INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

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Professional Referral Outreach: Another Tool to Use For All Levels Of Care

With independent living, websites and direct mail are two great marketing tools for generating leads. They work well for assisted living and memory care, too, but sometimes aren’t enough. That’s when SAGs best clients turn to outreach. New to outreach? Or experienced, but open to new ideas? The answer could involve grabbing coffee with a lawyer!

Professional relationships should be a big part of building your community’s referral pipeline. Networking and outreach can generate up to 70% of new move-ins into assisted living and memory care. If you are new to your community or the team hasn’t done any outreach recently, you should probably plan on starting your assisted living and memory care outreach from scratch. Here are some ways to work with local professionals to increase occupancy across all levels of care.

Create a plan. Work with your team to identify partnerships that benefit both your community and those you serve – on-site physician group and care management partnership, for example – and determine local professionals you want to connect with that will drive occupancy where most needed.

Assign contacts. Ideally, your community has one inside sales counselor and one community relations/outreach person. By putting your referral ‘wish list’ in order of proximity or referring potential, you are making it easier for your outreach person to succeed and for you to track return on investment.

Connect. Invite professionals to targeted events hosted at your community, a private tour or one-on-one lunch. Start a referral happy hour or senior living networking group in your area. Or just drop by their office (preferably announced) with a plant, sweet treat or invitation and some of your literature!

Share useful information. Whether it is information about senior living or changes at your community, it is important to reach out with news they can use as part of their job. Knowing you offer respite care could be very important to someone working with a married couple or adult child that needs help caring temporarily for a loved one. “For Memory Care, it is important to showcase your organization’s breadth of knowledge and experience,” explained Donna Fuller, Marketing Director at Solutions Advisors Group. “If you can become the person your professional network knows to call when they hear someone has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, you have done a good job at outreach!”

Say thanks. After someone sends a referral, acknowledge it and find creative, yet branded ways to thank them. Drop off a thank you gift or hand-written note. Or invite them to a nice dinner out. Something personal is always unexpected and appreciated.

Give them referrals. In addition to a note or flowers, the best way to say thank you is with a referral. Ask your connection to speak in your community when relevant and refer your prospects and residents to them when it is mutually agreed upon and appropriate.

Track activity. If possible, use your database to track referrals so you can a). know who to thank and b). know who you sent referrals TO; and c). know when someone sent you a referral last. With b and c, ensuring your referral partners take care of the people you send to them and are still referring is important.

Which local professionals should be in your network?

While anyone can refer people to a senior living community, there are several professional groups it would make sense to connect with first. These are people who work with seniors or their adult children on a regular basis and include:

Aging Life Care Managers – Aging life care managers, also known as geriatric care managers, are professionals who help families and their older loved ones navigate health care decisions, such as deciding whether to age in place or relocate to a residential community; coordinating medical care; and being the ‘eyes and ears’ for families at a challenging time. “Aging Life Care Managers were my best referral partners because they helped the adult child find care for their loved one and often times, remain their advocate if the adult child was out of the area,” Fuller continued. “At one community, we offered new prospects who were struggling to find assisted living and memory support the opportunity for a free consultation with an Aging Life Care Manager. That proved to be very successful. It is always rewarding when you can support your prospects when they are facing difficult and life changing decisions.”

Elder Law Attorneys – Elder law attorneys work with older clients and their families and specialize in complex legal issues related to aging and people living with special needs. They are great connections for a few reasons.  They are an excellent resource for your prospects and support their clients in long-term care placements and senior housing.  Also, given their understanding and commitment to aging persons, they are a great source for connecting with other local senior serving professionals.

Financial Advisors – An elder-planning department in a CPA firm can benefit clients’ family members who have time constraints, but want to help a loved one maximize and maintain his or her independence. They help manage financial affairs as well as monitor their clients’ routine activities and well-being. They are great connections because they know what their clients can afford.

Charge Nurses– Charge nurses (RNs) are responsible for the oversight of patient care for a wing or floor of a hospital. For every shift, there is one nurse in charge of making sure the doctor’s orders, medication, rehabilitation, and other treatments are appropriately administered and documented for the patient. Charge nurses are great connections for families in need of help with care after they leave the hospital.

Parish Nurses/Religious Leaders – Parish nurses are registered nurses who provide nursing services in congregations across the healthcare spectrum for the purpose of assisting church members achieve and maintain optimal mental, physical and spiritual health. Along with preachers and pastors, these parish nurses are trusted church members. A referral from them to your Assisted Living or Memory Care would carry additional weight.

Short-Term Rehab Facilities – If therapy and rehabilitation are needed after a surgery or fall, many people go to short-term rehabilitation. If an older adult isn’t making the progress they should at a rehabilitation center, a rehabilitation specialist or nurse could refer them or their family members to your Assisted Living.

Mental Health Professionals – Psychologists and mental health professionals who specialize in assessing, diagnosing and consulting with clients that are living with dementia would be ideal connections for your Memory Care.

Hospital Case Managers and Discharge Planners – Case managers and planners facilitate and communicate treatment and discharge planning with the patient, family member and all members of the healthcare team. If they are familiar with your community, that would be the perfect time to have them offer your name as a trusted resource.

Home Care Agencies – With a home health or home care agency, they provide the clinical functions and scheduling of other nurses, nursing aides, social workers and therapists to clients who prefer to remain in their home.  At times, the capacity for specialized care, security or need for engagement exceeds the home environment and a move to a senior living community is in the best interest of the client.

Physicians – General medicine physicians perform medical examinations, take histories, request lab studies, order x-rays and prescribe medicine to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries. Because physicians are an integral part of the care team and become trusted advisors to their patients, they are ideal partners.

Social Workers – Social workers are specially trained in locating community resources to solve patients’ problems during and after their stays in a hospital or nursing home setting. They support patients in their efforts to function within their environments. These professionals assist with placing people back into the community after hospitalization or rehabilitation, so a connection to your team could yield solid referrals.

Trust Officers – A trust officer is usually part of a professional team, which may include an attorney, accountant or insurance agent. Trust officers deal with investing, insurance, retirement plans, real estate, property management, taxes, accounting, appraisals, loans, financial planning, nursing homes and other senior housing providers.

Active Adult and Independent Living Communities – Some senior living communities do not have all levels of care. If there is a 55+ or 62+ community near you that doesn’t offer assisted living or memory care, offer it for them! Why couldn’t there be a dotted line between the two communities?

Adult Daycare Providers – Adult day care directors operate services for community-based group programs designed to meet the needs of functionally and/or cognitively impaired adults. While the daycare attendees are mobile now, they may need more support in the future. Connect with these centers to ensure your assisted living and memory care waiting list is always full!

If you are a department of one looking for a hand with outreach or a team of ten that might need some new ideas for assisted living and memory care sales, contact Solutions Advisors Group today! We can talk through your challenges and help create a plan that works in YOUR community.