Covid-19 continues to reverberate throughout nonprofit senior living, forcing leaders to rethink their staffing models and hospitality-oriented care approaches.
In Covid-19 during 2020, the workers highlighted their heroism, but a persistent labor crisis means providers must think big for the future. Sean Kelly, CEO of The Kendal Corp, told a recent webinar on the future of nonprofits that the “whole model” of staffing needs to be reevaluated.
Additionally, a resident-centered approach has begun to reassess the hospitality component, which promises better health outcomes and a longer, healthier life for residents.
As a result of lockdowns and lower census counts, many nonprofit providers had to look for ways of overcoming revenue losses. There is a growing interest in bringing the services typically offered on nonprofit campuses into home settings. There have been several home care launches and expansions in the last 18 months, and more are exploring this market.
Hospitality Takes on New Forms
Jill Vitale-Aussem, CEO of Christian Living Communities, believes devastation post-pandemic may offer a new angle on hospitality in senior living. A total of 921 units are available on five campuses at the provider based in Englewood, Colorado.
Providers have viewed residents through this perspective as customers, and providers have strived to satisfy them. As Vitale-Aussem sees it, residents could be reframed as “citizens,” and they need to live long and healthy lives should be examined in depth.
Among the most significant objections people have to live in senior housing is the loss of independence they will experience once they move. As a result, the current model pushes for independence instead of purpose, a feeling of belonging, and chances to continue growing.
It is because residents feel lonely when living alone in senior housing that they move to social communities. Often, senior housing campuses feel forced and inauthentic due to their design and programming.
Kelly believes that providers within senior housing communities should offer their residents experiences as authentic as those they might encounter in a café or restaurant down the street.
Nonprofits and for-profits are facing some harsh realities regarding how employers view hiring and retaining quality workers.
According to him, Covid-19 revealed inefficiencies in the current workforce model, highlighting the industry’s failure to capitalize on the platforms and partnerships that can support frontline workers.
The benefits and compensation packages have positively impacted employee recruitment, and retention Kendal offered throughout the pandemic. The covid-19 infection will gradually recede, making returning to pre-pandemic conditions not realistic.
As a result of that struggle, Good Samaritan relied heavily on agency contracts to maintain proper staffing levels before and during Covid-19. Taking advantage of its affiliation with other providers, the provider wants to develop a recruiting team that is data-driven and committed to retaining talent.
Good Samaritan also recognizes that it faces competition from organizations in other industries for talent and intends to offer new talent a pay and benefits package that is more competitive.
According to Vanden Hull, the organization’s payer mix presents one challenge: 70% of its funds come from the government at set annual rates, which makes recruiting new workers more difficult.
Developing New Service Lines
In the nonprofit sector, one of the more notable trends accelerated by the pandemic was the expansion of on-campus services and new segments.
Several nonprofit providers have expanded into the community and home-based services in recent months to diversify revenue streams and meet the growing demand for services provided at home.
Kendal’s home health care division, Kendal at Home, experienced substantial growth in the past year. With plans to penetrate the greater Boston area shortly, Lathrop Retirement Communities is entering the Massachusetts market in October 2020 through affiliates in Northampton and Easthampton.
Kelly believes that there are still opportunities to penetrate specific markets further. Some services benefit health outcomes in Kendal affiliates and can be delivered even outside Kendal campuses to seniors in their communities.
CLC’s home care division will be expanded across the socioeconomic spectrum through Vitale-Aussem’s efforts in 2021 and 2022. Whether or not CLC can deliver a solution remains to be seen, but the provider is aware of the market’s potential.
Whatever the model CLC chooses, she expects community and home-based services to play their part.
According to Vanden Hull, Good Samaritan has a home health segment and is exploring virtual care. In an initiative announced recently by Sanford Health, virtual care will play a significant role in transforming rural health care delivery.
To provide better outcomes and reduce costs related to transportation, the initiative will link Good Samaritan locations with primary care providers and medical specialists.
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