In the last week, with our formal relaunch, we have had some technical difficulties (site was down due to traffic one morning) and some practical ones (too many emails and contact requests). For the most part things went well, but it got us thinking: What are the things an Assisted Living manager will struggle with the most in Arizona?
AZCAL was developed by a couple of people who are Assisted Living managers, as well as owners of their own Assisted Living facilities. On top of that, much of AZCAL’s membership over the years has been composed of managers and owners. We think we have a solid grasp on what issues managers face. Below are the five we think are most common, in no particular order. If you think of some that you’d like for us to highlight, share and comment on Facebook, respond via Twitter, or you can even submit a comment to us via the contact form on the AZCAL website if you want to be kept anonymous.
Problem #1: Finding great caregivers to do the work at the pay rate you can afford to pay (and the pay rate for managers).
Many times, an Assisted Living manager can’t do all of the work themselves. Maybe they have to attend meetings outside of the facility. Maybe they manage more than one facility. Maybe they need to get some rest. In most instances, managers and caregivers work more hours and more days than your average 8-5 office job. Many don’t even get a day off if the facility is also their personal home.
Problem #2: Lack of (or poor) communication with other service providers for residents.
How many times have you, as an Assisted Living manager, had to deal with a lack of information or documentation from a Home Health or Hospice agency? From a regulatory standpoint, you need certain kinds of documentation if Home Health or Hospice come to your facility, but you may not always get it. That can be a problem for you and your resident(s). It’s rarely malicious; people are busy. However, trying to track the information down can sometimes be a hassle.
Problem #3: Training.
Assisted Living facilities can do a wide range of physical health services. We all know that. What we also know is that basic caregiver training, and manager training does not (and cannot) include every possible health services that an Assisted Living facility can provide. This is when additional training specific to your own residents comes into play. How often have you or your caregivers been taught “informally” by a Home Health or Hospice nurse? How about “formally” trained? The problem with learning new skills in the field is that we rarely have time to steal away from our primary duties to attend outside training.
Problem #4: Administration.
Raise your hand if you are an Assisted Living manager now, but came from a human resources or personnel administration background. I bet a lot of you did not raise your hand. Now, think of all the training you had leading up to your job as a manager in an Assisted Living facility. How much of it was geared toward the minutia of paperwork, documentation, and filing? Not much, right? Well, according to your licensing body, you have to keep quite a bit of documentation. You also have to keep even more that licensing doesn’t care about just to run a small business. Unless you have experience or formal training in the administration aspect, you may be playing catch up forever.
Problem #5: Referrals.
Without having all your beds filled, it’s hard to keep the revenue coming in. Without steady, maximized revenue, all businesses suffer. As we all know, finding residents is difficult. One of the things that has been shared with us this week is how much it costs to either use a referral company or to market your facility to the outside world. We’ve also heard stories of how little time owners and managers have to actually make referral contacts. A few people have actually asked us if we have an resources to share that could make filling beds easier. In the coming few weeks, we will be sharing our plan for making that easier in Arizona over the coming 12-18 months. It will be a big undertaking, but as our membership grows, we will have the funds and support necessary to accomplish it. Stay tuned for information on the referral front.
Assisted Living managers have a big job ahead of them. Many work in situations where they act as caregiver, human resources, chief executive officer, and even advertising. This is indicative of most small business, not just in Arizona, but throughout Arizona and the world. One of AZCAL’s biggest goals is to share the information people in the industry need to make the job less complicated and difficult.
So, we may have just relaunched and we may be just formalizing our membership; but as we grow and strengthen, we will be able to help more and more facilities become the best possible facilities. That’s the goal anyway.
If you have more, or just want to share some stories, Facebook, Twitter, and the contact form are there for you. As always, please share us with your friends!
Image courtesy of Kathleen Zarubin‘s Flickr page – Creative Commons License