Guest Columns

Strategies to succeed in a challenging environment

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Bruce van Horn
Bruce van Horn

Long-term care is likely to see significant challenges based on health benefits requirements in the Affordable Care Act. The costs associated with covering the healthcare of a large workforce will be substantial. In an era of decreased governmental resources many facilities will be squeezed by limits on Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement at a time when there is growing demand from retiring baby boomers.

The industry can survive and thrive by transforming itself, by embracing wellness for employees and residents and by mounting an effective PR campaign to highlight the importance of long-term care industry. We must acknowledge its need to transform itself and to remind the public of their social contracts to seniors.  

As a CPA and MBA who had experienced Alzheimer's effect on my family, my awareness had been raised to the limitations of our healthcare and eldercare systems.  I became a wellness instructor and developed a successful quality of life programming for residents in long-term care at over one hundred facilities in the NY area.  In the process, I have gained valuable insight into solutions that could work in the eldercare industry for employees as well as residents. 

The solution requires compassion, mentoring, and an understanding of the Eastern Healing Arts and psychology.  The potential outcomes such as ROI, compliance with ACA, delivering increased customer satisfaction and employee happiness will motivate the industry to take some risk and embrace change.

In addition to requiring additional health coverage of its employees, the Affordable Care Act instructs employers to invest in wellness programs to minimize the costs associated with complying with the new legislation. A successful wellness program can have significant impact on biometric markers such as BMI, cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels thereby decreasing direct and indirect health care costs.

Based on my observations of the workforce, most are not embracing wellness, but many seem really interested. Many have numerous health risks and do not effectively manage stress related to caregiving.   

The good news is they are hungry for information and they often times will listen, observe my classes and ask advice as I coach and encourage the residents.    

Companies that want to move their culture toward wellness face challenges. Behavioral change is rather complex. In order to achieve success it is best to have a tailored approach. 

To begin, organizations that want to change will need to have a needs assessment to determine what the appropriate action should be. What are your employees' interests, and where are the benefit dollars most used? What additional investments need to be made to achieve results?  These questions can serve as a basis for wellness program planning.

Effective wellness programs would need to be embraced and supported at the very top of the organization, as it would not be fair to ask employees to do what you are not willing to.  Aligning wellness goals to the organizational mission, values and strategic plan is the first step in creating a culture of wellness.  Potential offerings could include workshops, seminars  and coaching ultimately creating a community and culture of wellness.  The goal is to empower healthcare workers to become the agents of change, missionaries for wellness thereby transforming the organization through improved quality of care and quality of life. 

The forward-thinking healthcare organizations that can see the future will transform their product offerings to well care and prevention and their experience transforming their own culture will be the basis of their new business. The implementation of wellness plans for employees will be the first step in transforming the healthcare industry to wellness.

Bruce Van Horn is the founder of Yoga for Business, Inc.  


Guest Columns

Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.