Eighty percent of America’s seniors live with at least one chronic disease, yet many of these can be kept in check with preventive care. Any successful senior housing enterprise will do more than just treat illness as it arises. Smart operators will employ preventative care practices to ensure that those who are healthy, or are managing their chronic conditions successfully, remain well.
Preventative care can take a number of forms, including not just the careful oversight of chronic conditions but also a range of regular exams and activities. Flu shots, breast cancer screens, colorectal cancer screenings, as well as checks for diabetes, high cholesterol and bone density: All these proactive measures can help maintain wellness.
For clinical care directors, there are a broad range of reasons why every senior housing community needs a preventive care program.
Cognitive care is one area in which preventive care can make a difference. Mental stimulation, social interactions and other early interventions can help to prevent or at least slow the rate of cognitive decline. This is a significant point for senior housing directors looking to keep residents in place, and keep them out of out of specialized memory units, for as long as possible.
Mobility is another key reason for housing operators to pursue preventive care among seniors. The ability to get around is often referred to by the phrase, “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” Rather than wait for a resident to lose mobility, or begin a gradual decline, staff can exercise preventive care to help ensure residents get some degree of regular physical activity. This keeps residents well, helps to prevent falls, and adds to a community’s overall level of success.
Satisfaction is a natural outcome of preventive care – not just among residents but also among staff. Healthier residents mean a more manageable workload for staff, and more quality time they can spend interacting with residents instead of reacting to acute issues. If chronic illnesses can be successfully managed through preventive care, this frees up workers to focus their energies on residents most in need of attention. In an industry driven by high turnover rates, the ability to boost employee satisfaction can be a significant business advantage.
Marketing matters, too. Because of its many advantages in terms of wellness and comfort, preventive care has increasingly become a selling point among families seeking senior housing. Medicare encourages families to ask: Does the nursing home make sure residents get preventive care to help keep them healthy? Are specialists like eye doctors, ear doctors, dentists, and podiatrists available on a regular basis? Does the facility help make arrangements to see these specialists? As time goes on, preventive care will increasingly be a business differentiator.
Every senior housing community needs a preventive program, not just because of its impact on wellness, but because of the overall impact on operations. Resident wellness helps to contain costs, reduce vacancies and even keep a check on staff turnover. All these can be traced directly back to an effective program of preventative care.
Such programs do not build themselves. It takes thoughtful oversight to put the right players and technologies in the right places. Appropriate processes must be established to ensure prevention really is being targeted both accurately and effectively. Does your community deliver adequate preventive care? If so, how? If not, what more can you do to bring the situation up to par? Let us know in the comments section below.