When it comes to generating profits in senior housing, some things are obvious. Manage food service closely and you’ll surely drive down costs. Schedule carefully to keep staffing levels appropriate.
Some choices are less obvious, though. Many operators many not realize, for instance, that social engagement among residents connects directly to one’s ability to turn a profit. While most recognize the need for residents to be socially engaged, the imperative to keep seniors connected to friends and loved ones, they may not see this as a business imperative.
In fact, social engagement is very much a part of the profit equation.
Studies have shown that seniors who are engaged with their communities live longer and suffer less cognitive decline. Such engagement may include visits with family, video-enabled conversations, and community interactions. Better health is a business proposition, as most operators know. It means less resident turnover, which in turn drives higher occupancies. Rooms that stay occupied represent a consistent revenue stream.
Reduced health expenses
There’s a corollary to this question of improved health outcomes: That is, the expense of heightened medical interventions. One study from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) found 43 percent of surveyed older adults felt lonely, and that lonely seniors had a 59 percent greater risk of declining health. Thus it follows that social engagement may drive better health.
This is a direct bottom-line driver, as healthier residents have less need for intensive medical interventions. Housing executives understand the expenses associated with having specialize medical personnel on hand, just as they understand the lost-revenue proposition that comes with residents transferring out to higher-acuity facilities. To the extent that engagement keeps residents healthy, it also bolsters the bottom line, by helping to keep medical-related expenses in check.
Word of mouth
Engagement drives profit by helping to ensure resident satisfaction. Just as isolated seniors tend toward depression, those with strong ties to family and friends are more likely to be satisfied with their living situation and overall quality of life. Does this impact profit? Absolutely.
A housing enterprise’s best advertising is word of mouth, and a satisfied senior is more likely to speak well of his or her residence to family members as well as to other seniors. Seniors may engage in person with their neighbors through organized activities; or they may engage in technology-driven encounters such as video chatting and social networking activities. Whatever the medium, such engagements will typically help to drive satisfaction, which in turn drives further profits.
Staff satisfaction is another benefit to resident satisfaction. Employee turnover is one of the biggest debits on the senior-housing balance sheet. Turnover rates have historically been high, and the cost to recruit and train new workers erodes profits. Here again the satisfaction that comes with engagement can be a significant factor. Socially engaged seniors will be easier to care for. Their satisfaction will tend to lighten the mood of a housing facility and give employees good reason to stick around. It’s an easy equation: Engagement leads to satisfaction, which in turn drives a positive environment, leading employees to want to stay on board. Everyone wins, including the bottom line.
Resident engagement is a necessary part of senior housing. It is the housing operator’s obligation to ensure seniors remain connected to friends and loved ones, whether through traditional or technological means, or through some combination of tools.
But engagement is also a business proposition. Done properly, resident engagement can enhance not only a senior’s quality of life, but also an operator’s bottom line.