How to be a Better Corporate Partner to Associations

Posted by Bruce Rosenthal

Jul 6, 2018 12:01:36 PM

A 2018 report from New Philanthropy Capital in London, England includes findings that can lead to better partnerships between post-acute companies and industry associations. Although the report is based on company partnerships with charities, the same concepts apply to relationships with associations.

 

According to the report, research finds that “more and more charities and corporations want to move away from a transactional relationship that often does not add much to one that is based on impact.” Developing relationships that are mutually beneficial is key, the report notes.

 

The report identifies two key challenges:

  • Partnerships often are imbalanced. Corporations and organizations “are both looking to get something out of their partnerships.” But it can seem like corporations hold all the cards because they are providing the funding. The organizations may hesitate to speak up “for fear of jeopardizing the relationship and the funding.”
  • Partnered parties often lack a clear understanding of what their relationship can provide. Organizations tapped in the report say they need to “work harder to understand corporations and what they offer. Without this understanding there cannot be a level playing field for developing partnership ideas.”

 

Based on these two challenges, the report states the obvious: “More open and honest conversations are clearly needed.”

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For associations and their corporate partners to avoid being at loggerheads, the report asserts “developing a more equal partnership that recognizes each other’s strengths should allow the partnership to have more impact.”

 

The report included a three-point wish list that serves as a helpful guide for discussions between companies and associations:

  • Associations must be “candid and clear about what they can and cannot offer.”
  • Corporations must ensure that they fully understand the association and its needs, “rather than relying on myths or assumptions.”
  • Both potential partners must “invest time to understand what the other has to offer, gaining a better understanding of how they can help each other.”

 

The end result, the report asserts, is to improve partnerships between corporations and organizations “to make partnerships less about PR or having a ‘warm glow’ and more about making an impact.”

 

In the report’s conclusion, the authors say they hope the report will “inspire others to think about how they could improve their partnerships. This requires having the creativity to think of new ways of working and the courage to change and improve relationships.”

 

Corporations and the associations they partner with have much to gain by taking advantage of what each can bring to the table. For information and ideas on how your company can improve its relationship with associations, please contact Quantum Age.

 

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The Hidden Cost of DIY Events

Posted by Tanya Hartsoe

Jun 18, 2018 3:22:00 PM

As the popularity of dozens of TV programs illustrate, the “Do It Yourself” trend is more popular than ever. While the DIY approach is great for home remodeling, using the solo strategy for your corporate event planning might not be your best bet. For those with the event planning “gene,” the basics seem pretty straightforward, so the temptation to take on the project is natural. Even if you don’t have the knack, the temptation to save money might drive you to take on the job or delegate it to another member of your team. But before you take the plunge, consider these five reasons why hiring a professional could be the wiser strategy.

1. The Devil is in the Details

Successful event planning requires a complete knowledge of all the moving parts – logistics, contract negotiations, food & beverage, entertainment, content/speaker management, registration, marketing, and more. If you lack experience (or sufficient time), it’s easy to overlook important details—perhaps even larger chunks—of the planning. You may also be tempted to take shortcuts. Shortcuts are risky. They can seem to save you some time, but often come back to bite you, sometimes jeopardizing the success of a carefully planned event.

2. Time is Money

Organizing and managing an event takes a great deal of time and effort—much more than most people realize. If you attempt the DIY approach, be sure to calculate the time you’re spending into the cost of the event planning. In the end, even if you succeed at planning a successful event, the cost could be great. Consider the opportunity costs associated with repurposing internal resources to event planning. What areas of the business will be impacted by diverting human resources from their regular day job—customer service, sales and marketing, product support, revenue cycle management?

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3. Stress Reduction

Event planning has multiple phases. First, the preparation stage and all its intricacies can be overwhelming. Missing a detail up front can result in big costs down the line. The live-event phase is wrought with stress for amateur event planners –dealing simultaneously with onsite logistics, vendors, participants, missing materials/people—and inevitable complications that arise. A professional brings years of experience, contingency plans, and a level of calm that is essential to a positive participant experience and solid impression of your brand. Finally, the follow-up stage is crucial, but often mismanaged by inexperienced planners. Dropping the ball on post-event feedback opportunities or being slow out of the gate with follow up can send a lasting negative message to attendees.

4. A Fresh, Engaging Approach

In the DIY approach, the tendency is to replicate the previous event, yet that is seldom your best option. A professional planner can provide unique and creative suggestions that wouldn’t otherwise occur to you. A professional team will offer more than just time and energy to complete the necessities—they will help you identify and achieve your goals for the event (business development, education, reputation, goodwill, or others), suggesting ways to make each event a memorable experience for key stakeholders. Fresh content and activities will provide an engaging experience for your attendees, distinguishing your company’s event from competing event

5. Happy Budget = Happy Client

Don’t think you have the budget for the event you really want? This is where the experience of a professional can make all the difference. A professional planner is dedicated to successful budget management, while being a trained negotiator. Planners know what concessions are easy/not-so-easy to get—and know what to leverage and when. They may also suggest alternative ideas that achieve your goals at a lower cost.

 

Event planning is not easy – and even the smallest event takes more time than you think. Unless you have a team member with considerable experience and a great deal of bandwidth, hiring a professional is likely the way to go. You’ll benefit from a dedicated person/team to offer fresh ideas, handle all of the details, save you time and money, and reduce your stress levels –all while producing a unique and memorable event within your budget.

To learn more about how Quantum Age can help you plan a cost-effective and memorable event, contact us.

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How to Keep Content Efforts from Slipping Through the Cracks

Posted by Pamela Tabar

May 15, 2018 3:04:00 PM

Every post-acute care organization has been there:

  • Someone took a great video at the last event, but no one is sure where it is.
  • The activities director posted a great photo on Facebook of residents engaging in the new memory care program, but the photo was never used in other marketing materials.
  • A well-meaning technology company has posted tons of educational information on its website but has never promoted them over time online.
  • Someone spent hours creating an awesome case study, but it never went anywhere beyond the organization’s website.

Are your content marketing and customer engagement efforts falling through the cracks? Are you leveraging every outreach opportunity to its fullest potential? The following tips can help your organization maximize marking efforts and keep your brand top of mind year-round.

Content is Content. The old differentiations between “print content,” “website content,” “e-mail content” and other types have been leveled in the Web-based world. So, stop thinking in terms of a “print article” or a “web site news item.” These days, ALL content needs to be used in ALL ways.

Write For the Long Haul. Content that is about a specific moment or context becomes “dated” quickly. Strive for content that feels fresh, yet has the stamina to be used in multiple ways over weeks or 

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months without becoming outdated.

Think in Multiple Media Dimensions. Use that photo or resident experience quote on as many platforms as possible. Post it on social media, use it on a local postcard, harvest it for a print brochure and incorporate it into your next tour event or user conference. In many cases, creating copy in sections is an easy way to multi-level dissemination—each piece can be part of the whole and use separately on various media channels. For example, the technology section in your how-to or your case study could be used separately to engage technology partners or IT professionals in what you’ve accomplished, even across other healthcare sectors.

Stretch Beyond Your Street. Many organizations create really interesting and successful pilot projects locally, but never really get the word out to the national audience. Train your man

agers to recognize your “gem projects” and consider entering them in competitions and submitting case study write-ups to relevant journals. Doing this takes time, but the marketing harvests can be considerable—especially since national industry publications are always looking for companies that are pushing the status quo and trying something new.

Link, Link, Link. Every print marketing brochure, online product how-to, media press release and targeted e-blast should contain a link back to the product’s home base on your website. It’s all ab

out getting consumers to your website Mother Ship, where they can learn everything they want to know about your offerings.

Use Every Item You Capture At Least Twice. Don’t let that great photo live its shor

t lifespan on Twitter and then disappear from your portfolio of marketable materials. This includes promoting an asset in “rounds,” such as weekly or quarterly, to keep interest alive.

Revive Your History. Often, something will come up in the news that an organization can relate to something positive it has done in the past. This is a prime opportunity for a fresh round of content marketing—to show consumers you were already doing that topic, or have already found a solution to that issue, or have enacted a safer way to prepare, etc.

Gate Premium Content. Optimize your content investment by leveraging it for lead generation. High-interest content (even if not lengthy) is valuable and visitors will be willing to provide some basics about themselves (name and email address for example) in exchange for that download. With even the most basic

 of marketing automation tools, you are now able to track that visitor in future interactions with your digital platforms and even “drip” suggested content to nurture that lead.

Use Social Media Wisely and Often. Remember, Twitter postings quickly disappear from the initial screen as other postings are placed above them in a feed. Facebook postings (especially those including videos or images) are very engaging, but they may not appear for people who are not active followers of your page. On social media, tagging is everything: If your organization is not social media-savvy, get the help of someone who is a master at digital strategy to gain the biggest impact on your postings.

To learn more about maximizing your content marketing efforts, contact Quantum Age to start a better conversation.

 

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Taking Innovation from Mysterious to Magnificent

Posted by CC Andrews

Apr 20, 2018 12:37:00 PM

Innovation. Does the very idea excite and terrify you at the same time? After all, innovation can lead to tremendous growth and success. It can take you in exciting new directions or help you make forward progress on your current path. At the same time, however, coming up with innovative ideas can be intimidating. Brainstorming often is accompanied by stress, anxiety, and blank stares. But here’s the good news: you already have a diamond mine of opportunities and ideas; you just need to learn to mine them.

Let’s start by taking the mystery out of innovation. This is simply a practical translation of ideas into new or improved products, services, systems, or social interactions. You may think of innovation as new ideas, but it’s more about a fresh way to look at situations, problems, products, and programs. It’s about how to turn challenges into opportunities and remain agile in a longevity economy where the ground is constantly moving under your feet.

Want innovative ideas? Look around. The ideas are everywhere—even in places you might not expect. For instance, Henry Ford didn’t invent the production line. He saw it working in a meat packing plant and adapted it for the automobile industry. The result—more efficient assembly and lower costs. Elsewhere, Starbucks looked around and saw an opportunity to provide coffee drinks with a high-end experience; and DeBeers produced industrial diamonds but saw a new market in engagement rings.

Watch Customers for Innovative Ideas

One approach to innovation is watching your customers. For instance, Avanti Senior Living saw the growing popularity of boutique hotels among older populations. These customers were attracted by the clean, bright, comfortable, convenient spaces; customized and easy-to-access service; and upscale attention to dining and other details. Avanti took this concept and applied it to senior housing. They established artfully designed spaces with thoughtfully provided health services, discreetly delivered on cue. Setting the scene for empowered, ageless, and heathy living, the dining hall resembles an elegant café, the exercise space an upscale gym.

Elsewhere, Latitude Margaritaville was inspired by the popularity of singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett among baby boomers and other older Americans. The result is a number of planned communities featuring recreation, dining, and live entertainment with a tropical theme aimed at boomers.

What’s Your Cronut?

A few years ago, people were standing in block-long lines to buy a cronut—a combination of croissant and a donut. Bringing things together that people want and need can result in big innovation. For instance, consider The Pickens Center in Dallas, TX. It combines the best of hospice, home care, nursing care, and palliative care in one elegant setting spanning 9 acres. The center includes lake-facing patient care suites with balconies, family support areas, and more. And it also happens to be a destination educational resource and training center for best practices in hospice care. Another idea growing in popularity is combining the convenience and popularity of the local fitness center with the need for rehabilitation. Across the country, physical therapy and other rehab services are being offered right in the neighborhood gym—a more familiar and comfortable setting for many patients.

Everything Old Is New Again

Women often hold on to clothes or shoes for years because they know that old styles often become new trends. At the same time, ‘retro’ ideas, styles, and concepts from the past are more popular than ever. You can look to the past for ideas that might be ripe for a fresh look. For example, physician house calls were common in the 1950s and 1960s, but—due to time and cost restraints—they eventually disappeared. However, they are becoming popular again as technologies like Uber have emerged, family dynamics have changed, more homes have two working parents, and it has gotten more difficult for people to travel for care.

Another growing trend also takes from the past popularity of the home visit and combines it with cutting-edge technology. Increasingly, telemedicine services enable patients—especially those in rural locations—to receive personal ‘visits’ from physicians and other practitioners. As ideas such as this grow in popularity and their effectiveness and efficiency are documented, payors and others start to see the value. For instance, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services pay for certain telemedicine services and private insurers are following suit as well.

Elsewhere, the popularity of communes—which popped up across the country back in the ‘60s—is returning in the form of senior and inter-generational cohousing communities. These intentional communities offer closer connections for residents and, in most cases, require them to contribute to the greater community.

Eliminate Something

While seeking innovations, consider the concept of ‘less is more.’ Is there a part of your product or service offering you might eliminate that would result in success? In recent years, some Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) have identified that the average move-in age is trending upward and that a growing number of seniors aren’t as interested in leveraging their private home in favor of the campus lifestyle. Yet these consumers still need supportive services to remain in their homes. Thus evolved the concept of CCRCs without walls. These are care communities that provide the services of a CCRC without requiring that you move in to receive them. Staff and family to remotely monitor and coordinate healthcare and other sorts of support for residents in their own homes. This concept enables seamless care coordination, home health care service opportunities, remote assisted living and nursing care, touch-screen-based wellness programs, medication management, social engagement, and more. CCRCs without walls combine home- and community-base services with cutting-edge technology to make care convenient and accessible for seniors. In 2016, there were about 30 of these types of programs nationwide, with more in the works (https://seniorhousingnews.com/2016/06/02/3-keys-successful-ccrc-without-walls-program/).

Ready, Set, Innovate

Now that you realize you don’t have to start from scratch, you can stop stressing and start strategizing your innovations. Need more ideas? Check out these ‘hacks’ to innovation (LINK TO HACKS LIST), ideas you can use to take a fresh approach to older issues, revive tired products or services, or take your business in a new direction.

Start today. Build a culture of innovation. Make it part of what you and your team do; and provide incentives to come up with fresh ideas. Go beyond the usual, the same old, and what everyone else is doing. Just be sure to have a clear definition of what success looks like. Follow your innovations—test, measure, and adjust as needed.

Not every idea or innovation—even what may seem like a really good one—will be a hit. Be prepared to embrace failure and identify it before—and definitely IF—you get there. Recognize failures without blame or finger-pointing and celebrate successes. Your diamond mine is waiting; get your tools and start cultivating it.

To learn how Quantum Age can help you innovate successfully, request a consult.




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The 4 Keys to Maximizing Your Sponsorship Expenditures

Posted by Bruce Rosenthal

Apr 3, 2018 5:59:00 PM

Companies invest a lot of money in sponsoring membership associations. And for good reason: These associations can be ideal markets for companies, and companies that align with associations as sponsors can increase the likelihood of achieving their business goals with the association’s members. The power of affinity is significant.

 

Seems like an ideal situation. What can go wrong? Confidential interviews with sponsors of several leading associations are revealing:

· “Often we didn’t utilize the sponsorship benefits.”

· “As much as we would like to be a sounding board in the blogs or publicity at events as a sponsor, we did not always have the time to allot.”

· “We didn’t ask enough of the association. I could have asked more.”

  • “Our company’s challenge was taking advantage of what was available to us as a sponsor.”

 

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For most companies, sponsorships are a marketing expense, not a philanthropic expense. If sponsorship was a philanthropic expense, companies would sponsor because it was the right thing to do, it was supporting a good cause, and the company executives want to feel good about their contribution.

 

Marketing expenditures, on the other hand, require a much more rigorous justification. Based on the way your company justifies its marketing expenditures, here are four ways to maximize the value of your sponsorships. 

1. Understand your company’s sponsorship value proposition. Based on the association’s membership; communications to members; opportunities to engage with association leaders and other sponsors; etc., determine why your company wants to be a sponsor and what your company expects to gain as a sponsor. Be specific, including metrics if possible.f your sponsorships:

2. Negotiate with associations. Whether associations offer a standard list of benefits or a customized program, your company is in a position to negotiate. Based on your sponsorship value proposition described above, suggest to the association benefits that will help you fulfill your goals (while adhering to the association’s mission).

3. Appoint a liaison. Identify someone on your internal or outside marketing team to be accountable for implementing the sponsorship program for your company. This person should be knowledgeable about your company’s sponsorship value proposition and the association your company is sponsoring.

 4. Implement the sponsorship. To have a successful sponsorship, work with the association’s staff to develop a plan with action items and deadlines. Then devote the time and resources (human and otherwise) necessary to implement the plan.

 

Some companies view sponsorships passively. Sponsorship jargon for implementing sponsorship benefits is activate. Companies should activate sponsorships with the same methodological approach they would use to implement a marketing campaign or advertising campaign.

 

If you would like more information about how your company can maximize your association sponsorship expenditures, contact Quantum Age.

 

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Topics: Associations,

The Dollars and Sense of the Business of Aging

Posted by CC Andrews

Mar 16, 2018 5:08:19 PM

In 2014, L’Oreal made a bold move in the ever-youthful beauty industry. The cosmetics company launched a splashy new line of anti-aging products and hired Diane Keaton, then 68, as the spokeswoman. L’Oreal realized that older women were an underserved market with money to spend.

More companies are starting to realize that being age friendly isn’t just good business, it’s also good for business. Seniors are redefining the aging process

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and are forcing companies to rethink aging from both a customer and workforce perspective, according to “Turning Silver into Gold: The Business of Aging,” a report produced by the Milken Institute as part of the 2017 Summit on Business and the Future of Aging.

Seen by some as the world’s most compelling business opportunity, the 60-plus population will double to more than 2 billion by 2050. Seniors bring highly desired disposable income and growing needs as customers while offering experience, wisdom and institutional knowledge as employees. The fastest-growing demographic is unrivaled both by what it has—and has to offer. Now, it’s up to companies to realize the lucrative opportunity at their doorstep.

But to capture these emerging markets, businesses need to imagine a new future of aging. “How can we rewire, not retire? Reboot not retread? Turn recreation in to re-creation? The business sector can play a key role—and provide important leadership—in all of these areas,” notes Peter Mullin, chair of the M Center of Excellence, quoted in the report.

Businesses need to understand how today’s seniors differ from previous generations, and their willingness to learn can impact the bottom line. Older adults are a human capital resource pool that can contribute as entrepreneurs, employees, mentors and leaders. They can also train the next generation of workers, thereby helping to avoid a brain drain that would be detrimental to the economy.

The business community must embrace the undervalued and underutilized talents of older workers to realize “opportunities too compelling to ignore,” the report warns.

 

Spending power

Consider this: baby boomers account for half of all consumer packaged-goods dollars, but marketing tends to stop courting customers at the “cutoff” age of 49. “(But) older adults are “the most marketing friendly generation in U.S. history,” notes market research company Nielsen, quoted in the report. “They are healthy and growing, not broken and dying.”

 

Campaigns that target boomers are twice as likely to be successful as those targeting millennials, according to University of Michigan researchers. While younger generations are merely liking and sharing on social media, boomers are buying.

 

Other highlights from the Milken Institute report show the global power of the silver wallet:

 

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts project that by 2020, annual consumer spending by adults age 60+ globally will reach $15 trillion.
  • Americans age 50 and up account for $7.6 trillion in direct spending and related economic activity, a figure surpassing the gross domestic product of every nation except the United States and China. However, fewer than half of companies are taking global aging into account in their strategic planning.
  • In developed countries, the 60 and older demographic is projected to generate half of all urban consumption growth between 2015 and 2030, significantly fueled by health care spending, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.
  • In the United States, adults age 60 and older control 70 percent of disposable income.

 

Redefining retirement

Older adults want to continue living productive and meaningful lives. A growing number of workers are working well into retirement years and redefining retirement expectations.

Current trends suggest it will become increasingly unusual for retirees to leave the workforce altogether. That’s a boon to companies facing a brain drain as their most experienced and knowledgeable workers retire. And, recent research bolsters the argument for older workers by disproving the stereotype that productivity declines with age.

Older adults who remain working beyond age 55 are having significant and wide-ranging impacts on the U.S. workforce already, the Milken Institute report emphasizes:

  • Workers age 55 and older have driven nearly all the labor force growth in recent years, growing from the smallest to largest segment of U.S. labor.
  • By 2024, nearly 25 percent of American workers will be age 55+, up from just 12 percent in 1994.
  • Almost 9 million Americans age 65 or older are working, nearly twice the number of teens who work.
  • Even so, the overall U.S. labor force has declined in recent years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Without proper foresight and preparation, these two challenges will combine to create an unprecedented and potentially crippling talent crisis in the coming decade,” notes the Baxter Consulting Group, publisher of the 2017 “Managing the New Multi-Generational Workforce.”

 

 

The times are changing, and businesses have to change right along with them, the report urges. Embrace the promise and possibilities of an older workforce and develop policies and practices that reflect changing demographics for both customers and employees. Changes today will positively influence profits and position companies for a more diverse and prosperous longevity economy.

As Michael Hodin, CEO of the Global Coalition on Aging, notes in the report, “We know that over half of workers report they want to work longer and differently, which tells us the megatrend of the aging of society is beginning to have huge impact on 21st century life. The question remains: are institutions of society, including employers, ready to deal with these transformative changes?”

If you want a focused approach to staying relevant in the longevity economy, facilitated by experts in the senior living field, contact Quantum Age today.

 

 

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Topics: older adults, 55+, longevity, Business

Recognizing the Loneliness Crisis Among Older Adults Is a Vital First Step 

Posted by CC Andrews

Mar 4, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Being lonely is not a new phenomenon, just think of all the pop songs with the word lonely in them or the melodramas that play out on television and film in which characters feel isolated or lost in their own world. When it comes to reality and the issues of loneliness among older adults, however, the repercussions are rife with physical and emotional costs and are not cured by pep talks or Hollywood happy endings.

Nursing Home Stays_1920 copyA new study from the IBM Institute for Business Value and the IBM Aging Strategic Initiative puts the human and economic price of loneliness in perspective as a way to not only deal with the psychic toll of being lonely, but also to offer ideas to help limit the problem.

IBM’s research revealed, among other things, that families and caregivers of those affected by loneliness leaves them feeling overwhelmed by the chore of filling in for the social gaps in their loved one’s or patient’s life, while at the same time ensuring their medical care is top priority.

“Frequent visits by older adults to their physicians for social interaction also strain limited health care resources by diverting them from other acute needs,” IBM found. Often, this process leads to what doctors call “somaticizing,” which is defined as a person who converts anxiety into physical symptoms. There is no underlying ailment to cure, as the interaction with a doctor is instead a cry for social interaction.

Even with the knowledge of what loneliness does to older adults, there are barriers to knowing how to proceed, the report says, running the gamut from the stigma associated with the condition, the lack of a screening process, and inaccurate assumptions prioritizing technology over the personal and customized.

But, there is always hope. And, many communities around the country and world are offering solutions like in England where postal workers are trained to do call and checks to see how isolated residents are doing, or in Japan where specific communities are being constructed to cater to more social interaction allowing residents to age in place.

Professor Hiroko Akiyama of the Institute of Gerontology at University of Tokyo said in the report that society needs an entire redesign in order to address loneliness. Akiyama also noted that there is tremendous potential to engage with new and existing industries, organizations, and agencies to create more holistic solutions that better support the aging population and help them maintain social connections. Examples include:

  • Intergenerational living: Co-housing programs, as explained in a previous post, are shared living areas for older adults and younger generations can contribute to the exchange of support and companionship between residents.
  • Post-retirement careers and education opportunities: New partnerships among employers, universities, and government agencies that can create new work options, in addition to the opportunity to build new skills and associations.
  • Autonomous transportation: Older adults may be the most enthusiastic early adopters of self-driving vehicles, claims the report. This mobility option can restore their independence and re-open social engagement with the community.

All told, it’s going to take a new kind of village to make loneliness less prevalent, the report implies. In the longevity economy, that village must include entities that can come together to find solutions.

If you want a focused approach to staying relevant in the longevity economy that is facilitated by experts in the senior living field, contact Quantum Age today. 

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Topics: longevity economy, Business

SNF Survival Depends on Understanding the New Hospital Landscape, Among Other Factors

Posted by CC Andrews

Feb 15, 2018 12:00:00 AM

A recent report from CliftonLarsonAllen paints a stark picture for the future of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), highlighting what stakeholders likely know, which is that operating margins are tighter than ever and there are fundamental shifts in how the flow of referrals reach facility doors.Hospital_photo

The good news is that providers can overcome these challenges to a large degree by—as you may have guessed—harnessing big data. “By embracing big data, SNFs can demonstrate their value to referral sources in a meaningful way,” the report says. “And by continuously improving outcomes, SNFs can position themselves to provide clinical services in a sustainable, profitable manner.”

The report, which is the 32nd of its kind published by CLA, is divided into two sections: one includes analyses of SNF financial and operating conditions by region and the other provides cost analyses tables displaying a variety of SNF cost data.

Hospitals Impacting SNF Admissions

According to CLA, hospital behavior is having an impact on SNFs in a negative way. Outpatient is the name of the game now (versus inpatient), resulting in fewer hospitalizations and thus fewer SNF admissions. This is mainly because, in a broad sense, the world of managed care, Medicare Advantage, and value-based care favors a process that gets people in and out of institutional care as quickly as possible, with the home care option seen as optimal.

Within this construct, CLA says this scenario is not necessarily dire for SNFs, if, and only if, long-term and post-acute care operators understand what they are up against. This makes it even more vital, they say, for SNFs to have their clinical, marketing, and data tools in top shape in order to make themselves attractive to an acute-care world where cost management is paramount. As this trend continues for fewer hospitalizations, the result will be that more SNFs face insolvency while at the same time others thrive.

This gap in how SNFs perform will be a feature of the industry for years to come and amounts to a Darwinian outlook where the difference between those facilities doing well and those doing not so well is wider and wider, CLA says.

Occupancy on the Decline

Diving a little deeper into the data points, CLA notes that in addition to the slowing of admissions from referrals there are shorter lengths of stay when people arrive. Case in point: there was a 120 basis point reduction in occupancy rates for SNFs between 2015 and 2016, according to the report. “Reduced occupancy is impacting all regions of the United States, and the overall occupancy median is now at 85 percent,” the report states.

This pressure can only continue with post-acute networks narrowing and solidifying, causing the thrive-or-die variances for SNFs. For instance, CLA says their numbers show the 25th percentile of SNFs experienced a 170 basis point reduction in occupancy, while the 75th percentile only saw a 50 basis point decline in occupancy levels. The Darwin movement is in action, CLA says, with those providers already in the mix of the new referral world seeing less of a hit, while those on the outside experiencing a larger loss of business.

Outcomes, Quality, and Efficiency

Options for providers are few, but the status quo is decidedly not one of those options. There must be a managed effort to gather information showing clinical success, which starts, of course, with positive outcomes for residents and patients.

There is a future for SNFs, CLA stresses, but there is a thin line, or margin if you will, between making it work and failing to keep up with a hyper-competitive marketplace that values results more than ever. Not to overstate the obvious, but “SNFs must demonstrate outcomes, quality metrics, and cost efficiency,” in order rise above in this environment, says the report says.

If you want a focused approach to staying on top of industry data and trends that is facilitated by experts in the senior living field, contact Quantum Age today.

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Topics: long term care, quality, data, skilled nursing

Intergenerational Programming Popular But Not Substantive in Senior Housing Communities

Posted by CC Andrews

Feb 1, 2018 10:20:25 PM

Despite the fact that many senior housing providers have incorporated intergenerational activities into their overall programming and see positive benefits for residents and youths, most of those programs are short-term or one-time events that don’t require a major commitment of time. So says a recent report from reading-with-grandmother-in-wheelchair-1432646-638x425Generations United and LeadingAge that distills the results of a year-long study on the nature and extent of intergeneration programming in senior housing.

Titled Intergenerational Programming in Senior Housing: From Promise to Practice, this long overdue initiative examines why, how, and what providers are doing to implement intergenerational programs, including partnerships, activities, participant engagement, evaluation, staffing, and funding/sustainability.

The most common activities taking place at provider communities are “friendly visiting,” arts programming, health and wellness activities, oral history/reminiscence interviewing, and language/literacy programs.

Here are some more key findings:

  • Most housing sites, with some exceptions, focus on engaging residents in specific activities, rather than employing more general strategies to foster cross-age relationships.
  • Residents engage in both active and passive activities and, although residents at some properties are actively involved in planning and implementing programs, members of the housing team plan most activities.
  • Most providers have not identified clear outcomes for older adults or youth, nor have they conducted formal program evaluations.
  • There is limited training of staff and volunteers.

The report also identifies both challenges and effective strategies for overcoming barriers to implementing IG program. Some of those challenges are as follows:

  • Insufficient staffing dedicated to IG programming;
  • Difficulties with engaging older adults;
  • Transportation for both youth and elders; and
  • Lack of time to plan activities with partners due to other responsibilities.

Among the most valuable components of the report are the effective strategies that providers have identified in helping them overcome challenges. Here is a sampling:

  • Utilizing a Volunteer Coordinator or Outreach Manager to develop partnerships and oversee intergenerational-related work has helped to alleviate staffing concerns.
  • Recruiting and training “Lead Volunteers” who can help with activities.
  • Involving staff from partner organizations in planning and facilitating activities.
  • Creating an intergenerational advisory group to help plan and implement programs.
  • Including the marketing department in planning so it can market the program as a property asset.
  • Allowing the community’s property van to pick students up from school.
  • Engaging all partners in short and long-term planning to enhance the quality of programs and ensure that those programs meet the needs of all age groups.
  • Holding regular meetings to provide partners an opportunity to creatively address logistical concerns that could prevent a program’s successful implementation.
  • Planning meaningful programs and activities that are explicitly designed to address the needs, interests and knowledge/skills of participants.
  • Finding partners that have shared interests and values, or a common need that can be met through

The conclusion of the report—which is not difficult to surmise based on the findings—is that while many senior housing providers are engaged in intergenerational programming, it appears the majority of the programs do not rise to the level of being high-quality.

As someone who has long advocated for intergenerational programs in senior living, I hope this will change in the near future, as we continue to hurdle ever so rapidly toward a world where elders will dominate the population.

If you want a focused approach to staying on top of industry trends that is facilitated by experts in the senior living field, contact Quantum Age today.

 

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Topics: senior housing, intergenerational

Your Cheat Sheet for 2018 Senior Living Trends & Predictions

Posted by Meg LaPorte

Jan 18, 2018 12:00:00 AM

It’s another new year and that means new forecasts about trends in aging services. Instead of making my own crystal ball predictions, I examined some trusted sources and digested them for you. Following is my take on 2018, based on the many predictions put forth already:

Predictions 2018

1. Staffing and Workforce Issues

Lisa McCracken, senior vice president of senior living research and development for specialty bank Ziegler, offered her projections for McKnight’s Senior Living. She found that while it may not be a surprise that staffing and workforce issues will remain at the forefront of challenges for providers, she believes that skilled nursing and post-acute providers face a “’perfect storm’ of an increasing minimum wage, numerous retirements, and evolving staffing requirements due to changes in the resident/patient mix, healthcare reform, and other issues.” To address the problem, she cites operators that have created pools of staff members from which they can draw as needed. While this sounds like a modified staffing agency (the chronic use of which is generally frowned upon), they may be onto something. A recently launched company known as CareForce Elite is a staffing firm that caters only to long-term and post-acute care. Founded by two former nursing home CNAs, the company specializes in training their CNAs in geriatrics and long term care. Whether this represents a trend, I am not certain, but it does represent an innovative solution to an age-old challenge.

Also weighing in on workforce concerns in the year ahead was Andy Smith, president and CEO of Brookdale Senior Living, who told Senior Housing News that demand for talented, dedicated employees will keep growing in 2018. “We are in an environment where new jobs are being created and unemployment rates are dropping, so companies will have to step up to improve and communicate about the employee value proposition they offer,” he said. “This employee value proposition is not just about the job, the wages or the benefits, but also about the culture, growth opportunities, and the leadership offered.”

Doug Leidig, president and CEO of Asbury Communities, also gave a nod to staffing and workforce issues in 2018 with a prediction that companies will offer “creative adjustments and changes in benefits to attract a new workforce.”

2. Technology

Surprise, surprise—the continued adoption of technology among senior living operators is also in the forecast—and for good reason. One source suggests that the ubiquity of wearables, watches, gaming consoles, Alexa, Siri, Sonos, Netflix, and other streaming services will require throttling, or intentionally slowing down of community networks, in order to minimize bandwidth congestion on a campus or within a building. The byproduct of this could be tiered pricing of services, a la cable companies, the source suggests. Another factor that could have an impact on such services is the reversal of net-neutrality, as it will bring greater uncertainty around how content is delivered to senior living communities and its residents.

3. Design

Senior Housing News notes that with such dramatic shifts for owners and operators in 2017, skilled nursing is “rebooting” thanks to aging skilled nursing buildings that are motivating owners, operators, and developers to “rethink how to use these obsolete buildings to propel future 

growth and adjust strategies for their existing buildings and campuses.” While not an earth-shattering discovery, the author believes that “SNF 3.0 may mean repurposing or converting existing nursing homes into assisted living and memory care units.”

Another points to new campus developments that are designed and completed without the SNF component “to round out the continuum of care as operators are choosing instead to partner with local skilled nursing and post-acute providers.”

Yet another soothsayer envisions that builders and operators will continue to seek innovative alternatives to traditional housing models. According to a Senior Housing News survey, this means units that are getting smaller, not bigger. The end result of this approach is ostensibly more affordability. The examples offered include Benchmark Living’s newest community in North Attleboro, Mass., where two resident units share a common space, “creating roommate dwellings the company likens to college suitemates.” Another example is Dr. Bill Thomas’ Minka project, which is a small, modular home with a universal design. Thomas is promoting Minka as part of his MAGIC approach (multi-ability/multi-generational inclusive communities)—small dwellings that will be constructed at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville.

4. Dining
It’s also not a surprise that innovations in dining have been a major focus for operators across all sectors within the industry, with some believing that it will continue to be a drive for marketing and satisfaction ratings. In my opinion, the takeaway here is that many dining operations are now beginning to mirror their local restaurant counterparts. “No longer is the restaurant-style approach a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have in order to remain competitive,” Senior Housing News reports. In other words, a cheap rip-off of Starbucks will not cut it. That said, the authors cited a CCRC that opened its station-style restaurant to the surrounding community for paid lunches. One assisted living community in California holds its own “Taste of” event each year. “Those who stop by for a sample of the food are motivated to ask where they can get a sit-down meal—and presto!” The idea is that such endeavors can create excellent leads.

Another clever marketing effort is the use of branding as a way to stand out from the crowd. Apparently, some senior living companies are creating house-branded coffee, wine, signature sauces, desserts, and more, thus “inciting pride among residents who enjoy an exclusive and individual experiences.”

5. Partnerships and Collaboration

Sean Kelly, president and CEO of the Kendal Corporation, believes that providers will be compelled by market forces to “establish deeper partnerships with hospital systems, institutions of higher learning, and community organizations.” He alludes to the importance of fostering communities on or off of a campus “where residents and staff are engaged in meaningful ways with one another and the wider world.”

Asbury’s Leidig suggested that more and more competitors will take on partnerships. For example, he says, CCRCs “will join together to offer services both on their campuses and outside the walls to reduce duplication of services, create efficiencies, and increase market share.” He says he expects much more actual collaboration activity between hospitals and CCRCs, “versus just talking about it.”

My own prediction: Innovative intergenerational programs that involve individuals of all ages will explode within the senior living sector, especially in assisted living. As my colleague cites in another post, the most common activities taking place in this sector are “friendly visiting,” arts programming, health and wellness activities, oral history/reminiscence interviewing, and language/literacy programs.” These are great but there needs to be more substantive and innovative approaches, such as new housing models and new collaborations, to bringing generations today.

If you want a focused approach to staying on top of industry trends that is facilitated by experts in the senior living field, contact Quantum Age today.

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