Tackling Common Senior Care Facility Challenges to Help Your Operations Thrive

If it feels harder to operate your senior care facility or nursing home each year, you’re not alone. The cost of goods, services and staffing continues to climb, despite revenue remaining relatively unchanged. Chronic labor shortages and turnover pile on the challenges as waves of aging baby boomers with complex health conditions continue to fill your beds. 

Fortunately, your facility can take proactive, low-risk steps to improve your operations and offer more to the patients you serve. Even with limited time and staffing, you can deliver high-quality  service, reduce expenses and create new sources of revenue — a key to remaining viable. You can make these changes in a way that adds value to the experiences of employees and increases care for patients. 

In short, your facility can thrive in 2023 and beyond.

Challenges for Nursing Homes and Skilled Nursing Facilities

Ultimately, senior living executives predict that workforce and operational needs won’t get solved without innovations that help the industry move forward. Developing those improvements depends on clearly defining the current market challenges: 

Higher senior care facility expenses, same old senior care facility revenue 

  • Inflation and supply chain: Like other industries, senior care facilities face inflation on multiple fronts. Prices for supplies and services continue to rise, with additional pressure from wages in a competitive job market. The surge in operating expenses makes investing in employee benefits packages, clinical services or technology difficult.
  • Limited revenue opportunity: Nursing facilities face limits in the reimbursements they can collect for patient care. Medicare, Medicaid and other payment mechanisms all impose caps that strain top-line revenue. Patients are unlikely to make up that cost difference. Of the nearly 71 million aging baby boomers, 45% have no retirement savings, according to the Insured Retirement Institute. Among those who do have savings, more than a quarter have less than $100,000.

Staffing challenges for nursing facilities: Attracting — and keeping — the right talent

When filling positions, senior care facilities compete with acute care settings (such as hospitals) that offer higher wages and clinical diversity. Retaining talent also poses a challenge to the industry. (The average turnover rate at long-term care facilities stands at 50%, according to the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care.) This churn threatens continuity of care. 

Remaining competitive with wages and benefits is one strategy to attract talent. But in today’s job market, you must go further. Employees are looking for opportunities to advance, as well as to grow their professional skills and knowledge. They’re seeking organizations that:

  • Invest in their personal growth
  • Align with their values 
  • Offer a strong workplace culture

Tie between patient experience and financial hardship at nursing facilities

It’s challenging to deliver quality services when faced with chronic staff turnover and limited resources for new technology or amenities. But it’s also become a necessity given how patients and families now search for care.

Your facility’s performance record in quality, safety and satisfaction can be found with a few quick keystrokes. These data are available from:

  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) star ratings
  • Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems Nursing Home survey data

This focus on transparency empowers patients and their families to compare senior living facilities and “shop around” for the best option.

Reliance on outsourced ancillary services

Senior living facilities often turn to outside agencies for ancillary services. While necessary, these partnerships are expensive and introduce additional headaches when you work with the wrong agencies. Examples of these services include:

  • Diagnostic labs: With outsourced testing, you often have to cede control over quality. You’re susceptible to turnaround delays, laboratory staffing fluctuations and technology limitations. Should a patient end up hospitalized because of these pitfalls, your facility also loses money from bed holds. Outsourced testing comes with further costs, too, as nursing facilities must pay for all diagnostic services for patients insured with Medicare Part A. Often, these services come with a significant markup over the Medicare fee schedule, with additional charges also common. These hindrances and burdens directly affect patient care, health outcomes and operational viability.
  • Agency staffing: During the pandemic and continued workforce shortage, senior living facilities have increasingly relied on expensive agency staffing, an unsustainable solution. Instead of rushing to fill job openings, facilities should take a longer-view approach and ask themselves:
    • Do agency applicants have the right experience and competencies to provide outstanding care? 
    • Are applicants a good cultural fit for our organization?
    • Are new hires staying?
    • Does the current prescreening method ensure the right fit?

Ancillary partners should come to you with solutions that match your facility’s specific needs. They need to understand the senior living industry, offer accountability for results and add value to your organization. 

NuCARE helps senior living facilities grow revenue and workforce

At nuCARE Senior Solutions, we see the senior care market as both a challenge and an opportunity, given the growing demand for senior living facilities. An estimated 28 million people in the U.S. (akin to the population of Texas) will need some form of long-term care by 2050, according to CMS.

At nuCARE, our team customizes simplified-yet-effective solutions for each client to take advantage of this growing market. We’ve dedicated our careers to working in senior care and we want your facility to succeed. 

We help clients reach their growth goals in multiple ways:

Increasing revenue through laboratory build-out and management

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of medical decisions depend on lab test results. These results drastically influence treatment courses. Owning your own lab is a strategic investment in better patient care and outcomes. It also becomes an additional revenue source, both top and bottom line, for your facility. 

Still, building and running a lab can feel daunting without the right support. nuCARE specializes in frictionless lab build-out, compliance and operational management services for facilities. Our team knows how to run successful programs from the vantages of both clinical utility and executive management.

Every lab we build is certified by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) and Commission on Office Laboratory Accreditation (COLA). These designations mean your lab will bear the gold standard of the lab testing industry. nuCARE’s lab build-out and management services include:

  • Turn-key lab build-out: Our proven build-out process minimizes risk and operational disruption, for spaces as small as 400 square feet. Your lab can be up and running in as little as 60 days.
  • Financing to defray upfront capital costs: To minimize client risk, we offer full financing for upfront capital costs with lab build-out. Clients typically see a return on investment within months. 
  • Management and support: We know the pain points of running a lab. From the moment you contact us, we’re available for your needs — a relationship that continues long after your lab opens. nuCARE ensures compliance, daily operational efficiency, quality control, maintenance, software management, revenue cycle management, credentialling and more. 
  • Consultation: We invest heavily in research and development to ensure our clients are on the leading edge of the lab business. We pass our knowledge and experience on to our clients. 
  • KPI and value statement support: We appreciate that change is often a mix of the positive and the challenging. We also understand the impact change can have on various stakeholders — the residents, the clinicians, the medical team and leadership. nuCARE provides multiple value propositions for each area of your business and can assist with best practices and KPI integration.

Beating the senior care facility staffing shortage

Finding the right candidates takes time and expertise. We understand the complexities of hiring clinical and nonclinical staff and look forward to helping you build a great team.

nuCARE offers:

  • Management of the entire hiring process: Leave it to nuCARE to recruit, screen and interview applicants and present only highly qualified candidates to your organization. We send lists of premium applicants to you within 72 hours for your final decision. Our team stays by your side after placement to make sure your expectations are met.  
  • Flexible hiring options: We customize services to meet your evolving needs, whether you require temporary or full-time staff.
  • Consulting services: Let us share our experience in, and knowledge of, workforce trends, administrative technology and industry best practices.
  • Software solutions: Hire confidently with our innovations. We’ve developed a software solution to ensure applicants are hired based on their actual aptitudes and not just what’s on their resumes. When selecting the right candidates, you’ll know they possess the skills to perform the job well.

Taking the Next Step

The market for nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities is quickly changing and consolidating. Now is the time to meet industry challenges with confidence.

If you’re ready to take a proactive approach to your operations, we’re here to help. Reach out to schedule your discovery call with nuCARE Medical Solutions.