Three Ways to Reduce Senior Care Facility Costs without Compromising Patient Care
As the U.S. populations ages, competition for senior care facilities will increase as more senior care facilities will be coming online to meet demand. And the coming numbers are astounding. According to the US Census Bureau, by 2050, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to be 88.5 million, more than double its projected population of 40.2 million in 2010. So how can you reduce costs to stay competitive while not compromising patient care?
#1-Reduce Staffing Costs
We all know that staffing makes up the largest percentage of any senior care facilities operating budget. And that makes sense because senior care, more than most industries, is people intensive in that there is a lot of one-to-one engagement with residents. But there are ways to reduce staffing costs.
Better overtime management.
Overtime can kill any budget, so you need to create sensible goals, and make sure that all staff understands them. In fact, discuss the overtime situation with your staff and see if they have any recommendations on how to make things more efficient. According to OnShift, even a 1% reduction in overtime can result in a 6+% reduction in labor costs.
This is also true of assigning shifts to cover for employees who are out. Managers tend to know which of their employees are willing to pick up extra hours. However, reliance on these employees can cause overtime problems as well. Evenly distributing the task of covering for another person via extra shifts throughout the entire workforce. This will avoid any single employee(s) working too much overtime.
Reduce staff turnover.
As with retaining a customer, replacing an employee takes more time and money than retaining that employee. Develop a process to deal with employee concerns or even set up weekly/monthly reviews with the employee. You want to make sure that employees concerns are heard. You should also have programs and processes in place that keep the staff happy, engaged and rewarded for their efforts. Studies show that people usually don’t leave a job over money, but rather the work environment and not feeling appreciated.
#2 - Reduce the Bite Food Takes Out of Your Budget
Food is the other large cost center for senior care facilities. According to a Forbes Magazine analysis, 15% of your income will be consumed by food and food related expenses for your residents. But again, there are things you can do to reduce your expenditure on food while improving the quality.
A change for the better.
Typically, food choices at an elder care facility are pretty much set by the kitchen for each meal with few options. The thinking, of course, is that it is easier and more efficient to cook larger quantities of fewer foods. But the Nightingale Health Care’s Mount Baker Care Center and Summit Assisted Living in Bellingham, Washington decided to take a different approach.
Their solution meant that they had to start looking at the food service as less of a cafeteria and more like a restaurant. The biggest change was that resident preferences were taken into consideration, including developing custom meals for people on dietary restrictions. They also did something revolutionary–they asked the residents what food they preferred. They also increased the food choices to more than a dozen with daily specials that rotates on a 4-week schedule. Again, like you would expect in any restaurant.
According to the dining service director, this didn’t cost any more money. The only real cost was setting aside the time to properly develop this new approach, the time speaking with residents to get their input, and then working with the staff to implement the changes. In fact, real monetary costs were actually reduced by 30% with this new approach.
But the monetary savings were only part of the benefits. Mealtime has become a more social event for the residents, as they discuss menu options with each other. Moreover, since the food and experience is more restaurant-like, residents often invite family members to dine with them. But of course, the largest benefit is that the residents are happier.
#3 - Efficient Facility Upkeep Keeps Costs Down
Lastly, and an area which is often overlooked, is facility maintenance. Obviously, you want repairs to be fixed quickly, especially ones that actually have a cost associated with them such as water leaks or HVAC issues. This is where Mobile Shop products–especially our H3O mobile cart designed specifically for Memory Care Facilities–can help as well. The Ohio State University Department of Integrated Systems Engineering conducted a study on efficiency and productivity at large facilities. They found that even a simple step such as reducing the number of times maintenance personnel needed to go back and forth to the shop for parts or equipment could have a dramatic effect. In the study they saw an increase in productivity by 36% per employee by utilizing of mobile tool carts (that have every tool someone would need) and eliminating needless trips to the shop. Plus, maintenance personnel can now handle all the “while you are here can you…” requests that inevitably come up during a routine maintenance visit. And again, resident satisfaction also increases because their maintenance requests are done more quickly.
Cost reduction and resident satisfaction are not mutually exclusive
Reducing operating costs at your elder care facility is not easy. It takes a planning, focus and proper execution. But then again, it’s also not rocket science. The solutions presented here were developed by looking at the challenges differently and not being afraid to try something new. And as we’ve also shown, even though these measures helped reduce costs, they had the side benefit of improving resident satisfaction and care.