Take it from me: Fat people don’t like to be told they are overweight. Nobody likes to be reminded of any shortcomings.
But there’s always that tone-deaf Captain Obvious clone in the crowd, just waiting to point out the subpar haircut, fresh coffee stain, missed button or lousy parking job, isn’t there?
Sometimes this angel of misery is not even a person. That was certainly the case Friday, when the New York Times gave the skilled care sector yet another gratuitous kick.
“In the Nursing Home, Empty Beds and Quiet Halls” reads the headline. The piece serves up what one might expect. Its main message: nursing home occupancy is down. Way down.
Really? Thanks so much for letting us know! Where would we be without the paper of record?
The story is sure to make some operators angry. First, it’s more bad publicity for a sector that hardly needs another helping. Second, the revelation won’t do much to convince the dark suits that skilled care is the best place to put their money.
But the most frustrating thing of all is this: it’s true. In fact, it’s been true for quite some time.
As to how operators might start getting the pendulum swinging the other way? Well, three popular options are now making the rounds.
Option One is to simply ride out the drought. The Silver Tsunami cohort is just about to hit the shores, bringing weakened lungs and compromised body parts along for the ride. Survive a few years and you’ll soon need more beds, claim the advocates in this crowd.
That may or may not be true. Why? Consider the second major option making the rounds: it’s time for a complete overhaul.
This emerging view holds that you are really in the post-acute care business. As such, you now need to deliver top-shelf care and rehab to residents recovering from the knife. Oh, and by the way, you’ll need to take on more shared risk as well. That’s if the insurance companies don’t cut you completely out.
Then there’s what might be called the Goldilocks option: change enough to stay competitive, but keep your core business in fighting trim.
Will one of these options win the day? Who knows? People much smarter than me seem to have no idea. So we’ll see.
One thing is certain: With three major trade shows about to commence, you can bet that declining skilled care occupancy levels will be a hot topic. That was going to be the case regardless of the story that ran Friday.
Just the same, thanks Gray Lady, for that timely update. Any word on the Titanic?
John O’Connor is the Editorial Director at McKnight’s.