Argentum 2019
April 17, 2019
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3 Key Highlights From Argentum Senior Living Executive Conference

San Antonio is a beautiful place to hold a conference. Amidst the lush greenery, warm weather, the Riverwalk and of course, the Alamo, more than 2,500 senior living executives gathered to collaborate, learn, share, and carry the mantle to shift the industry. Below are three key things I’d like to share from this incredible event.

  • Changing The Narrative of Our Caregiver Crisis
  • Assisted Living Occupancy at an All-Time Low (And What to Do About It)
  • 9 Startups in You Need to Know About in Senior Care 

Plus a bonus at the bottom! 

Changing The Narrative of Our Caregiver Crisis

We know that the United States is experiencing a shortage of caregivers and that this shortage will continue to grow. Many very smart people are working to figure out a solution. We heard from some of those people at Argentum 2019.

James BaldaFirst, James Balda, Argentum president & CEO announced that “Argentum will sponsor the first ever national apprenticeship for nursing assistants and caregivers in senior living. The apprenticeship will establish standards for on-the-job training and related instruction as caregivers grow their career with advanced skills in dementia care, safety, and other common needs across senior living providers.” There is an Apprenticeship Steering Group of Argentum members including representatives from Brookdale, Commonwealth, Country Meadows, Life Care Services, Merrill Gardens, OnShift, Trilogy Health Services, and Vi.

“This initiative will pave the way for caregiver advancement in the industry,” said Balda in a statement. “We need to continue to reward high performers and retain dedicated talent, and apprenticeship programs are an opportunity — as seen in other industries such as restaurants, hospitality, and multi-family housing.”

This is a competency based program, earning participants wage increases and helping them truly embody what they are learning. We are in a knowledge economy and it’s time for competency based education rather than ‘seat-time’ education.

How is it panning out so far? Trilogy put 4,376 people through the program. They saw 83% rate of retention for apprentices over a 2 year period. Impressive! And here is a great idea. They created a separate line item on the paycheck to show the premium the staff member earned each time they complete levels in the program. This is a constant marketing benefit reminding them that they make more money because they’ve gained more competencies, making them more valuable employees through this program. It constantly signals to the employees that the company cares about their professional growth and is willing to help them make it happen.

Second comes changing the narrative. Sometimes we are so deep in our own industry that we don’t see how incredible it is. So Emily DeRocco, CEO of E3 Engage Educate Employ shed some light on our industry from a different lens. Emily’s career at the US Labor Department and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies gave us some eye-opening statistics from that perspective:

  • Healthcare job openings exceed 1.1 million in the United States.
  • It has created 1.7 million jobs in the U.S.
  • It has generated a quarter of a trillion dollars in economic impact.
  • It is a growth industry with hot jobs to be had.
  • It has nearly 5 times stronger job creation and growth then the total U.S. employment
  • BOTTOM LINE: It is an economic driver in our nation and in our communities.
New perspective

Assisted Living Occupancy at an All-Time Low

That is probably not news, and is certainly not a surprise to the industry. But the real question is what do we do about it?

We know that the Boomer market will soon be arriving, but what can we be doing the meantime? Here are three suggestions from The State of Occupancy: 2019 and Beyond session.

  • Own your customers
    This may sound a little off, but bear with me here. When I bought my first car 30 years ago, the dealership made a big deal out of their new “Customer Service” program. It was a program designed to take care of customers after the sale.  Today, we expect this! The Assisted Living industry has shifted. There are more customer expectations for the perceived high costs. And let’s face it, on average, communication with the family after resident admission is great for the first month or so, but after that it drops significantly. Not on purpose, and not because facilities don’t want to communicate with the family. But facilities are short-staffed (see #1 above) and often have higher priorities to deal with. At the same time, as the aging population gets older, so do the family members responsible for them. And family wants communication in a way that they have grown accustomed to in other areas of their life. Own your customer. Invite the family in! Make them part of your care team and help improve quality of life for your residents. If you don’t, someone else will.

  • Build your online authority
    If you don’t have a website, you need one. And if you have one, you need to be building your online authority. This is true for nearly any business. The digital world allows prospects to do their research from their kitchen table. Customer doing researchAnd they do. In fact, nearly 60% of the buying process is done before they ever even speak to you. That means you have to invest in search engine optimization (SEO), build and publish content that people want to read, ask complementary sites to link to your content, engage in social media (i.e. don’t just post your content, but comment on other people’s posts and create conversations), and more. If you haven’t done these things, start looking at your marketing strategies and incorporate online marketing. Sooner is better.

  • Increase conversion rates
    It feels awful to talk about gaining new residents in terms of “conversion rates,” but the reality is that you offer an extraordinarily valuable service. And that means that you have business metrics, so let’s talk about this one. Gaining a new resident in your community versus that resident going somewhere else depends on many factors. One of them is how you handle your sales funnel. First, take a look at your sales funnel and ask yourself these questions. How do you attract people? How do you engage them in a conversation about your community? How do you nurture them if they aren’t ready to buy? How do you endear yourself to them? How do you position yourself as the right choice in their evaluation process? If you map out your sales funnel stages and track metrics with each, I guarantee that you will find inefficiencies that you can tighten up. This is not a one-time exercise either. It is something you should do continuously — always look at how you can become more efficient and more effective in your sales process. Even small improvements here can pay off big in terms of revenue and profits.

9 Startups You Need to Know About In Senior Care

The expo hall was, of course, packed with all the usual suspects – PointClickCare, MatrixOne, OmniCare, and the like. One booth had a frozen yogurt machine. Needless to say they had long lines all the time! We love our frozen yogurt. Another booth served fancy cocktails all day long. 

But one section really stood out: The Startup Pavilion. This is where new ideas show up for improving quality of life for our seniors.
There’s too much to share here, so I created a separate blog post. Check it out 9 Startups You Need to Know About In Senior Care.

Light bult

Oh, And One More Thing...

Sarah ThomasJust because it was so cool! I was honored to meet Sarah Thomas, the history-making first female NFL Official. I don’t know what I expected, but what I found was someone who is so grounded in who she is as a person that her gifts just automatically shine through, changing lives and industries around her. Thank you, Sarah, for being an inspiration for all of us to be true to ourselves.