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The importance of care in long-term care.

In a 2009 National Survey of Consumer and Workforce Satisfaction in Nursing Homes as compiled by My InnerView, more than 150,000 family members and more than 82,000 residents were interviewed about their satisfaction and preferences.

One aspect of the study focused on what drives consumer recommendations. The top 5, as cited by the survey:

Resident1

This list reinforced to me that there is a real difference in how care is perceived. Taking care of someone’s needs is not the same as the very human element of compassion. I also found it interesting that things like quality of meals and meaningfulness of activities ranked near the bottom of the list in importance. This tells us it’s the experience, rather than the features, that factor into whether a resident or family member will make a referral.

You might say, well, isn’t this an operations issue? What does this mean for us in marketing? Let me give you a real example.

A skilled nursing and memory care community I work with can confidently claim high employee and resident satisfaction. They can also boast a beautiful new building that raises the standard of long-term care in their area ─ think well-appointed hotel with rich colors and commissioned artwork. But after three years in operation, they approached us for marketing support because occupancy held at less than 50%.

What was missing in their marketing program? First, a focus on what they do well, compassionate individualized care, rather than on the amenities and building. Second, a marketing communications program that projected that same caring attitude and connected with their target audiences – residents, families and professionals.

This community had already done the hard part of meeting expectations for all who experienced it. Our job was to craft and deliver the right message to the right audience. What once focused on features, not benefits, and affordability rather than care was repositioned. Their story now goes beyond a list of bullet points to how their staff, building design features, services, amenities and activities promote skilled nursing and memory care at its best: The way a loving family member would deliver it.

It is summed up in a new tagline: Living up to your idea of care. A thought that is right on target for what matters most to residents and families. 

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