5 Ways to Improve Your Census Post COVID

It has been overwhelming for many senior living operators throughout the COVID pandemic to simply manage the day to day of operations. So much effort and focus has been rightfully so, focused on resident health and safety.

According to Keiser Health News, there has been a reluctance of seniors eligible for senior housing to inquire about living in these communities. COVID has raised many concerns for seniors 65 and older. Inquiries are down 22% and tours are down 45%, and actual move ins are down 28% according to enquire. This is not surprising but is concerning for senior living operators.

As most residents have now been vaccinated, or have had the opportunity to do so, many operations are turning their sights on the future and what that looks like going forward. One thing is certain, resident families and potential new residents are going to be scrutinizing the places they choose for their family members with a more critical eye than ever before. Marketing will be critical. Are you ready? What is your marketing plan to improve census? What is it that will convince potential seniors to choose your residence?

Five things to consider:

Reputation
The first thing to consider is your reputation in the community. What do the current resident families say when they are asked about your operation? If the answer to this question is “I do not know”, you should. Your current resident families will not hesitate to give their opinion of your operation. What impacts their opinion? Appearance, quality, competence, and empathy.

First Impressions
When you drive up to your building what does it say about the way you run your building? When someone calls on the phone, what kind of reception does the caller encounter? Do they get a person or a message machine? When someone visits your website, what do they experience? When a family takes a tour, what is the perception they leave with?

Professionalism
When a visitor enters a building, are they met with a process that speaks to the attention to detail they expect? Is there a sign in process, is it digital? Is there a temperature check? Is there someone there at all times to greet guests? Is the badge process automated? These few little things say a lot about what your culture is in your organization, and your attention to detail.

Culture
Does everyone from the front desk, clinical staff, kitchen staff, housekeeping, say hello to residents and visitors? Do you as a leader make sure to know when tours are, and make the effort to say hello? Better yet, do you make yourself part of the agenda of a prospective family tour?

Smiling staff goes a long way to defining culture. The welcome and a smile can make a huge difference and is easy to implement.

Follow up/Communication
Having a process to follow up with prospects is important. Every interaction is an opportunity to learn about how we can improve our process.

Things to consider:
We may not be able to control people’s nervousness about COVID, and what that means when choosing a home for a loved one, but we can control and move ourselves to the top of the list for consideration if we keep our processes focused on the resident experience.

The census numbers will rise again, and there is evidence that is already happening. The best thing you can do is to be ready to shine when potential residents and their family members come to tour your operation.

At PRIME Services we are in constant communication with the companies that can help you in your quest to provide the highest quality products and services. It would be our pleasure to help you stand out from the crowd.

The PRIME Services Team

GPO Solutions

What is the biggest pain point you need to solve right now? If you are like the majority of senior living communities it is probably employee related. Staffing, scheduling, training, and retention have been, and continue to be problems that impact our operations. How do we solve these problems?

Another large area of pain is understanding how purchasing practices are impacting the quality of your residence. Are your purchases aligned with the quality of care you provide? Are the meals you’re serving both healthy and enjoyable for residents? Do staff understand the impact that purchases can have on the quality and bottom line of your location? Does the staff utilize and purchase through the negotiated contracts you have in place for specific items?

How is your census? If you are like most senior living communities, COVID has impacted the number of occupied beds in a negative way. Potential resident families are taking more time to evaluate the cleanliness of a residence, looking at procedures more closely, reviewing menus, activities, and a host of other amenities in a more detailed manor. In a word, filling beds is more competitive than ever.

What does this have to do with a GPO? If you are aligned with the right GPO, you have a partner in your operation that can help you determine the best options available to you.

In general GPO’s are often seen by residential communities as a way to get a better price on items they purchase, and that is still true. But when we at PRIME Services look at what we do for our members – it is about providing solutions for our members. We help our members to achieve the future vision they see for their organization. That is; consistent staffing/low turnover, procedures that align with objectives, and quality care/operations that allow for a profitable bottom line.

The senior living communities we serve are complex operations, with multiple departments, that have a mission to serve seniors with the highest level of care. That is a feat worth striving for and achieving. It takes a strong leadership team and the right partners that can help align the components to achieve such a bold vision of success.

PRIME Service’s partnerships are designed to provide our members access to contracts from the best manufacturers, distributors, technology, and services serving our industry – at the right balance of quality and price.

We are committed to the healthcare industry and continually review, develop, and adjust according to the needs of the entire industry. We are disrupting the GPO space with collaborative ideas that work for our members and partners.

Learn more about this new innovative approach and what we mean when we say: GPO Solutions…

A Perspective on CEUs

What is the value of Continual Learning? Are you a continual learner?

How do we stay relevant in a world that seems to change so quickly? There is evidence that keeping our minds “exercised” like the way we keep our bodies physically fit, has positive advantages to maintain our long-term brain health. One way to exercise our brain is to challenge ourselves to become continual learners.

In every profession, change is a constant. When change is constant, education and continual learning are a foundation to remaining relevant in our chosen career fields. Can you imagine getting on a plane with a pilot that has not kept up on the latest changes to the aircraft he/she is flying or the latest safety protocols of an emergency landing? If you are like me, I would not get on a plane knowing that the pilot did not believe in keeping up with the changes in the industry.

Getting on a plane is risky, and the expectation is that the pilot of the plane is up to date on the latest technology, but continual learning is important in every industry and profession. What each of us does for our organization is important to the success of our employer, customers, and our individual development. The practice of continuous learning makes us all better at what we do. Our residents, staff, colleagues deserve our best whether we provide clinical services, maintain the building or facility, prepare the meals, or keep the facility clean and healthy. We should be the best at what we do! That happens when we keep up to date through continual learning.

Some industries have formal Continuing Education Credit requirements. Medical professionals, teachers, engineers, realtors, and lawyers to name a few, but why not every role in industry? Because there is no requirement does not mean we should not search out educational opportunities in our field or profession.

We here at PRIME Services continue to try to provide CEU opportunities and have recently partnered with Pineapple Academy to bring CEU’s to the Dietary Professionals we serve. I hope you will check out our information in this newsletter about this new offering.

Continual learning is important, and we will continue to bring valuable information related to the services you provide your residents. If you have specific topics you have an interest in, please let us know. We will do our best to bring you the information you request.

Thank you.

Front Line Healthcare Workers: Dedication, Determination, and Gratitude

We still have many on the front lines of the COVID 19 pandemic, fighting the battle to keep our residents safe in their homes. As the cases have spiked back up in areas of the country, and the population, the challenges are the same, but somehow it feels different. Are we more familiar with the virus? Has that familiarity, constant barrage of news every night about the number of cases, hospital rates, etc. affecting the way we see it? Is all of this coverage making us numb to the realities some still face? I am not sure, but I wanted to share a personal observation and bring awareness to what is still ongoing in our senior communities.

My wife is a Hospice nurse that is assigned to a local assisted living and memory care residence. She has put her head down for the last year, every day, donning full PPE, and caring for the most vulnerable among us. Her dedication to be there for her patients, and her determination to provide a comfortable end of life experience, has been a blessing to her patients, but also to me. It has opened my eyes to how the people in the healthcare profession have unselfishly been there for the people in their care.

At the onset of business closures and the quarantine, the healthcare workers didn’t have the luxury to just stay home in safety. My wife and her colleagues suited up and went to the front line. At a time when very little was known about COVID, they showed up. They provided care. They relentlessly protected their patients and residents, while many of us hunkered down in our homes. They became surrogates for families that could no longer be there for their loved one.

Over the past year, the hardest and most common ‘complaint” of people like my wife, if you could call it a complaint, was the difficult decision of restricting family members from seeing their loved ones. There was so much my wife and her colleagues could have complained about, but the common thread was keeping families connected to each other.

In hospice care it is particularly difficult when you have a dying patient. In the normal process, family members are by the bedside during end of life. That was no longer a given. Many patients would have been alone for most of that time if it were not for the care takers in the residential communities (Nurses, Aides, Administrators, staff). Although families were allowed at the ultimate end, the ability to comfort loved ones throughout the process was emotionally draining for family and caregivers.

There have been a lot of lessons learned throughout this pandemic, but my observation and takeaways are that their patients’/residents’ health and wellness, are in the fiber of the front-line healthcare professional’s soul and being. They are a special group that are determined and dedicated to everyone’s well- being. It is in their DNA.

My wife recently contracted COVID after keeping it at bay for nearly a year. She knew that there were residents and a few of her patients that had been diagnosed with COVID, but she still showed up. Donning full PPE, but somehow it was not enough. That is the definition of dedication. Her story is one of many. But this is one that I am extremely proud to share. She is handling it well so far and will be back to the front line soon.

The kindest thing we can do for our front-line healthcare workers is to show gratitude. If you are one, thank you for your dedication. If you know one, tell them that you appreciate what they do. These wonderful people are at the core of who we should be and who we are. Thank you for the love, kindness, and dedication you show every day! We are grateful for you!

Healthcare GPO FAQ’s

What is a healthcare GPO?

It is a member-based organization that utilizes the buying power of their membership to negotiate with manufacturers to provide better pricing and rebates. The manufacturer rebates depend on the volume a GPO brings to that manufacturer.

How do I know if I currently belong to a healthcare GPO?

Many members are unaware of their organization’s relationship with a GPO. This is due to a few common reasons. GPO memberships are often in perpetuity, which means the organization could have joined a GPO many years ago under different management. Staff turnover at facilities dilute the relationship with a GPO, and GPO services, once implemented, remain in the background of the purchasing process.

The best way to find out if you are currently using a GPO is to ask someone in purchasing or finance. These departments often receive the rebate checks and manage most contracts for the facility.

Can I belong to more than 1 healthcare GPO?

The short answer is yes. But there are a number of caveats that are important to understand. It is very important that any item that you receive a rebate on is reported through one GPO. You can not report the same item through multiple GPO’s. There are also GPO’s that require a minimum volume in order to receive the best pricing. If that minimum is not met because of the use of multiple GPO’s, you may actually pay more than you anticipated in the initial agreement. PRIME Services does not require minimums in their agreements and can work with any organization to customize the best options.

How does the GPO help reduce my prices?

The more volume a GPO can offer a manufacturer, the greater the discounts the group receives. In the case of food service distributors, GPO’s share their pricing discounts to reduce your cost on these specific items. GPO’s can provide cost analysis on your behalf to ensure you are getting the best pricing available. The process is simple and takes very limited effort on the facilities part.

How do rebates work?

When you purchase items with a rebate attached to them, the item is tracked by your GPO through a DCN# and that rebate is assigned to your account. Generally rebate checks are delivered quarterly.

How do I know if I am getting the best GPO pricing?

The best way to know if you are getting the best GPO pricing is to request a cost analysis. This link (put link here to the cost analysis page) will take you to the cost analysis page that outlines the simple process of having your invoices reviewed to ensure the best pricing.

Is my current food distributor part of a GPO?

The best way to find out is to ask your food distributor representative if you are receiving GPO pricing. GPO’s work with all types of food distributors. We can also help by letting you know if the distributor you are currently working with is part of our network of distributors.

How much do I save by being part of a GPO?

Depending on the type of product, volume of purchases, and the GPO you choose, savings can be significant. We have seen savings of tens of thousands of dollars on food purchases alone. In the areas of medical supplies, maintenance supplies, paper and disposable products, medical waste, and many more, the savings add up. PRIME Services has relationships with manufacturers and distributors in every area of purchase in healthcare. Learn more (link to our about manufacturer/distributor list) We can do a cost analysis on any items you are currently purchasing.

What are the types of products I can buy through a GPO?

PRIME Services has relationships with manufacturers and distributors in every area of purchase in healthcare. Learn more (link to our about manufacturer/distributor list) We can do a cost analysis on any items you are currently purchasing.

Technology is a critical component of business and PRIME Services has programs to improve purchasing, drive cost reduction and improve dietary management. We also provide consulting and supply chain management for our members.

Can I us my rebates for employee rewards?

PRIME Services has an exclusive relationship with Food Service Rewards. This program taps into a separate rebate program, exclusive from your current food rebates, and focuses on employee appreciation programs. Many of our members use this program to support employee of the month programs, employee appreciation programs, and overall employee engagement efforts at your location. This program can be implemented no matter what GPO you currently get your food rebates through. To learn more about food service rewards go here (need a marketing page for FSR)

2020 Review: 2021 What to Expect

It can be stated with confidence that 2020 will not be missed. It is a year that put an extraordinary burden on Senior Communities. The quarantining of our residences coupled with restrictions on family visitation, put an extreme strain on the leadership and staff of healthcare communities, stretching resources and creating conditions for employee burnout. It will continue to challenge everyone in 2021, but with the vaccine being issued as we speak, it is a reason for hope that we can look forward to a better ending to the year than the current state.

There are many lessons to be learned from our 2020 experiences, including but not limited to an appreciation for all staff members, the need for being prepared with the vital supplies, and an understanding of how blanket regulatory guidance is not always in the best interest of everyone. It will be important going into 2021 that we prepare and plan for the unknown at the same time managing to control our budgets the best we can. In the NY region a big shout out goes to ESSAL on their diligence in keeping their members abreast of the constantly changing regulations, interpreting the changes, and ESSAL’s efforts to help their members to be heard. The importance of community will be front and center in 2021.

This chart “Biggest Concerns Heading Into 2021” reveals that one of the big lessons is keeping sufficient inventory of PPE in our facilities.

Many of the changes that were made in reaction to COVID, are now looking more permanent than temporary. Better systems to understand who is entering our buildings, and the importance of knowing their health status. This includes staff, visitors, and family members. Technology upgrades and bandwidth will most likely continue to be an important factor in maintaining strong family relationships with staff and residents.

The difficult but critical goal of 2021 will continue to be keeping the most vulnerable healthy and mitigating risk factors within our control. According to the CDC, COVID related death rates are highest among the 75 – 84 group and those 85 and older.  These numbers highlight the effort needed to keep infection control procedures focused throughout our residential communities.

It will be a year where we will all need to work together to provide safe care while keeping a high regard for budgets which have been pressed to the limits. We look forward to a better 2021 and working with the healthcare community to realize the goals we will need to achieve in the upcoming year. We continually post new information on our LinkedIn page. Please join our group for updates and information.

We wish all of you a prosperous and safe New Year!

A Letter from our President

By now, I’m sure you’ve noticed that our PRIME Times Newsletter has undergone quite a few changes. These are difficult times for the world in general – and especially for our beloved healthcare heroes who serve our industry every day. With that said, this is an exciting time for PRIME Services, Inc. – as our newest partnership allows us to offer you even more cost savings opportunities and expertise than ever before.

Earlier this year, Prime Services signed on to Buyers Edge Platform, the hospitality industry’s largest Group Purchasing Organization.  PRIME Services now has access to Buyers Edge Platform’s comprehensive suite of cost savings opportunities, including contracts with over 350 manufacturers and 150 service providers, as well as produce management programs, spend and data management services and full-service supply chain management expertise.

We’ve also decided to give our company “a whole new look” – complete with a modernized logo and a new format for our PRIME Times Newsletter.  We hope these graphical updates will make it easier than ever to help you uncover the PRIME Services savings opportunities that will drive your operation’s profitability.

You should expect the same great level of service and attention that you’ve always received from PRIME Services – with even more cost reduction potential than ever before.

We’d love to hear from you with any questions, comments or suggestions, so please reach out!

Yours Truly,

George Brodeur
President
PRIME Services, Inc.