Elevating resident experiences through specific products

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Greg Snoddy
Greg Snoddy

Senior living facilities across the country are facing similar challenges but each facility chooses to address those challenges differently. David Craig, COO of Health Services Management, understands that facing challenges and raising profit margins should never be at the expense of resident care quality. In the interview below, David shares his thoughts with me on what industry challenges he is most urgently trying to address and the product strategies he's employing to improve safety and comfort in his facilities.

What are the top three challenges your senior living facilities face today?

David Craig: The three biggest challenges that we face, and I think most senior living facilities face are:

  1. Meeting high-quality standards of resident care,
  2. Addressing census/bed occupancy, and
  3. Increasing our Five-Star Rating survey performance.
Each of these impact our profit margins, so overall, we're looking for cost-effective ways to address these challenges that don't sacrifice quality of care for the residents.

Let's talk about each of those, starting with your Five-Star Rating. What strategies are employing to improve your rating?

D: Well let's start with context: you cannot get into post-acute networks or managed care contracts with anything less than a three-star rating. If you don't have a score of four or five, you're often out of luck. Worst of all, it takes longer to improve your star rating once you've had a bad survey, so we need to be proactive about keeping our rating high. We focused on making sure our residents are happy with the quality of care they're receiving by ensuring they are comfortable and confident in our staff and environment.

What standards have you put in place to ensure quality care for your residents?

D: Well, I believe that resident rooms should feel less like a hospital and more like home. I tend to put focus on three things in a resident's room:

  • Pillows
  • Comfortable mattress
  • Linens

When a resident is laying in bed with a pillow the size of a legal pad of paper, or on a mattress that has that uncomfortable plastic feeling, or their sheets slide off their bed every time they move, it's impossible for them to get comfortable.  

We know there is an industry-wide decline in census, and every senior living facility is concerned about bed occupancy. What challenges have you encountered while trying to increase bed occupancy?

D: I had a hard time finding products that stood out and made a difference for our residents. Again, I focused on improving overall comfort through room design and bedding that made them feel at home. But using high quality linens and bedding  allow us to  market our rooms better. The look and feel of our linens makes our rooms feel more upscale. And when residents lay in our beds, they find we use soft, comfortable mattresses and pillows that are inviting. Our rooms feel a lot more upscale. 

I'll be honest, the upfront costs made me hesitate at first because the higher-quality linen system we purchased was more expensive than normal linens. However, that initial short-term expense was offset by lower long-term expenses like labor costs saved thanks to our no-fold linen system and shortened dry times.

What other initiatives have helped you improve resident experience?

D: It's not just about comfort. We are focused on improving safety too. We've adopted an antimicrobial environmental cleaning system as part of our infection prevention plan. Actually, it was a bit of a challenge to make the switch. When we first transitioned from mops and buckets and introduced the Perfect Clean Microfiber environmental cleaning system, our staff needed some training on how to use it and Encompass was great about sending someone out to help our staff learn the proper way to apply the product. 

Now that the program is fully implemented, we're very happy with the efficiency it brought to our facilities' housekeeping operations while increasing cleanliness.

David has done a great job at finding ways to address common issues in ways that benefits both the resident and the facility. His experience with using products to address census, resident care, and maintaining his facilities' Five-Star Rating by increasing resident comfort is proof that the answer is sometimes in the details.

Greg Snoddy is the Vice President of Healthcare Sales-Senior Living for Encompass Group. He can be reached at greg.snoddy@encompassgroup.net

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