A pandemic shines a light on the benefits of a full-service management partner.
Part 1 of a 2-part series
Despite the many unknowns and uncertainties created by COVID-19 for providers and seniors, from the start, the 140 communities managed by Life Care Services, An LCS Company*, had a full-service team of experts and resources ready to support them, their employees and community residents. For these communities, one thing was certain — clear and consistent communication was critical to provide resident care, maintain operations and continue marketing efforts at every location.
Since the early months of 2020, Life Care Services stayed abreast of the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. Daily updates kept leadership informed and provided the necessary information to help ensure the health and well-being of employees and residents. Upon the declaration of the national emergency for COVID-19, protective measures were put into place. Relying on vast experience and numerous corporate resources — clinical teams, risk management expertise, group purchasing opportunities and financial know-how — Life Care Services effectively managed expectations and adopted new protocols and precautionary measures. With a dedicated system of communication, information was distributed quickly to senior living communities across the country.
“Early on in the pandemic, we made a decision to hold the safety and well-being of our residents in the highest regard,” said Rick Exline, LCS executive vice president and senior managing director of Life Plan Communities. “By doing so, we declared communities managed by Life Care Services would be the first to close and the last to open.”
The response by Life Care Services included near constant efforts to implement industry and regulatory updates, communicate consistently with our communities, residents and families, and anticipate their needs.
“Changes were occurring on a daily basis as it pertains to the services we were providing, and we needed to adopt changes in the delivery of our services and still meet the resident needs,” stated Amanda Elliott, corporate operations director at The Marshes of Skidaway Island in Savannah, Georgia. “Life Care Services was extremely helpful in advising us with all this new information coming out, and providing communication tools and operational resources. This not only helped to keep our people safe, but also maintained our culture and experience at our community.”
Another important innovation was rethinking how communities manage marketing and sales efforts when prospective residents are restricted from visiting. It certainly wasn’t a time to be silent in communicating externally, but a shift in messaging was needed. Quickly, a change was made to implement technologies allowing virtual visits and tours. Bringing forth its expertise, Life Care Services provided solutions to help communities implement technology solutions to maintain marketing efforts.
“Our LCS team had policies, procedures and guidance on messaging to prospective residents and families, so our sales teams didn’t have to worry about figuring it out on their own,” said Michael Eaton, vice president and senior director of marketing and sales. “We also conducted national webinars for peer connectedness and provided professional development materials so we all could help, and learn from, each other.”
In response to the pandemic, Life Care Services also created a business continuity team, a think tank of corporate and community leaders. Bringing together expertise in accounting, finance, risk management, human resources, health care and operations, information and tools were developed to be used at the community level. The team assessed all issues, questions and perspectives pertaining to residents, families and employees to ensure the result was a collaborative, comprehensive approach. To support the communities, the plan attempted to address every facet of senior living — dining, visitation, health care, housekeeping, socialization, transportation, personal protective equipment, fitness centers and more. These tools allowed the communities to have direct access to valuable resources.
“Thorough documentation and tools were provided to all communities so they could remain focused on operating the community and caring for residents rather than doing their own research at the community level,” Exline said.
Elliott stated, “We didn’t have to start from scratch and try to wrap our heads around every single thing. Life Care Services did the legwork and guided us on what we needed to do.”
“As we enter month six in our pandemic response, we continue to focus on the health and well-being of residents,” says Exline. “Our expertise in managing senior living communities has provided many of our clients the resources they needed at a very stressful time. We continue to stay abreast of the situation and provide whatever support we can. Life Care Services is positioned as a full-service management company and at the end of the day, our goal is to support senior living communities do what they do best — caring for our seniors.”
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*Life Care Services, An LCS Company, is in no way affiliated with Life Care Centers of America.