Surprise Visit to my Mom’s Skilled Nursing Care

Surprise Visit to my Mom’s Skilled Nursing Care

Surprise Visit to my Mom's Skilled NursingI can’t stop thinking about my surprise visit with my mom yesterday.  I arrived Sunday afternoon about 2:30 PM to Freedom Village Healthcare Center in California.  She was not in her usual places – where was she?  A caregiver said, “Oh, your mom is down in the activity room.”  I said to my husband Chris, “We really need to pay more attention to the activity calendar, so we don’t visit during those times.  I want her to enjoy all the social times and I can visit her when nothing else is going on.”

We happened upon the activity calendar and all the activities were done for the day.  So what was she doing?  As we turned the corner, we saw my mom’s beaming face.  She was playing bingo.  The caregiver smiled at me and said, “Oh, do you want to take your mom?”  I said, “Absolutely not, let her enjoy herself.”  It was great to see pure joy – when she said, “Bingo!”

What was interesting to me was her interacting with the other residents and helping them play too.  My mom has severe vascular dementia.  When she speaks it is about 70% non-reality.  What a great activity to really stimulate her brain.  The caregiver said to me, “We decided to put on a bingo game for them, they like it and it gives them something to do.”

Well, bless those two caregivers who created an unscheduled resident activity to help with the resident’s quality of life.  This was a huge “Wow” for me and I can’t stop thinking about how happy my mom was.  For those of you who follow my blog, I moved my mom 1000 miles to be near me about three months ago.  This was the best day of my mom’s life here in California.

After each resident said bingo, the caregiver would call the resident by name and say, “You won a cookie.”  No cookies appeared.  I thought to myself, well the residents have dementia – they won’t remember the cookie promise.  To my utter surprise – cookies appeared at the end of the last game.  One cookie for each resident.  When the caregiver was handing out the last cookie, the resident said, “I don’t get one – I didn’t win.”  The caregiver said, “That’s okay, you are a winner for even being here.”  There are tears in my eyes writing this, because these staff went above and beyond!

As the afternoon progressed – my mom continued being animated and talking nonstop.  It did not matter that 60% was non-reality.  She was having a great time and I loved spending quality time with her.  Some people think people with dementia have nothing to offer in life, well, they are 100% wrong.

Please share your success, failures or comment below to join the conversation and interact with other senior living professionals on what is currently being effective to increase occupancy on a nationwide basis.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available at Amazon.com with a 5-star rating.  The book is required reading at George Mason University as a part of its marketing curriculum.  Within this book, the author developed a sales & marketing method with 12 keys to help senior living providers increase their occupancy.   Masson developed this expertise as a marketing consultant, sought-after blogger for senior housing and a regional marketing director of continuing care retirement communities in several markets.  She has also been a corporate director of sales and a mystery shopper for independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled care nursing communities in multiple states.  Most recently Masson was recruited to consult for two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern California – Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California.  Interestingly, this career started when she was looking for a place for her own mom and helped her loved one transition through three levels of care.

© Marketing 2 Seniors| Diane Twohy Masson 2013 All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog post may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author, unless otherwise indicated for stand-alone materials. You may share this website and or it’s content by any of the following means: 1. Using any of the share icons at the bottom of each page. 2. Providing a back-link or the URL of the content you wish to disseminate. 3. You may quote extracts from the website with attribution to Diane Masson CASP and link http://www.marketing2seniors.net For any other mode of sharing, please contact the author Diane Masson.
Moving Mom 1000 Miles – Assisted Living to Skilled Nursing

Moving Mom 1000 Miles – Assisted Living to Skilled Nursing

Diane and her Mother

Diane and her Mother

Well, it is a complicated process moving a parent from an assisted living to skilled nursing.  Add 1000 miles into the equation and prepare for asking a tremendous amount of favors and help with no physical eyes on the situation. This is my story…

My mom has lived in a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Seattle, WA for 15 years.  For the past 7 years, she has lived in Assisted Living.  Her ailments have progressed to diabetes, severe vascular dementia, incontinence and now all symptoms indicate breast cancer.  Short-term memory loss and 90 years of age does not equate to any invasive procedures or surgeries.  When I visit her one-day, she has no memory of my visit the next day.

I could not stomach her completely alone (no children in the same state) and moving to the next level of care or a hospice community.  So my husband and I decided to quickly move her to Southern, CA, before she could not travel anymore.

All professionals who know my mom and I have been very supportive of this move.  Here are some of things that had to be put in place for this transition: Coordinating with the assisted living team where she lives, a nurse consultant to assess her and be our eyes in another state, her doctor, a home healthcare agency to take her to the doctor, the social worker at the HMO, the skilled nursing community that she was moving to, the federal government regarding her medical insurance and a Medicare representative.

The paperwork and logistics included filling out 27 pages of a Medi-Cal application, finding 22 additional documents for Medi-Cal, providing all the information that the new skilled nursing required, buying plane tickets, combining all our plane seats into one row, having someone drive my mom and us to the airport in Seattle and having Freedom Village Skilled Nursing pick us up at the airport when we arrive in California – whew!!!!

My mom does not know that she is going to move, because she cannot mentally process anything beyond 30 seconds in the short term and it would create anxiety for her – not understanding.

I am going to continue sharing my story as this moves takes place over the next few days.  Prayers and patience are needed to survive this.  I am excited for my mom to be located by our family in California and terrified of travel day.  I am her protector and don’t want her to suffer in anyway emotionally or physically.  It’s thrilling that my company in California is welcoming my mom with open arms – thank you Freedom Village.

Please comment to join the conversation and interact with other senior living professionals on what is currently being effective to increase occupancy on a nationwide basis.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com.  Masson’s book will be required reading at George Mason University in the Fall as part of the marketing curriculum.  She is currently consulting with Seniors For Living and two debt-free Continuing Care Retirement Communities in Southern California – Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California. Connection and partnership opportunities: Email: diane@marketing2seniors.net

Do You Educate the Customer on Senior Housing  & Healthcare Choices?

Do You Educate the Customer on Senior Housing & Healthcare Choices?

It’s always beneficial to become the customer’s friend by being a resource for all senior living information.  Learn your market choices and share as much information as possible, so the senior or their family can make a good decision.

It’s always good to ask the prospect, if they have just started exploring their options or find out if they are further along into research mode.  Seniors and baby boomer adult children, who are just starting out, often need some basic information.  How you present it, depends on what senior housing option you represent.  When people are making a move, it’s always a good idea to figure out the costs of future health care, home maintenance and services (such as dining, 24-hour emergency call system and housekeeping).

1)   One option is for seniors to stay in their own home. Some seniors choose to live with children or have their adult children live with them. This is a great option if someone’s son or daughter is a repair person, great cook and willing to drive them to doctor appointments, when they are not able to drive.

2)   Staying at home with home healthcare. Home healthcare can provide a qualified person who can help with medication management and assist with the activities of daily living.  Costs average $21 an hour on a national basis, which can quickly turn into $15,000 a month with full time care.

3)   Moving into a condo provides for most of the maintenance, repairs, home upkeep and yard work.  It can come with home owner’s association (HOA’s) dues of $300 – $1500 a month.

4)   Independent living – retirement communities, who offer one level of care, can have strict health requirements, but many communities are allowing in-home care to people’s apartments so they can remain in residence longer.  In-home care averages $19 an hour nationally, so just 8 hours of help a day can add up to over $4700 a month.  The $4700 a month would be in addition to the monthly rental fee.  It varies by state, if the in-home care has licensing and trained staff requirements.

5)   Independent living – retirement communities, who offer two levels of care, may or may not have stringent health requirements.  If they offer both independent living and assisted living, they tend to be less strict, because they can provide services for two levels of care.   The disadvantage is that independent seniors are living with frailer neighbors.  Research the cost of independent living and the cost of assisted living (find out what is included with the rent – is any care included – or is care all added on separately?).  These prices vary depending on how many meals and services are provided.

6)   If seniors wait too long to move when they are independent, they can move directly into an assisted living community, where they can enjoy 3 meals a day and 24-hour care support.  Some assisted living communities charge one all-inclusive rate and others charge extra for bathing assistance, medication management, incontinence care, etc.  Assisted Living basic rent costs between $2100 and $5700 a month on a national level with bigger rooms and additional care costing more.  In Washington State, I personally knew people that paid $9000 a month for heavy assisted living services.

7)   Skilled nursing care or rehab is something that people never select as a choice.  Typically something happened to the senior that caused a hospital stay and their doctor recommends that they recover in a Medicare certified skilled nursing care or rehabilitation center.  This is 24-hour skilled nursing care and can be a short-term stay for a few weeks or a month.  Long-term care residents typically cannot get out of bed on their own and live in this environment on a permanent basis.  Costs can run nationally between $128 and $678 a day for semi-private room.   I have typically seen daily costs in the mid-$200’s for a semi-private room and up to mid-$400 for a private suite on the West Coast.

8)   Continuing care retirement communities (CCRC’s) have health and financial thresholds that must be met, in order to move-in.  A large number of CCRC organizations, through their foundations, may offer a guarantee of care for the rest of the senior’s life.  This can be a powerful choice, to know that if something happened to a senior’s finances that they would have care for life.  CCRC’s typically offer independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care, all on the same campus.  A one time entrance fee is usually requested that can run anywhere from $60,000 to over $2 million.  A percentage of the entrance fee can be refundable back to someone’s estate.  There are many varieties of returnable options.  The monthly fees of CCRC’s are typically lower than month-to-month rentals for the same square footage.

There are a variety of qualities for all the above choices.  Learn your area’s choices and help be an educational resource to the customer.  They will appreciate you more and hopefully select your retirement community.  Encourage seniors to choose wisely, it’s not just about price, but the quality of services and care that are provided.   A good question to ask a prospect would be: What senior housing option gives them the most peace of mind?

Every town, city and state has different pricing.  My national price quotes came from: http://www.metlife.com/mmi/research/2011-market-survey-long-term-care-costs.html#findings

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com.  If your curiosity is piqued to inquire on Diane’s availability to speak at a senior housing conference (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) – please call: 206-853-6655 or email diane@marketing2seniors.net.  Diane is currently consulting in Southern California for Freedom Management Company, the proud debt-free owners of Freedom Village in Lake Forest and The Village in Hemet, California.  For more information:Twitter: @market2seniorsWeb: www.marketing2seniors.netBlog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/

How Can Skilled Nursing Communities Describe Lifestyle? (Part 2)

Part 1 described how the lifestyle of long-term care resident was not discussed in the admission process of the skilled nursing facilities I toured.  It was so bad that I could not call them communities, but instead considered them institutional facilities.

These were the 10 worst skilled nursing tour experiences that I encountered recently:

1)   Not one receptionist stood to greet me

2)   No one invited me to sit down

3)   I were not offered a beverage

4)   There was no sales – just admissions needs

5)   They did not talk about the quality of their care

6)   No one mentioned how the residents minds would be engaged

7)   No activity program or menu was offered

8)   Lifestyle for long-term care was not discussed

9)   They used terms like facility and diapers

10)   No one asked about my mom as a human being and what was most important to her – such as what does she enjoy most?

These would be my top 10 recommendations to discuss lifestyle for long-term care residents in the skilled care nursing admissions process.

1)   The receptionist should stand to greet the guest with a warm smile and a friendly greeting.

2)   The admission counselor should offer a beverage and invite the guest to sit down to discuss his or her parent’s needs.

3)   The counselor should have empathy for the guest by listening to their full story and determine if it is long-term or short-term stay.

4)   The quality of the nursing staff should be addressed and how this will benefit the guest’s parent on a long-term or short-term basis.

5)   On the way down the hall to show the available bed in a room (semi-private suite is better terminology), talk about how life can be vibrant at the community and mention some of the residents by name.

6)   Paint the picture of the live music coming in on a weekly basis, how a sitting room can be place where the guest can visit with their parent in the future and how residents are engaged on a daily basis.

7)   Show the activity calendar and share an example which happened today such as — how many residents enjoyed the morning exercise program.

8)   Talk about how they can make their parent’s side of the healthcare suite (nicer word than room) more home-like with personal touches and give examples (so many are two-bed suites).

9)   Find out what the resident can currently enjoy and what they could possibly do in the future through excellent therapy at your community.

10)   After careful listening, give examples of how their parent could be mentally engaged through an activity program, visiting volunteers or caring staff.  Give the guest a copy of the activity calendar and dining menu.

No one ever wants to be admitted to a skilled nursing facility. And no one wants to picture their parent trapped in a wheel chair for the rest of their lives with no brain stimulation.   So an admission person has an opportunity to treat the family with compassion and care.  They can paint the picture of great activities in the long-term lifestyle and bring some hope for the future of the long-term resident and their family.   A better admission process – produces better feelings from the family – and can increase your referrals.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com.  For volume discount pricing or to inquire on Diane’s availability to coach and/or train your senior living marketing team (CCRC, independent living, assisted living or memory care) – please call: 206-853-6655 or email diane@marketing2seniors.net.  For more information: Twitter: @market2seniors Web: www.marketing2seniors.net Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/

Do Any Skilled Nursing Communities Describe Lifestyle? (Part 1)

After working in senior housing for 13 years, I thought the majority of skilled nursing communities had broken the mold of institutionalized care from the past.   After recently touring three skilled nursing communities in one day for my mom, I have changed my mind.  The old skilled nursing concept of institutionalized seniors that helplessly live boring lives of eating, bathing and sleeping – still seems to exist.   The admission folks did not paint a picture of any type of lifestyle such as: music to lift spirits, social activities to engage the mind or fellowship with other residents, volunteers or staff… I was shocked and discouraged.  So in my examples, I have to call them facilities and not communities.

The first facility offered to show me their only available bed.  It was down a dark hallway with no natural light.  The available bed was the middle bed of three-bed ward.  Almost everyone was in bed at 2 PM in the afternoon with the curtains shut.   Everyone else was in a wheel chair.  The dining room had no chairs.   There were institutional lifts and medical carts in the hallway.   This tour guide did not mention how my mom could enjoy anything!  She did not offer an activity program or talk about the quality of care.  All she said was, “You will be lucky to get a bed and take it when it comes available.”  I had to ask to see the dining room and had to request an activity program and menu.

The second facility had a slightly friendlier admission person.  This person showed us an available bed and then proceeded to talk about the majority of residents wearing diapers.  He actually said, “Don’t worry that the two-bed rooms only have one bathroom, most residents don’t use them – because they wear diapers.”  What???  Are you kidding me?  Why would you tell us this?  Then we were shown the dining room with an activity happening – a funeral.  We were told they had a monthly funeral for all the residents that were gone.  Wow, that sounds like a depressing activity to look forward to every month.  I thought he would follow up by talking about some vibrant activity, but he did not.  He did not talk about the lifestyle my mom could enjoy, how they keep residents engaged or the quality of the care that my mom could enjoy.  I had to request an activity program and menu.

The third facility had the most unwelcoming receptionist.   I said, “Hi, can we have a tour?”  She said, “Oh, you want a tour?” (In a very bored voice, like maybe we would not want a tour).  I said, “Yes, is a tour possible?”  She said, “Well — Mary can help you with that, she’s in that room.”   She pointed us toward a doorway, so we had to approach the room… They did not accept Medicaid, even though several websites said they did – so no tour was offered.

Several years ago, my sales and marketing office was located in a skilled nursing community.   Some residents were very ill, but others led lives with hope and purpose through wonderful activities.  I personally saw the joy and loved the ice cream cones served by volunteers every Friday afternoon.  The admissions person was a lovely woman who painted the picture of living the best quality of life that someone could with the best possible care.

So my number one question, after touring three skilled nursing facilities, is do skilled nursing communities currently describe lifestyle for incoming long-term care residents?   Thank goodness we were not in rush to place my mom immediately, since she is safely in an assisted living community.

Diane Twohy Masson’s top 10 ways to discuss lifestyle for long-term care residents in the skilled care nursing admissions process will be coming in part 2.

Diane Twohy Masson is the author of “Senior Housing Marketing – How to Increase Your Occupancy and Stay Full,” available for sale at Amazon.com.  For volume discount pricing or to inquire on Diane’s availability to coach and/or train your senior living marketing team (CCRC, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care) – please call: 206-853-6655 or email diane@marketing2seniors.net.  For more information:  Twitter: @market2seniors Blog: http://marketing2seniors.net/blog/ Web: www.marketing2seniors.net