grief can be a stark reminder of a person’s mortality. Without professional help, passing sadness over a personal loss can soon become a severe mental health concern.

Moreover, some residents may develop severe conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, which progress as a person ages. Specialist staff and programs are necessary to address those.

How Behavioral Health Programs can Address Mental Health Concerns

Behavioral health programs aim to establish positive day-to-day habits that make it easier to cope with existing health concerns or prevent temporary problems from becoming permanent. Within the context of assisted living or elderly care, behavioral health programs address regular eating, socializing, or medication management, to name just a few.

These programs can also be instrumental in successfully transitioning into the facility. Even though many ALF residents can manage much of their daily life on their own, the move into a controlled facility marks a stark transition. This is the beginning of the final phase of their lives.

Behavioral health care programs can transform the transition from a compromise to a positive move. These programs often incorporate both practical support and counseling. Counseling will help residents understand and rationalize their emotions related to the transition.

On the practical side, behavioral health care can help (re-)establish good habits. Not every senior may find the move into assisted living traumatic, but it is certainly disruptive. Healthy habits that were easy to stick to in the previous environment may not work under the new circumstances. This is where behavioral health care has answers.

There were some residents who weren’t coming out of their rooms and didn’t want to engage with anyone… that has really 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 shell and are really happy with the service.

Renee Najarro, Director of Resident Care. The Ivy of McKinney

How a Behavioral Health Program Can Increase Occupancy

There is no doubt that a comprehensive behavioral health program benefits the residents of assisted living facilities and nursing homes tremendously. In addition, these programs contribute to the financial well-being of the facility. They help attract new residents and retain existing ones.

Managing and predicting Occupancy within the elderly care sector is difficult. Seniors have plenty of choices between ALF with different levels of support or nursing homes. Offering behavioral health care can be the deciding factor in a potential resident’s choice.

Over the past two years, the public’s understanding of and willingness to talk about mental health challenges has grown. As a result, those looking at residential care homes today will see the clear advantages these services mean for residents. In short, offering behavioral health care services is a powerful marketing tool for your facility.

Behavioral health care and counseling can easily be the deciding factor.

How to Integrate Behavioral Health Care Into Your Facility

Offering behavioral health care programs at your facility is neither difficult nor costly with the right partner. TrueCare™’s comprehensive program gives you access to professionally trained staff who will become an extension of your in-house team. As a Medicare-approved program, all activities are free of charge for your facility and your residents.

Thanks to behavioral health care services, your staff and residents can benefit from a better quality of care and quality of life today. Plus, our team can help train your team, making it even easier to offer outstanding behavioral health care.

About TrueCare™

TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.