Looking to survive in long-term care? Then it's time to 'pay' up

John O'Connor
John O'Connor

There seems to be a common theme emerging at this year's batch of trade shows. Tips for future success are the rising stars.

The various remedies being promoted are helpful if predictable: Position your organization for the coming world of bundled payments and accountable care organizations. Become the low-cost care option. Enhance your caregiving capabilities. Harness data better. Fight against more regulatory incursion. The list goes on, but you get the gist.

It's all good stuff. And the sooner you start doing these things, the better off you are likely to be. But for as good as these recommendations are, most are also temporary. A decade from now, many of them will likely be replaced by new insights courtesy of new experts.

Now what if you want to build an organization that's built to last for even longer, say multiple generations? Look, there are no guarantees. But if I were to offer the most bulletproof advice possible, it would be this: Follow the three-payment plan.

What is that you say? It's simple, really. It involves making “payments” in three distinct ways.

  1. Pay attention

Ignorance may be bliss, but it can get you and your organization killed in long-term care. Simply put, you need to be aware of what's happening. That obviously involves staying informed about news and trends. But it extends to your operations as well. Are you on top of your financials? New rules and laws? Developments in other parts of the economy that could affect your operations and the bottom line? Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it has helped keep thousands of senior living operators alive.

  1. Pay the price

Have you invested enough in your education to truly understand what business you are in? Do you now have the required intellectual insight to boldly move your organization forward? Are you getting the best possible talent you can afford at the top, in the middle and on the front lines? Are you partnering with top-shelf vendors committed to your success? Are you re-investing in your community to ensure the physical plant, your technological capabilities and staff training are not second rate? Or are you simply pocketing as much as possible and hoping to stay afloat? Make an investment in things worthy of investment, beginning with you. Otherwise, you may be dealing with bankruptcy in more ways than one.

  1. Pay it forward

OK, so now you're now a success story. Congratulations. Did you get there all by your lonesome? Chances are pretty good that you received some help along the way. Maybe it was from supportive parents. Maybe it was a seasoned colleague who helped you avoid getting your knuckles bloody. Maybe it was a boss whose “Dutch Uncle” approach helped make you a valuable commodity. Well, now it's time to return the favor. Are you doing all you can to nurture and grow your people at every level? Are you helping them avoid some of the mistakes you made, or are you simply having a good internal laugh as they “screw up”? To be successful in any line of work, you have to catch a few lucky breaks along the way. Admit it: You've had your share. Now it's time to help others get a few of their own. That goes for inside and outside your organization.

Does this “payment” plan guarantee success? Of course not. But if followed faithfully, this approach is very likely to put you and your organization on a solid foundation, no matter what the future brings.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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